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Paul Watford - CONFIRMED
United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
On October 27, 2011 President Obama nominated Paul Watford to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Mr. Watford is currently a partner in the Los Angeles office of Munger, Tolles and Olson, LLP.
Paul Watford was born in 1967 in Garden Grove, California. He received his B.A. from University of California at Berkeley in 1989 and his J.D. from University of California at Los Angeles in 1994 where he received the Order of Coif and was editor of the law review. Prior to attending law school he worked as a legal interviewer with the Bar Association of San Francisco’s Lawyer Referral Services.
After law school, Mr. Watford clerked first for Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Alex Kozinski, and then for Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg. Following his clerkships, he worked as an associate at Munger, Tolles and Olson for a year, and then worked as before becoming an Assistant United States Attorney for the United States Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California from 1997 to 2000. In 2000 he began work as an associate at joined Sidley & Austin’s Los Angeles office before returning to Munger, Tolles in 2001, where he has remained until the present. He made partner in 2003.
While serving as an Assistant United States Attorney at the United States Attorney’s Office, Watford worked in the Criminal Division and the Major Frauds Section. In this capacity, he handled a wide range of criminal prosecutions including drug offenses, immigration offenses, firearms trafficking, robbery, and fraud. In one representative case before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, United States v. Lucas, 1998 U.S. App. LEXIS 20520 (9th Cir. 1998), Watford represented the government against a defendant who asserted a duress defense to eight counts of bank robbery. The Ninth Circuit found that the defendant had not satisfied the immediacy requirement of duress.
During his brief time at Sidley & Austin, Watford worked in the firm’s appellate practice group. At Munger, Tolles, Watford has also focused on appellate litigation in areas such as intellectual property, securities, business contracts, antitrust, products liability, and employment law. Nearly all of Watford’s private practice has been in civil litigation, largely involving business or commercial disputes. His clients are primarily large companies, but he has also represented law firms, business executives, municipal governments, and non-profit organizations. A representative case for his practice is Lewis v. Verizon Communications, Inc., 627 F.3d 395 (9th Cir. 2010), in which Watford represented Verizon against a class of consumers seeking recovery of allegedly unauthorized charges on their bills. The federal district court remanded the case to state court on the grounds that amount in controversy requirements were not satisfied and Verizon appealed. Watford drafted Verizon’s appellate brief and argued the appeal in which the Ninth Circuit found in favor of Verizon.
While Watford has not argued before the United States Supreme Court, he has appeared as counsel in twenty cases before the Court.
Professional and Academic Activities
Mr. Watford has been active in the Los Angeles legal community outside of his professional practice. He served for six years as a member of the Magistrate Judge Merit Selection Panel for the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, which vets candidates for federal magistrate judge positions. He also served for two years as an Appellate Lawyer Representative to the Ninth Circuit Judicial Conference. Watford currently serves a board member and treasurer of Neighborhood Legal Services of Los Angeles County and a board member of the Federal Bar Association, Los Angeles Chapter. He is a member of the American Bar Association’s Amicus Curiae Committee which reviews all amicus briefs submitted on behalf of the ABA.
Watford has participated in educational panels at bar associations and California universities on topics such as appellate practice, writing legal briefs and general law firm practice. He has given several presentations on the impact various Supreme Court Justices have had on the Court. He has also taught a course of Judicial Opinion Writing at the University of Southern California’s Gould School of Law.
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