Advocacy Matters Before and Within the Supreme Court: Transforming the Court by Transforming the Bar

78 Pages Posted: 19 Oct 2007 Last revised: 24 Oct 2008


During the past two decades, the Supreme Court has witnessed the emergence of an elite private sector group of attorneys who are dominating advocacy before the Court to an extent not witnessed since the early nineteenth century. This development is significant for the simple reason that advocacy matters, including before the Supreme Court. Better, more effective advocates influence the development of the law and there is generally no court where such advocacy can wield more far-reaching influence than the Supreme Court. And that is precisely what the modern Supreme Court Bar has quietly and increasingly been accomplishing in recent years. The Court grants the petitions filed by the expert members of the Bar at a significantly higher rate and they also prevail on the merits more frequently. This article documents the extent of the modern Bar's domination of the Court's docket, arguments, and rulings, considers the extent to which business interests who serve as the Bar's primary clients are enjoying heightened success before the Court as a result, and suggests ways of promoting a fairer allocation of Supreme Court advocacy expertise in the future.

Keywords: Supreme Court, Constitutional Law, Legal Profession, Antitrust Law, Tort Law, Criminal Law, Legal History

JEL Classification: K20, K41, K21, K22, K23, K13

Suggested Citation

Lazarus, Richard James, Advocacy Matters Before and Within the Supreme Court: Transforming the Court by Transforming the Bar. Georgetown Law Journal, Vol. 96, 2008, Georgetown Public Law Research Paper No. 1022629, Available at SSRN:

Richard James Lazarus (Contact Author)

Georgetown University Law Center ( email )

600 New Jersey Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20001
United States
202-662-9129 (Phone)
202-662-9408 (Fax)

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