Appellate + Supreme Court

Sophisticated clients understand that successfully prosecuting critical appeals requires appellate experience. Whether the goal is protecting a hard‑won victory or turning around a bad decision, these clients regularly turn to Morrison & Foerster’s appellate and Supreme Court group. Our market-leading practice wins appeals with deep strategic thinking, clear writing, and forceful oral advocacy. Our work spans the Supreme Court of the United States, every federal court of appeals, and state appellate courts in California, New York, and elsewhere. And we handle appeals in every area of law—from intellectual property to class actions, arbitration to antitrust, environmental law to ERISA.

We are consistently ranked as one of the top appellate and Supreme Court practices in the country by Chambers USA and Legal 500 US. Co-chairs Deanne Maynard and Joseph Palmore are both individually ranked by Chambers USA and Legal 500 US, and our practice has been named to the National Law Journal’s Appellate Hot List multiple times.

U.S. Supreme Court

Deanne and Joe have collectively argued more than 25 cases before the Supreme Court and have filed more than 250 briefs there. Both are veterans of the Solicitor General’s Office at the U.S. Department of Justice, where they represented the United States before the Supreme Court. Deanne, Joe, partner Brian Matsui, and others in our appellate group clerked on the Supreme Court for multiple different Justices. We tap our deep knowledge when navigating every stage of Supreme Court litigation, including seeking and opposing certiorari, advocating before the Office of the Solicitor General, building amicus coalitions, and handling cases on the merits.

Deanne argued Sandoz v. Amgen, in which the Supreme Court ruled unanimously for her client Sandoz. That closely watched case involved the Biologics Price Competition and Innovation Act, which provides a streamlined approval path for biosimilars. Law360 named Deanne to its exclusive list of Appellate MVPs for this “big victory,” which it described as “a major decision that will speed up access to the lower-cost medicines.” Law360 also dubbed her a “Legal Lion” three separate times for her work on appeals in this case.

Joe successfully argued two merits cases during a recent Supreme Court term: Law360 called one of them (Thole v. U.S. Bank) a “landmark ruling” that “made huge waves in the ERISA litigation arena” and the other (Atlantic Richfield Co. v. Christian) as one of the “biggest environmental law decisions” of the year. The National Law Journal described Joe’s argument before the Supreme Court in CTS Corp. v. Waldburger as “brilliant” and a “template for anyone arguing a statutory case before these nine justices in the future.”

Federal Courts of Appeals

We have briefed and argued hundreds of appeals on a sweeping array of legal issues and spanning every federal court of appeals. In addition to handling appeals on the merits, we have significant experience seeking and opposing discretionary interlocutory review of class-certification decisions. Members of our appellate practice clerked on many of the courts in which we appear, including the Second, Fourth, Ninth, D.C., and Federal Circuits.

We are a market leader in intellectual property appeals in the Federal Circuit. Legal 500 US has called our group a “formidable opponent” in any “patent appeal, in part due to [our] ability to collaborate with the firm’s robust patent litigation practice.” Deanne has argued more than 35 Federal Circuit appeals, representing both patentees and defendants, on numerous technologies. LMG Life Sciences named her 2019 Appellate Litigator of the Year for Intellectual Property. And Deanne serves as Chair of the Federal Circuit’s Advisory Council, which is a conduit between the Court and the public. Brian is also a veteran Federal Circuit advocate, having argued more than 10 times in the Federal Circuit. He has extensive experience with appeals from decisions of the Patent Trial and Appeal Board on behalf of both patent challengers and patent owners. Those cases involve myriad industries, including mobile device manufacturers, pharmaceutical companies, memory manufacturers, movie studios, and software companies. Brian also is an editor of Morrison & Foerster’s Federal Circuitry blog, which takes a data-driven approach to analyzing the Federal Circuit and its decisions.

We also regularly handle appeals in the Ninth and Second Circuits, consistent with Morrison & Foerster’s litigation strength in California and New York. In particular, we represent clients before those circuits (both of which hear countless cases of importance to business) class-action and consumer cases brought under federal statutes and state unfair competition laws. And we publish the Left Coast Appeals blog, led by partner James Sigel, which keeps tabs on the Ninth Circuit and its decisions.

Appeals on regulatory issues in the D.C. Circuit are critical to many clients, and we have extensive experience on them, too. We recently won cases there on whistleblower protections, penalties under the Dodd-Frank statute, and the Freedom of Information Act. Joe previously served as deputy general counsel of the Federal Communications Commission, where he oversaw the agency’s extensive litigation before the D.C. Circuit and argued multiple appeals there.

State Court Appeals

Many critical appeals are in state court, and our appellate lawyers excel in those venues, as well. We apply our tried-and-true approach—deep strategic thinking, clear writing, and strong oral advocacy—infused with our knowledge of state-specific procedures and norms. We appear most often in two state appellate systems critical to business—those of California and New York.

In California, we have represented clients in hundreds of appeals and writ proceedings, spanning multiple courts of appeal and the California Supreme Court. California-based partner James Sigel regularly leads and argues appeals in the California state courts. Before joining the firm, James served as a law clerk on the California Supreme Court.

In New York, we have handled appeals in the New York Court of Appeals (the state’s highest court), as well as the Appellate Divisions, including the First Department (Manhattan) and Second Department (Brooklyn). It is also experienced with New York’s emergency stay procedures—which can be difficult to navigate for those unfamiliar with their extensive and sometimes opaque technical requirements.

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