An Oral Argument Count: The Top 25 Law Firms

A recent post tallying the number of oral arguments delivered by individual attorneys prompted a reader to suggest a companion post identifying the firms whose lawyers have argued most often before the supreme court. With this assignment in hand, we’ll focus on private firms and non-profit organizations (thereby excluding the Department of Justice and the State Public Defender’s Office, by far the most frequent participants in oral arguments), and we’ll cover the same period as the earlier post—the ten terms from September 1, 2008, through August 31, 2018.[1]

Godfrey & Kahn holds the top spot, followed closely by Quarles & Brady, in the list of firms responsible for six or more oral arguments during the past ten terms.[2] Table 1 displays all 25 firms which made the cut,[3] and while the presence of many prominent names occasions no astonishment, readers may be surprised at the rankings (or perhaps the absence) of certain firms.[4]  

Table 1 is silent regarding the possibility that some firms may have participated most frequently in recent years while others’ activity peaked earlier in the decade. Here, Table 2 can help by narrowing our focus to the last three years.[5] Although four firms in Table 1’s top seven spots remain among Table 2’s top seven—Godfrey & Kahn, Axley Brynelson, Foley & Lardner, and von Briesen & Roper—the other three have dropped out, replaced by the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL), Habush Habush & Rottier, and Crivello Carlson. WILL’s rise has been particularly dramatic—from the bottom half of Table 1 all the way to the summit of Table 2.

 

[1] It should be noted that we are counting oral arguments in cases decided during this period. Disciplinary matters involving lawyers and judges, as well as various motions and petitions, are excluded.

[2] I began by compiling a table of all firms that delivered at least two oral arguments in at least one of the ten terms under consideration. I then checked each of these firms, year by year, to add to the table any years in which a firm gave only one oral argument. It’s possible, though unlikely, that a firm accounted for six or more oral arguments during this period, but never more than one per year—and would thus be omitted. If such a firm is brought to my attention, I will, of course, be happy to add it to the tables.

[3] With five oral arguments each, the following firms just missed the cut: Hawks Quindel, Herrling Clark, Hinshaw & Culbertson, Lindner & Marsack, and O’Neil, Cannon, Hollman, DeJong & Laing (one of whose five oral arguments came under the name of O’Neil, Cannon, Hollman, DeJong).

[4] The total for Whyte Hirschboeck Dudek includes two oral arguments delivered by Husch Blackwell, which absorbed Whyte Hirschboeck Dudek in 2016.

Boardman & Clark’s total includes three arguments delivered by Boardman, Suhr, Curry & Field. Boardman & Clark was formed by the merger in 2012 of Boardman, Suhr, Curry & Field and Lathrop & Clark.

Pines Bach’s total includes five arguments delivered under the name of Cullen Weston Pines & Bach.

Conway, Olejniczak & Jerry’s total includes three arguments delivered under the name of Liebmann, Conway, Olejniczak & Jerry.

The total for Kachinsky Law Offices includes four arguments delivered under the name of Sisson & Kachinsky Law Office. Len Kachinsky gave all of the arguments for both firms.

All of Hurley Burish’s arguments are listed by the court under the name of Hurley, Burish & Stanton.

Three of Bell Moore & Richter’s total were delivered under the name of Bell Gierhart & Moore.

[5] Click here for a table showing the results for the last five terms.

About Alan Ball

Alan Ball is a Professor of History at Marquette University in Milwaukee, WI.

alan.ball@marquette.edu

SCOWstats offers numerical analysis of the voting by Wisconsin Supreme Court justices on diverse issues over the past 44 years.

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