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As of September 2014, Brian Wolfman is the Edwin A. Heafey, Jr. Visiting Professor at Stanford Law School and a faculty member in Stanford’s Supreme Court Litigation Clinic. He is also a Lecturer on Law at Harvard Law School, where he teaches an appellate courts and advocacy workshop. He serves as Of Counsel to the law firm of Gupta Wessler PLLC, a private public-interest appellate boutique in Washington, DC.
Professor Wolfman has argued five cases before the U.S. Supreme Court and dozens of other cases before appellate and trial courts nationwide. Brian is a nationally recognized expert on class actions, preemption, and civil justice issues, and has testified on those subjects before Congress and federal rules committees. He is a member of the American Law Institute and served as Advisor to the Institute’s recently-published Principles of the Law of Aggregate Litigation, akin to a “restatement” of the law governing class actions. He has published articles concerning class actions, preemption, and other topics.
Professor Wolfman has handled a broad range of litigation, including cases involving health and safety regulation, class action governance, court access issues, federal preemption, consumer law, public benefits law, and government transparency. In the preemption area, he has been lead counsel in a range of cases involving injuries from radiation exposure, prescription drugs, pesticides, and medical devices, including Medtronic, Inc., v. Lohr, 518 U.S. 470 (1996). With respect to class actions, Professor Wolfman’s practice includes representing class plaintiffs. But much of his class-action work focuses on settlement objections. Professor Wolfman has briefed and argued objections to class action settlements on behalf of absent class members, consumer safety organizations, and labor unions in the Amchem asbestos settlement, the General Motors coupon cases, the Bowling v. Pfizer heart valve settlement, the AcroMed bone-screw case, and the Community Bank and Delta Funding predatory lending settlements, among others. He has written articles on class actions and has testified before Congress regarding the so-called Class Action Fairness Act (and its predecessors) and before the federal Civil Rules Advisory Committee on proposed changes to Rule 23. With respect to access to the courts, he has concentrated on litigation regarding court-awarded attorney’s fees, including acting as lead counsel in four U.S. Supreme Court cases involving the Equal Access to Justice Act, the principal statute authorizing fee shifting against federal agencies. Richlin Sec. Serv. Co. v. Chertoff, 128 S. Ct. 2007 (2008); Scarborough v. Principi, 541 U.S. 401 (2004); Shalala v. Schaefer, 509 U.S. 292 (1993); Melkonyan v. Sullivan, 501 U.S. 89 (1991).
Before joining the Stanford faculty, from 2009-2014, Brian was the co-director of the Institute for Public Representation at Georgetown University Law Center, a live-client clinic concentrating on civil rights and other public-interest litigation in trial and appellate courts. At Georgetown, he also taught a litigation practice seminar and the standard Federal Courts course. Professor Wolfman previously spent nearly 20 years at the national public interest law firm Public Citizen Litigation Group, serving the last five years as the Litigation Group’s Director. He also directed Public Citizen’s Supreme Court Assistance Project, which helps “underdog” public interest clients litigate before the U.S. Supreme Court. Before that, for five years, he conducted trial and appellate litigation as a staff lawyer at a rural poverty law program in Arkansas. Professor Wolfman clerked for the Honorable R. Lanier Anderson III of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit and is a graduate of Harvard Law School and the University of Pennsylvania.