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Small D.C. Law Firm Maps Defense, Offense Plays Against Trump, National Law Journal, January 23, 2017:
The public interest mission of Deepak Gupta’s law firm in Washington is reflected in its three U.S. Supreme Court arguments this term—and it’s the same mission that has drawn the small firm into the first significant suit against President Donald Trump and alleged conflicts of interest.
When he launched his firm in 2012, Gupta wanted to build a premier Supreme Court and appellate boutique for plaintiffs and public interest clients. He had left the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, where he was the agency’s first appellate lawyer. His firm today has four lawyers who are principals, one of counsel, and a 2016-17 fellow.
That goal has not changed, Gupta said. But it has expanded. “It’s a new world and not the world we expected,” said Gupta of Gupta Wessler.
“My goal has never been to have the biggest firm we can have. It’s really important at a firm like ours that everyone shares our values,” he said. “You just can’t put out an ad and know that’s going to be the case.”
The firm’s model, he said, was based on a recognition that there was a business niche that the market wasn’t meeting. The Supreme Court and appellate practices at Big Law firms were meeting the needs of large corporate clients, he said, but there was a void on the plaintiff side for classes of consumers or workers.
Boutique Firm Gupta Wessler Takes on Heavy SCOTUS Load, Bloomberg BNA, January 6, 2017:
Since its start, the firm based in Washington’s Dupont Circle neighborhood has grown to four partners. The lawyers often take over cases that reach the appellate level but also see some cases through from the beginning. Among the practice’s rules: don’t do discovery and “don’t work with people that are not nice,” Gupta said.
“There are cases that happen to be high profile because they have a large public interest impact, but some of our stuff is decidedly wonky, unsexy legal issues,” he said. “I don’t think we look for cases that are going to be in the headlines. We look for cases where we think we’re on the right side, where if we win it has a big impact, especially cases where we think we can add some value.”
Opposing Gupta in court means you’re going to be “faced with the best possible arguments on that side,” said lawyer Andrew Pincus, who represented AT&T Mobility in a class action brought by Gupta’s clients. That case introduced the lawyers and now, despite working for opposing parties, the two are friends.
“It strikes me how much he believes in the causes of the clients he represents,” Pincus told Bloomberg BNA. “We all do as lawyers but I think he really in his heart is a champion for those people. For people who feel they have somehow been victimized by the government, by defendants, he really feels in his heart that it’s his calling to right those perceived wrongs.”
It’s “unusual but not unprecedented” for a firm as small as Gupta Wessler to take on three SCOTUS cases this term, said Adam Feldman, an active high court watcher who runs the blog Empirical SCOTUS. . . . Usually, a large firm takes over appeals court cases tried by smaller firms after they’re granted review by the Supreme Court.
“The difference with Deepak and with Gupta Wessler is that the firm is very well known as very strong in consumer rights appeals and they have a lot of Supreme Court experience,” he said. “While a small firm may traditionally give way to bigger firms at the Supreme Court level, the firm size is not as consequential as Supreme Court experience and that is exactly what Gupta Wessler has.”
Gupta Wessler has no interest in joining the trend of boutique firms getting scooped up by larger firms because it’s designed to represent clients that big firms don’t, which are primarily consumers seeking appellate litigation, Gupta said. In September, top appellate boutique firm Bancroft PLLC, founded by Viet Dinh, a former U.S. assistant attorney general, was swallowed up by powerhouse firm Kirkland & Ellis.
Why Do Top Attorneys Stay at Boutique Firms?, Bloomberg, September 22, 2016:
U.S. Supreme Court advocate and former U.S. Solicitor General Paul C. Clement and the boutique firm, Bancroft PLLC, most likely received a financial offer “they couldn’t refuse” to join Kirkland & Ellis, but “I can’t see” myself doing the same, Deepak Gupta, the founder of a top appellate boutique for plaintiffs and public-interest clients, told Bloomberg BNA.
“I enjoy what I do too much,” Gupta said. Gupta is founding principal of Gupta Wessler PLLC, an appellate boutique in Washington that represents plaintiffs and public-interest clients. … Gupta said that boutique firm culture is a “more civilized way” to practice law.
“Another reason I like to get up in the morning is that our clients aren’t just business engagements; these are clients and cases we care about,” Gupta said. Gupta’s firm doesn’t take on a case unless the attorneys believe they’re on the right side. “I don’t think we’d have the luxury to do that anywhere else,” he said.
On March 22, 2016, The American Lawyer highlighted the firm’s successful representation of federal bankruptcy judges against the U.S. government:
It’s hard to imagine a higher compliment than being hired to represent federal judges. Among the firms that got the nod: Gupta Wessler. ….
Bankruptcy judges, who are entitled by statute to a salary that’s equal to 92 percent of a district court judge’s salary … tapped Deepak Gupta, who was a top official at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau before founding his own firm.
“It was a distinct honor and humbling responsibility for our firm to represent all of the nation’s federal bankruptcy judges in this litigation,” Gupta said in an email. “These judges are public servants–in many cases, they chose to forgo lucrative private-sector careers to go on the bench–and they deserved to be paid the salary and benefits to which they were entitled by law. … It’s one of only times in U.S. history in which there’s been a certified class action brought on behalf of federal judges.”
With so many attorneys in D.C., it’s hard to believe that any gap in legal services could exist in the Capital city.
But the proverbial ‘‘little guy’’ in the middle of a high- stakes appeal often finds he has nowhere to turn, Deepak Gupta of Gupta Wessler PLLC, Washington said.
And that’s a gap Gupta and his new partner Matt Wessler told Bloomberg BNA they hope to fill.
Other Side of ‘V.’ ‘‘When big corporations face high- stakes appeals, they have their pick of specialized Supreme Court and appellate groups at big firms,’’ Wessler, who recently left the public-interest law firm Public Justice to join Gupta’s appellate boutique, said in a July 16 e-mail.
‘‘But for plaintiffs and public-interest clients on the other side of the courtroom, comparable options often aren’t available.’’
‘‘Our aim is to fill that void, and to provide plaintiffs and public-interest clients with an option for litigating cases and issues that will have wide-ranging impact on the law and the civil justice system,’’ Wessler said.
That’s what Gupta has been doing for three years since opening his own shop, previously known as Gupta Beck PLLC.
‘‘It’s an idea I’d been kicking around since 2004,’’ Gupta said in a July 16 interview.
In the face of so many options for corporate defendants, Gupta said he wanted to provide options for those ‘‘on the other side of the ‘v.’ ’’
The national appellate boutique formerly known as Gupta Beck PLLC has announced that former Public Justice staff attorney Matthew Wessler, who has extensive experience in plaintiff-side litigation in employment and class action, among other areas, has joined founding principal Deepak Gupta as a named partner to create Gupta Wessler PLLC.
Wessler told Law360 on Wednesday that he’s been concerned for several years by the asymmetry in legal representation between plaintiffs and corporate defendants. In particular, he said, when big corporations face high-stakes appeals, they have their pick of specialized Supreme Court and appellate groups at large firms, adding that comparable options for plaintiffs and public interest clients on the other side often aren’t available. The firm became Gupta Wessler effective on July 1.
“I’ve watched Deepak build his firm into the nation’s premier appellate boutique for plaintiff- side litigation and his track record over the last few years has been remarkable,” Wessler said. “He has become the go-to appellate lawyer for many important cases and I was attracted by the opportunity to work with him to expand the firm’s impact and broaden its reach.”
Businessweek, July 13, 2014:
The first notable aspect of the Donziger appeal is that the opposing parties’ legal forces have been equalized. At the RICO trial in the fall of 2013, Chevron’s vast team from the firm Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher overwhelmed a patched-together squad of trial attorneys and activist volunteers representing Donziger and his Ecuadorian clients.
For the appeal, Donziger has hired Deepak Gupta, a rising star in the Washington (D.C.) appellate bar, and Gupta has deployed an impressive team drawn from his own boutique firm and academia. Burt Neuborne, a professor at New York University Law School and a prominent human-rights advocate, has filed a complementary brief on behalf of the Ecuadorians. Gibson Dunn will respond for Chevron, but the Los Angeles-based corporate firm’s manpower will be irrelevant in the more theoretical, less labor-intensive arena of appellate combat.
National Law Journal’s Inadmissible column, June 25, 2012:
COMMON GOOD. Boutique law firms in Washington are commonplace, but not many are focused on plaintiff-side appellate litigation and public policy. Deepak Gupta has done just that, striking out on his own to found Gupta PLLC. “It’s long struck me that there has been an advocacy imbalance when it comes to the Supreme Court and appellate litigation,” Gupta said. “It’s not just a business decision but something that will also help make the world a better place.”
Before founding the firm, Gupta was senior litigation counsel and senior counsel for enforcement strategy at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The firm has been retained to argue a Fair Credit Reporting Act class action [appeal] opposite Bancroft attorney Pau
l Clement. The firm is also handling another class action [appeal] revolving around wage-and-hour violations in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. In this matter, the firm is going up against O’Melveny & Myers’ Walter Dellinger. . . . The firm currently has four attorneys and plans to add a fifth. “We are smaller and focused on this kind of work because we believe in it,” Gupta said. — Matthew Huisman
Profile in the Supreme Court Insider section of the National Law Journal on July 18, 2012.
Washington attorney Deepak Gupta has built his career on representing the “little guy” in cases where he says “a big institution is doing something that is hard to justify.”
Gupta previously worked at Public Citizen and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and opened his own appellate and policy boutique this summer. [The petition for certiorari in] McBurney is the first court filing for the firm, which will be named Gupta Beck when its fifth attorney joins this month.
While the office will represent plaintiffs in class actions and consumers’ and workers’ rights issues, Gupta expects it to have robust constitutional-law and public-policy practices. Of counsel Brian Wolfman, who co-directs the Georgetown University Law Center’s Institute for Public Representation, and is the former director of the Public Citizen Litigation Group, brought McBurney to the firm. Students in the Georgetown clinic worked on early drafts of the brief. — Jamie Schuman
From Westlaw Journal Class Actions, Consumers’ Attorney Discusses Future of Class Actions, April 2012:
Nationally recognized attorney Deepak Gupta, who has advocated for consumers before the U.S. Supreme Court in several high-proﬁle cases, sees federal agencies as the way to protect consumers’ right to sue as a class after the high court approved contract clauses banning class actions last year. . . .