Photo of John E. Roberts

John E. Roberts is a partner in the Litigation Department and co-chair of the firm’s Appellate Practice Group, which was named to the National Law Journal’s 2020 Appellate Hot List. He litigates cutting-edge appellate matters in state and federal appellate courts across the country, including the United States Supreme Court.

John’s advocacy led to a favorable decision by the Supreme Court in the landmark patent case, Nautilus Inc. v. Biosig Instruments, Inc., and ultimately victory on remand at the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. John has represented the Financial Oversight and Management Board for Puerto Rico—the entity created by Congress to oversee the restructuring of Puerto Rico’s massive public debt—in dozens of appeals at the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit. He has also prevailed in some of the most important ERISA appeals in recent years.

John maintains a robust pro bono practice and is a member of the firm’s Pro Bono Initiative Committee. For more than five years, he has provided pro bono representation to a criminal defendant in a death penalty case. He has also provided pro bono representation to various advocacy organizations in high-impact litigations, including the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, Citizens for Juvenile Justice, the Bronx Defenders, and the National Immigration Litigation Alliance.

John graduated magna cum laude from the New York University School of Law, where he was an articles editor for the New York University Law Review. He received his B.A. from Harvard University, where he graduated cum laude. He served as a clerk to the Honorable Bruce M. Selya, the most prolific opinion-writer in the history of the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit. He is an Adjunct Professor at the Roger Williams School of Law in Bristol, Rhode Island, where he teaches appellate advocacy, and he is a co-author of the treatise Principles of Appellate Litigation: A Guide to Modern Practice.

Before John attended law school, he worked as a journalist for National Public Radio for many years, where he was a co-creator of the national news program, On Point, and won several awards for his reporting. He lives in Providence, Rhode Island, with his husband, Michael.

On April 1, 2021, the Ninth Circuit became the third circuit court to conclude that a forum-selection clause in an ERISA 401(k) plan is enforceable.  The Ninth Circuit thus denied a petition for mandamus seeking to overturn a district court decision transferring an ERISA action from the Northern District of California to the District of

In a case of first impression, the Ninth Circuit overturned 35 years of precedent and ruled that ERISA class action claims brought on behalf of an ERISA plan are subject to individual arbitration. The Court also enforced the arbitration agreement’s class action waiver and sent plaintiff’s putative ERISA class action to individual arbitration with relief