Lecturer on Law
Deepak Gupta is the founding principal of Gupta Wessler PLLC. He is a veteran advocate before the U.S. Supreme Court, has handled cases before all thirteen federal circuits, state supreme courts nationwide, and numerous trial courts, and has testified multiple times before the U.S. Senate, the U.S. House of Representatives, and the Presidential Commission on the Supreme Court.
At Harvard, Deepak was recently an instructor in the Supreme Court Litigation Clinic (in Winter Term 2022) and has, for the past several years, taught a seminar on the history, theory, doctrine, and politics of forced arbitration (last offered in Spring 2022). He was a Wasserstein Public Interest Fellow at Harvard (in 2018-2019) and has previously taught courses on appellate advocacy and public interest advocacy at Georgetown and American universities.
Much of Deepak’s two-decade public-interest legal career has focused on seeking access to justice for consumers, workers, and communities injured by corporate or governmental wrongdoing. He works with a range of clients and co-counsel, including leading plaintiffs’ firms; national nonprofit organizations; labor unions; state and local governments; and public officials at all levels. His generalist appellate practice routinely spans a broad range of fields, including administrative law, constitutional law, and consumers’ and workers’ rights.
Deepak has filed more than one hundred briefs in the U.S. Supreme Court and regularly presents argument before the Court. In March 2021, he prevailed in Ford Motor Co. v. Montana Eighth Judicial District, in which the Court unanimously ruled that people injured by mass-market products can sue where their injury occurred, bucking a trend of anti-plaintiff decisions stretching back four decades. In 2019, in Smith v. Berryhill, Deepak argued at the invitation of the Supreme Court in support of a judgment left undefended by the Solicitor General. He is the first Asian-American to be appointed to argue by the Court. In 2017, Deepak’s firm was counsel for parties in three argued merits cases; he was lead counsel in two, prevailing in both. In Hernández v. Mesa, he represented the family of a Mexican teenager killed in a cross-border shooting by a border patrol agent, successfully obtaining reversal of the Fifth Circuit’s 15-0 en banc ruling that the officer was entitled to qualified immunity. In 2010, Deepak argued AT&T Mobility v. Concepcion, a watershed case on corporations’ use of forced arbitration to prevent consumers and workers from banding together to seek justice.
As an appellate advocate, Deepak is frequently sought out by trial lawyers to defend their most consequential victories or resurrect worthy claims on appeal—often after years of hard-fought litigation. He also works with co-counsel to design class actions and legal challenges from the ground up. In one such case, National Veterans Legal Services Program v. United States, Deepak recently persuaded the Federal Circuit that the federal judiciary has been charging people hundreds of millions of dollars in unlawful fees for online access to court records. In another one-of-a-kind class action, Deepak represented all of the nation’s bankruptcy judges, recovering $56 million in back pay for Congress’s violation of the Judicial Compensation Clause. The American Lawyer observed: “it’s hard to imagine a higher compliment than being hired to represent federal judges.”
Deepak often leads high-stakes administrative and constitutional cases involving the federal government. In recent years, Deepak persuaded the D.C. Circuit to issue a rare emergency injunction halting the U.S. Agency for Global Media’s attempted takeover of an internet-freedom nonprofit; represented environmental groups in a successful procedural challenge to a midnight rule that would have crippled the EPA’s ability to rely on science in setting public-health standards; obtained a ruling striking down an IRS decision to stop collecting donor information from campaign-finance groups; and established that the Acting Director of the Bureau of Land Management had been serving unlawfully for 424 days. In Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics v. Trump, Deepak worked with an all-star legal team, including Professor Larry Tribe, to persuade the Second Circuit that competitors of the former President’s hotels had standing to sue him for accepting payments from foreign and domestic governments in violation of the Constitution’s Emoluments Clauses.
Before founding his law firm in 2012, Deepak was Senior Counsel at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. As the first appellate litigator hired under (former Professor) Elizabeth Warren’s leadership, he launched the new federal agency's amicus program, defended its regulations, and worked with the Solicitor General’s office on Supreme Court matters. For seven years previously, he was an attorney at Public Citizen Litigation Group, where he founded and directed the Consumer Justice Project and was the Alan Morrison Supreme Court Assistance Project Fellow. Before that, Deepak served for two years as a law clerk to Judge Lawrence K. Karlton of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California. He studied law at Georgetown, Sanskrit at Oxford, and philosophy at Fordham.
Deepak is a member of the Administrative Conference of the United States and the American Law Institute and sits on the boards or advisory boards of the National Consumer Law Center; the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law; the Open Markets Institute; the Alliance for Justice; the Civil Justice Research Initiative of the University of California, Berkeley; the Biden Institute at the University of Delaware; and the Institute for Consumer Antitrust Studies. His publications include Arbitration as Wealth Transfer, 5 Yale L. & Pol’y Rev. 499 (2017) (with Lina Khan); Leveling the Playing Field on Appeal: The Case for a Plaintiff-Side Appellate Bar, 54 Duq. L. Rev. 383 (2016); and The Consumer Protection Bureau and the Constitution, 65 Admin L. Rev. 945 (2013). He is a judge of the American Constitution Society’s Annual Richard D. Cudahy Writing Competition on Regulatory and Administrative Law.
Among other honors, Deepak is the recipient of the Steven J. Sharpe Award for Public Service from the American Association for Justice and the President’s Award from the National Conference of Bankruptcy Judges.