Jenner & Block

Appellate and Supreme Court Practice

We combine exceptional skills in crafting persuasive briefs and oral arguments with extensive experience shepherding high-stakes matters through appellate courts. Our attorneys have successfully argued nearly 100 cases before the U.S. Supreme Court, as well as numerous matters before the federal and state appellate courts, on a range of issues, including administrative, antitrust, bankruptcy, civil rights, communications, constitutional, copyright, employment, financial services, government contracts, immigration, patent, preemption, and punitive damages. We also have an extensive amicus practice before the U.S. Supreme Court and other appellate courts and regularly brief, argue, and advise on complex legal issues that arise in various trial-level fora.

In 2015, for the seventh consecutive year, Jenner & Block was named to The National Law Journal’s  "Appellate Hot List" with the observation that "Jenner & Block's powerhouse appellate practice left its mark in courts across the country - and on some of the biggest U.S. Supreme Court decisions last year."  Our Appellate and Supreme Court practice has also been consistently recognized in Chambers USA as being among the nation’s foremost appellate law practices.  Chambers acknowledged the Firm’s “impressive number of cases before the Supreme Court” and praised our appellate lawyers’ "depth of experience, energy and creativity, their “carefully honed arguments,” and “strategies that always contain new and fresh perspectives.”

Our attorneys handle appeals all over the country, both in cases where we represented a party in the lower court and in cases where we have been brought in specifically for our appellate and Supreme Court proficiency.  We regularly serve as appellate counsel for corporations, trade associations, and industry groups.  Our practice group includes former U.S. Supreme Court clerks, U.S. Court of Appeals clerks, and state appellate court clerks, as well as members of the bars of every U.S. Court of Appeals and members of state bars throughout the country. 

Our attorneys are well versed in the intricacies of the appeals process and know how to navigate a case effectively through the courts.  We work collaboratively – with senior partners involved in every step of the process – to develop persuasive arguments that are thoroughly researched, carefully written, and powerfully delivered.  We do highly significant work in this area in all four of the Firm’s offices.

A hallmark of our practice has been a series of important victories in the Supreme Court going back at least to Witherspoon v. Illinois (1968), involving the exclusion from a jury pool of persons with qualms about the death penalty.  Some more recent Supreme Court victories have included Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Association, et al. (2011), involving a First Amendment challenge to a California law that restricted the sale or rental of “violent” video games to minors; Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc. v. Grokster, Ltd. (2005), addressing secondary liability of Internet file-sharing services;  Wiggins v. Smith (2003), addressing standards for effective counsel in the death penalty sentencing phase; and Lawrence v. Texas (2003), the landmark gay rights case. 

The Appellate and Supreme Court Practice is chaired by Paul M. Smith, who has had a Supreme Court practice for nearly three decades.  He has argued 16 Supreme Court cases, including the Brown video game case in 2011, several important voting rights cases, and Lawrence v. Texas.  Mr. Smith has received many awards recognizing him as a leading Supreme Court and appellate practitioner.  In 2010, for example, Washington DC Super Lawyer named him one of the “Top 10 Lawyers in D.C.”; the National Law Journal named him one of the "Decade's Most Influential Lawyers”; and the ABA Section of Individual Rights and Responsibilities presented him with its prestigious Thurgood Marshall Award for his work promoting civil rights and civil liberties.