Walter Dellinger


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Walter Dellinger is an influential authority on appellate and Supreme Court decisions, lending his experience as a former Solicitor General and decades of legal knowledge to amicus briefs, a multitude of pro bono clients, and public and private companies involved in bet-the-company litigation. A frequent commentator for the Wall Street Journal, Slate, and major television networks, Walter holds the designation of the Douglas B. Maggs Emeritus Professor of Law at Duke University. He was named one of the 100 Most Influential Lawyers in America by the National Law Journal and recognized with a Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Lawyer.

Walter, who formerly served as O’Melveny’s Diversity and Inclusion Partner, helped convince the US Supreme Court that proponents of Proposition 8, California's ban on same-sex marriage, did not have standing to appeal a court order invalidating it. That ruling, Hollingsworth v. Perry, cleared the way for marriage equality in California and eventually nationwide.


Corporate & Government Experience

  • Acting Solicitor General of the US Supreme Court (1996-1997)
  • Assistant Attorney General and head of the Office of Legal Counsel, OLC (1993-1996)

Honors & Awards

  • Named a Local Litigation Star and National Practice Area Star for Appellate Law by Benchmark Litigation (2020)
  • Recognized by Best Lawyers® 2021 for Appellate Practice, Bet-the-Company Litigation, and Commercial Litigation in Washington, DC; Walter has been listed in Best Lawyers® since 2006.
  • Named one of the 100 Most Influential Lawyers in America by the National Law Journal
  • Recognized with a Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Lawyer
  • Included in The Legal 500 US Hall of Fame since its inception in 2017, and continually recognized as a Leading Lawyer in the category of “Dispute Resolution: Appellate”
  • Recognized as a Senior Statesman by Chambers USA in Appellate Law


Bar Admissions

  • District of Columbia

Court Admissions

  • US Supreme Court
  • US Court of Appeals for the First, Second, Third, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Ninth, Tenth, Eleventh, Federal, and District of Columbia Circuits


  • Yale University, J.D., 1966: Editor, Yale Law Journal
  • University of North Carolina, B.A., 1963: with honors; John J. Parker Medal for Leadership; Frank Porter Graham Award as Outstanding Senior

Professional Activities


  • Honorable Hugo L. Black, U.S. Supreme Court (1968-1969)


  • National Humanities Center (1988-89)


  • Duke University, School of Law, Douglas B. Maggs Professor


  • “Initial Reactions to OLC‘s Opinion on the Whitaker Designation as ‘Acting’ Attorney General,” Just Security (2018)