Kannon K. Shanmugam

Partner, Williams & Connolly LLP

Topics: Litigation • Supreme Court

Kannon Shanmugam heads Williams & Connolly’s Supreme Court and Appellate Litigation practice. He is the only lawyer to have joined the firm as a lateral partner in the last 32 years. Widely recognized as one of the nation’s premier appellate advocates, Kannon has argued 23 cases before the Supreme Court, including several of the Court’s most significant recent business and criminal cases. Earlier this year, Kannon successfully obtained review from the Court in three separate cases on the same day—an apparently unprecedented feat for a lawyer in private practice. Beyond the Supreme Court, Kannon has argued dozens of appeals in courts across the country, including arguments in all thirteen federal courts of appeals and in numerous state courts. 

Kannon has been selected as one of the top 10 appellate lawyers (Benchmark Litigation) and one of the top 500 lawyers overall (Lawdragon magazine) in the United States. Kannon has been named The American Lawyer’s Litigator of the Week three times, and he has been named a Law360 Legal Lion of the Week seven times in the last eighteen months for a series of victories at all three levels of the federal courts. Kannon has also featured on numerous lists of the top Supreme Court advocates, with Washingtonian magazine naming him one of its 20 people in Washington to watch.

In ranking Kannon in the first tier of appellate advocates nationwide, Chambers USA praised him as “highly impressive and immensely popular.”  Benchmark Litigation described Kannon as “one of the most respected and admired appellate practitioners” in the country, and Lawdragon praised him as “inspiring and in demand.” The American Lawyer recently lauded him for his “amazing track record,” and The National Law Journal cited his “confident manner and elegant elocution” before the Supreme Court, stating that he “never seems to get flustered.” 

Kannon joined Williams & Connolly after serving as an Assistant to the Solicitor General in the Department of Justice. Born and raised in Lawrence, Kansas, he received an A.B. summa cum laude in classics from Harvard; an M. Litt. in classics from the University of Oxford, where he was a Marshall Scholar; and a J.D. magna cum laude from Harvard Law School, where he was executive editor of the law review and argued for the winning side in the moot-court competition. After graduation, he served as a law clerk to Justice Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court and Judge J. Michael Luttig on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.

Kannon has served as the co-chair of the American Bar Association’s Appellate Practice Committee. He is also a past president of the Edward Coke Appellate Inn of Court, the principal bench-bar organization for appellate judges and lawyers in the Washington area. He is a member of the Advisory Committee on Procedures for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

Kannon has taught Supreme Court advocacy as an adjunct professor of law at Georgetown University Law Center. In the community, he has served as chair of the board of trustees of Thurgood Marshall Academy, a charter school in Southeast Washington that is one of the city’s highest-performing public high schools. He is a member of the firm’s pro bono committee and has devoted substantial time to pro bono representation in the areas of criminal law and religious liberty.

Kannon is a longtime member of the Federalist Society.  He has served on the executive committee of the Federalism and Separation of Powers Practice Group.