The Volokh Conspiracy

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31-year-old associate at big law firm argues before the U.S. Supreme Court


Pretty cool, and I suspect quite rare, for someone just six years out of law school. Tony Mauro (National New Journal) has a story on this:

Most 31-year-old associates don't get to argue at the U.S. Supreme Court, especially when they work at a firm full of veteran advocates who could pull rank and take on the assignment.

But Paul Hughes of Mayer Brown did just that on Dec. 3, appearing in a tricky trademark tacking case, Hana Financial Inc. v. Hana Bank.

I'm a part-part-part-time Academic Affiliate with Mayer Brown, so I'm biased, but I think that even quite objectively this is very impressive. Very few people argue before the Court these days at such an age, and especially not through a big law firm (as opposed to, say, through the Solicitor General's Office, which some people do get a chance to work at early in their careers). My hat would be totally off to him, if I wore a hat.

I will say that Mayer, like some other firms, does make a habit of helping their associates get their first appellate arguments. When I started with Mayer as an Academic Affiliate, I had never argued a case (though I'd file some briefs), and I got my first argument in 2007 through their pro bono Seventh Circuit program; likewise, just this week three associates at the firm (Michael Lindinger, Christopher Ford, and James Tierney) got their first oral arguments, all in the federal courts of appeals. But Hughes' accomplishment is above and beyond the norm, even at Mayer.