Law School Representation Rates: Oral Arguments, 2008-9 through 2013-14

As the NCAA basketball tournament reaches its climax, we match its allure by studying the court performance (or presence, at any rate) of universities in a different setting.  Exploiting data churned up by earlier posts, we will compare the number of oral arguments presented by graduates of law schools that qualified for the competition.  Our gaze encompasses the past six terms (2008-9 through 2013-14), during which 795 oral arguments were delivered before the Supreme Court.  In only seven instances was I unable to determine the participants’ law schools, leaving us with 788 entries in the tournament.  In a very small number of cases two lawyers split an oral argument, and when this occurred, each lawyer’s law school was counted in the total of 788.  Also, if one lawyer delivered multiple oral arguments over the years in question, his/her law school was credited separately for each of these arguments.

Number of Oral Arguments Presented at the Wisconsin Supreme Court by Graduates of the Following Law Schools, 2008-9 through 2013-14 (includes schools whose graduates delivered at least eight oral arguments—1% of the total of 788)

University of Wisconsin 367/788 (47%)
Marquette University 182/788 (23%)
Harvard University 16/788 (2%)
New York University 12/788 (2%)
University of Chicago 11/788 (1%)
Drake University 11/788 (1%)
University of Missouri 11/788 (1%)
Indiana University 10/788 (1%)
University of Pennsylvania 10/788 (1%)
University of Minnesota 9/788 (1%)
Northwestern University 9/788 (1%)
University of Virginia 9/788 (1%)
John Marshall Law School 8/788 (1%)
Yale University 8/788 (1%)

The previous post (“Law Firm Success Rates”) focused on just the twelve private firms that presented at least five oral arguments during this period.  Listed below are the law schools whose graduates delivered the oral arguments for these firms.  Here we are counting all oral arguments, including those in a handful of cases that were omitted from the previous post (3-3 per curiam decisions, for instance, and decisions that did not clearly favor one party or the other).

The twelve firms are: Axley Brynelson; Cannon & Dunphy; Crivello Carlson; Foley & Lardner; Godfrey & Kahn; Habush Habush & Rottier; Kasdorf, Lewis & Swietlik; Michael Best & Friedrich; Quarles & Brady; Stafford Rosenbaum; von Briesen & Roper; and Whyte Hirschboeck Dudek.

Number of Oral Arguments Presented on Behalf of the Twelve Firms by Graduates of the Following Law Schools

Wisconsin 58/121 (48%)
Marquette 27/121 (22%)
Harvard 6/121 (5%)
Chicago 4/121 (3%)
NYU 4/121 (3%)
Indiana 3/121 (2%)
Iowa 3/121 (2%)
Northwestern 3/121 (2%)
Ohio State 3/121 (2%)
Yale 3/121 (2%)
Columbia 1/121 (1%)
Georgetown 1/121 (1%)
John Marshall 1/121 (1%)
Minnesota 1/121 (1%)
Northern Illinois 1/121 (1%)
Virginia 1/121 (1%)
Wayne State 1/121 (1%)

It is interesting to note that while Wisconsin’s and Marquette’s shares of the oral arguments for these twelve firms are nearly identical to their shares for the total number of 788 oral arguments, their oral arguments were distributed unevenly across the twelve firms, as detailed in the following table.

Number of Oral Arguments Presented on Behalf of Each of the Twelve Firms by Graduates of the Following Law Schools

Axley Brynelson: Wisconsin 10/12; Marquette 2/12.
Cannon & Dunphy: Marquette 5/7; Wisconsin 2/7.
Crivello Carlson: Wisconsin 3/5; John Marshall 1/5; Marquette 1/5.
Foley & Lardner: Wisconsin 5/13; Chicago 4/13; Yale 3/13; Indiana 1/13.
Godfrey & Kahn: Wisconsin 8/15; Northwestern 3/15; NYU 2/15; Columbia 1/15; Georgetown 1/15.
Habush Habush & Rottier: Marquette 5/8; Wisconsin 3/8.
Kasdorf, Lewis & Swietlik: Marquette 5/6; Wisconsin 1/6.
Michael Best & Friedrich: Wisconsin 8/14; NYU 2/14; Harvard 1/14; Northern Illinois 1/14; Iowa 1/14; Virginia 1/14.
Quarles & Brady: Wisconsin 5/14; Harvard 3/14; Marquette 2/14; Ohio State 2/14; Iowa 1/14; Minnesota 1/14.
Stafford Rosenbaum: Wisconsin 4/6; Harvard 2/6.
von Briesen & Roper: Wisconsin 5/11; Marquette 4/11; Iowa 1/11; Wayne State 1/11.
Whyte Hirschboeck Dudek: Wisconsin 4/10; Marquette 3/10; Indiana 2/10; Ohio State 1/10.

Although these twelve firms appeared frequently before the Supreme Court, the total of their appearances paled before the number of lawyers bound for the same destination from the offices of the Attorney General and the Public Defender.  Focusing on the data from these two agencies, one is struck by the fact that lawyers from the University of Wisconsin presented oral arguments in numbers far surpassing their colleagues from other schools—and considerably higher than Wisconsin’s share (47%) of the 788 oral arguments delivered by attorneys in all categories.  Wisconsin’s dominance was particularly striking in the case of the Public Defender, where the law school’s graduates accounted for a remarkable 71% of oral arguments—eclipsing the portions contributed by lawyers from the law schools of the University of Virginia (11%), Marquette (5%), and New York University (5%).

Number of Oral Arguments Presented on Behalf of the Attorney General’s Office by Graduates of the Following Law Schools (schools whose graduates delivered at least two oral arguments—1% of the total of 175)

University of Wisconsin 96/175 (55%)
Marquette University 29/175 (17%)
University of Missouri 11/175 (6%)
University of Pennsylvania 10/175 (6%)
University of Chicago 5/175 (3%)
Indiana University 4/175 (2%)
Capital University 3/175 (2%)
University of Iowa 3/175 (2%)
University of Michigan 3/175 (2%)
DePaul University 2/175 (1%)
Harvard University 2/175 (1%)
Northern Illinois University 2/175 (1%)

Number of Oral Arguments Presented on Behalf of the Public Defender’s Office by Graduates of the Following Law Schools

University of Wisconsin 45/63 (71%)
University of Virginia 7/63 (11%)
Marquette University 3/63 (5%)
New York University 3/63 (5%)
University of the Pacific 2/63 (3%)
Georgetown University 1/63 (2%)
Golden Gate University 1/63 (2%)
University of Minnesota 1/63 (2%)


About Alan Ball

Alan Ball is a Professor of History at Marquette University in Milwaukee, WI.

SCOWstats offers numerical analysis of the voting by Wisconsin Supreme Court justices on diverse issues over the past 93 years.

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