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TRACK RECORD Three wins, two losses in last five terms. Has argued 13 cases lifetime, winning eight, losing four. (One was reargued by another lawyer.) BACKGROUND Age: 60. Law degree from UC Berkeley’s Boalt Hall School of Law, then into private practice at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher. Went to Reagan Justice Department to head Office of Legal Counsel from 1981 to 1984. Returned to Gibson Dunn to start its appellate practice. Wife Barbara is a former federal prosecutor, conservative commentator, and author of “Hell to Pay,” a critical study of Hillary Rodham Clinton. SNAPSHOT When Olson went back to Gibson Dunn, he started its appellate practice as a private version of OLC. “It took some convincing” to get colleagues to relinquish their cases for appellate arguments, he says. But it worked, and colleagues and clients often bring him their Supreme Court work. He has a clear, direct speaking style, but isn’t afraid to concede a point or acknowledge he does not know the answer to a question. In his highest-profile argument to date, Olson took on the difficult task of defending the Virginia Military Institute’s all-male policies in 1996. Justice after justice piled on him during oral argument. When he argued that VMI’s unique program would be fundamentally altered by the presence of women, Stephen Breyer asked him, “So what?” Olson gamely replied, “It works well for young men.” But his case was doomed. Olson cut his teeth at the Supreme Court in cases challenging punitive damages awards. The campaign brought mixed results from a court reluctant to declare punitives unconstitutional, but “it became quite a big business” for the firm, Olson says. Olson is the only current Supreme Court advocate to be a named party in a major Supreme Court case. Olson sat in the Supreme Court bar section — not at counsel’s table — during the 1988 arguments in Morrison v. Olson, on the constitutionality of the independent counsel statute. Olson was under investigation for allegedly lying while in the Reagan Justice Department. He challenged the three-judge-panel method for appointing independent counsel, but lost. No indictments resulted from the probe. The firm’s appellate and Supreme Court practice is a “prestige thing.” Although Olson says that it generates revenue, he concedes, “we may not be as revenue-generating as a big antitrust case that lasts five years, or a big IPO.” QUOTABLE QUOTE “Before the Supreme Court, it doesn’t work to have the emotional content that lawyers get away with at the trial level. There’s no lack of passion about the case, but the justices want to have a conversation with you. You have to meet and discuss their questions, and they don’t want you to bob and weave.”

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