Tell us about your top U.S. Supreme Court or federal circuit court victory over the past year and how you and your team achieved the win. We won United States v. Maslenjak in the U.S. Supreme Court because we knew we had to grab the mantle of textualism away from the government in this statutory case. The Sixth Circuit below created a circuit split by purporting to follow the plain text of the statute and rejecting decisions from other circuits that relied on a policy-based approach. While the other circuits had reached the right result, we knew that their reasoning wouldn’t appeal to SCOTUS. So we focused on developing a textual argument to justify those decisions that the courts themselves had never advanced. We won (unanimously) on that argument. How did your firm approach appellate success over the past year? We approached appellate success by expanding our appellate footprint. Two of our SCOTUS cases (Maslenjak and Perry) arose out of pro bono matters that our junior lawyers handled in the courts of appeals. Win-win: Junior lawyers got experience, and [the] firm heightened its overall appellate profile. What practice advice would you give your younger self? 1. The diplomatic aspects of the job are as important as the legal ones. Communicate with those who handled the case below. 2. Talk about the case to as many people as possible—both lawyers and nonlawyers—early and often to articulate your core arguments.
Responses submitted by Kirkland & Ellis partner Christopher Landau.