Pratik Shah, an assistant to the solicitor general with 13 Supreme Court arguments under his belt, is leaving government to become co-head of the Supreme Court practice for Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, the firm announced this morning.
The former clerk for Justice Stephen Breyer went to the SG's office in 2008 after working at Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr in Boston, and teaching briefly at the University of Alabama School of Law. He starts at Akin Gump Sept. 23.
While at the SG's office, he argued a range of cases from securities to environmental and Indian law. He confirmed this morning that he wrote the government's briefs in both same-sex marriage cases this past term, United States v. Windsor and Hollingsworth v. Perry. "Those are the cases in which I felt most proud to play a role," he said in an interview.
Shah said he "talked to folks in the industry" before deciding on Akin Gump because of its global scope and it plan to grow its appellate practice. "I'm very excited," he said. Shah declined to discuss financial details of the hire.
Shah will share leadership of the Supreme Court practice with veteran advocate Patricia Millett, who has been nominated to a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. The hiring of Shah will enable the firm to boost its Supreme Court and appellate practice while also making for a smooth transition when or if Millett is confirmed. The Senate Judiciary Committee, voting along party lines, approved her nomination Aug. 1 by 10 to 8.
In a statement today Millett said, “I could not be more pleased that Pratik will be joining Akin Gump. He is a brilliant advocate with a rigorously analytical mind, and his broad experience and superb academic background will contribute materially to our provision of the highest-caliber appellate representation for our clients.”Akin Gump chairperson Kim Koopersmith said, “Akin Gump has one of the finest Supreme Court and appellate practices in the country, and Pratik’s intellectual skills, courtroom experience and sterling credentials as a Supreme Court advocate will add tremendously to the quality and depth of the service we offer clients.”
Shah's hiring is another affirmation of the key role of the solicitor general's office in bringing diversity to the upper echelons of D.C. legal practice. Many of the women and minorities leading top appellate practices in recent years -- Sri Srinivasan at O'Melveny & Myers, Lisa Blatt at Arnold & Porter, Deanne Maynard at Morrison & Foerster, Kannon Shanmugam at Williams & Connolly and Miguel Estrada at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, among others -- enhanced their resumes and expertise with tours at the SG's office.
Shah, whose parents are from India, was born and raised in Akron, Ohio. He has an engineering degree from Princeton University and received his J.D. from University of California, Berkeley School of Law.