Stephen Shapiro

News of the Monday night shooting of Stephen Shapiro, the 72-year-old founder of Mayer Brown’s U.S. Supreme Court practice, sent shock waves through the nation’s legal community, and particularly among elite appellate litigators.

Shapiro was shot late on Monday in his suburban Chicago home and died of his wounds. A suspect in the killing was in custody on Tuesday after police said the man fled Shapiro’s home.

Michael Kellogg, founding managing partner of Kellogg, Hansen, Todd, Figel & Frederick, called Shapiro’s death a “devastating loss.”

“Steve was a cherished mentor, a dear friend, and a superb lawyer,” Kellogg said in an email. “He invented the model of the appellate practice group and was always its greatest practitioner.”

Shapiro served as U.S. deputy solicitor general in the Reagan administration and argued 30 cases before the Supreme Court over the course of his career, securing standout wins in Credit Suisse v. Billing, Stoneridge Investment Partners v. Scientific-Atlanta and Motorola, and Mayo Clinic v. Prometheus Laboratories, among other significant cases. He authored the treatise “Supreme Court Practice,” now in its 10th edition.

Former acting Solicitor General Neal Katyal, now a Hogan Lovells partner, tweeted his condolences on Tuesday morning.

“Beyond speechless,” Katyal tweeted. “RIP, Stephen. The entire Supreme Court bar is heartstricken.”

Shapiro’s career spanned several decades, and he argued before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit just two weeks ago, in what would become his final argument.

Colleagues widely mourned his death on Tuesday in messages and on social media. Williams & Connolly appellate litigator Kannon Shanmugam called him ”as modest as he was brilliant” in a tweet, noting Shapiro “ literally wrote the book on Supreme Court advocacy.”

“Our appellate community is a small and tight-knit group of highly specialized practitioners,” said Ian Heath Gershengorn, chairman of Jenner & Block’s appellate and Supreme Court practice. “We mourn Stephen Shapiro’s loss. He was a giant in the field and we recognize his many important contributions to the appellate profession and community. Most importantly, our hearts go out to his family and friends, and especially to our colleagues at Mayer Brown.”

Shapiro’s impact extended far beyond those who worked with him directly, and prompted responses of sympathy from those who knew him mainly by reputation and learned from his work.

Bryan Garner, editor of Black’s Law Dictionary, suggested that his work would continue to find a wide audience.

“Shocking news about my friend Stephen Shapiro, one of the greatest advocates of our day,” Garner tweeted. “Today in Seattle I’ll be teaching The Winning Brief, using several of his briefs as models. RIP Stephen.”


Mayer Brown Supreme Court Practice Founder Shot and Killed