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Scott Kieff is a Principal in McKool Smith's Washington, D.C. and Silicon Valley offices. He joined the firm in December 2017, after almost 25 years in the private, government, and academic sectors performing complex problem solving at the intersection of technology, markets, and law. Scott served as Commissioner of the U.S. International Trade Commission from October 2013 through June 2017.

Scott focuses on helping business clients facing serious competitive or regulatory threats and opportunities to achieve sustainable real-world solutions.  He has extensive experience in high-stakes litigations and investigations, often integrating diverse fields of law to accomplish clients’ business objectives, such as when antitrust, false advertising, or other unfair competition claims are brought in the Section 337 docket of the U.S. International Trade Commission, or when strategies implicate multiple areas of law and many courts and agencies, including those in multiple countries.  Scott’s subject matter expertise includes intellectual property; international trade; antitrust; finance; securities regulation; bankruptcy; biotechnology and medicine; cyber; privacy; and security.  His practice spans trials, appeals, regulatory agencies, investigations, and structured transactions on behalf of one side of a matter, as well as neutral work as a mediator, arbitrator, special master, and compliance monitor on behalf of both sides or on assignment by an adjudicative or investigative body. Scott’s work extends across global value chains for both tangible and intangible assets, including finance, and includes many foreign legal regimes as well as many international treaties and organizations.

Scott specializes in creative and dynamic problem solving, often coordinating diverse teams to maintain effective decision making and communication around overarching strategy and specific tactics. He has extensive experience using both the formal rules and informal practices that guide how people actually operate in groups, whether in public settings involving consumers, juries, and government officials, or in private settings involving managers, executives, boards, and investors.  Scott has helped build extensive engagement programs for collaborative outreach to stakeholders, overseers, media, academia, and governments. 

Scott employs a direct, sleeves-rolled-up approach, including in first-chair roles as an advocate, negotiator, and neutral. He closely integrates with the rest of McKool Smith’s premium bench of trial lawyers and supporting professionals who are finely honed in the art of intricate case management involving thorny combinations of economics, finance, law, technology, and a web of ethical obligations that demand the utmost integrity in the face of complex emotions. 

Scott began his career in 1994, practicing law for over six years as a trial lawyer and patent lawyer for Pennie & Edmonds in New York and Jenner & Block in Chicago and as Law Clerk to U.S. Circuit Judge Giles S. Rich.  After entering academia almost 20 years ago, he maintained a significant private docket working either in a consulting capacity for a particular party or in a neutral capacity.  

Scott’s neutral work as a mediator, arbitrator, or external advisor or compliance monitor is especially suited to complex matters. He helped build and for several years served as a mediator in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit’s mediation program to offer mediation options for all of the appeals in patent cases across the country. Scott helped build the ethics, conflict-of-interest, and anticorruption program for a multi-hundred-million-dollar, multi-agency-funded set of grants that financed an entire field of heavily regulated biomedical scientific research for many years. He served as an external advisor to help stand up and for many years guide the enterprise-wide privacy and civil liberties compliance program for a team numbering in the tens of thousands running heavily regulated cyber operations worldwide. Scott’s neutral work relies on the power of ideas, collaboration, and an engineering problem solving approach, building on his extensive experience with committee or en banc deliberations. He is particularly adept at collaboratively engaging diverse perspectives, having been called upon by the Bush, Obama, and Trump Presidential Administrations to provide extensive strategic and tactical consulting to high-level government offices spanning all areas of his subject matter expertise.

Scott maintains his academic posts as Fred C. Stevenson Research Professor at George Washington University Law School and as a Senior Fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution. He previously taught at Washington University in Saint Louis, where he was a Professor in the School of Law with a secondary appointment in the School of Medicine’s Department of Neurological Surgery. Scott has held various visiting faculty or faculty fellow positions including in the Munich Intellectual Property Law Center at Germany’s Max Planck Institute, in the law schools at Northwestern, Chicago, and Stanford, and in the Olin Program on Law and Economics at Harvard. Before attending law school at the University of Pennsylvania, he studied molecular biology and microeconomics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and conducted research in molecular genetics at the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research in Cambridge, MA.


Rankings & Honors

  • Elected as a Member of the European Academy of Sciences and Arts (2012).
  • Recognized as one of the nation’s “Top 50 under 45” by IP Law & Business (2008).

Media & Events



  • Principles of Patent Law, Foundation Press, 7th Edition, 2018, co-authored with John Golden, Henry Smith, and Pauline Newman.
  • Perspectives on Patentable Subject Matter, Cambridge University Press, 2015, co-edited with Michael Abramowicz and James E. Daily.
  • Perspectives on Financing Innovation: Routledge/C-LEAF Studies in Economic and Financial Law, Routledge Press, 2014, co-edited with James E. Daily and Arthur E. Wilmarth.
  • Perspectives on Commercializing Innovation, Cambridge University Press, 2011, co-edited with Troy A. Paredes.
  • Perspectives on Corporate Governance, Cambridge University Press, 2010, co-edited with Troy A. Paredes.
  • International, United States, and European Intellectual Property: Selected Source Material, Aspen/Wolters Kluwer, 2nd ed. 2010-11, co-edited with Ralph Nack.
  • Perspectives on Properties of the Human Genome Project, Academic Press/Elsevier, 2003.


J.D., University of Pennsylvania Law School, 1994.

B.S., Biology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1991.

Court Admissions

  • New York State Supreme Court
  • District of Columbia Court of Appeals
  • Illinois State Supreme Court
  • U.S. Patent and Trademark Office
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit
  • U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California
  • U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ilinois
  • U.S. District Court for the Eastern and Southern Districts of New York
  • U.S. Supreme Court
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