Lori Alvino McGill

Lori is a partner in the Washington, D.C. office of Wilkinson Walsh + Eskovitz. Lori’s practice focuses on all aspects of appellate strategy, including issue preservation, briefing, argument, and obtaining (and opposing) Supreme Court review. She has handled high-profile civil and criminal appeals involving a wide range of constitutional and statutory issues in state and federal appellate courts, including the Supreme Court of the United States. Lori also has deep expertise in administrative law, with experience challenging actions of federal agencies as diverse as the Federal Communications Commission, the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Surface Transportation Board, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Department of Interior, and the Board of Immigration Appeals.

Lori has been recognized by The National Law Journal as among the “Top 40 Under 40,” and Law360 has dubbed her a rising star of the appellate bar. The Washington Business Journal has recognized her as a Legal Champion for her appellate successes in a pair of high-profile cases in which she represented individuals pro bono. Before joining the firm, Lori was a partner at Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan LLP and Latham & Watkins LLP.

  • Connector.Connector.

    Benchmark Litigation "Under 40 Hotlist" 2016

Notable Matters

  • On behalf of United Technologies Corporation, helped to overturn on appeal a nearly $700 million damages award in a False Claims Act case brought by the United States.
  • Represented the University of Texas at Austin in Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin (2016), which was brought before the U.S. Supreme Court for a second time. The case involved a constitutional challenge the University’s undergraduate admissions policy, which considers race as one of many factors. At issue was whether the Court’s decisions interpreting the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, including the landmark Grutter v. Bollinger decision, permit the University to consider race in its undergraduate admissions decisions.  In a 4-3 decision authored by Justice Kennedy, the Supreme Court upheld UT’s undergraduate admissions policy, reaffirming that universities have a compelling interest in seeking the educational benefits of a broadly diverse student body and that they may use race-conscious admissions policies tailored to that goal.  The decision – which praises the University’s efforts to achieve diversity through other means, and its reasoned conclusion that those efforts were inadequate – also marks the first time that Justice Kennedy has voted to uphold a race-conscious admissions policy as consistent with the Equal Protection Clause.
  • Represented the birth mother of “Baby Veronica” in the high-profile adoption case, Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl (2013). The case turned on a federal statute—the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA)—which was enacted in the 1970s in response to then-prevalent child welfare practices that resulted in the involuntary separation of large numbers of Native American children from their families and tribes through adoption or foster care placement. The question presented to the US Supreme Court was whether ICWA allowed an absentee biological father, who had knowingly and voluntarily forfeited his parental rights under state law while the mother was pregnant, to later change his mind and trump the mother’s decision to place her child with adoptive parents she had hand-selected. After a 5-4 victory in the Supreme Court, represented the adoptive parents in seven different Oklahoma courtrooms in the space of six weeks—until Veronica was finally reunited with them in late September 2013.

Notable Matters

  • Represented the taxpayers in United States v. Home Concrete & Supply LLC (2012), a case presenting the question whether an understatement of gross income resulting from an overstatement of basis in property constitutes an “omission” from gross income that triggers an extended six-year statute of limitations. The 5-4 victory for the taxpayers was a rare defeat for the IRS before the Court—in a case that the Wall Street Journal has reported could affect more than a billion US tax dollars.
  • Represented Walgreen Co. in the D.C. Circuit in a high-profile dispute with the US Drug Enforcement Administration over the distribution of prescription painkillers to its Florida pharmacies (see: DC Circ. Blasts DEA Shipping Ban On Walgreen Facility).
  • Represented the University of California Hastings College of the Law in Christian Legal Society v. Martinez, one of the most closely watched cases decided by the Supreme Court in its 2009-2010 term. The case involved a far-reaching challenge, under the First Amendment’s speech and religion clauses, to the constitutionality of Hastings’ nondiscrimination policy, which requires all school-recognized and funded student groups to admit all registered students, regardless of the students’ status or beliefs. The Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of Hastings’ policy in a 5-4 decision handed down on the last day of the term, holding that it was a reasonable and permissible limitation on speech in the law school’s limited public forum.

Other Activities

Lori is an active member of the appellate bar. She currently serves on the D.C. Circuit Advisory Committee on Procedures, she is a member of the Edward Coke Appellate Inn of Court, she is a member of the Board of Visitors of Columbia Law School’s Center for Constitutional Governance, and she regularly serves as a guest judge at the Georgetown Law Center Supreme Court Institute.

Education

  • Undergraduate: Columbia College, Columbia University, B.A. (English and architecture)
  • Law: Columbia University School of Law, J.D., Kent Scholar (highest honors)

Clerkships

  • The Honorable Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Supreme Court of the United States (2005-2006)
  • Office of the Solicitor General of the United States, Bristow Fellow (2004-2005)
  • The Honorable Douglas H. Ginsburg, United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (2003-2004)