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|
|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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.