In my last post, I provided a list of the top Supreme Court advocates of the twenty-first century who had never worked in the Office of the Solicitor General. As a comment on that post mentions, some who made my list had previous experience in state SG offices, such as Greg Coleman and Ted Cruz, who both served as the Solicitor General of Texas. The chart I provided is useful because it highlights the advocates who were able to get a toehold in Supreme Court litigation without being a former member of the Office of the Solicitor General, a remarkable occurrence. Many members of my list also developed a robust Supreme Court practice without a Supreme Court clerkship.

But as the comment points out, it would also be interesting to look at the top advocates who argued from private practice, regardless of whether they have previously held positions in the OSG. Without further ado, here are the top ten private-practice advocates of the twenty-first century:

Rank Name Position 21st Cent.
Private Args.
All-Time
Private Args.
All-Time Args
1 Carter Phillips Sidley Austin 45 67 76
2 Seth Waxman WilmerHale 29 30 61
3 David Frederick Kellogg Huber 26 26 37
4 Tom Goldstein Goldstein Russell 22 25 25
5 Theodore Olson Gibson Dunn 19 32 58
6 Jeffrey Fisher Stanford Clinic 17 17 17
7 Paul Clement Bancroft 13 13 62
8 Walter Dellinger O’Melveny 12 14 23
10 Donald Verrilli Jenner Block 10 12 21
Maureen Mahoney Latham 10 13 21
Andrew Pincus Mayer Brown 10 13 23

There is only one woman on the list, Maureen Mahoney. The next woman on the list would be Patricia Millett, with six appearances before the Court since 2000. There are also no minorities — as far as I can tell — but Sri Srinivasan has six appearances from private practice. John Roberts is also high on the list with eight arguments from private practice since 2000.

A few important caveats apply. First, Jeffrey Fisher is included here because, although he is not in private practice, he still has to perform the functions that define top litigators: selling his services, getting clients, and winning cases. I might be more hesitant to include someone who served in a state SG office during the relevant period, but no advocate in the top ten raised that problem. Second, this chart covers only October Terms 2000-2011. That means arguments from the last four months are not included, although nearly all have since added to their tallies: Garre (4), Fisher (3), Frederick (3), Goldstein (3), Waxman (2), Clement (1), Olson (1). If I included arguments during OT 12, Gregory Garre would slide onto the list with eleven private arguments in the last decade, eleven private arguments all-time, and thirty-nine all-time arguments overall.



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