First Time At One First

July 7th, 2014

Tony Mauro profiles several of the first-time advocates this year at the Supreme Court.

“It has been a breakout year, very different from what we have seen in the past,” said Tom Goldstein of Goldstein & Russell. “It’s been a real opportunity for another generation of advocates to make their mark.”

Lawyers making their debut in marquee cases, and winning, include: Erin Murphy of Bancroft in the campaign-finance case McCutcheon v. FEC; Jones Day’s Noel Francisco in NLRB v. Noel Canning on presidential recess appointments; Aaron Streett of Baker Botts in the securities class action case Halliburton v. Erica P. John Fund; and Mark Rienzi of Catholic University of America Columbus School of Law in McCullen v. Coakley, the abortion clinic buffer-zone dispute.

By Goldstein’s estimate, more than half of the 121 advocates who went to the high court lectern this term were doing so for the first or second time. They include some women and minorities, in a practice area dominated by white men.

With a special focus on Erin Murphy:

Murphy, for example, won her assignment to argue McCutcheon last October in part because her colleague, former U.S. Solicitor General Paul Clement, was arguing another case the day before — the first of five he argued during the term.

But the 33-year-old Murphy said, “It wouldn’t have come along if Paul didn’t want it to. It was important to Paul to make it happen.”

And Tejinder Singh:

Goldstein’s firm fielded Tejinder Singh to argue his first case in Lane v. Franks, a significant if not total win. The key to making clients comfortable with a first-timer, Singh said, is to get to know the client from the beginning of the representation.

“I was the sole point of contact from the start,” said Singh, who cold-called the lawyers who lost in the court below — a longtime trademark of Goldstein’s practice. “Tom says that if you bring in the client, it’s yours, soup to nuts.”