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Christopher Michel

Christopher G. Michel

Direct Tel: 202-538-8308
Washington, D.C.
Tel: +1 202 538 8000 Fax: +1 202 538 8100

Chris Michel is Co-Chair of the firm’s National Appellate Practice.  His practice focuses on complex legal issues at all stages of litigation, with a particular emphasis on appellate and Supreme Court matters.  He has handled significant matters in the areas of securities, antitrust, intellectual property and technology, health care, administrative law, the First Amendment, corporate governance, foreign affairs, energy and the environment, and criminal procedure—among others.  He practices frequently in the U.S. Supreme Court, federal and state courts of appeals, and trial courts.  In 2023, he was named an Appellate MVP by Law360 and one of America’s 500 Leading Litigators by Lawdragon.

Chris joined the firm from the Office of the Solicitor General at the U.S. Department of Justice.  During his time there, he argued 10 cases before the Supreme Court, briefed roughly 200 Supreme Court cases at the certiorari and merits stages, and advised the Solicitor General on all aspects of federal litigation strategy. Among other recognition, he received a Civil Division Special Commendation Award for his work on high-stakes civil litigation.

Chris has a unique perspective on the workings of the federal government and key strategic issues facing business clients. In addition to his experience in the Solicitor General’s Office, he served as a counselor to the Attorney General on civil litigation matters and as a special adviser in the White House Counsel’s Office. He began his legal career as a law clerk to Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., at the Supreme Court, and to Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh, who was then sitting on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. Before attending law school, Chris worked at the White House under President George W. Bush, whom he served as Director of Speechwriting, drafting more than 500 presidential speeches including five State of the Union addresses. He also collaborated on President Bush’s memoir, Decision Points, assisting with the researching, drafting, and editing of the book.

A native of California and a graduate of Yale College and Yale Law School, Chris is a member of the Virginia and District of Columbia bars. He has represented and counseled clients in matters at all levels of the federal judiciary, in state trial and appellate courts, before administrative agencies, and in both civil and criminal investigations. He has also taught constitutional law and separation of powers at Georgetown University Law Center, and he is an appointed member of the D.C. Circuit’s Advisory Committee on Procedures.

  • Avery Dennison
  • California Institute of Technology
  • Cisco
  • Citadel Securities
  • Express Scripts, Inc.
  • Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression
  • Google
  • LIV Golf
  • Manhattan Institute
  • Masimo Corp.
  • National Association of Realtors
  • Neighbors for a Better San Francisco
  • Norwegian Cruise Lines
  • Pilgrim’s Pride
  • Texas Capital Bank
  • Trafigura
  • U.S. Chamber of Commerce
  • Verizon
  • X Corp.
  • Cert Petition, Avery Dennison Corp. v. ADASA, Inc.
  • Cert Petition, Theryn Jones v. United States
  • Cert Petition, Hamid Akhavan v. United States
  • Supreme Court Brief in Opposition, PDVSA U.S. Litigation Trust v. Lukoil Pan Americas LLC
  • Supreme Court Amicus Brief, Vidal v. Elster
  • Supreme Court Amicus Brief, Jackson v. United States; Brown v. United States
  • Supreme Court Amicus Brief, Grants Pass v. Johnson
  • Supreme Court Amicus Brief, Belya v. Kapral
  • Appeal (D.C. Circuit), National Ass’n of Realtors v. United States
  • Appeal (Fifth Circuit), Free Speech Coalition v. Colmenero
  • Appeal (Ninth Circuit), Cisco Systems v. Doe
  • Appeal (Eleventh Circuit), Havana Docks v. Norwegian Cruise Line
  • Appellate Mandamus Petition (Sixth Circuit), In re Optum Rx
  • Appellate Writ Petition (Missouri Court of Appeals), Missouri ex rel. Express Scripts, Inc. v. Rathert
  • Appellate Amicus Brief (Second Circuit), New York Times v. Dep’t of Justice
  • Appellate Amicus Brief (Seventh Circuit), Garrick v. Moody Bible Institute

Cases Briefed and Argued in the U.S. Supreme Court

  • Lorenzo v. SEC: represented the SEC in defending a securities-fraud liability finding in an enforcement action; obtained what the New York Times called a “significant victory” for the Commission, snapping its prior losing streak at the Supreme Court
  • Digital Realty Trust, Inc. v. Somers: represented the SEC in interpreting the scope of the whistleblower retaliation provisions of the Dodd-Frank Act
  • USAID v. Alliance for Open Society Int’l, Inc.: represented USAID and the Department of Health and Human Services in defending the constitutional validity of components of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, which the Court explained has “helped save an estimated 17 million lives, primarily in Africa”
  • American Hospital Ass’n v. Becerra: represented HHS in a multi-billion-dollar case involving Medicare reimbursement rates for drugs subject to a statutory discount program
  • Atlantic Richfield Co. v. Christian: represented the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in opposing a lawsuit that challenged central aspects of the EPA cleanup of a major Superfund site
  • Hollyfrontier Cheyenne Refining, LLC v. Renewable Fuels Ass’n: represented EPA in defending its interpretation of the exemption-extension provision of the Renewable Fuel Standard
  • Parker Drilling Mgmt. Services, Ltd. v. Newton: interpreted key provisions of the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, which determines the law applicable to most offshore-oil-drilling operations
  • Torres v. Texas Dep’t of Public Safety: defended a federal statutory provision that allows suits against States by military service members who are denied re-employment protections
  • Kansas v. Garcia: addressed the preemptive effect of the Immigration Reform and Control Act on state criminal prosecutions for identity theft committed through submission of fraudulent tax forms
  • Edwards v. Vannoy: addressed the retroactive application of the Supreme Court’s newly announced unanimous-jury rule to state prisoners whose convictions had already become final 

Additional Cases Briefed in the Supreme Court

  • United States v. Tsarnaev: defended a federal jury verdict imposing capital sentences on the perpetrator of the Boston Marathon bombing
  • Biden v. Missouri: defended HHS’s vaccine mandate for healthcare workers
  • Frank v. Gaos: interpreted provisions of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23 governing class certification and class-action settlements in suit alleging privacy violations for Internet searches
  • United States v. Washington: represented the Department of Energy in challenging a state law imposing heightened workers’ compensation burdens on a former federal nuclear-weapons facility
  • Little Sisters of the Poor v. Pennsylvania: defended a HHS rule adopting exemptions to the contraceptive mandate against substantive and procedural Administrative Procedure Act claims
  • Janus v. AFSCME: addressed the First Amendment validity of unions charging compulsory agency fees to public-sector employees
  • Merrill v. Milligan: addressed the validity of a state’s congressional redistricting plan under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act
  • Haaland v. Brackeen: defended the constitutionality of key provisions of the Indian Child Welfare Act
  • Merit Mgmt. Group, LP v. FTI Consulting, Inc.: represented bankruptcy trustee in contending that certain transferred securities were not subject to an avoiding-power exception
  • Yale Law School 
    (J.D., 2013)
    • Notes Editor, Yale Law Journal
    • Burton Award for Distinguished Legal Writing
    • Kauffman Fellowship in Law, Economics & Entrepreneurship
    • Research/Teaching Assistant in Civil Procedure, Federal Courts, and Constitutional Law
  • Yale University
    (B.A., History, 2003)
    • Phi Beta Kappa, summa cum laude, Distinction in the Major
    • Hart-Lyman and Charles Clark Memorial Prizes for top academic performance
    • Editor in Chief, Yale Daily News
    • Member, Yale Varsity Golf Team


  • Bar of the District of Columbia
  • State Bar of Virginia
  • Supreme Court of the United States
  • U.S. Courts of Appeals:
    • D.C. Circuit
    • Second Circuit
    • Fourth Circuit
    • Fifth Circuit
    • Sixth Circuit
    • Seventh Circuit
    • Ninth Circuit
    • Tenth Circuit
    • Eleventh Circuit
    • Federal Circuit         
  • U.S. District Courts
    • District of the District of Columbia
    • Eastern District of Virginia
  • United States Department of Justice
    • Assistant to the Solicitor General, 2017-2022
    • Counselor and Chief of Staff to the Attorney General, 2020
  • The White House
    • Special Adviser to the White House Counsel, 2018
  •  Kirkland & Ellis LLP
    • Associate, 2016-2017
  •  Bancroft PLLC
    • Associate, 2015-2016
  •  Georgetown University Law Center
    • Adjunct Professor & Teaching Fellow, 2016-2017
  •  Law Clerk to Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr.
    • Supreme Court of the United States, 2014-2015
  •  Law Clerk to the Honorable Brett M. Kavanaugh
    • United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, 2013-2014
  •  The White House
    • Speechwriter to the President, 2003-2009
  • Ranked by Lawdragon 500 Leading Litigators in America for Appellate, inc. Supreme Court, 2024
  • Named Law360 Appellate MVP
  • Appellate Group ranked by National Law Journal Appellate Hot List
  • University of Pennsylvania Law School, Federalist Society Public Interest Panel:  The U.S. Solicitor General’s Office and the Supreme Court (Nov. 2023)
  • American University Washington College of Law, IP at the Supreme Court Series Panel (Nov. 2023)
  • Federal Bar Association, Appellate Advocacy Panel (Oct. 2023)
  • American University Law Review, Federal Circuit Symposium (Oct. 2023)
  • U.S. Chamber of Commerce Podcast, Review of Supreme Court Business Cases (July 2023)
  • Bloomberg Law, The Biggest FCA Case of the Term Is One the Court Didn’t Decide (July 2023)
  • Becket Fund, Law Firm Practice Panel (June 2023)
  • International Association of Defense Counsel Conference, Supreme Court Panel (April 2023)
  • C. Boyden Gray Center, Administrative Law Conference (May 2023)
  • Quinn Emanuel, “Announcement: Partner Christopher G. Michel joins Washington, D.C. office,” January 2023
  • Reuters, “Law firm Quinn Emanuel hires Justice Dept. lawyer to co-head appellate team,” January 2023
  • Guest Lecturer, Supreme Court 2021 Term, Antonin Scalia Law School (July 2022)
  • Guest Lecturer, Supreme Court 2020 Term, Antonin Scalia Law School (July 2021)
  • Federalist Society, Courthouse Steps: D.C. Circuit En Banc Arguments (May 2017)
  • Ragan Communications Speechwriters Conference, Policy and Persuasion (March 2017)
  • Yale Club of Washington, D.C., Panel: The Supreme Court: An Insider’s View (September 2016)
  • Yale College Buckley Program, Speechwriting and Legal Writing (September 2015)
  • Yale Law Journal, There’s No Such Thing as a Political Question of Statutory Interpretation: The Implications of Zivotofsky v. Clinton (2013)
  • Yale Law & Policy Review, Bench Memoirs: A Review of Five Chiefs by Justice John Paul Stevens (2012)
  • D.C. Circuit Advisory Committee on Procedures
  • Edward Coke Appellate Inn of Court
  • Federalist Society Practice Group on Federalism and Separation of Powers
  • Yale Law School Association Executive Committee
  • Yale Daily News Foundation Board of Directors
  • Georgetown Supreme Court Institute