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. Our top U.S. Supreme Court victory was Star Athletica v. Varsity Brands. We represented Varsity, which was seeking to preserve its registered copyrights in original artwork used on cheerleading uniforms. We concluded that we should not endorse the competing circuit tests, and predicted that the Supreme Court would be inclined to a textualist opinion because the concept of “separable” copyrighted works is so malleable once it’s unmoored from the text. So where the text diverged from Copyright Office practice, we stuck with the text even though it could mean less deference. The court had a much clearer path than the circuits; there was only one relevant precedent, plus the text.
How did your firm approach appellate success in the past year? Collaboration was key—with subject-matter experts for each case, and often with co-counsel or counsel for other parties on our side. We try to be as “flat” (nonhierarchical) as possible, with good ideas or edits welcome from anyone, no matter how junior.
What practice advice would you give your younger lawyer self? 1. Read as much good writing as you can—nonlegal as well as legal. 2. Set aside some time each day for long-term planning, because otherwise the immediate tasks at hand will swallow all your time.
Responses submitted by William Jay, co-chair of Goodwin’s appellate litigation practice.