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James Dawson
James Dawson
Senior Associate — Appellate
Senior Associate — Appellate

James Dawson

James Dawson
Washington, D.C.

2200 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Suite 500 West
Washington, D.C. 20037

James Dawson

Experience Highlights

  • (9th Cir.) – Appointed by the Ninth Circuit to present oral argument to an 11-judge en banc panel in an appeal concerning federal sentencing law

  • (5th Cir.); (N.D. Tex.) – Briefed and argued successful motion for a preliminary injunction in lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of an administrative enforcement proceeding against a banking client; currently representing client on appeal in the Fifth Circuit

  • (Circuit Court of Maryland) – Briefed and argued successful opposition to a motion to dismiss in shareholder-activism dispute concerning propriety of client’s nominations to the boards of directors of two public companies

  • (11th Cir.) – Briefed and argued appeal concerning federal criminal law

  • (U.S.); (5th Cir.); (E.D. Tex.) – Drafted successful motion to dismiss in lawsuit challenging imposition of harbor dues to finance the costs of a billion-dollar project designed to deepen the nation’s leading hydrocarbon shipping channel; drafted Fifth Circuit brief successfully defending judgment on appeal; drafted brief in opposition to our opponents’ petition for a writ of certiorari, which the U.S. Supreme Court denied

  • (D.C. Cir.); (FERC) – Principal drafter of appellate briefs for an electric-utility trade association challenging a FERC order governing the standard for determining when a solar project constitutes a “qualifying facility” under the Public Utilities Regulatory Policies Act of 1978 (“PURPA”)

  • (Fed. Cir.) – Principal drafter of successful appellate briefs for Maxell, Ltd. and Maxell Corporation of America in appeal of order transferring the dispute to a new forum, resulting in denial of mandamus petition and our opponent’s withdrawal of a related appeal concerning similar issues

  • (3rd Cir.) – Drafted appellate brief successfully defending District Court’s ruling that an investment bank was not required to pay legal fees to a former employee convicted of criminal malfeasance in connection with his employment

  • (9th Cir.) – In pending appeal, principal drafter of appellate brief for an electric-utility trade association in a dispute concerning challenges to a FERC rulemaking adopting programmatic revisions to the agency’s implementing regulations for PURPA

  • (D.C. Cir.) – Successfully defended FERC authorization for proposed LNG terminal and feeder pipeline against NEPA supplementation, segmentation, cumulative impacts, and alternatives arguments

  • (5th Cir.) – Drafted appellate brief in case successfully defending against challenge to a biological opinion issued by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service in connection with the development of a proposed LNG terminal and feeder pipeline

  • (5th Cir.) –  Successfully obtained ripeness dismissal of appellate challenge to a Clean Water Act permit issued by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for a proposed LNG terminal and feeder pipeline

  • (Del.) – Principal drafter of successful appellate brief in a dispute concerning purported breaches of a wind-farming contract; secured 5-0 “reverse and render” decision from the Delaware Supreme Court

  • (U.S.); (D.C. Cir.); (D.D.C.) – Defending dismissal of a lawsuit brought by landowners pursuing non-delegation and other challenges to the Natural Gas Act’s pipeline certification process and eminent domain authority

  • (D.C. Cir.) – Successfully defended FERC authorization for natural gas pipeline project, including conversion of dual use (oil/gas) to natural gas

  • (FERC) – Principal drafter of a successful opposition to a petition for declaratory order in a dispute involving a state regulatory agency’s assessment of “network upgrade fees” in connection with the development of qualifying facilities under PURPA

  • (E.D. Tex.) – Obtained denial of preliminary injunction, successfully defending against environmental and landowner challenges to the construction of a pipeline connecting to the largest refinery in North America

  • (D.C. Cir.); (Md.); (FERC) — Represented major energy company in state and federal proceedings concerning a Clean Water Act certification for a hydroelectric facility

  • (S.D.Tex.); (FERC) – Successfully obtained stay of agency proceedings in case challenging the constitutionality of a FERC administrative enforcement action

  • (D.R.I.) – Defending midstream natural gas pipeline in pending class action suit in connection with an equipment incident at a meter and regulating station that allegedly contributed to loss of gas pressure and temporary interruption in local gas service

  • (Tex.) – Obtained ruling that plaintiffs failed to plead a viable negligent-undertaking claim against private equity investors in suit arising out of explosions on a portfolio company’s premises

  • (6th Cir.) – Principal drafter of appellate brief in dispute concerning judicial sanctions and breaches of commercial contracts, resulting in favorable settlement of appeal prior to oral argument

  • (7th Cir.); (N.D. Ill.) – Represented major telecommunications company in trial and appellate proceedings concerning purported antitrust liabilities

  • (U.S.) – Lead associate in successful U.S. Supreme Court merits appeal concerning statute of limitations for refiling state-court claims dismissed by a federal court exercising supplemental jurisdiction

  • (U.S.) – Lead associate in successful U.S. Supreme Court merits appeal concerning constitutionality of “revocation on divorce” statutes applicable to life-insurance policies

  • (U.S.) – Lead associate in U.S. Supreme Court merits appeal concerning legality of tax credit-funded scholarships to fund school choice programs

  • (U.S.) – Member of briefing team in successful U.S. Supreme Court merits appeal concerning statute of limitations for SEC disgorgement proceedings

  • Represented music companies in a variety of commercial disputes against operators of music services

  • (S.D. III.) – In case concerning prison conditions, briefed and argued successful motion for spoliation sanctions, which was based on information uncovered during James’s depositions of the prison’s warden and litigation coordinator

  • (Ill. Ct. App.) – Member of briefing team for appeal in which the court granted our client’s motion to vacate his conviction on the basis of junk arson science; client was ordered released from prison the day after the appellate brief was filed, after serving more than twenty years behind bars

  • (9th Cir.) – Appointed by the Ninth Circuit to represent an inmate in an ongoing appeal concerning the “four-point restraint” policy used by a state department of corrections

  • (7th Cir.) – Represented inmate in appeal concerning officers’ failure to protect client from an assault by other inmates; brokered favorable five-figure settlement with defendants prior to oral argument

  • (Tex. Crim. App.); (Tex. App. – Fort Worth) – Filed multiple amicus curiae briefs in high-profile case challenging a conviction for purported “illegal voting;” obtained ruling from the Texas Court of Criminal appeals reversing lower court on issues related to the statute’s mens rea requirement

  • (Tex.) – Principal author of amicus curiae brief successfully supporting a writ of mandamus in a case involving compensation owed by the State of Texas to a former prisoner found innocent of the crime for which he was convicted

  • (5th Cir.) – Drafted appellate briefs on behalf of federal prisoner pursuing a Bivens claim involving prison officials’ retaliation for the exercise of his First Amendment rights

  • (U.S.) – Filed cert. petition in case concerning legality of traffic stop initiated after officers suspected the Petitioner was violating state laws concerning texting while driving

  • (U.S.) – Filed cert. petition in case concerning right of Petitioner to appeal a conviction after he was erroneously advised by the trial court that he was not waiving his appellate rights


  • Yale Law School, J.D., 2014 (Yale Law and Policy Review, Co-Editor-in-Chief; Yale Law Journal, Notes Editor; Supreme Court Clinic; Morris Tyler Moot Court at Yale, best overall team and best individual oralist, teaching assistant for Dean Heather Gerken’s constitutional law small group)
  • Columbia University, B.A. in Political Science summa cum laude, 2011 (Phi Beta Kappa)
  • Judicial clerk to Judge Alex Kozinski, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, 2015 – 2016
  • Lecturer in Law and Fellow for the San Francisco Affirmative Litigation Project, Yale Law School, 2014 – 2015
  • Selected to the Washington, D.C. Rising Stars list, Super Lawyers® (Thomson Reuters), 2021–2023
  • The Best Lawyers in America© (BL Rankings, LLC), “Ones to Watch,” Appellate Practice (Washington), 2022–2024
  • Texas
  • District of Columbia
  • U.S. Supreme Court
  • U.S. Courts of Appeals for the First, Second, Fourth, Fifth, Seventh, Ninth, Eleventh, D.C., and Federal Circuits
  • U.S. District Courts for the District of Columbia, Eastern District of Texas, Southern District of Illinois, and Western District of Wisconsin