Areas of Practice
Practice-Specific Experience
  • Georgetown University Law Center, J.D., summa cum laude, 1994, Associate Editor, Georgetown University Law Journal, Order of the Coif
  • Loyola University, New Orleans, B.B.A., Accounting and Finance, summa cum laude, 1991, Beta Gamma Sigma, Beta Alpha Psi
Judicial Clerkships
  • Hon. David B. Sentelle, US Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit, 1994–95
Bar & Court Admissions
  • District of Columbia
  • US Supreme Court
  • US Court of International Trade
  • US District Court, District of Columbia
  • US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit
  • US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
  • US Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit
  • US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
  • US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
  • US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
  • US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
  • US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
  • US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit
  • US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
  • US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit

Shannen W. Coffin

1330 Connecticut Avenue, NW
Washington DC 20036
TEL: +1 202 429 6255
FAX: +1 202 429 3902

Shannen W. Coffin is a partner in the Washington office of Steptoe & Johnson LLP, where he is a member of the Litigation Department.

Mr. Coffin’s practice concentrates on appellate and Supreme Court litigation. He has advised clients on litigation strategy and represented clients before state and federal courts of appeals in cases involving commercial and insurance law, administrative law, antitrust and employment law, tribal jurisdiction, toxic tort and environmental law, and a wide range of constitutional issues.

Mr. Coffin’s legal career has given him a rich mix of experience in both private and government sectors. He rejoined the firm in 2007, after serving as Counsel to Vice President Cheney in the Office of the Vice President of the United States. There, he served as the chief legal adviser to the Vice President, handling the full range of legal issues affecting Vice Presidency and the Office of the Vice President (OVP). Mr. Coffin provided legal advice to the Vice President and his staff on constitutional, regulatory, national security and related policy issues, coordinated OVP's response to congressional investigations and litigation, and represented OVP in the inter–agency process with respect to federal regulations and legislation.

Previously, Mr. Coffin served as Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the US Justice Department’s Civil Division. There, he was responsible for overseeing and coordinating trial litigation on behalf of the federal government for constitutional challenges to federal statutes, statutory and constitutional challenges to agency programs, defense of national security and anti–terrorism programs, and employment litigation on behalf of federal agencies. He personally argued numerous significant litigation matters for the federal government in both trial courts and courts of appeals, including constitutional challenges to Presidential action, disputes over access to government information, and an intervention by the federal government into a major labor–management dispute. 

Representative Matters

  • Town Pump Inc. v. LaPlante, No. 10-35090, 2010 WL 3469578 (9th Cir.). Successfully challenged jurisdiction of Blackfeet Tribal Court to adjudicate personal injury claims against non-Indian business operating on the Reservation. 
  • United States v. Navajo Nation, 129 S.Ct. 1547 (2009).  Authored amicus curiae brief on behalf of energy company and electric utility company in support of United States’ successful position that it did not breach trust obligations to the Navajo Nation in approving coal leases negotiated by the Tribe with those private parties.
  • State of Arizona v. Western Union Fin’l Servs., Inc., 219 Ariz. 337, 199 P.3d 592 (Az. 2009). Successfully represented international money transfer service in due process challenge to civil seizure and forfeiture orders directed at out–of–state wire transfers. 
  • Esso Standard Oil Co. v. Freytes, 467 F. Supp. 2d 156 (D.P.R. 2006), aff’d, 522 F.3d 136 (1st Cir. 2008). Successfully enjoined on the basis of improper bias proceedings of Puerto Rico Environmental Quality Board seeking to impose multi–million dollar environmental fine.
  • Cheney v. US District Court, 124 S. Ct. 1391 (2004).  Defended Federal Advisory Committee Act challenge to the National Energy Policy Development Group, a Presidential advisory group formed to advise and assist the President in the formation of a national energy policy. 
  • Northwestern Memorial Hospital v. Ashcroft, 362 F.3d 923 (7th Cir. 2004). Argued appeal of discovery dispute addressing the appropriate role of privacy provisions of the federal Health Insurance Portability & Accountability Act (HIPAA) and implementing regulations in litigation in federal court over constitutionality of federal statute.  
  • Smith v. Snow, 346 F.3d 264 (2d Cir.  2003). Successfully defended President's determination to seize and vest previously frozen Iraqi assets for use in rebuilding Iraq.
  • Kucinich v. Bush, 263 F. Supp. 2d 1 (D.D.C.  2002). Successfully defended the President's authority to terminate Anti–Ballistic Missile Treaty without the advice and consent of Congress.
  • United States v. Pacific Maritime Association, No. 3:02–CV–04859, 2002 WL 31301033 (N.D. Cal.). Successfully argued first Taft–Hartley injunction action in the last 30+ years, obtaining order ending protracted labor dispute between West Coast Ports shipping companies and union.
  • Atkinson Trading Co. v. Shirley, 532 US 495 (2001). Successfully represented non–Indian hotel and trading post situated on Navajo Indian Reservation in challenge to tribal taxation imposed on hotel guests.
  • Rice v. Cayetano, 528 US 495 (2000). Filed amicus brief in support of successful petitioners in voting rights challenge to Hawaiian statute that limited eligibility to vote in statewide election to racial class of “Native Hawaiians.”
  • Kreschollek v. Southern Stevedoring Co., 223 F.3d 202 (3d Cir. 2000). Successfully represented Stevedoring Company and its workers’ compensation insurer in opposing constitutional challenge to termination provisions of Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act.


  • Counsel to the Vice President of the United States, 2005–07.
  • Deputy Assistant Attorney General, Federal Programs Branch, Civil Division, United States Department of Justice, 2002–04.
  • Recommended by Legal 500 US for Energy: Litigation 2013

Select News & Events

Selected Publications

  • December 16, 2010, Toxics Law Reporter
  • Contributor, National Review and National Review Online
  • November 2008, Counsel to Counsel Magazine
  • “An Examination of Cheney v. US District Court: A Win for the Executive,” Federalist Society White Paper, June 2004.
  • Mark F. Horning and Shannen W. Coffin, “Constitutional Regulation” of Private Actors: A New Threat to Free Enterprise? Washington Legal Foundation Critical Legal Issues: Working Paper Series No. 88, September 1998.
  • Richard K. Willard and Shannen W. Coffin, Prison Capacity & “Low-Level” Drug Offenders, Washington Legal Foundation Critical Legal Issues: Working Paper Series No. 60, February 1995.

Professional Affiliations

  • Federalist Society on Law and Public Policy
    • Vice–Chairman, Publications, 2000-02
    • Vice–Chairman, Committee Oversight, 1997-99