Brian Wolfman

Assoc. Professor and Director, Appellate Courts Immersion Clinic, Georgetown University Law Center
Visiting Associate Professor of Law, Harvard Law School

Brian Wolfman is Associate Professor and Director of the Appellate Courts Immersion Clinic at Georgetown University Law Center. He is also a Visiting Associate Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, where he teaches an intensive appellate courts workshop each January.

Brian has argued six cases before the U.S. Supreme Court and litigated hundreds of other cases before appellate and trial courts nationwide. Brian is a nationally recognized expert on class actions, preemption, and civil justice issues and has testified on those subjects before Congress and federal rules committees. He is a member of the American Law Institute and served as Advisor to the Institute’s Principles of the Law of Aggregate Litigation, akin to a “restatement” of the law governing class actions. He has published articles concerning class actions, preemption, and other topics.

Brian has handled a broad range of litigation, including cases involving health and safety regulation, class action governance, court access issues, federal preemption, consumer law, public benefits law, and government transparency. In the preemption area, he has been lead counsel in cases involving injuries from radiation exposure, prescription drugs, pesticides, and medical devices, including Medtronic, Inc., v. Lohr, 518 U.S. 470 (1996). In the last decade, his litigation has focused as well on civil rights issues, including discrimination in employment and disability rights. See, for instance, Endrew F. v. Douglas County School Dist., 137 S. Ct. 988 (2017); Green v. Brennan, 136 S. Ct. 1769 (2016); Freeman v. Dal-Tile Corp., 750 F.3d 413 (4th Cir. 2014). Regarding class actions, Brian’s practice includes representing class-action plaintiffs. But much of his class-action work focuses on settlement objections. Brian has briefed and argued objections to class action settlements on behalf of absent class members, consumer safety organizations, and labor unions in the Amchem asbestos settlement, the General Motors coupon cases, the Bowling v. Pfizer heart valve settlement, the AcroMed bone-screw case, and the Community Bank and Delta Funding predatory lending settlements, among others. He has written articles on class actions and has testified before Congress regarding the so-called Class Action Fairness Act (and its predecessors) and before the federal Civil Rules Advisory Committee on proposed changes to Rule 23, most recently in fall 2016. With respect to access to the courts, he has concentrated on litigation regarding court-awarded attorney’s fees, including acting as lead counsel in four U.S. Supreme Court cases involving the Equal Access to Justice Act, the principal statute authorizing fee shifting against federal agencies. Richlin Sec. Serv. Co. v. Chertoff, 128 S. Ct. 2007 (2008); Scarborough v. Principi, 541 U.S. 401 (2004); Shalala v. Schaefer, 509 U.S. 292 (1993); Melkonyan v. Sullivan, 501 U.S. 89 (1991).

Before rejoining the Georgetown Law faculty, from 2014-2016, Brian was Professor of the Practice of Law at Stanford Law School and co-director of Stanford’s Supreme Court Litigation Clinic. From 2009-2014, Brian was co-director of the Institute for Public Representation at Georgetown Law, a clinic concentrating on civil rights and other public-interest litigation in trial and appellate courts. He also taught a litigation practice seminar and the standard Federal Courts course. Brian previously spent nearly 20 years at the national public interest law firm Public Citizen Litigation Group, serving the last five years as the Group’s Director. He also directed Public Citizen’s Supreme Court Assistance Project, which helps “underdog” public interest clients litigate before the U.S. Supreme Court. Before that, for five years, he did trial and appellate litigation as a staff lawyer at a rural poverty law program in Arkansas. Brian clerked for R. Lanier Anderson III of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit. He is a graduate of Harvard Law School and the University of Pennsylvania.