Tom Dupree '97 and Noel Francisco '96 Made Their SCOTUS Argument Debuts This Term

Understudies Take State at Supreme Court; First- and Second-time Appellate Advocates Took the Spotlight in Cases Argued During the 2013-14 Term

By Tony Mauro
National Law Journal

First-time advocates were among the winners of landmark cases before the U.S. Supreme Court in the term just ended — a signal that new faces are beginning to join the ranks of veteran practitioners.
An unusually large number of first- and second-time advocates argued before the high court between last October and this April. Among them were several lawyers from firms with established Supreme Court practices where longtime advocates often keep the arguments for themselves — or are asked to do so by clients.

"It has been a breakout year, very different from what we have seen in the past," said Tom Goldstein of Goldstein & Russell. "It's been a real opportunity for another generation of advocates to make their mark."

Lawyers making their debut in marquee cases, and winning, include: Erin Murphy of Bancroft in the campaign-finance case McCutcheon v. FEC; Jones Day's Noel Francisco in NLRB v. Noel Canning on presidential recess appointments; Aaron Streett of Baker Botts in the securities class action case Halliburton v. Erica P. John Fund; and Mark Rienzi of Catholic University of America Columbus School of Law in McCullen v. Coakley, the abortion clinic buffer-zone dispute.

By Goldstein's estimate, more than half of the 121 advocates who went to the high court lectern this term were doing so for the first or second time. They include some women and minorities, in a practice area dominated by white men.

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At Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, where Olson, Thomas Hungar and Miguel Estrada have handled the bulk of the firm's Supreme Court litigation, Thomas Dupree Jr. made his debut in a key business case, DaimlerChrysler v. Bauman.