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Arnold & Porter Taps John Elwood to Head Supreme Court Group (1)

June 24, 2019, 1:49 PMUpdated: June 24, 2019, 8:00 PM

Arnold & Porter snagged Supreme Court veteran John Elwood to head its Appellate and Supreme Court practice

Elwood, who started on Monday, moved over from Vinson & Elkins to replace Supreme Court superstar Lisa Blatt, who left the firm in January for Williams & Connolly.

“It’s a very big platform for what I want to do,” Elwood said in an interview about Arnold & Porter, citing its strong presence in the nation’s capital and its litigation prowess.

The one-time clerk to former Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy didn’t lose any time in getting started. Even though he didn’t even have his official firm desk or computer yet, he was already taking meetings.

“Believe it or not, after just an hour in the office I’m off for a client meeting on a False Claims Act case,” he said.

Elwood has more than two decades worth of appeals work experience, most notably in environmental law, False Claims Act, government contracting, and federal criminal law.

Before joining Vinson & Elkins, he was senior deputy in the Office of Legal Counsel at the Justice Department from 2005-09 and assistant to the solicitor general from 2002-05.

Notable cases he has argued before the Supreme Court include Kellogg Brown & Root v. United States ex rel. Carter, involving False Claims Act whistleblower issues, and Elonis v. United States, which centered on the intersection of free speech, social media, and criminal threat statutes and involved an aspiring rapper.

Elwood said he looks forward to what he can accomplish at Arnold & Porter and he’s discussed the new gig with Blatt, who he knows and has collaborated with before.

“I spoke to her about the job before accepting it. We remain very friendly. You can’t say ‘big shoes to fill,’ because she’s a woman and smaller than me, but she’s a great lawyer.”

(Updates with Elwood interview.)

To contact the reporter on this story: Melissa Heelan Stanzione in Washington at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Jessie Kokrda Kamens at; Rebekah Mintzer at