Oct 5 • 43M

Supreme Advocate: An Interview With Paul Clement

The former solicitor general shares advice about oral argument and details about his departure from Kirkland.


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David Lat
Original Jurisdiction, a podcast about law and the legal profession, features host David Lat interviewing some of the most interesting, influential, and important people in the world of law. It's the companion podcast to Lat's Substack newsletter of the same name. You can follow David on Twitter (@DavidLat) or email him at davidlat@substack.com, and you can subscribe to his newsletter at davidlat.substack.com.
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Who is the nation’s top Supreme Court advocate?

If you were to poll the SCOTUS bar, many members would name Paul Clement. The 43rd Solicitor General of the United States and a veteran of over 100 arguments before the Court, he has argued more Supreme Court cases since 2000 than any lawyer in or out of government. Former Acting Solicitor General Neal Katyal described him as “the preeminent advocate in his generation,” while SCOTUSblog founder Tom Goldstein dubbed him “a god.”

Paul Clement, standing outside the U.S. Supreme Court after the first Affordable Care Act challenge (photo by Chip Somodevilla via Getty Images).

And Paul Clement, 56, has been having quite the year. He won two of the biggest cases of the last Term: New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen, the landmark Second Amendment case, and Kennedy v. Bremerton School District, the case of the praying football coach. Despite his win in Bruen, his law firm at the time, Kirkland & Ellis, announced that it would be withdrawing from all Second Amendment cases—on the day that Bruen was handed down. So Paul and his longtime colleague Erin Murphy withdrew from Kirkland, leaving to launch Clement & Murphy, their own appellate and Supreme Court boutique.

After I had a top trial lawyer, Alex Spiro of Quinn Emanuel, as my first podcast guest, it seemed like a logical next step to welcome a leading appellate advocate as my next guest—especially since the episode would air during the first week of October, the start of the new Supreme Court Term. I invited Paul to join me, and I was delighted when he agreed.

In our conversation, we discussed a wide range of topics, including his high school and college debate career, his advice for appellate advocates, some additional backstory behind his departure from Kirkland, his concern about Biglaw’s increasing unwillingness to take on controversial cases and clients, and the time he may or may not have attended a Green Day concert with Elena Kagan. You can check out the episode by clicking on the embed at the top of this post.

Show Notes:

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