VIRGINIA A. SEITZ, former Assistant Attorney General of the Office of Legal Counsel in the Department of Justice, is a partner in Sidley’s Supreme Court and Appellate practice and also serves in the Office of General Counsel of the firm. Virginia has practiced in the appellate courts for 25 years. On behalf of a wide range of clients in numerous industries, she has handled cases in the United States Supreme Court in virtually all of the courts of appeals and in state appellate courts. Her experience includes:
- Successfully argued before the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of the State of Florida that plaintiffs who had obtained a preliminary injunction allowing a demonstration on the Florida beaches were not prevailing parties within the meaning of section 1988 of the Civil Rights Act, and thus, could not obtain attorneys’ fees from the state because the district court had ultimately rejected plaintiffs’ First Amendment claim. Sole v. Wyner, 551 U.S. 74 (2007).
- On behalf of the State of Delaware, obtained from the U.S. Supreme Court a summary reversal of a court of appeals’ decision that certain state officials were not entitled to qualified immunity from an Eighth Amendment claim. Taylor v. Barkes, 575 U.S. ___ (2015).
- On behalf of the Major League Baseball Players Association, obtained from the U.S. Supreme Court first a stay and then summary reversal of two court of appeals’ decisions that had reversed an arbitrator’s decision in favor of the Players Association. Major League Baseball Players Association v. Garvey, 532 U.S. 1015 (2001).
- On behalf of MONY Life Insurance Company, argued and won an appeal challenging the trial court’s dismissal of a class action claiming breach of contract in connection with retained assets accounts. Rabin v. MONY Life Insurance Co., 387 F. Appx 36 (2d Cir. 2010).
- On behalf of Exxon, successfully argued that a FERC decision concerning the formula for rates for shippers on the Trans Alaska Pipeline should be vacated and reconsidered. Tesoro v. FERC, 234 F.3d 1286 (D.C. Cir. 2001).
- On behalf of the Major League Baseball Players Association, briefed and argued whether use of players’ names, nicknames and statistics in internet fantasy baseball games violate players’ publicity rights or whether that use is protected by the First Amendment. MLBPA v. CDM Marketing & Distrib., 505 F.3d 818 (8th Cir. 2007).
Virginia has authored more than 75 briefs in the United States Supreme Court. She was counsel of record on the amicus brief on behalf of retired military officers in Grutter v. Bollinger, 539 U.S. 306 (2003), and Gratz v. Bollinger, 539 U.S. 244 (2003). The brief was cited by the Supreme Court in the oral argument and opinion in Grutter and a New York Times piece noted that it “may have been the most influential amicus brief in the history of the Supreme Court.” Finally, she has handled an array of district court litigation involving important constitutional and federal law issues, including the Appropriations and Supremacy Clauses of the Constitution, the First Amendment, Title IX, Title VII, the Anti-Deficiency Act, ERISA, RICO, the NLRA, section 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act and the Landrum-Griffin Act.
Virginia returned to Sidley in 2014 after serving for two-and-a-half years in the Senate-confirmed position of Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legal Counsel in the Department of Justice. She was the first woman to be confirmed to that position. As the leader of that Office, Virginia was responsible for providing legal advice to the President and Executive Branch departments and agencies on issues of particular difficulty and importance, including those issues on which there was a dispute between federal agencies. Virginia has continued her advising work as General Counsel to the firm, addressing the full range of legal and ethical issues confronting the firm in litigation and risk management.
Earlier in her career, Virginia was confirmed by the Senate to the first Board of Directors of the Congressional Office of Compliance and served from May 1995 to May 2000. That Board promulgates regulations and adjudicates disputes concerning Members of Congress and their employees under the Congressional Accountability Act, which applies all major federal labor and employment laws to legislative branch employers and employees. Virginia currently serves as a member of the Advisory Committee on Civil Rules, the Committee which studies and develops proposed amendments to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure for submission to the Committee on Rules of Practice and Procedure of the Judicial Conference of the United States.
Virginia has been recognized for her Appellate Law practice by Chambers USA (2009–2011) and recommended by The Legal 500 US in Litigation: Supreme Court and Appellate (2010–2011). She also was included in The Best Lawyers in America from 2001–2012, 2015–2019. In January 2017, Virginia was elected to the American Law Institute.
Admissions & Certifications
- U.S. Supreme Court
- U.S. Court of International Trade
- U.S. Court of Appeals, 1st Circuit
- U.S. Court of Appeals, 2nd Circuit
- U.S. Court of Appeals, 3rd Circuit
- U.S. Court of Appeals, 4th Circuit
- U.S. Court of Appeals, 6th Circuit
- U.S. Court of Appeals, 7th Circuit
- U.S. Court of Appeals, 8th Circuit
- U.S. Court of Appeals, 9th Circuit
- U.S. Court of Appeals, D.C. Circuit
- U.S. Court of Appeals, Federal Circuit
- U.S. District Court, District of Columbia
- District of Columbia
- University at Buffalo Law School, The State University of New York, J.D., 1985 (with first in class, Max Koren Award for Outstanding Student)
- Oxford University, M.A., 1980 (Rhodes Scholar)
- Duke University, B.A., 1978 (summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa, with distinction in History, National Merit Scholar)
- William J. Brennan Jr., United States Supreme Court (1986 - 1987)
- Harry T. Edwards, U.S. Court of Appeals, D.C. Circuit (1985 - 1986)