William M. Jay

William M. Jay

Partner DC Litigation Leader and Co-Chair, Appellate Litigation
William M. Jay

Willy Jay is a partner in and co-chair of Goodwin’s Appellate Litigation practice and is head of the Litigation Department in the firm’s Washington, D.C. office. A former Assistant to the Solicitor General, Mr. Jay uses his deep experience litigating before the U.S. Supreme Court and U.S. Courts of Appeals to help clients formulate winning appellate strategy. He has argued 16 cases before the Supreme Court, briefed more than 40 cases on the merits, and briefed more than 150 cases at the certiorari stage. In recent years he argued four of the most significant intellectual-property cases at the Court, involving patent, copyright, and trademark law.

Mr. Jay has handled cases in every federal court of appeals as well. He has filed more than 200 briefs in federal and state appeals courts and argued in nine federal circuits, both in private practice and on behalf of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Environment, Criminal and Civil Divisions. Mr. Jay also regularly counsels clients on appellate strategy at the trial level, preparing key motions and post-trial briefing before district courts and federal and state administrative agencies.

Chambers USA: America’s Leading Lawyers for Business described Mr. Jay as “‘a rocket scientist’ whose ‘spectacular brief writing’ and ‘keen and analytical mind’ mark him out as a ‘rising star’ at the appellate bar.” In 2017, Managing IP named him “Appellate Litigator of the Year,” among other recognitions. Mr. Jay is also listed in Legal500 and Best Lawyers in America. Law360 named him an “Appellate MVP.” He has been named “Litigator of the Week” by the AmLaw Litigation Daily and a “Rising Star” by both the National Law Journal and Law360.

Mr. Jay has particular experience in appellate cases involving intellectual property (including patent, copyright, and trademark law), administrative law (with a particular focus on pharmaceutical regulation), environmental law, class action practice, federal preemption of state law, and the First Amendment (including campaign finance regulation, election law, and election crimes).





Since joining Goodwin, Mr. Jay has handled complex litigation matters in the Supreme Court; in the First, Second, Third, Fourth, Fifth, Seventh, Eighth, Ninth, Eleventh, D.C. and Federal Circuits; in several state appellate courts; and in various trial courts and administrative agencies.

His recent Supreme Court matters include victories in three significant intellectual-property cases:

  • Patent claim construction -- Teva Pharmaceuticals USA, Inc. v. Sandoz, Inc.: The Supreme Court agreed to take up the subject of patent claim construction for the first time in nearly 20 years and hear Teva’s challenge to the Federal Circuit’s longstanding precedent insisting on reviewing factual issues de novo. Mr. Jay was counsel of record on the successful petition for certiorari and the merits briefs and argued the case in October 2014. In January 2015, the Supreme Court agreed with Teva’s arguments by a vote of 7-2, vacating a Federal Circuit decision that had invalidated patent protection for Teva’s blockbuster multiple sclerosis drug, Copaxone® 20mg.
  • Copyright eligibility -- Star Athletica, L.L.C. v. Varsity Brands, Inc.: The Supreme Court took this case to clarify when an artistic design feature can qualify for a copyright. Mr. Jay argued the case in October 2016 for the copyright owner, which designed original artwork appearing on clothing. The Supreme Court ruled for Mr. Jay’s client by a vote of 6-2 that the designs were copyright-eligible and rejected the argument that the designs were influenced.
  • Trademark preclusion -- B&B Hardware, Inc. v. Hargis Industries, Inc.: The Supreme Court ruled for the first time that the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board can render a decision binding on a federal district court in trademark-infringement litigation. Mr Jay’s client had won a decision before the Trademark Board on the “likelihood of confusion” between two trademarks; the Court held by a vote of 7-2 that the infringer could not relitigate that same issue before a jury. Mr. Jay was counsel of record on the successful petition for certiorari and the merits briefs and argued the case in December 2014.
  • Mr. Jay’s also recently persuaded the Supreme Court to grant certiorari to resolve questions about the scope of the Fair Housing Act. Mr. Jay was counsel of record on the petition for certiorari and the merits briefs for several lending institutions.
  • Mr. Jay recently argued for Kraft Foods Group Brands in a closely watched Supreme Court case about the proper venue for patent-infringement actions.

Mr. Jay’s other recent appellate matters include:

  • Winning a significant appeal in the Federal Circuit about the scope of “covered business method” review of patents by the Patent Trial and Appeal Board. Managing IP named the case one of 2016’s “Milestone Cases.”
  • Successfully representing pharmaceutical companies in litigation challenging the FDA’s approval of new drug products, both in federal district courts and in the D.C. Circuit.
  • Orally arguing Securities Act claims and securing a victory on behalf of Municipal Mortgage & Equity and several of its former and current officers and directors when the Fourth Circuit affirmed the dismissal of claims that the company made false statements in the registration statement for its 2005 secondary public offering.
  • Successfully defending, in the Fourth Circuit, a complete defense victory at trial in a certified class action under the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act. Mr. Jay co-authored the successful briefs and argued the appeal. Mr. Jay also co-authored the successful appellate briefs in a companion case (involving another certified class) under the Maryland Finder’s Fee Act, in which the Fourth Circuit also affirmed a complete defense victory.
  • On behalf of four nationwide mortgage lenders, persuading the Ninth Circuit to dismiss a False Claims Act lawsuit demanding a multi-billion-dollar recovery.
  • Successfully winning rehearing en banc in the First Circuit on behalf of a national bank in a putative nationwide class action, and co-authoring briefs that won a complete victory on rehearing en banc.
  • Representing leading technology and pharmaceutical companies in patent appeals to the Federal Circuit and in successfully opposing Supreme Court review of favorable Federal Circuit decisions.
  • Serving as lead counsel for an industry intervenor in a significant environmental case under the Endangered Species Act and Administrative Procedure Act.
Professional Experience

Prior to joining Goodwin in 2012, Mr. Jay served for five years as Assistant to the Solicitor General at the U.S. Department of Justice. In that capacity, he handled Supreme Court and appellate matters for a wide variety of federal agencies, including every Cabinet Department and numerous executive and independent agencies. Previously, he was a litigation associate with Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher in its Appellate and Constitutional Law Practice Group.


As Assistant to the Solicitor General, Mr. Jay received the Attorney General’s Distinguished Service Award for his work on litigation arising from the bankruptcy of Chrysler, as well as a Special Commendation from the DOJ’s Environment and Natural Resources Division for his work on litigation involving oil drilling, invasive species and interstate water rights.

While in law school, Mr. Jay was executive editor of the Harvard Law Review.

In The News









J.D., 2001
Harvard Law School

(magna cum laude)

A.B., Government, 1998
Harvard College

(magna cum laude)


2004-2005 U.S. Supreme Court, Honorable Antonin Scalia
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, Honorable Diarmuid F. O'Scannlain



District of Columbia


U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit
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Our clients rely on us for world-class advisory services, counsel on complex transactional work and high-stakes litigation. Specializing in matters involving the financial, life sciences, private equity, real estate, and technology industries, we use a collaborative, cross-disciplinary approach to resolve our clients’ most challenging issues. To find out more, please contact us.
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