To celebrate Patricia Millett’s record-breaking thirty-first Supreme Court argument last week in Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band of Pottawatomi Indians v. Patchak—the most by any woman before the Court—I have compiled a list of the top 10 female advocates with the most appearances before the Supreme Court who are currently in practice. The following chart includes a link to each advocate’s firm profile (if one exists).

Advocate No. of Args Current Position
Patricia Millett 31 Akin Gump
Lisa Blatt 30 Arnold & Porter
Beth Brinkmann 24 DOJ
Maureen Mahoney 21 Latham & Watkins
Barbara Underwood 20 SG of NY
Nicole Saharsky 14 Assistant to the SG
Deanne Maynard 13 Morrison & Foerster
Leondra Kruger 12 Assistant to the SG
Nina Pillard 8 Georgetown Law Center
Pamela Karlan 7 Stanford Law School
Kathleen Sullivan 7 Quinn Emmanuel

Notably, Barbara McDowell, who passed away in 2009 as the director of appellate advocacy for the Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia, argued 18 times before the Court and served as an Assistant to the Solicitor General. Beth Brinkmann currently serves as Deputy Assistant Attorney General, although that position that will not get her before the Supreme Court for oral arguments. Elena Kagan had 6 appearances before the Supreme Court before she became an Associate Justice.

Many of the advocates listed above argued the vast majority of their cases as members of the Office of the Solicitor General. That trend is generally true throughout the elite-tiers of the Supreme Court bar—Tom Goldstein is the only truly elite Supreme Court advocate without any experience in the OSG—and the trend appears to be just as strong among its female members. Among the advocates listed above, only Karlan and Sullivan have never argued on behalf of the federal government. Other advocates argued several cases while in the Office of the Solicitor General, but later argued again in other positions. For example, Millett’s five most recent arguments have occurred during her time in private practice and Underwood’s four most recent appearances have been in her position as Solicitor General of New York. Notably, Maureen Mahoney and Barbara Underwood have both served as Principal Deputy Solicitors General and Leondra Kruger temporarily served in that position just last year.

If I’ve made any mistakes with the above tally, please send me an email at

June 18: I’ve added Nina Pillard to the list, who argued several time as an Assistant to the Solicitor General in the mid-1990s and has argued a handful of times in the 2000s. Her most recent appearance was in Stolt-Nielsen v. AnimalFeeds Int’l. You can read more about her here.

3 Responses to “Top Female Advocates Before the Supreme Court”

  1. 1 lawyers for the family

    This is very nice and informative article. I like this kind of article. Thanks writer to post such a good article.

  2. 2 thelawcourt

    Fascinating article – had no previous knowledge of this and did not realise female advocates had risen so much in number! All I knew was that approximately 25% of MP’s in the British Parliament are women. It would not surprise me if this number grew in the upcoming years actually.

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