Katherine L. McKnight

Partner

Washington, D.C.
T +1.202.861.1618
F +1.202.861.1783

Overview

Kate McKnight is a seasoned trial advocate in some of the most politically contentious matters of our day. From start to finish, she helps clients develop their litigation strategy, navigate complex discovery obligations, advocate their positions in court, prepare for and present their case at trial and, if necessary, resolve cases at the appellate level. Kate litigates in federal and state trial and appellate courts, and has particular experience in federal district courts, including the Eastern District of Virginia’s “Rocket Docket.”

Calm and control

Kate brings a calm demeanor to representing clients in court and has done so in some of the most highly publicized and politically contentious courtroom matters. She strives to bring order to proceedings for her clients, simplifying complex decisions and creating control for the client by developing different options to bring a dispute to conclusion.

Seasoned court advocate

A true courtroom lawyer, Kate is familiar with and comfortable in any court setting, from serving as the first-chair trial attorney to an appellate advocate before state supreme courts. Having participated in some of the most combative redistricting lawsuits in the past decade, she uses that forged-in-fire experience to strategize and plan in litigation and help her commercial clients drive disputes to resolution.

A deft strategist

Kate has crafted strategies for clients where a single discovery motion early in the case has brought the opposing side to settlement. From the outset, she works with her clients to develop litigation plans designed to achieve their goals. Kate protects and prepares her clients for trial, giving them the options, and inherent risks, to decide when and how – and if – they should settle a case.

A team player

As a college athlete, Kate learned the effectiveness and value of teamwork, and that carries into her work today. She has a full-service law firm with over 1,000 attorneys behind her and has been at the same firm for 13 years, which means she is able to make smart and economical use of firm attorneys and resources to staff her team with the right people to meet client needs.

Representative matters include:

Select Experience

Election Law

  • Represented the Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission in defending state and congressional redistricting plans in state and federal court including arguing matter of first impression before Michigan Supreme Court. (Detroit Caucus v. MICRC)

Commercial Litigation in the EDVA

  • Defended prominent accounting firm against claims of theft of trade secrets and tortious interference with contract brought in the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. Used expertise to develop discovery motions strategy that helped cut short the case.

Tax Controversy, Litigation and Corporate Investigations

  • Represented clients before the U.S. Tax Court in actions involving historic tax credit and conservation easement issues.

More »

Experience

Election Law

  • Represented the Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission in defending state and congressional redistricting plans in state and federal court including arguing matter of first impression before Michigan Supreme Court. (Detroit Caucus v. MICRC)
  • Represented the North Carolina Senate and House of Representatives and their leadership in defending state and congressional redistricting plans in state court-litigation (Common Cause v. Lewis; Harper v. Lewis), including arguing before the North Carolina Supreme Court.
  • Represented the City of Virginia Beach City Council in defending against claims under the Voting Rights Act. (Holloway v. City of Virginia Beach)
  • Represented eight members of Congress from Ohio in successfully defending the 2011 Congressional redistricting plan in the case brought before a three-judge panel in the Southern District of Ohio alleging a partisan-gerrymandering claim. (Ohio A. Philip Randolph Inst. v. Householder)
  • Represented the Virginia House of Delegates and its Speaker in defending the 2011 state legislative redistricting plan in the case brought before a three-judge panel in the Eastern District of Virginia alleging violations of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. (Bethune-Hill v. Virginia State Board of Elections)
  • Represented the Virginia House of Delegates and its Speaker against a claim brought by plaintiffs alleging that the 2011 redistricting plans drawn by both the Virginia House and Senate violated the Virginia Constitution’s requirement that all districts be drawn to be compact.
  • Presented oral argument to the Virginia Supreme Court about legislative privilege, an issue of first impression under the Virginia Constitution’s Speech or Debate Clause.

Commercial Litigation in the EDVA

  • Defended prominent accounting firm against claims of theft of trade secrets and tortious interference with contract brought in the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. Used expertise to develop discovery motions strategy that helped cut short the case.
  • Defended insurance companies in the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia against class action claims related to a data breach incident.
  • Lead trial attorney in a breach of contract case in the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia involving an issue of piercing the corporate veil.
  • Defended an equipment manufacturer from antitrust claims in the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia.
  • Represented a technology/software company in patent litigation in the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. Worked to develop litigation strategy, prepared and argued motions in limine, jury instructions and other pre-trial matters.

Tax Controversy, Litigation and Corporate Investigations

  • Represented clients before the U.S. Tax Court in actions involving historic tax credit and conservation easement issues.
  • Represented a multinational financial institution facing a federal grand jury investigation for allegedly assisting U.S. taxpayers in evading their U.S. tax obligations.
  • Served on legal team examining fatal shipping accident for client responding to regulatory investigation.
  • Represented individuals facing civil and criminal tax investigations involving alleged tax fraud and evasion.
  • Represented U.S. individuals participating in the IRS's Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Programs.
  • Served on a team acting as independent examiner for a major Swiss bank.
  • Served as a member of a team acting as court-appointed counsel to SIPA Trustee Irving Picard for the liquidation of Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC, investigating and recovering assets from offshore hedge funds and international financial institutions.
  • Represented a large publicly-owned client in anticipation of a contract dispute concerning construction delays. Conducted an extensive internal investigation into the client’s contract performance and developed a defense resulting in a settlement without litigation.
  • Represented a large publicly owned client in a controversy with the Commonwealth of Virginia concerning real property tax overpayments. Filed a complaint and negotiated a settlement for the entire monetary amount with counsel for the Commonwealth.

Counseling

  • Counsels legislatures and local governments in litigation brought against districting maps alleging violations of the Voting Rights Act, the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause, the First Amendment’s Free Speech Clause and similar state law provisions.
  • Assisted client in developing policies and procedures to address and prevent workplace harassment.

Other

  • Co-lead of office-based Women's Committee supporting the advancement of female attorneys in the office and firm.

Recognitions and Memberships

Recognitions

  • Washington, D.C., Super Lawyers "Rising Star" (2017 to 2019)
  • American Bankruptcy Institute: Medal of Excellence (2008)

Memberships

  • American Bar Association
  • Federal Bar Association

News

News

Pro Bono

  • Defended client against claims of defamation resulting from her speaking out against sexual misconduct in her profession. Obtained protective order prohibiting abusive discovery and engaged experts to provide Court educated explanation of issues of consent.
  • Represented tenants facing residential eviction in the Landlord/Tenant Branch of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia, and helped negotiate a settlement allowing tenants to remain in their home.

Prior Positions

  • Law Clerk for the Honorable Claude M. Hilton of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia
  • National Democratic Institute for International Affairs

Admissions

  • U.S. Supreme Court
  • U.S. Tax Court
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Second Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Eleventh Circuit
  • Virginia, 2011
  • District of Columbia, 2010
  • New York, 2009

Education

  • J.D., University of Minnesota Law School, 2008, Dean's List; Editor-in-Chief, Minnesota Journal of International Law
  • B.A., Brown University, 2000