John Oberdorfer

John L. Oberdorfer

Senior Partner

During his many years of practice, John Oberdorfer has established himself as an advocate for complex domestic and international disputes. His many successful cases demonstrate his ability to work in uncharted waters and develop new and creative arguments and solutions.

He prides himself on communicating complex issues in a straightforward, understandable, and persuasive way. In 2013, John was ranked among the top 10 commercial litigation lawyers in the nation by United States Lawyer Rankings.

John’s prime areas of concentration are complex civil and government investigations and disputes (both in the US and internationally), the defense of securities accounting cases, and class actions. He has represented non-US clients at the World Bank and in litigation in US courts. John has represented clients in arbitration disputes, and has also advised and spoken about arbitration issues.

He has successfully litigated Fifth Amendment “takings” cases, as well as First Amendment commercial speech cases. In his securities defense work, he represents clients before the SEC, in court cases brought by the SEC, and in shareholder class actions. He has represented both plaintiffs and defendants in class actions. John chaired the Squire Patton Boggs’ litigation department for many years and has served on the firm’s Executive Committee. He is currently president of the Squire Patton Boggs Foundation.


  • Prevailed in US arbitration of contract dispute.
  • Settled international arbitration matter.
  • Defending major non-US companies in debarment actions before the World Bank Sanctions Committees of the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank. 
  • Defending a US company in a USAID Inspector General’s investigation.
Securities Litigation and SEC Investigations
  • Defending a CEO in a class action and a chief accounting officer in a case in federal court brought by the SEC.
  • In a securities fraud class action against a chief financial officer, persuaded court to dismiss the matter prior to any discovery.
  • Representing of corporate officers and employees before the SEC and in class actions.
Class Actions
  • Successfully settling a class action for a pipeline operator in litigation stemming from an oil spill.
  • For a major home insurance company, won dismissal of class action case (8th Circuit), and successfully settled claims under the Fair Housing Act brought by the Department of Justice and a private class.
  • Won class action for minority construction workers seeking union membership.
Constitutional Law
  • Filing amicus brief for 21 Members of Congress on unconstitutionality of state laws restricting sale of out-of-state wine.
  • Representing advertising trade associations in a First Amendment challenge to the Food and Drug Administration’s tobacco advertising rules.
  • Won declaration by the US Court of Appeals for the 1st Circuit that a Massachusetts law requiring manufacturers of tobacco products to publicly disclose product ingredients violates the Fifth Amendment because it would take the companies’ trade secrets without compensation.


  • Yale Law School, LL.B., 1969
  • Dartmouth College, A.B., 1966


  • District of Columbia


  • United States Supreme Court

Memberships and Affiliations

  • Board Vice-Chair, United Planning Organization
  • DC Bar Association, Litigation Section
  • Trustee, Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law
  • President and Board Member, Patton Boggs Foundation
  • Board Member, Council for Court Excellence
  • Top 10 Lawyer, Commercial Litigation, United States Lawyer Rankings, 2013
  • Winner, The Burton Award for Legal Writing Achievement, 2004
  • Special Commendation, US Department of Transportation
  • Member, Clinton-Gore Transition Team, 1992
  • Numerous awards, Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights, for work on a successful class-action civil rights case

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