“Donald Verrilli is one of the leading appellate advocates in the nation and a dedicated public servant,” said Dean David F. Levi. “It is an honor to welcome him to Duke.”
Verrilli was nominated to become the nation’s 46th solicitor general by President Barack Obama on Jan. 26, 2011, and sworn in on June 9, 2011 following confirmation by the U.S. Senate. He previously served as Deputy Counsel to President Obama and as an Associate Deputy Attorney General in the U.S. Department of Justice.
As solicitor general Verrilli has argued multiple cases before the Supreme Court of the United States on behalf of the government, including the 2012 challenges to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act; Arizona et al v. Holder, the challenge to the constitutionality of Arizona’s immigration law; and Shelby County v. Holder, a challenge to the constitutionality of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act.
Prior to his government service, Verrilli was a partner at Jenner & Block in Washington, D.C., where he co-chaired the firm’s Supreme Court practice. In private practice he handled numerous cases in the Supreme Court and the courts of appeals, including MGM Studios, Inc. v. Grokster, which established that companies building businesses based on the unauthorized distribution of copyrighted works can be liable for inducing infringement; Federal Communications Commission v. NextWave, which established that bankruptcy law allows FCC licensees to retain their licenses while reorganizing; Verizon v. Federal Communications Commission, the most important case arising out of the 1996 Telecommunications Act; and Wiggins v. Smith, which established principles governing the right to effective assistance of counsel at capital sentencing.
Verrilli maintained an active pro bono practice throughout his career in private practice, and received several awards for his efforts. He also taught First Amendment law as an adjunct professor at Georgetown University Law School from 1992 through 2008.
After receiving his undergraduate degree from Yale University, Verrilli attended Columbia Law School, where he served as editor-in-chief of the Columbia Law Review and was a James Kent Scholar. He served as a law clerk to Judge J. Skelly Wright of the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit and to the Justice William J. Brennan, Jr. of the United States Supreme Court.
Duke Law’s hooding ceremony honoring the Class of 2013 will take place on May 11 at 5:30 p.m., in Cameron Indoor Stadium on Duke University’s West Campus.