Danielle Spinelli

Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP

$ $$$

Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest 1875
Washington 20006 DC US

Danielle Spinelli is vice chair of the firm’s Appellate and Supreme Court Litigation Practice. She has handled matters in a wide variety of substantive areas, including administrative law, antitrust, bankruptcy, constitutional law, criminal law and procedure, federal jurisdiction, insurance law, international trade, and Native American law.

Ms. Spinelli has argued five cases and briefed many others before the US Supreme Court, and has argued many cases before federal courts of appeals and dispositive motions in federal district court.

She is nationally ranked by Chambers USA in both appellate law and Native American law, and is described by The Legal 500 as “a great lawyer in every sense: she has superb legal acumen, is a very effective oral advocate, and provides an excellent written product.”

In addition, Ms. Spinelli argued successfully in the Supreme Court in the right-to-counsel case of Rothgery v. Gillespie County (2008). She played a lead role in the successful representation of Freddie Lee Hall in Hall v. Florida (2014), regarding the constitutionality of Florida’s scheme for determining whether capital defendants have an intellectual disability that would bar their execution.

She also played a major role in the successful representation of Chris Simmons in Roper v. Simmons (2005), which held that the Eighth Amendment prohibits the execution of juvenile offenders, and represented the American Psychological Association as amicus in the subsequent cases of Graham v. Florida (2010) and Miller v. Alabama (2012), which limited life without parole sentences for juvenile offenders. She has also represented parties or amici in numerous other Supreme Court cases.

Professional Activities :

  • Member, Judicial Conference Advisory Committee on Appellate Rules
  • Chair, American Bar Association Standing Committee on Amicus Curiae Briefs
  • Chair, Bankruptcy Appeals Subcommittee, American Bar Association Business Bankruptcy Committee
  • Member, The Constitution Project Amicus Brief Committee

Experience :

  • Successfully argued on behalf of secured creditor in Bank of America v. Caulkett (2015), regarding stripping junior liens in chapter 7 cases.
  • Successfully argued on behalf of the chapter 7 trustee in Clark v. Rameker (2014), which presents the question whether inherited IRAs are exempt in bankruptcy.
  • Argued before the Court for respondent in United States v. Tohono O’odham Nation (2011), which presented a significant question of federal jurisdiction.
  • Successfully represented the petitioner in Hall v. Florida (2014), which raised the question whether Florida’s scheme for identifying capital defendants with intellectual disabilities is constitutional.
  • Represents the senior secured creditors of debtor Momentive Performance Materials, Inc., in their Second Circuit appeal of their treatment under the debtor’s chapter 11 plan.
  • Successfully argued before the Third Circuit on behalf of client AOL in a fraudulent-transfer dispute with the estate of bankrupt internet retailer eToys.
  • Represented swap counterparties in disputes with the Lehman bankruptcy estate involving interpretation of the Bankruptcy Code’s provisions governing complex financial products.


  • JD, Harvard Law School, 1999
  • BA, Mary Baldwin College
  • MA, Columbia University

ADMISSIONS : District of Columbia, Massachusetts, New York


  • The Hon. Stephen Breyer, US Supreme Court, 2000 – 2001
  • The Hon. Guido Calabresi, US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, 1999 – 2000


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Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest 1875
Washington 20006 DC US
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Lina Stillman

Broadway 42
New York 10006 NY US