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Hon. Theodore B. Olson

Partner, Gibson Dunn & Crutcher LLP

Theodore B. Olson is a partner in Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher's Washington, D.C. office, a member of the firm's Executive Committee, Co-Chair of the Appellate and Constitutional Law Group and the firm's Crisis Management Team.

Mr. Olson was Solicitor General of the United States during the period 2001-2004.  From 1981-1984 he was Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Office of Legal Counsel in the U.S. Department of Justice.  Except for those two intervals, he has been a lawyer with Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher in Los Angeles and Washington, D.C. since 1965. 

Selected by Time magazine in 2010 as one of the 100 most influential people in the world, Mr. Olson is one of the nation's premier appellate and United States Supreme Court advocates.  He has argued 58 cases in the Supreme Court, including the two Bush v. Gore cases arising out of the 2000 presidential election, and Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, prevailing in over 75% of those arguments.  Mr. Olson's practice is concentrated on appellate and constitutional law, federal legislation, media and commercial disputes, and assisting clients with strategies for the containment, management and resolution of major legal crises occurring at the federal/state, criminal/civil and domestic/international levels.  He has handled cases at all levels of state and federal court systems throughout the United States, and in international tribunals.

Mr. Olson's Supreme Court arguments have included cases involving separation of powers; federalism; voting rights; the First Amendment; the Equal Protection and Due Process Clauses; jury trial rights; punitive damages; takings of property and just compensation; the Commerce Clause; taxation; criminal law; copyright; antitrust; securities; campaign finance; telecommunications; the environment; the internet; and other federal constitutional and statutory questions.

As Solicitor General, during the presidency of George W. Bush, Mr. Olson was the Government's principal advocate in the United States Supreme Court, responsible for supervising and coordinating all appellate litigation of the United States, and a legal adviser to the President and the Attorney General.  As Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legal Counsel during the Reagan Administration, Mr. Olson was the Executive Branch's principal legal adviser, rendering legal guidance to the President and to the heads of the Executive Branch departments on a wide range of constitutional and federal statutory questions, and assisting in formulating and articulating the Executive Branch's position on constitutional issues.

Mr. Olson has served as private counsel to two Presidents, Ronald W. Reagan and George W. Bush, in addition to serving those two Presidents in high-level positions in the Department of Justice.  He has twice been awarded the United States Department of Justice's Edmund J. Randolph Award, its highest award for public service and leadership, and also received the Department of Defense's highest civilian award for his advocacy in the courts of the United States, including the Supreme Court. 

Mr. Olson is a member of the Council of he Administrative Conference of the United States, the Board of Trustees on the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and the Board of Directors of the National Center for State Courts.  He was a visiting scholar at the National Constitution Center in 2007.  He served on the President's Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board from 2006 to 2008.  He was Co-Chair of the Knight Commission on the Information Needs of Communities in a Democracy from 2008-2009. 

In July of 2010, Mr. Olson was appointed by President Obama to serve as a member of the ten-person Council of the Administrative Conference of the United States.

Mr. Olson is a Fellow of both the American College of Trial Lawyers and the American Academy of Appellate Lawyers.  The National Law Journal has repeatedly listed him as one of America's Most Influential Lawyers.  The American Lawyer and Legal Times have characterized Mr. Olson as one of America's leading advocates.  In 2011, Washingtonian magazine listed him as number one on its compilation of the finest lawyers in the nation's capital.  The late New York Times columnist William Safire described Mr. Olson as this generation's "most persuasive advocate" before the Supreme Court and "the most effective Solicitor General" in decades.

Mr. Olson received his law degree in 1965 from the University of California at Berkeley (Boalt Hall) where he was a member of the California Law Review and Order of the Coif.  He received his bachelor's degree from the University of the Pacific, where he was recognized as the outstanding graduating student in both forensics and journalism.  He has written and lectured extensively on appellate advocacy, oral communication in the courtroom, civil justice reform, punitive damages, and constitutional and administrative law.

Education
  • University of California - Berkeley, 1965
    Juris Doctor
  • University of the Pacific, 1962
    Bachelor of Arts

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2012 Annual Supreme Court Round Up - Event Audio/Video
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Washington, DC Lawyers Chapter
July 10, 2009
Keynote Address by U.S. Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey - Audio/Video
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November 20, 2008
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25th Anniversary Gala - Event Audio/Video
2007 National Lawyers Convention
November 15, 2007
A Conversation with Judge Robert H. Bork - Event Video
A Conference Discussing the Contributions of Judge Robert H. Bork
June 26, 2007
Fair-weather Federalism - Event Audio
Federalism & Separation of Powers Practice Group
March 30, 2007
Luncheon Address by Hon. Theodore B. Olson - Event Audio
The Legacy of the Department of Justice Under Attorney General Edwin Meese, III
January 27, 2007
Customary International Law: The Next Font of Judicial Activism? - Transcript
2003 National Lawyers Convention - "International Law and American Sovereignty"
November 13, 2003
1st Annual Barbara K. Olson Memorial Lecture - Event Video
2001 National Lawyers Convention
November 16, 2001
Will Lawyering Destroy the Free Market?
Corporations, Securities & Antitrust Practice Group Newsletter - Volume 2, Issue 1, Spring 1998
May 01, 1998
Supreme Court Roundup: A Review of October Term 1995
Federalism & Separation of Powers Practice Group Newsletter - Volume 1, Issue 2, Spring 1997
July 01, 1997