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Solo lawyer adds to resume with Supreme Court win

CONTACT:  Kenneth Brown – 800-282-6556 or 614-487-4426

Columbus, Ohio (April 25, 2011) – When David Mills opened his federal appellate practice in 2008, his dream was to get a case to the U.S. Supreme Court within 10 years. He beat that mark by eight years.

The 34-year-old Mills, a sole practitioner in Cleveland, joined a select group of attorneys when he argued his first case (Ortiz v. Jordan, No. 09-737) before the nation’s highest court last November.

“It was as grand and as intense as you’d imagine,” Mills said of the experience. “The justices on the Roberts court are known to let attorneys offer the first couple of sentences before they jump in and ask questions. I got out only one sentence before Chief Justice Roberts interrupted me, and I never opened up my notes because of the nonstop back and forth discussion.”

His opponent in the arguments, then-Solicitor General of Ohio Benjamin Mizer, was a law school classmate, but all nine justices agreed with Mills’ argument to reverse the decision against his client. The 450 hours he spent preparing for the case paid off. After learning of the victory, Mills said, “The first person I called was my client, who was overwhelmed. Being able to make that type of phone call is the reason you do this.”

Because of the Supreme Court’s decision, Mills has established some credibility among the legal community. He is being sought out by other attorneys seeking help to get their cases to the Supreme Court, and he is working on other petitions to the court. Despite his success and the media attention it has garnered, Mills is still taking his solo practice one day at a time.

“Now that I’ve had this positive outcome in the U.S. Supreme Court, some weight has been taken off my shoulders. However, people thought I was nuts to start this solo practice. Even I have wondered sometimes about the decision to go solo and lose a regular paycheck. It helps that my entire family has been supportive.” Mills adds that his mother serves as his part-time paralegal.

Mills earned his bachelor’s degree from Colgate University in New York and his law degree from the University of Michigan Law School. In addition to being a member of the Ohio State Bar Association Federal Courts and Practice Committee, he is active in the Federal Bar Association and the American Constitution Society. Mills also teaches an appellate course at Case Western Reserve University School of Law.

The Ohio State Bar Association, founded in 1880, is a voluntary association representing approximately 25,000 members of the bench and bar of Ohio as well as nearly 4,000 legal assistants and law students. Through its activities and the activities of its related organizations, the OSBA serves both its members and the public by promoting the highest standards in the practice of law and the administration of justice.

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