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James Dawson
James Dawson
Counsel — Appellate
Counsel — 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 the en banc Court in appeal concerning federal sentencing law; secured favorable 10-to-1 opinion holding that District Courts must orally pronounce the “standard conditions” of supervised release at sentencing, overruling prior Circuit precedent to the contrary, and vacating our client’s sentence in pertinent part

  • (9th Cir.) – Briefed and argued appeal involving constitutional challenge to a policy of a state agency

  • (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

  • (U.S.); (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

  • (U.S.) – Principal drafter of multiple amici briefs in pending Supreme Court case concerning the Seventh Amendment and the “public rights” doctrine

  • (5th Cir.); (S.D. Tex.) – Successfully defended U.S. Army Corps of Engineers permitting against NEPA and Clean Water Act challenges brought in federal court to stop dock expansion at an existing marine terminal; case is currently on appeal in the Fifth Circuit

  • (Ohio Ct. App.) – Representing interstate pipeline company in ongoing dispute involving whether certain state regulatory powers were waived or preempted by federal law

  • (9th Cir.) – Principal drafter of appellate brief on behalf of electric-utility trade association that successfully defended FERC rulemaking that overhauled PURPA implementing regulations governing integration and incentives for renewable energy projects

  • (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

  • (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

  • (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; client was acquitted of all charges on remand

  • (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

  • (U.S.); (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), 2021–2024
  • 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