Biography, Alan B. Morrison
University of Virginia Law School
Public Service Program, January 30-31, 2009
After spending 20 months in private practice in New York, Alan Morrison moved
to the public s ector and continues to practice there and teach law today. In May 1968, he
joined the Office of the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York, where he
handled mainly civil and tax cases. He was lead counsel in a six week trial and later
appeal against US Steel Corp of what was then the largest tax case in US history ($250
M), and he served for two years as the assistant chief of the civil division, where he was
the principal supervisor of the work of 20-30 lawyers.
In 1972 he moved to Washington to found the Public Citizen Litigation Group
with Ralph Nader, where he worked until February 2004, with some time off for
teaching, serving as its director for about 25 years. The Litigation Group docket
extended to areas such as open government, separation of powers, the legal profe ssion,
reining in admini strative agencies, consumer protection, protecting dissidents in labor
unions, representing absentees in class actions, and, most recently, protecting consumers
and others who wish to use the Internet to express their views. He has personally argued
20 times in the Supreme Court, and others in the Group have now argued another 30
times. While he was with the Litigation Group, it created a project that helps other
lawyers who have public interest cases in the Supreme Court.
He has taught at Harvard, NYU, Stanford and Hawaii Jaw schools, including
courses in civil procedure, administrative Jaw, legal ethics, and workshops in civil
litigation, mass torts, and separation of powers. He is author or co-author of more than
30 published law review articles, and is the principal editor of two books, “Fundamentals
C-1of American Law” and “Beyond the Big Firm: Profiles of Lawyers Who Want Something
More.” He was an elected member of the Board of Governors of the District of
Columbia Bar for three terms and has served on many committees of the Bar, the courts,
and the American Bar Association. He is an elected member of the American Law
Institute and the American Academy of Appellate Lawyers, of which he served as
president in 1999-2000. Since 2000 he has been a member of the Committee on Science,
Technology, and Law of the National Academies of Science.
He served briefly as special counsel to the Attorney General for the District of
Columbia in 2007 where he was lead counsel in District of Columbia v Heller, until he
lost his job in a political dispute. Starting in February 2008, he has been working with
the Fair Elections Legal Network trying to assure that all eligible voters are able to vote
in November and have their votes counted. For the 2008-09 academic year, he is a
visiting professor at the Washington College of Law at American University.
Mr. Morrison is a graduate of Yale College and Harvard Law School on whose
visiting committee he currently serves, and he was for four years a commissioned officer
in the US Navy. He is married to the former Anne Scherck (Smith, BA, and Harvard,
MPA), and they have two daughters who live in New York: one a chef and the other a
lawyer with the Innocence Project.