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Jessica L. Ellsworth

Washington, D.C.

Jessica L. Ellsworth

Having argued more than 30 appeals, Jessica Ellsworth focuses her practice on the Supreme Court and federal and state courts of appeals. She also partners with regulatory colleagues in Administrative Procedures Act challenges to government agency action and with the white collar group in False Claims Act (FCA) litigation, bringing her appellate perspective to developing and managing case strategy and crafting dispositive motions. Jess combines extensive knowledge of and experience in appellate courts with a keen ability to help clients approach and solve the litigation challenges they face.

Whether the case involves the FCA, a challenge to federal agency action, sovereign immunity, statutory interpretation, or a contrary jury verdict, Jess helps clients craft winning appellate briefs. Well-versed in appellate argument, she then presents clear and cogent arguments on behalf of her clients in federal courts of appeals around the country (most recently, the D.C., Seventh, and Ninth Circuits) and in state appellate courts (most recently, in Florida, Pennsylvania, and Maine). Jess has been named a Super Lawyers Rising Star for appellate litigation in 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016.

Jess follows developments in the law on the issues that matter to her clients, and she has successfully litigated motions to dismiss, motions for summary judgment, and appeals. In FCA cases alone, her clients include pharmaceutical companies, hospitals, defense contractors, and university clients.

Before joining the firm, Jessica served as a judicial clerk to the Honorable Martha Craig Daughtrey of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit and the Honorable Rebecca Beach Smith of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. While in law school, Jessica was named Best Oralist by then-U.S. Supreme Court Justice David Souter in the Harvard Law School Ames Moot Court Competition.

Representative Experience

Successfully represented an Indian tribe in the Supreme Court on a matter of tribal sovereign immunity.

Prevailed in a challenge to the FDA's denial of orphan drug exclusivity and obtained order directing FDA to grant such exclusivity.

Successfully argued a Fourth Circuit appeal involving the False Claim Act's public disclosure bar.

Successfully argued a D.C. Circuit appeal involving the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act and personal jurisdiction.

Prevailed in a Second Circuit appeal based on an arbitration award precluding an employment retaliation claim.

Filed successful brief opposing certiorari in a case involving the United Nations Convention on Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards.

Argued a successful appeal in the Virginia Supreme Court for a university involving a statutory interpretation question of first impression.

Dedicated a decade to seeking, and ultimately obtained, a green card for a Kurdish Iraqi asylum seeker.

Education and admissions


  • J.D., Harvard Law School, 2001
  • B.A., magna cum laude, Dartmouth College, 1998

Bar admissions and qualifications

  • District of Columbia
  • Virginia

Court admissions

  • U.S. Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Eleventh Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Federal Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, First Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Second Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Tenth Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Third Circuit
  • U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Virginia
  • U.S. Supreme Court


Rising Star (Appellate)

Washington, D.C. Super Lawyers


Legal Elite, 2011, 2012, 2014

Virginia Business magazine

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