Kannon Shanmugam is chair of the Supreme Court and Appellate Litigation practice at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison. Widely recognized as one of the nation's top appellate lawyers. Kannon has argued 36 cases before the Supreme Court, including 28 cases in private practice. He has also argued over 100 appeals in courts across the country, including arguments in all thirteen federal courts of appeals and in numerous state courts. Kannon also serves as chair of the Washington office and co-chair of the firm’s Litigation Department.
One study found that, over a five-year period, Kannon had the highest rate of successful petitions for review of any Supreme Court practitioner. He was lead counsel in the successful constitutional challenge to the structure of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, described by the Wall Street Journal as the “constitutional case of the year.”
Kannon is one of only five appellate lawyers ranked as a Star Individual by Chambers USA—its highest rating. He was named Appellate Litigator of the Year by Benchmark Litigation and was a finalist for The American Lawyer's 2022 Litigator of the Year.
Benchmark Litigation noted that Kannon is “one of the most respected and admired appellate practitioners” in the country. One longtime Supreme Court reporter recently said that Kannon “has perhaps the most eloquent and elegant manner … that I’ve ever seen in my 40 years covering the Court,” adding that he “projects calm, confidence, and authority from the moment he takes to the lectern.” Chambers USA described Kannon as “so smart and so personable, you feel you’re safe in his hands.” Legal 500 called Kannon “a brilliant lawyer and tactician, with impeccable judgment and an optimal moral compass.”
Kannon has been recognized as one of the top 500 lawyers in the nation (Lawdragon magazine) and as one of the top 10 lawyers in Washington (Super Lawyers). Kannon has been featured on numerous lists of top Supreme Court advocates, with Washingtonian magazine naming him one of its 20 people in Washington to watch. Kannon has been named a Law360 “Appellate MVP” four times in the last six years (2017, 2018, 2021, and 2022), and he has been selected as The American Lawyer’s “Litigator of the Week” three times.
Kannon previously served 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 is a member of Paul, Weiss's Management Committee. He has served as the co-chair of the American Bar Association’s Appellate Practice Committee and 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. Kannon is the only practicing American attorney who is an honorary bencher of the Inner Temple, one of the four English Inns of Court.
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 has devoted substantial time to pro bono representation in the areas of criminal law and religious liberty.