He has offered legal analysis for Fox News on a variety of subjects, and has even gone one-on-one with Geraldo. But where Tom Dupree Jr. most enjoys plying his expertise is in the courtroom—be it appellate or trial court.
Dupree, hiring partner at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, is a member of the legal team gearing up for arguments in the new Supreme Court term in DaimlerChrysler A.G. v. Bauman. That case follows on the heels of last term's Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum involving the Alien Tort Statute.
The business community already has eyes trained on the Daimler case, which asks whether a federal court holds personal jurisdiction over a foreign parent corporation based on its subsidiary's contacts with the state in which the federal court sits, and when the alleged illegal acts had nothing to do with either entity's contacts with that state.
Dupree cut his teeth as a Gibson Dunn junior associate on the still-controversial Bush v. Gore litigation. He was tapped to work on that case by someone he calls his mentor—former Solicitor General Theodore Olson.
"When the Bush Administration came into office, I had a number of opportunities to go into government service," he recalled. "It was tempting, but after thinking it over, I was having so much fun at Gibson Dunn, I thought there was no need for me to join the government for the sake of joining the government."
But that changed in 2007. By then, Dupree had made partner. There was an opening in the civil division of the Department of Justice. It was time to reconsider government work. He interviewed, was appointed deputy assistant attorney general of the division, and ultimately became principal deputy assistant attorney general. In that position, he oversaw the more than 900 lawyers in the civil appellate, commercial, federal programs and torts branches, as well as the Office of Immigration Litigation and the Office of Consumer Litigation.
"Part of the reason I elected to come to Washington was I thought at some point in my career I would have the opportunity to do public service," he said. "There's never any clearly right or wrong path. For me, it made sense at that time, primarily because there was a wonderful opportunity. Also, I was at a point in my career where I had made partner, but I was still a very young partner and I didn't have 500 clients. Everything really just happily fell into place."
He left the department in 2009 with a tremendous appreciation, he said, for "just how talented the government lawyers were" who had dedicated their professional careers to serving the interests of the United States. "For me, the chance just to learn from and work with so many people was a unique experience."
He had no guarantee when he left Gibson Dunn for the government that he could return to the firm. "When the time for me to come out arrived, I had to reapply. There is an element of risk when you do something like that, but nothing is certain in life."
Since returning to the firm, Dupree has built a practice that is about 50 percent appellate work and 50 percent trial litigation. On the trial side, he has a number of cases, including the defense of Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg against Paul Ceglia, who claims a contract gives him half ownership of Facebook Inc. His appellate practice is a national one; he has argued more than 60 federal court appeals in all 13 circuits.
He has spent a good deal of time on punitive damages cases for Chrysler and other auto manufacturers. "We've had a fair amount of success getting those reduced or set aside in their entirety," Dupree said. "For me, that is one area of the law where we've been able to add value and help clients."
Dupree also has done a fair amount of work in the area of reporter privilege. He represented Time's Matthew Cooper during the Valerie Plame affair, and former CNN reporter Pierre Thomas in the Wen Ho Lee investigation.
The 50-50 split between appellate and trial work is "exactly what I like and what I want," he said, adding, "One of the neat things about Gibson Dunn is we are very open to lawyers structuring their practices in a way that aligns with their interests. That's freedom I don't think I would have at other firms. Having a lot of trial experience informs my judgment as an appellate litigator and vice versa."
Dupree, 43, recently scored big before a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit in Association of American Railroads v. U.S. Dept. of Transportation. The unanimous panel ruled that Congress in section 207 of the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act of 2008 unconstitutionally delegated regulatory authority to Amtrak, which, the panel held, was a private corporation.
"I love my job. I get fired up each morning," he said. He stokes that fire at around 5 a.m., when he sets off for an early morning run, "and then I make the kids' breakfast." Besides running, he recharges by attending baseball games—major and minor league.
"I've gone to a game at every major league stadium and almost every Triple-A stadium. It was a challenge. I did not tour 20 stadiums in 20 days. It's all been one at a time. I travel a lot. It was a lifetime goal that I accomplished sooner than I anticipated."
And another goal that he is likely pursuing with a runner's stamina, dedication and energy: an argument eventually in the U.S. Supreme Court.
Contact Marcia Coyle at firstname.lastname@example.org.