Seth Waxman of Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr. (Photo: Diego M. Radzinschi)

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 an important victory in Czyzewski v. Jevic Holding, one of the most significant bankruptcy cases in years. Our clients were truckers Jevic fired without warning when it filed for Chapter 11. In a Chapter 11 plan, the Bankruptcy Code would have given the truckers’ back-pay claims priority over claims of general unsecured creditors. But Jevic used a “structured dismissal” to distribute estate assets to nonpriority creditors, skipping over the truckers. Danielle Spinelli led the team that persuaded the Supreme Court to hold this practice unlawful, explaining how Jevic’s position would undermine the fundamental principles of Chapter 11.

How did your firm approach appellate success over the past year? There is no substitute for meticulous work and intensive preparation. Each year we renew our commitment to this principle, thoroughly testing and reviewing every possible argument to the point where even an extra week of preparation wouldn’t make for a better argument.

What practice advice would you give your younger self? 1. Overprepare. To be a great lawyer, Daniel Webster said, one “must first consent to be only a great drudge.” 2. Walk away. Litigation schedules are often punishing and beyond control. When time frees up, seize the opportunity to take time off.

Responses submitted by Seth Waxman, co-chair of Wilmer’s Appellate and Supreme Court Litigation practice.