Former U.S. Supreme Court clerk and chief presidential speechwriter joins from Solicitor General’s Office; becomes Co-Chair of firm’s National Appellate Practice.
WASHINGTON – Strengthening its already formidable appellate practice, Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan LLP today announced that Christopher G. Michel has joined the firm as a partner, resident in the firm’s Washington, D.C. office. Michel joins Quinn Emanuel from the U.S. Department of Justice, where since 2017 he has served as Assistant to the Solicitor General. Michel will become Co-Chair of the Quinn Emanuel’s National Appellate Practice, the firm said.
At the Office of the U.S. Solicitor General, Michel played a leading role in representing the federal government before the U.S. Supreme Court, briefing and arguing cases and devising appellate strategies. He personally argued ten cases before the Court on issues including securities, healthcare, energy and the environment, the First Amendment, criminal procedure, and administrative law. He also briefed more than a dozen cases for argument by the Solicitor General and Deputy Solicitors General, filed more than 100 certiorari-stage briefs, and formulated lower-court strategy in high-priority cases.
“Chris ranks among the finest appellate advocates of his generation, and we are pleased to have him on board,” said John B. Quinn, the firm’s Founder and Chairman. “The high-stakes cases we handle invariably end up before appellate tribunals – and are often the toughest cases with the most challenging issues. Chris will be a tremendous asset.”
Michel 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 advisor in the White House Counsel’s Office. He previously practiced trial and appellate litigation at Kirkland & Ellis LLP and Bancroft PLLC. He began his legal career as a law clerk to Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., at the Supreme Court, and to Justice Brett Kavanaugh, who was then sitting on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. And before attending Yale Law School, he worked in 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.
“Chris is a seasoned advocate and brilliant writer who will be a terrific addition to our appellate practice. His years of experience in the White House and the Solicitor General’s Office will be an invaluable asset to our clients and our firm. We are extremely fortunate to have him join us,” said name partner Kathleen Sullivan, founding Chair of the firm’s National Appellate Practice.
At the Solicitor General’s Office, Michel argued such cases as Lorenzo v. Securities and Exchange Commission (2018), in which he successfully represented the SEC in upholding a finding of liability for securities fraud. The New York Times called the case a “significant victory,” which snapped the SEC’s decade-long losing streak at the Supreme Court. In USAID v. Alliance for Open Society (2020), he successfully represented the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Agency for International Development in defending the constitutionality of important components of the Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief. And in Torres v. Texas Department of Public Safety (2022), he successfully defended the constitutionality of a federal law permitting employment-discrimination suits against state employers by service members and veterans.
“I am delighted to join Quinn Emanuel and its National Appellate Practice. The firm is known as the best litigation firm in the world and has an outstanding roster of appellate talent. I am honored to join this team,” Michel said.
Michel’s practice will focus on Supreme Court and appellate matters, as well as critical legal issues at other stages of litigation – including in trial courts, administrative proceedings, and white-collar investigations.
“Chris is a true rising star – a brilliant legal mind and a stunningly talented writer. We are gratified to welcome him to the partnership,” said William “Bill” Burck, the firm’s global Co-Managing Partner.