Appellate advocacy demands three distinct skills: (i) thorough research focused on the types of issues of concern to appellate judges; (ii) the reformulation of issues through trenchant analysis and attentiveness to the rule being sought; and (iii) highly developed written and oral advocacy skills keyed to the unique conditions of the appellate or Supreme Court forum.
The consistently successful use of these skills in high-profile, high-stakes cases is the trademark of Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP’s appellate practice. The appellate practice’s success is supported by the firm’s broad-gauged litigation practice, its global scope and the hand-in-glove cooperation among the firm’s practices, including our administrative and regulatory litigation practice. Consequently, clients with issues in disciplines as diverse as labor and employment, intellectual property and constitutional law are ensured of receiving targeted and powerful representation.
We brief and argue dozens of cases every year on behalf of businesses, trade associations and white collar criminal defendants in the federal courts of appeals, state supreme courts and state courts of appeal. We also regularly represent parties and amici in the U.S. Supreme Court, and Akin Gump lawyers have argued 13 Supreme Court cases since 2008.
Co-headed by Pratik Shah (DC) and Rex Heinke (Los Angeles), Akin Gump’s appellate practice is nationally recognized as comprising exceptionally talented and respected figures in the courtroom.
Mr. Shah previously served as Assistant to the Solicitor General in the U.S. Department of Justice. In its 2016 national rankings, Chambers USA describes Mr. Shah as “one of the brightest and most personable members of the DC appellate bar” with “complete mastery of the facts and law of a case.” Among other publications, the Washington Business Journal has recognized him as a leading appellate advocate who has successfully “practiced before the highest court in the land on some of the most groundbreaking cases of the 21st century.” Mr. Heinke, a fellow of the American Academy of Appellate Lawyers, is one of the most experienced appellate litigators in the country and has been recognized twice as a California Lawyer Attorney of the Year.
Their team includes lawyers with years logged as clerks at almost every level of the judicial system, including the U.S. Supreme Court, state supreme courts, federal appellate circuit courts, federal district courts and bankruptcy courts, as well as the U.S. Court of International Trade and the U.S. Court of Federal Claims. As a result, every appeal we handle is fortified by first-hand knowledge both of what judges want and need to know to decide the case and of how best to present that information.
The Reuters December 2014 Special Report “The Echo Chamber” examined a pool of about 17,000 lawyers and 8,000 law firms doing business at the Supreme Court from 2004 to 2012. Among the 31 leading practices, Akin Gump placed sixth for the volume and success of our certiorari petitions, solidifying our standing in the ranks of “Elite law firms [who] spin gold from a rarefied niche: getting cases before the Supreme Court.” In addition to being named Law360’s Appellate Practice of the Year for 2012, Akin Gump has been a mainstay on The National Law Journal’s “Appellate Hot List” as one of the nation’s top appellate firms each year since it started the awards in 2008. Consistently ranked by Chambers as a leader in the field, the appellate practice was also recognized in Tier 1 nationally in the U.S. News & World Report and Best Lawyers’ fourth annual joint ranking of America’s Best Law Firms. Most recently, Akin Gump was recognized as one of the top three appellate practices nationwide, according to Corporate Counsel’s 2017 “Best of Corporate Counsel” list, which was determined by individuals working within in-house corporate legal and compliance departments.
What all this means for our clients is a seamless continuum of appellate know-how that extends from collaborating with trial counsel on strategic and tactical matters to raise all applicable arguments and make appropriate records at the trial court level through deploying our extensive and hands-on experience on appeal to seeking or preventing Supreme Court review. The depth, breadth and quality of experience possessed by Akin Gump’s appellate practice is such that lawyers from around the country—including accomplished appellate lawyers—regularly consult our lawyers on complex, critical matters.