Kannon Shanmugam heads Williams & Connolly’s Supreme Court and Appellate Litigation practice. He is the only lawyer to have joined the firm as a lateral partner in the last 32 years. Widely recognized as one of the nation’s premier appellate advocates, Kannon has argued 27 cases before the Supreme Court, including several of the Court’s most significant recent business and criminal cases.  Earlier this year, Kannon successfully obtained review from the Court in three separate cases on the same day—an apparently unprecedented feat for a lawyer in private practice.  Beyond the Supreme Court, Kannon has argued dozens of appeals in courts across the country, including arguments in all thirteen federal courts of appeals and in numerous state courts. 

Kannon has been selected as one of the top 10 appellate lawyers (Benchmark Litigation) and one of the top 500 lawyers overall (Lawdragon magazine) in the United States.  Kannon has been named The American Lawyer’s Litigator of the Week three times, and he has been named a Law360 Legal Lion of the Week seven times in the last eighteen months for a series of victories at all three levels of the federal courts. Kannon has also featured on numerous lists of the top Supreme Court advocates, with Washingtonian magazine naming him one of its 20 people in Washington to watch.

In ranking Kannon in the first tier of appellate advocates nationwide, Chambers USA praised him as “highly impressive and immensely popular.”  Benchmark Litigation described Kannon as “one of the most respected and admired appellate practitioners” in the country, and Lawdragon praised him as “inspiring and in demand.” The American Lawyer recently lauded him for his “amazing track record,” and The National Law Journal cited his “confident manner and elegant elocution” before the Supreme Court, stating that he “never seems to get flustered.” 

Kannon joined Williams & Connolly after serving as an Assistant to the Solicitor General in the Department of Justice. Born and raised in Lawrence, Kansas, he received an A.B. summa cum laude in classics from Harvard; an M. Litt. in classics from the University of Oxford, where he was a Marshall Scholar; and a J.D. magna cum laude from Harvard Law School, where he was executive editor of the law review and argued for the winning side in the moot-court competition. After graduation, he served as a law clerk to Justice Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court and Judge J. Michael Luttig on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.

Kannon has served as the co-chair of the American Bar Association’s Appellate Practice Committee. He is also a past president of the Edward Coke Appellate Inn of Court, the principal bench-bar organization for appellate judges and lawyers in the Washington area. He is a member of the Advisory Committee on Procedures for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

Kannon has taught Supreme Court advocacy as an adjunct professor of law at Georgetown University Law Center. In the community, he has served as chair of the board of trustees of Thurgood Marshall Academy, a charter school in Southeast Washington that is one of the city’s highest-performing public high schools. He is a member of the firm’s pro bono committee and has devoted substantial time to pro bono representation in the areas of criminal law and religious liberty.

Click here to read a recent interview with Kannon in The American Lawyer.
Click here to read a recent interview with Kannon in The National Law Journal.
Click here to read a recent interview with Kannon in Lawdragon.
Click here to read a recent interview with Kannon in Harvard Law Today.

Representative Experience

Kannon’s experience includes the following cases. In all of these cases, Kannon presented oral argument and was principally responsible for the written briefs. You can access the audio of the argument, where available, by clicking on the case name. All cases vary and none is predictive.

  • Successfully represented Digital Realty in the Supreme Court in a case requiring whistleblowers to report to the Securities and Exchange Commission before bringing suit for retaliation under the Dodd-Frank Act (Digital Realty v. Somers).
  • Successfully represented Santander in a Supreme Court case on the frequently litigated question of which financial institutions are subject to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (Henson v. Santander). 
  • Successfully represented Midland Funding, a subsidiary of Encore Capital Group, in a Supreme Court case challenging the filing of certain bankruptcy claims as a false or unfair debt-collection practice (Midland Funding v. Johnson). 
  • Successfully represented Omnicare, the nation’s largest provider of pharmacy-related services for the elderly, in the Supreme Court in a closely watched case on the actionability of statements of opinion under the federal securities laws (Omnicare v. Laborers District Council).
  • Successfully represented Jesse Litvak, a Jefferies bond trader, in two high-profile appeals in the Second Circuit reversing his convictions for securities fraud, for which Kannon was named Litigator of the Week by The American Lawyer (United States v. Litvak).
  • Successfully represented AstraZeneca in the First Circuit in an appeal from the first jury verdict in an antitrust class action challenging pharmaceutical patent settlements, in which plaintiffs were seeking up to $20 billion in damages (In re Nexium Antitrust Litigation).
  • Successfully represented Bank of America in the Second Circuit in its appeal from a $1.3 billion adverse judgment for civil penalties under FIRREA arising from the sale of mortgage loans to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, for which Kannon was named Litigator of the Week by The American Lawyer (Bank of America v. United States).
  • Successfully represented AstraZeneca in the Federal Circuit in a case providing broad personal jurisdiction over generic drug manufacturers in patent disputes (AstraZeneca v. Mylan).
  • Represented a criminal defendant in the landmark Supreme Court case on the constitutionality of DNA testing of arrestees that one justice described as “perhaps the most important criminal procedure case that this Court has heard in decades” (Maryland v. King).
  • Successfully represented a death-row inmate pro bono in the Supreme Court, with the Court ruling that the district attorney’s office had engaged in prosecutorial misconduct by failing to disclose favorable statements made by the key eyewitness before trial (Smith v. Cain).
  • Successfully represented the government in a landmark Supreme Court case setting the pleading standard for federal securities-fraud actions under the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act (Tellabs v. Makor Issues & Rights).
  • Represented Merck in the Supreme Court in a high-profile case concerning the operation of the statute of limitations for federal securities-fraud claims (Merck v. Reynolds).
  • Successfully represented the government in the Supreme Court in an antitrust case establishing the legal standard for claims of predatory bidding (Weyerhaeuser v. Ross-Simmons Hardwood Lumber).
  • Represented debtors in a closely watched Supreme Court case on the question whether inherited individual retirement accounts are part of an individual’s bankruptcy estate (Clark v. Rameker).
  • Represented the plaintiff in a Supreme Court case concerning the admissibility of evidence from jury deliberations to prove dishonesty during jury selection (Warger v. Shauers).
  • Successfully represented a criminal defendant in the Supreme Court in a challenge to the scope of the power of police to detain individuals incident to the execution of a search warrant (Bailey v. United States).

Click here to access the audio of Kannon’s other Supreme Court arguments.



Fellow, American Academy of Appellate Lawyers

Member, American Law Institute

AV Preeminent® Peer Review Rated by Martindale-Hubbell®

Inducted into Hall of Fame for Appellate Law, Legal 500, 2018

“Appellate MVP,” Law360, 2017-2018

Named a National Appellate "Top 10 Practitioner,” Benchmark Litigation, 2017

“500 Leading Lawyers in America,” Lawdragon magazine, 2010-2018

Ranked in the category of Appellate Law (Nationwide), Chambers USA, 2010-2018

“Leading Lawyer” in the category of Supreme Court and Appellate Litigation, Legal 500, 2013-2018

"National and Local Litigation Star," Benchmark Litigation, 2013-2019

“Washington’s Top Lawyers for Supreme Court Litigation,” Washingtonian magazine, 2009, 2011, 2013, 2015, 2017, and 2018

“Champions and Visionaries,” The National Law Journal, 2012

Recognized as one of The Best Lawyers in America ®, 2016-2018


Government Service

Assistant to the Solicitor General, United States Department of Justice, 2004-2008

Law Clerk, Justice Antonin Scalia, United States Supreme Court, 1999-2000

Law Clerk, Judge J. Michael Luttig, United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, 1998-1999

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