Cliff Berlow
Jenner & Block LLP
Appellate and Supreme Court practice
40 Under Class – 2020

Cliff Berlow has tackled several complex and high-profile cases during his career. And the results of many of these cases have helped preserve the safety and rights of the public. 

For example, Berlow handled appeals in the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Shepard v. Madigan, a case that would have required the state of Illinois to allow the license-free carriage of handguns in public. Berlow obtained a decision from the appellate court preventing this. 

In Illinois Commerce Commission v. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, Berlow earned a reversal by the 7th Circuit of a FERC decision that required Illinois citizens to share equally in the costs of building electricity infrastructure designed to benefit non-Illinois customers. This decision helped preserve lower electricity bills for state residents. 

Berlow also played an important role on the small teams of lawyers who drafted U.S. Supreme Court briefs that won the Best Brief Award two times from the National Association of Attorneys General.

"Cliff has a unique ability to analyze highly technical and complex cases and persuasively convey that analysis to appellate courts in persuasive briefs and oral arguments," said Brett Legner with Mayer Brown LLP. "As an appellate advocate, Cliff is one of the most gifted writers and strategists I have ever known."

Michael Scodro with Mayer Brown has worked closely with Berlow and has seen up-close just how talented this attorney is. 

He points to Manuel v. City of Joliet, a Fourth Amendment case that the U.S. Supreme Court had agreed to hear when Scodro and Berlow began working on the matter 

Scodro said that the case raised several unsettled, complex issues that had divided the lower courts. Berlow provided creative and incisive thinking, writing and strategic advice, Scodro said, overcoming these challenges. 

"Cliff is that extremely rare combination of exemplary writer, powerfully persuasive oral advocate and sophisticated legal strategist," Scodro said. "In short, he's an extraordinary attorney."

Carolyn Shapiro, co-director of the Institute on the Supreme Court of the United States at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, has also worked with Berlow. She, too, came away impressed. 

Shapiro cites Property Casualty Insurers Association of America v. Donovan. She and Berlow worked closely on an amicus brief in this case, in which property insurers were challenging a new rule issued by the Obama administration's Department of Housing and Urban Development. The new rule clarified that the Fair Housing Act allowed for disparate impact liability, including as applied to insurers. One of the challengers' arguments was that this rule could not apply to insurance companies anywhere in the country because it was pre-empted by the McCarran-Ferguson Act, which gives states primary responsibility for insurance regulation. 

"During oral argument, the judge directly asked the challengers’ attorney about the state’s amicus brief, and the attorney found himself in the awkward position of having to claim that the private insurers better understood the state’s interests and Illinois law than did the Illinois Attorney General," Shapiro said. "And ultimately, the district court rejected the blanket preemption the challengers were claiming.”