Supreme Court All-Stars 2013-2017

Success in the Supreme Court is hard to define because it can be viewed in a variety of ways. Few attorneys have the opportunity to try cases there and even fewer argue multiple cases.  Part of success therefore is simply getting a case or cases to the Court. Once the Court agrees to hear a…

Attorneys and Firms for the 2017 Term

The current term at the Supreme Court has been anything but ordinary.  With two argued cases already ruled moot the justices are down to 61 argued cases for possible signed decisions. This would tie last term for the fewest signed decisions in the modern Court era.  Not only are the cases few and far between,…

Slicing and Dicing the Court’s 2017 Oral Arguments

While the Supreme Court is lagging in releasing its decisions this term, the justices wrapped up hearing oral arguments almost a month ago.  The justices heard 63 oral arguments between October 2017 and April 2018.  Within that block of time many expectations were reaffirmed while several new paths were blazed. Aside from those who sit…

To Extend or Not to Extend

Occasionally someone will posit a question about Supreme Court practice to me dealing with an issue I haven’t examined. Recently, I had one such interaction with John Elwood of Vinson & Elkins.  John asked if I had looked at applications for extensions of time to file petitions for writs of certiorari. As I hadn’t looked…

BriefCatching 2017 Cert-Stage Filings

  Good writing quality is one of the greatest assets for attorneys practicing before any court.  While there is no universally accepted measure of good writing, software engineers are currently designing programs that measure writing quality in innovative and accurate ways.  In past, Empirical SCOTUS has employed off-the-shelf metrics for writing quality to compare filings…

Supreme Court Movers and Shakers (Attorneys and Justices)

The consequences of certain decisions have repercussions far beyond those that affect the immediate cases.  While this is an indisputable aspect of decisions from courts of last resort, prognosticating the potential consequences of decisions is an art fraught with questionable inferences.  In a series of decisions the Supreme Court has a substantial policy impact. These…

Who’s on the Case: Successful Cert Petitions 2017

The Supreme Court has its calendar set through January 2018 with ten cases already accepted for argument that are as of yet unscheduled.  The total number of case grants so far is 53, and with consolidated cases this will lead to 47 arguments.  This puts the Court on pace for one of the slowest grant rates…

Name Dropping in Oral Argument

Supreme Court oral argument is the setting where attorneys get to present their cases to the justices. It is a chance for justices to ask questions and for attorneys to convey important information; especially information that might not be contained in the briefs.  Oral argument also functions as a setting for dialogue.  In this respect,…

A Dearth of Female Attorneys at Supreme Court Oral Arguments

Female attorneys have a long history arguing before the Supreme Court dating back to Belva Lockwood’s argument in 1880. While Lockwood’s argument helped proverbially break the glass ceiling for women to practice before the Supreme Court, such opportunities have proven difficult to come by as female attorneys only make up a small fraction of the…

Attorneys in the Clutch

Earlier this year I ran a blog post on the most powerful justices across time, which focused on their decisions in cases with single vote margin majorities.  That post accounted for the decision makers, but it did not consider the attorneys whose arguments factor into the justices’ decision calculi.  This post takes a look at…

SCOTUS Success 2016

Now that the Supreme Court term is over, let the scoring begin.  While this post looks at the most successful firms, litigators, and groups before the Supreme Court during the 2016 term, there are several caveats to note.  First, this post looks at success before the Court as measured by win counts. Second, getting to…