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Carter Phillips on what he loves about making Supreme Court appearances

Carter Phillips on what he loves about making Supreme Court appearances


We recently interviewed appellate lawyer Carter Phillips of Sidley Austin of Washington, D.C., for our Washington, D.C. Super Lawyers supplement that appeared in WP magazine. Phillips is the lawyer who holds the record for the most appearances before the U.S. Supreme Court — more than 70 — which was the topic for much of our conversation. Here’s an excerpt that didn’t make it into the print edition about what he likes about making appearances beyond the actual oral arguments.

I love doing the arguments but I also like the process of putting them together because I know that as much fun as the oral argument is, the real success comes out of the brief-writing process. I’ve always enjoyed that kind of intellectual puzzle in trying to figure out the best way to pitch arguments to get to five in terms of the number of justices you need to rule in your favor.

The other thing is I enjoy about the process is working with clients and co-counsel. In almost every instance the case already has a lawyer, so really I’m a lawyer’s lawyer. I like that aspect of it. I’ve always been smitten by the collaborative bug. I like that these other lawyers bring to the table this knowledge of the case from sometimes years of experience, and I bring to the table the knowledge of the court and process and the best way to frame issues and make arguments. It’s a fun interplay. It can be difficult at times, challenging, sometimes frustrating, but certainly satisfying.

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