Lecturer on Law
Deepak Gupta is the founding principal of Gupta Wessler PLLC, a public-interest law firm that acts as a counterweight to the corporate dominance of the Supreme Court and appellate bar. Deepak's two-decade legal career has focused on ensuring access to justice for people—particularly for consumers, workers, and communities injured by corporate and governmental wrongdoing. In addition to individual and class plaintiffs, Deepak represents and collaborates with civil rights, consumer, environmental, gun-violence-prevention, and good-government advocacy groups; labor unions; state and local governments; and public officials.
At Harvard Law School, Deepak is currently teaching a seminar on the history, theory, doctrine, and politics of forced arbitration. He was also recently a Wasserstein Public Interest Fellow at Harvard, has previously taught courses on appellate advocacy and public interest advocacy at Georgetown and American universities, and often lectures on civil rights litigation at Howard University.
Deepak regularly appears before the U.S. Supreme Court. Most recently, in March 2021, he won a unanimous decision holding that due process does not prevent families of people injured by mass-market products from access to court in the state where the injury occurs (Ford Motor Co. v. Montana Eighth Judicial District). In 2019, the Supreme Court invited Deepak to present argument in support of a judgment left undefended by the Solicitor General. He is the first Asian-American to receive an appointment to argue, and one of only two advocates selected in decades who did not previously clerk for a Justice. In the term ending in 2017, Deepak’s small firm was counsel for parties in three argued merits cases; Deepak was lead counsel in two, prevailing in both. In Hernández v. Mesa, Deepak represented the family of a Mexican teenager who was killed in a cross-border shooting by a U.S. Border Patrol agent, successfully obtaining unanimous reversal of the Fifth Circuit’s 15-0 en banc ruling that the officer was entitled to qualified immunity. In 2010, he argued AT&T Mobility v. Concepcion, a 5-4 case on corporations’ use of forced arbitration clauses to prevent consumers and workers from banding together to seek justice.
Deepak has handled appeals in every federal circuit and several state supreme courts and testified before the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate. There are few public-interest litigators whose work routinely spans as broad a range of issues: administrative law, constitutional law, civil rights, consumer protection, workers’ rights, class actions, environmental justice, gun violence, the criminalization of poverty, public health. To take just a few examples, Deepak’s cross-cutting work has included championing disparate-impact liability under the Fair Housing Act (Texas Department of Housing v. The Inclusive Communities Project), defending the constitutionality of the City of Philadelphia’s policy barring discrimination against same-sex couples as prospective foster parents (Fulton v. Philadelphia), working with community groups in Los Angeles on a groundbreaking case combatting environmental racism, representing consumer groups in support of the EPA’s Clean Power Plan, and representing the Association of Administrative Law Judges in a separation-of-powers challenge to a federal labor panel stacked with opponents of public-sector unions.
Over the past four years, Deepak led high-profile challenges to the unprecedented abuses of Donald Trump and his administration. In Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics v. Trump, he persuaded the Second Circuit that competitors of Trump’s hotels had standing to sue him for accepting payments from governments in violation of the Emoluments Clauses. In United States v. Flynn, he represented the House Judiciary Committee, challenging Attorney General Barr’s interference in the prosecution of former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn. Among other things, Deepak also successfully defeated a midnight EPA rule that sought to cripple the Biden Administration’s ability to rely on science in setting environmental standards; established that Trump’s Acting Director of the Bureau of Land Management had been serving unlawfully for 424 days; obtained a ruling striking down an IRS decision to stop collecting donor information from dark-money campaign-finance groups; halted the U.S. Agency for Global Media’s attempted takeover of a global internet freedom nonprofit; and contested Trump’s appointment of Mick Mulvaney to simultaneously serve as a White House official and director of the independent Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
Before founding his firm in 2012, Deepak was Senior Counsel at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. As the first appellate litigator hired under 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, where he founded and directed the Consumer Justice Project and was the Alan Morrison Supreme Court 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 and worked on voting rights at the Civil Rights Division, U.S. Department of Justice, prisoners’ rights at the ACLU, and religion cases at Americans United for the Separation of Church and State.
An elected member of the American Law Institute, Deepak is on the boards or advisory boards of several nonprofit organizations and academic institutes, including the National Consumer Law Center, the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, the Biden Institute at the University of Delaware, the Civil Justice Research Initiative of the University of California, Berkeley, 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). Deepak is a judge of the American Constitution Society’s Annual Richard D. Cudahy Writing Competition on Regulatory and Administrative Law.