John E. Roberts

John E. Roberts is a partner in the Litigation Department and co-chair of the firm’s Appellate Practice Group.  He litigates cutting-edge matters in federal and state appellate courts across the country, including the United States Supreme Court.

For the past several years, John has represented the Financial Oversight and Management Board for Puerto Rico—the entity established by Congress to oversee the restructuring of Puerto Rico’s massive public debt—in dozens of appeals, winning more than 90% of them.  Recent victories include a Supreme Court decision upholding the Board’s sovereign immunity and a First Circuit decision affirming confirmation of Puerto Rico’s $33 billion plan of adjustment.

John has an active patent appellate practice at the Federal Circuit.  Among other notable victories, he prevailed in the landmark case of Nautilus Inc. v. Biosig Instruments, Inc., where the Supreme Court defined the standard for patent indefiniteness.  John has also won some of the most important ERISA appeals in recent years.  He has successfully litigated appeals in nearly every federal circuit and in state appellate courts in New York, California, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and Florida. 

John maintains a robust pro bono practice and is a member of the firm’s Pro Bono Initiative Committee.  His recent pro bono victories include a successful representation of a criminal defendant in a death penalty case and two wins at the Second Circuit on behalf of incarcerated individuals.  John has also provided pro bono representation to various advocacy organizations in high-impact litigations, including the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, Citizens for Juvenile Justice, the Bronx Defenders, and the National Immigration Litigation Alliance.

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John graduated magna cum laude from the New York University School of Law, where he was an articles editor for the New York University Law Review. He received his B.A. from Harvard University, where he graduated cum laude. He served as a clerk to the Honorable Bruce M. Selya, the most prolific opinion-writer in the history of the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit. He is an Adjunct Professor at the Roger Williams School of Law in Bristol, Rhode Island, where he teaches appellate advocacy, and he is a co-author of the treatise Principles of Appellate Litigation: A Guide to Modern Practice.

Before John attended law school, he worked as a journalist for National Public Radio for many years, where he was a co-creator of the national news program, On Point, and won several awards for his reporting. He lives in Providence, Rhode Island, with his husband, Michael.