Ayer, Donald B.

51 Louisiana Avenue, N.W.Washington, DC 20001- 2113

Updated: 01/07/2014


Don Ayer is the Firm's most experienced Supreme Court lawyer, with 19 arguments before the Court. He has argued more than 60 other appeals. His experience covers subject areas ranging from criminal appeals to business torts to a wide range of constitutional and technical statutory and regulatory issues. He also has been lead counsel in 20 federal court jury trials.

He is immediate past president of the American Academy of Appellate Lawyers and has served as president...


Office Info

Current Employment Position(s)

  • Partner

Practice Areas

  • Government Regulation
  • Issues & Appeals
  • Product Liability & Tort Litigation
  • Appellate Advocacy in the U.S. Supreme Court
  • Appellate Litigation in Other Federal & State Courts
  • Administrative & Agency Litigation
  • Trial Litigation in Federal & State Courts
  • U.S. Court of Federal Claims Litigation

Representative Cases

  • Alaskan legislator obtains favorable ruling from U.S. Supreme Court, narrows reach of honest services fraud statute , (2010)
  • American Standard successfully appeals adverse judgment in dealer termination case
  • Andrade Gutierrez prevails in third-party defendant's appeal of judgment ordering arbitration , (2009)
  • Anti-communist Albanian client wins U.S. political asylum , (2009)
  • Assistant Attorney General represented in terrorist surveillance and interrogation investigations , (2010)
  • Bellaire files amicus brief concerning proper construction of the Coal Health Benefit Act of 1992 , (2009)
  • Breed Technologies settles multi-million dollar accounting fraud litigation in Florida , (2009)
  • Chevron pursues federal court and administrative actions to challenge process for finalizing ownership interests at Elk Hills oil field , (2010)
  • Chevron victorious in challenge to Hawaii statute capping rent collected from lessee gas stations as Takings Clause violation
  • Cole National challenges California restrictions on business and financial relationships between opticians and optometrist or ophthalmologist , (2009)
  • Field Auto City prevails in U.S. Supreme Court case involving Truth in Lending Act damages-limiting provisions
  • Fior D'Italia restaurant defends U.S. Supreme Court case concerning the Federal Insurance Contribution Act , (2009)
  • Florida Board of Regents prevails in Supreme Court case involving States' 11th Amendment immunity from suit under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act
  • FMC appeals adverse False Claims Act judgment involving procurement of Bradley Fighting Vehicle , (2009)
  • Haig will beneficiaries challenge retroactive application of trusts and estates law by Hawaii Supreme Court
  • Individual plaintiffs prevail in landmark U.S. Supreme Court case interpreting supplemental jurisdiction statute , (2009)
  • Leading American corporations file amicus brief urging 10th Circuit to reverse order enjoining enforcement of Kansas judicial election regulation
  • Mariner Health Care appeals dismissal of $400 million accounting fraud lawsuit in Georgia state court , (2009)
  • Mining companies file amicus brief opposing liability for Coal Act retiree benefits , (2009)
  • Port Authority of NY and NJ challenges DOT’s planned auction of slots at JFK, LaGuardia and Newark airports , (2009)
  • Prisoner asserts rights under Religious Freedom and Institutionalized Persons Act , (2006)
  • Prisoner pursues U.S. Supreme Court appeal of dismissed lawsuit alleging constitutional violations in family law matter
  • Prisoner represented in the 9th Circuit and the U.S. Supreme Court in case involving the Prison Litigation Reform Act's exhaustion requirement
  • Pro bono client persuades 6th Circuit to reverse dismissal of federal habeas petition for failure to exhaust state remedies
  • R.J. Reynolds appeals State of Ohio claim that it violated "brand-name merchandise" provision of the Master Settlement Agreement
  • R.J. Reynolds petitions for certiorari to resolve issue of whether suit is permitted on claim having no connection to the forum
  • R.J. Reynolds secures first defense verdict in Gelep "Engle progeny" lawsuit , (2011)
  • R.J. Reynolds secures victory in first "Engle Progeny" appeal , (2010)
  • Research In Motion obtains stay of injunction following BlackBerry patent challenge
  • Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center obtains reversal of $36 million jury verdict in Idaho Supreme Court
  • Sandra Craft pursues Supreme Court case involving attachment of federal tax liens
  • Taita Chemical appeal reduces award under Delaware fiduciary duty law
  • Third Circuit reverses district court, affirms right to seek DNA evidence post-conviction under §1983
  • U.S. corporations file amicus brief urging U.S. Supreme Court to consider the constitutionality of Minnesota judicial election regulations
  • U.S. Supreme Court affirms parole challenges brought under federal civil rights law , (2009)
  • Washington Legal Foundation urges U.S. Supreme Court to review state appropriation of interest earned on lawyers' trust accounts


Bar Admissions

  • California
  • District of Columbia

Past Positions

  • N.D. of California, San Francisco, Assistant U.S. Attorney, 1977 - 1979
  • E.D. of California, Sacramenti, U.S. Attorney, 1981 - 1986
  • U.S. Department of Justice, Principal Deputy Solicitor General, 1986 - 1988
  • U.S. Department of Justice, Deputy Attorney General, 1989 - 1990


  • Harvard University Law School, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1975
  • Harvard University, 1973
    Major: History
  • Stanford University, 1971
    Honors: With Great Distinction
    Major: History


Published Works

  • Why the High Court's Work Goes Beyond 'Balls and Strikes', The Washington Post, 2010

Office Information


51 Louisiana Avenue, N.W.Washington, DC 20001- 2113


  • (202) 626-1700


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