Kathleen Sullivan

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For other people named Kathleen Sullivan, see Kathleen Sullivan (disambiguation).
Kathleen Sullivan
11th Dean of Stanford Law School
In office
Preceded by Paul Brest
Succeeded by Larry Kramer
Personal details
Born Kathleen Marie Sullivan
(1955-08-20) August 20, 1955 (age 60)
Sault Sainte Marie, Michigan, U.S.
Nationality American
Alma mater Cornell University (B.A.)
University of Oxford (M.Phil.)
Harvard Law School (J.D.)

Kathleen Marie Sullivan (born August 20, 1955) is a name partner at Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, a global, litigation-only white shoe law firm headquartered in Los Angeles, CA. Sullivan is a partner in the firm's New York City office and chairs the firm's national appellate practice group. She is the first and only woman name partner at an Am Law 100 law firm.[1] Previously, Sullivan served as Dean of Stanford Law School, where she was the Stanley Morrison Professor of Law.[2]

Sullivan was considered to be a potential candidate to replace David Souter and John Paul Stevens on the U.S. Supreme Court. Had she been nominated, Sullivan would have become the first openly lesbian nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court in American history.[3][4]


Early life and education[edit]

Born in Sault Sainte Marie, Michigan and raised on Long Island, New York, Sullivan graduated from Cold Spring Harbor High School in 1972. She participated in the Telluride Association Summer Program during high school, graduated from Cornell University in 1976, and graduated as a Marshall Scholar from Wadham College, Oxford in 1978. Sullivan graduated from Harvard Law School in 1981, where Professor Laurence Tribe called her, at the time, "the most extraordinary student I had ever had."[5] During law school, Sullivan worked as a research assistant to Tribe and assisted him with his Supreme Court appeals.[6]

After law school, Sullivan worked for one year as a judicial law clerk to Judge James L. Oakes on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.[7] Following her clerkship, Sullivan elected not to join a big law firm and instead worked as a litigation associate for Tribe's appellate practice in Cambridge, Massachusetts.[6]

Academic career[edit]

After receiving offers to join the faculties of the University of Virginia Law School, University of Pennsylvania Law School, Columbia Law School, Yale Law School, and Harvard Law School, Sullivan chose Harvard, where she was as an assistant professor of law from 1984 to 1989 and a professor of law from 1989 to 1993.[6][8] Following a visiting teaching position at Stanford in spring 1992, Sullivan joined the faculty of Stanford Law School in 1993 and became the Stanley Morrison Professor of Law in 1996.[9][10] Sullivan then served as Dean of Stanford Law School from 1999 to 2004, becoming the first woman to head any of Stanford's seven schools and the first woman to serve as Dean of one of the nation's top three law schools.[6][10] After voluntarily stepping down as Dean in 2004 to serve as the inaugural director of the Stanford Constitutional Law Center, Sullivan remained on the Stanford Law faculty until 2012.[9][11]

Sullivan's expertise is in the area of constitutional law. She is the editor of a leading casebook in the field,[12] Constitutional Law, now in its 17th edition and co-edited with the late Stanford Law professor Gerald Gunther. From 2000 to 2007, Sullivan was the sixth most-cited constitutional law scholar,[13] and from 2005 to 2009, Sullivan was the most-cited female legal scholar.[14] Sullivan is an elected fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.[8]

Appellate Career[edit]

During her time at Stanford, Sullivan maintained a pro bono constitutional law practice. In 2005, she joined Quinn Emanuel Urquhart Oliver & Hedges (now Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan), where she helped to found and build the firm's nascent appellate practice.[6] Now chair of the firm's national appellate practice, Sullivan has argued and briefed numerous appeals before the U.S. Courts of Appeals, the California Supreme Court, the New York Court of Appeals, and the U.S. Supreme Court, where she has argued nine times.[8] She has won a number of cases before the U.S. Supreme Court, including Bruesewitz v. Wyeth, Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum Co., and Granholm v. Heald, which struck down a state prohibition of interstate wine shipping.[15] Sullivan has also represented Shell Oil in an appeal to limit the company's liability for toxic waste.[16] Additionally, Sullivan has filed pro bono briefs in a wide range of civil rights cases before the U.S. Supreme Court, and she served as co-counsel for Michael Hardwick in the 1986 landmark gay rights case Bowers v. Hardwick.[17]

In both 2006 and 2013, The National Law Journal recognized Sullivan as one of the 100 most influential lawyers in America.[18][19]

Personal life[edit]

Sullivan, a member of the New York bar since 1982 and the Massachusetts bar since 1988, failed the July 2005 California bar exam for out-of-state attorneys, leading many to question either the usefulness of the exam or her preparation for it.[20] She retook the exam in February 2006 and passed.[21]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Outstanding Women Lawyers". The National Law Journal. May 4, 2015. Retrieved July 6, 2010. 
  2. ^ "Sullivan Named Partner at Quinn Emanuel". Stanford Lawyer. May 20, 2010. Retrieved July 6, 2015. 
  3. ^ Harmon, Andrew (April 9, 2010), "Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens Retiring", The Advocate, retrieved April 12, 2010 
  4. ^ Harid, Shriram (June 22, 2010). "John Paul Stevens Retiring: Top Picks To Be The Next Supreme Court Justice". The Huffington Post. Retrieved July 6, 2010. 
  5. ^ Nancy Waring (Summer 1999). "Congratulations Dean Sullivan". Harvard Law Bulletin. 
  6. ^ a b c d e Harper, Timothy (October 2014). "Appealing Appellate". superlawyers.com. Super Lawyers. Retrieved July 6, 2015. 
  7. ^ "Stanford Law School Dean Kathleen M. Sullivan announces decision to complete deanship at close of five-year term; will direct new Stanford constitutional law center: 10/03". News-service.stanford.edu. 2004-09-01. Retrieved 2013-12-05. 
  8. ^ a b c "Kathleen M. Sullivan | Biography" Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan. 6 July 2015.
  9. ^ a b Dethlefsen, Ann (October 22, 2003). "Kathleen Sullivanto step down as dean of Law School". Stanford Report. Retrieved July 6, 2015. 
  10. ^ a b Dolan, Maura (April 5, 1999). "The New Sage of Stanford". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved July 6, 2015. 
  11. ^ Kalia, Jaishree (July 22, 2014). "Women in law: Quinn Emanuel’s name partner Kathleen Sullivan and London MP Sue Prevezer QC talk diversity". Legal Business. Retrieved July 6, 2010. 
  12. ^ "Official Biography of Kathleen M. Sullivan". Stanford Law School. 
  13. ^ Leiter, Brian (December 18, 2007). "Most Cited Law Professors by Specialty, 2000-2007". Brian Leiter's Law School Rankings. Retrieved July 6, 2015. 
  14. ^ Leiter, Brian. "Top 25 Law Faculties In Scholarly Impact, 2005-2009". Brian Leiter's Law School Rankings. Retrieved July 6, 2015. 
  15. ^ Supreme Court Report
  16. ^ "Superfund". Eenews.net. 2009-02-24. Retrieved 2013-12-05. 
  17. ^ "Supreme Court Report". Caselaw.lp.findlaw.com. Retrieved 2013-12-05. 
  18. ^ "The 100 Most Influential Lawyers in America". The National Law Journal. March 22, 2013. Retrieved July 6, 2015. 
  19. ^ "The 100 Most Influential Lawyers in America". The National Law Journal. June 19, 2006. Retrieved July 6, 2015. 
  20. ^ Bandler, James. "Raising the Bar: Even Top Lawyers Fail the Exam". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 18 May 2015. 
  21. ^ The State Bar of California. "State Bar of California: Kathleen M. Sullivan". Members.calbar.ca.gov. Retrieved 2013-12-05. 

External links[edit]

Academic offices
Preceded by
Paul Brest
Dean of Stanford Law School
Succeeded by
Larry Kramer