I have a new Article out in the Journal of Legal Metrics entitled Top Supreme Court Advocates of the Twenty First Century. You can download the article here here.


This Article identifies the Supreme Court litigators who have argued at least five times since October 2000, making them — by some measures — “expert Supreme Court litigators.” It identifies all members of this elite tier and then breaks them down by demographics such as gender, ethnicity, law school, past clerkships, and experience in the Office of the Solicitor General.

Identifying the members of today’s elite Supreme Court bar reveals several interesting trends. The members skew overwhelmingly white, although there are several young, minority members of the Supreme Court bar who have the potential to argue many cases in the near future. The elite bar also contains more men than women but, like with minorities, several women in recent years have taken positions that place them before the Supreme Court with increasing frequency. Predictably, top law schools are the best represented, although their presence may be smaller than some suspect. The best predictor of a law school’s presence in the elite Supreme Court bar is it’s Supreme Court clerkship potential, not it’s U.S. News & World Report ranking — although those two measures closely track one another.

For a quick glimpse at the list, here are the ten advocates who have argued most frequently since October 2000:

Rank Name Current Position 21st Cent. Args. All-Time Args.
1 Paul D. Clement Bancroft PLLC 62 62
2 Edwin S. Kneedler Deputy SG 47 116
3 Michael R. Dreeben Deputy SG 45 83
Theodore B. Olson Gibson Dunn 45 58
Carter G. Phillips Sidley Austin 45 76
6 Malcolm L. Stewart Deputy SG 39 54
7 Gregory G. Garre Latham & Watkins 35 35
8 Seth P. Waxman WilmerHale 34 61
9 David C. Frederick Kellogg Huber 29 37
10 Patrica M. Millet Akin Gump 24 31
Matthew D. Roberts Ass’t to the SG 24 30

Of those advocates, only Clement and Garre have argued all of their cases during the past twelve years. Kneedler is most prolific advocate currently practicing, although he trails Clement by fifteen arguments since the beginning of October Term 2000.

My Article breaks down the advocates by several demographic factors, including race, gender, law school, and Supreme Court clerkship. But I think one of the most interesting charts is the Table H, which features the top Supreme Court advocates who have never served in the Office of the Solicitor General (with fellowships and internships excepted):

Rank Overall Rank Name 21st Cent. Args. All-Time Args.
1 12 Thomas C. Goldstein 22 25
2 19 Jeffrey L. Fisher 17 17
3 41 G. Eric Brunstad, Jr. 9 10
R. Ted Cruz 9 9
5 47 Gregory S. Coleman 8 8
Paul M. Smith 8 14
Laurence H. Tribe 8 35
8 52 Jonathan S. Franklin 7 7
E. Joshua Rosenkranz 7 7
Kevin K. Russell 7 7
Eric D. Schnapper 7 16

Here are the top advocates from other categories:

  • Top Female Advocate: Patricia Millett (24 appearances since OT 2000) (31 cases appearances all-time)
  • Top Minority Advocate: Sri Srinivasan (20) (20)
  • Top Advocate from a non-top 10 law school: Gregory Garre (35) (35)

The Article is largely based on the Decade Advocate Scorecard that I have been developing and releasing for the last few years.

3 Responses to “Top Supreme Court Advocates of the Twenty-First Century”

  1. 1 Carter Phillips

    Kedar – do you have a chart of arguments by non-government lawyers – state or federal? Table H has the list of those with no SG experience, although some have state government SG experience. So clearly Tommy Goldstein’s numbers are purely as a lawyer in private practice, which is impressive. But I suspect others, like David Frederick, have pretty good numbers in private practice long after they left the SG’s office. Given my own experience, it is fairly obvious why the table would interest me. Carter.

  2. 2 Observer

    There is a minor error on page 581. Malcolm Stewart, who clerked for Justice Blackmun, is erroneously listed as not having had any Supreme Court clerkship.

  1. 1 Advocates Arguing from Private Practice (OT 2000-2011) | DailyWrit

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.


Random Posts

  • Updates: I've updated a lot of the information on the Term Case Index in preparation for today's cases. I expect the Supreme Court to hand down 1-2 o...
  • PDF Packs for the Past Decade: I've been pillaging the Supreme Court's website in search of PDFs that I can archive for future reference. Using the Court's website and the...
  • A Big Little Case: Next Wednesday, the Supreme Court will hear arguments in an interesting case about water law in Montana, PPL Montana v. Montana. The case wi...
  • Frequency of Consecutive Opinions Release Days: I've taken a look at the number of opinion days in a given week from OT06 to OT10. In other words, I've taken a look at the number of times ...
  • Belated Decade Advocate Scorecard: For one reason or another, it looks like I forgot to post my updated advocate scorecard for the decade at the end of the last term. Origin...