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‘Fun Coincidence’ as SCOTUS Hands Lawyer in Courtroom a Victory

April 24, 2019, 7:19 PM

A favorite game among court watchers on Supreme Court opinions days is to guess which outstanding cases the justices will hand down.

The often enigmatic Supreme Court notifies the public when it plans to issue opinions, but it doesn’t tell court watchers which opinions it will release—not even the attorneys involved in the case.

Mayer Brown partner Andy Pincus was playing that guessing game Wednesday morning with other lawyers waiting to hear the court’s last oral arguments of the term. He speculated that the court might issue one of his cases, one that was still outstanding from October.

Pincus made a mental plan of what he’d do if that happened. And good thing he did.

Before kicking off the arguments, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. announced that he had the opinion for the court in Lamps Plus v. Varela. It was the only opinion of the day and it was Pincus’s.

Pincus said he crept out of the courtroom, picked up a copy of the opinion from the court’s Public Information Office, and headed to the in-house cafeteria. From there he was able to chat with his clients about the 5-4 decision limiting classwide arbitration before heading back up to the courtroom. He and a few of his colleagues were there to support new Mayer Brown partner Nicole Saharsky, who argued the court’s second and final argument of the day.

The bankruptcy dispute was Saharsky’s 30th argument at the high court, but her first since joining Mayer Brown. There was also a large contingent from the Solicitor General’s Office—where Saharsky had worked for 10 years.

It was a fun coincidence to be there while the court handed down the opinion, Pincus said. “Especially to be there and win,” he said.

He admitted he might have felt differently about the experience had he lost the case. It’s always “better to lick your wounds in private,” Pincus said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Kimberly Strawbridge Robinson in Washington at krobinson@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jessie Kokrda Kamens at jkamens@bloomberglaw.com