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…

Not All Appeals Are Equal

Every year the lawyer research and ranking company Chambers & Partners (sometimes mentioned as C&P herein) puts out a list of top appellate lawyers and firms (in a previous post I looked at some of the listed firms’ cert performance). Chambers uses a mix of qualitative and quantitative methodology to come up with its various…

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…

A Chicken and Egg Problem

One of the more difficult questions facing Supreme Court scholars is trying to decipher the impact of the litigants. Given the secrecy with which the Supreme Court conducts the majority of its business, any effort towards understanding the decision making process is inevitably met with frustration.  The most recent insight we have into any of…

Something to Talk About

Oral arguments have always been central to Supreme Court adjudication.  In early Supreme Court practice oral arguments were the primary means by which the justices learned about cases.  Currently, oral arguments convey less original information to the justices, but still are helpful tools for the justices to learn about dimensions in each case not brought out…

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…

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…

A Changing of the Guard? (Probably Not But the Evidence is Mixed)

In an article I wrote last year I found several Supreme Court repeat players were much more successful than others in getting the Supreme Court to hear their cases. Many of these “Elite Cert Attorneys” argue multiple cases each term before the justices.  They all have high exposure to all aspects of Supreme Court process and…

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…

Highly Citable

Attorneys before the Supreme Court have multiple goals.  Whether the ultimate goal is winning a case, affecting public policy, or testing the constitutionality of a piece of legislation, good counsel get the justices’ attention.  How they get the justices’ attention varies.  Some engender attention through their regular experience before the Court while others through the…

Easy Reading (By Supreme Court Standards)

Supreme Court briefs are team efforts usually with a main coordinating partner/attorney who is known as the “counsel of record.”  Although the number of attorneys staffing briefs varies, at the Supreme Court level the number of attorneys listed on the brief is often more than five and can be upwards of ten.  This does not…