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Seth P. Waxman is One of the Nation’s Most Influential and Successful Appellate and Supreme Court Litigators" border="1" height="188" hspace="10" src="https://www.lawcrossing.com/images/articleimages/waxman_seth_Big.jpg" title="Seth P. Waxman is One of the Nation’s Most Influential and Successful Appellate and Supreme Court Litigators" vspace="5" width="250" /> Seth P. Waxman is chair of WilmerHale's Appellate and Supreme Court Litigation Practice Group, and he is a partner in the Government Affairs and Regulatory and Litigation/Controversy Departments.
Mr. Waxman is one of the nation's premier appellate and Supreme Court advocates. From November 1997 to January 2001, he served as the 41st Solicitor General of the United States. In addition to being the leader of the firm's appellate practice, Mr. Waxman handles counseling practice and broad litigation, specializing in complex challenges concerning public policy or governments, regulatory, intellectual property, commercial and criminal matters.
The attorney's legal expertise spans both state and federal trial and appellate courts. Mr. Waxman has made more than sixty-five arguments in the U.S. Supreme Court. He also has delivered numerous arguments in the lower federal as well as state courts. Mr. Waxman's diverse clients have included Indian tribes, universities, consumer, industrial and media companies and have ranged from technology to financial institutions. He also represents several local, state and national governments and professionals, government executives and prominent businesses.
Over the years, Mr. Waxman has been awarded several distinctions. In 2005, he was selected "Lawyer of the Year" by Lawyers Weekly USA. Mr. Waxman was also featured in the PLC Which Lawyer? Yearbook 2006 as one of Washington DC's leading attorneys in the dispute resolution category. He is recognized by his colleagues as one of the world's leading litigation lawyers in Legal Media Group's The Best of the Best. In 2004, 2007 and 2009, Mr. Waxman was listed in Washingtonian magazine's "Top 30 Lawyers in Washington." In December 2004, Legal Times named him Washington DC's "Leading Lawyer" in the area of appellate litigation. Managing IP magazine selected Mr. Waxman as a 2013-14 "IP Star" (the magazine is a guidebook which identifies prominent attorneys in the U.S.). IAM Patent 1000: The World's Leading Patent Practitioners named Mr. Waxman as a 2013-leading practitioner in patent law and he was listed in the 2011 edition of IAM Patent Litigation 250 as a leading patent litigator. The Legal 500 United States listed Mr. Waxman as a "Leading Lawyer" for Supreme Court and Appellate Litigation. In the 2010, 2012 and 2013 editions of Benchmark Litigation, the attorney was recognized as a "National Star" for his appellate litigation practice. Mr. Waxman was listed in the 2012 and 2013 editions of Benchmark Appellate for his service in the Federal Circuit as well as the District of Columbia. In the 2007-2013 editions of Chambers USA: America's Leading Lawyers for Business, he was ranked as a "Star Individual" leader in national appellate litigation. In 2006 and 2013, The National Law Journal named Mr. Waxman as one of "The 100 Most Influential Lawyers in America." He was chosen as the "Number One" lawyer in Washington DC by Super Lawyers 2013. The 2009-2013 editions of Super Lawyers recognized Mr. Waxman as one of Washington DC's "Top Ten" attorneys. The Best Lawyers in America named him the 2013 "First Amendment Lawyer of the Year." The same publication listed Mr. Waxman as the "Bet-the-Company Litigator of the Year" for 2010, and he is listed by Best Lawyers annually in the areas of First Amendment law, intellectual property litigation, commercial litigation, bet-the-company litigation, white-collar criminal litigation and appellate law. In 2012, he also earned the Outstanding Achievement Award from Chambers USA for his contributions to the legal profession.
He was born and raised in Hartford, CT. In 1973, Mr. Waxman graduated with a B.A. Summa Cum Laude in Sociology from Harvard College and he received a Rockefeller Fellow in Kenya the following year. He also earned his J.D. from Yale Law School, where he served as Managing Editor of the Yale Law Journal.
After graduating from law school, Mr. Waxman served as a law clerk to Gerhard A. Gesell, U.S. District Judge for the District of Columbia. He then worked in private practice for Miller, Cassidy, Larroca & Lewin, where he specialized in civil, appellate and complex criminal litigation. Mr. Waxman is well known for his pro bono work, for which he has received many awards, including the American Bar Association's Pro Bono Publico award.
In May 1994, he joined the U. S. Department of Justice. Prior to being appointed Solicitor General, Mr. Waxman served in several positions in the Department of Justice, which include: Associate Deputy Attorney General, Acting Deputy Attorney General, Acting Solicitor General and Principal Deputy Solicitor General.
The attorney is well known for arguing numerous leading cases in the Supreme Court. In 2005, for example, he argued and won Boumediene v. Bush, which established the constitutional right of detainees at Guantanamo Bay to invoke habeas corpus in federal courts. He also argued and won Roper v. Simmons, which held that the Eighth Amendment precludes execution of juvenile offenders. Mr. Waxman is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Law Institute, and is a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers, the American Association of Appellate Lawyers, and the American Bar Foundation.
Mr. Waxman is married and has three grown children, Noah, Sarah and Ethan. When the fearless attorney isn't working, he enjoys cycling, running, windsurfing, backcountry skiing, hiking, sailing, yoga, and listening to classical music. Mr. Waxman is an avid fan of the Washington Nationals and also cheers for the Redskins, the Baltimore Orioles and Ravens, and the New England Patriots. His daughter, who graduated from college in 2008, was a nationally acclaimed lacrosse goalie for the University of Pennsylvania, and Mr. Waxman is proud never to have missed a game at Franklin Field in four years.
Mr. Waxman's Successful Law Career
Does Mr. Waxman have a most memorable law school experience? He recalled several, including a prized position with the late Charles Black. He also recalls the day his editor drove away with the only copy of Mr. Waxman's typescript article on the roof of his car, scattering the pages all over New Haven, CT.
The Super Lawyer was asked if he was given any awards or worked in any internship that influenced his decision to practice law. Mr. Waxman said no, that he had decided to attend law school while living in a village in Kenya. Although his mentors at Harvard College encouraged him to pursue a PhD, Mr. Waxman decided on a career in law.
Why did Mr. Waxman decide to become an attorney? "I wanted to have a profession where I could apply my skills to make the world a better place." Mr. Waxman thought about becoming a doctor, but since he wasn't comfortable with that profession, he knew by obtaining his law degree he could make a difference in the world.
So what is the best part of his job? "My variety of cases and my colleagues."
What is the trial lawyer known for professionally? "Only others can speak to that - I suppose for having been Solicitor General of the United States and for my appellate and Supreme Court advocacy."
What does Mr. Waxman think about the legal field today? "I don't think about the business side of being an attorney. I am interested in my clients."
Mr. Waxman's Mentor and Mentoring Others, Pro Bono Work and Non Profit Organizations
Does Mr. Waxman have a mentor? He said U.S. District Judge Gerhard A. Gesell was a mentor and close friend for ten years before he passed away. For 19 years following his clerkship, Mr. Waxman worked for an elite boutique law firm in Washington D.C., and he considers the leaders of that firm to be his mentors. Although dozens of young advocates consider Mr. Waxman as a mentor, the Super Lawyer demurred: "Helping younger lawyers with their careers has always given me enormous satisfaction," he said, "but I would never aggregate to myself the title of 'mentor.'"
Does Mr. Waxman handle pro bono work? The attorney spends approximately 300 hours a year handling pro bono work. Mr. Waxman explained that his pro bono work is a big part of his practice. His pro bono work includes representing one death row inmate every year and he has represented five detainees at Guantanamo Bay.
Is the trial lawyer involved with any nonprofit organizations? Mr. Waxman serves several non-profit organizations, including the Executive Committee of Supreme Court Historical Society. He is a past President of the Board of Overseers of Harvard College. In recent years, Mr. Waxman said, he has reduced the number of non-profit boards on which he sits "so that I can focus on my practice and my pro bono work."
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