Kannon K. Shanmugam

Partner, Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP

Topics: Litigation • Supreme Court

Kannon Shanmugam heads the Supreme Court and Appellate Litigation practice of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison. He is also managing partner of Paul Weiss's Washington office. Widely recognized as one of the nation's top appellate lawyers, Kannon was named 2021 Appellate Litigator of the Year by Benchmark Litigation.  Kannon has argued 32 cases before the Supreme Court, including four cases in the current 2020-2021 term. A recent study found that, over the last five years, Kannon had the highest rate of successful petitions for review of any Supreme Court practitioner. He was lead counsel in the successful constitutional challenge to the structure of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, described by the Wall Street Journal as the “constitutional case of the year.”  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.

One longtime Supreme Court reporter recently said that Kannon “has perhaps the most eloquent and elegant manner … that I’ve ever seen in my 40 years covering the Court,” adding that he “projects calm, confidence, and authority from the moment he takes to the lectern.” In ranking Kannon in Band 1 of appellate advocates nationwide, Chambers USA described him as “absolutely extraordinary” and praised him as “smooth, unflappable, effective, and elegant … an incredible lawyer in all respects.” Benchmark Litigation noted that Kannon is “one of the most respected and admired appellate practitioners” in the country.

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 eleven times for a series of victories at all three levels of the federal courts. Kannon has also been featured on numerous lists of the top Supreme Court advocates, with Washingtonian magazine naming him one of its 20 people in Washington to watch.

Kannon previously served 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 is a member of Paul, Weiss’s Management Committee. He has served as the co-chair of the American Bar Association’s Appellate Practice Committee and 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. Kannon is the only practicing American attorney who is an honorary bencher of the Inner Temple, one of the four English Inns of Court. 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 has devoted substantial time to pro bono representation in the areas of criminal law and religious liberty.

Kannon is a longtime member of the Federalist Society.  He has served on the executive committee of the Federalism and Separation of Powers Practice Group.


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