Matthew M. Collette




Massey & Gail LLP
The Wharf
1000 Maine Ave. SW
Suite 450
Washington, D.C. 20024

Office: 202.652.4511
Direct: 202.795.3326
Fax: 312.379.0467

Matthew Collette has over 30 years of litigation experience in both appellate and trial courts.  He has argued over 80 federal appellate cases, appearing in every federal circuit.  His wide-ranging experience in complex civil litigation includes constitutional matters, administrative law, commercial litigation, national security law, sovereign immunity, transportation law, admiralty, and environmental law (including the Deepwater Horizon litigation).  He brings to bear unmatched expertise in high-stakes disputes involving multifaceted, complicated legal questions. In addition to representing clients in appellate and post-trial proceedings, he also counsels clients on regulatory issues and offers strategic advice for resolving matters without litigation.

Before joining Massey & Gail, Mr. Collette served as Deputy Director of the Appellate Staff of the Civil Division at the United States Department of Justice and as Senior Counsel to the Associate Attorney General.  In that capacity he briefed, argued, and supervised some of the government’s most sensitive and important cases.  His DOJ portfolio also included information technology, telecommunications, intellectual property, and the DOJ budget.

  • University of Southern California, J.D. – Class rank: 1st
  • Brigham Young University, B.A.
  • California
  • District of Columbia
  • New York
  • United States Supreme Court
  • United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit
  • United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit
  • Super Lawyers, Washington, D.C. (2022 – present)
  • Attorney General’s Award for Excellence in Furthering the Interests of National Security (2010)
  • Attorney General’s Distinguished Service Award (2008)
  • Stuart Schiffer Award, Civil Division (December 2016)
  • Leadership, Excellence and Achievement Program (LEAP) (2010-2011)
  • Civil Division Award for Dedicated Service (2009)
  • Special Commendation, Civil Division, (1992 and 2007)
  • Special Achievement Awards, Civil Division (1990 and 1991)
  • Civil Division Meritorious Awards (1993, 1994, 1996-2011)
  • Commissioner’s Special Citation, Food and Drug Administration (May 2001)
  • Commendation from the Secretary of Agriculture for defense of First Amendment challenges to agricultural marketing programs (2006)
  • Commendation, United States Marine Corps, Military Police Company Charlie (2003-2004)
  • Board Member, Forage Center for International Peacekeeping and Humanitarian Education
  • Adjunct Professor, Legal Issues in Medicine, Johns Hopkins University, Carey School of Business, 2007-2013
  • Board of Directors, Rockville Baseball Association, 2004-2007
  • USA Hockey – Level III Coaching Certification, 2001-2009
  • Deputy Director, Appellate Staff, Civil Division; U.S. Department of Justice, 2012-2018
  • Senior Counsel to the Associate Attorney General; U.S. Department of Justice, 2011-2012
  • Attorney, Appellate Staff, Civil Division; U.S. Department of Justice, 1988-2011
  • Represent Board of Trustees of a multiemployer Taft-Hartley plan in litigation involving an alleged breach of fiduciary duty under ERISA.
  • Successfully represented JPMorgan Chase & Co. in multi-million dollar litigations arising from its provision of banking services to sex offender Jeffrey Epstein. The case settled on confidential terms shortly before trial.
  • Successfully sued the U.S. Department of Commerce under the Freedom of Information Act for records concerning the use of a citizenship question on the United States Census.
  • Successfully sued to force the Food and Drug Administration to release records under the Freedom of Information Act.
  • Obtained reversal of a district court decision holding that an immigrant lacked standing to challenge the denial of a labor certification request.
  • Prevailed in the court of appeals as appointed amicus on behalf of a federal employee in a disability discrimination case.
  • Served as lead appellate counsel for the United States defending the district court’s finding of gross negligence against British Petroleum in the litigation arising from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
  • Represented former U.S. Attorney General in the Supreme Court in a case holding that the AG is entitled to qualified immunity in conjunction with the use of material witness warrants in terrorism cases.
  • Defended an Establishment Clause challenge to legislative prayer on behalf of the United States as amicus before the Supreme Court.
  • Participated in successful defense of a constitutional challenge to federal agricultural marketing programs.
  • Supervised a successful appeal reducing by $44 million a damage award against the United States for clean up a major oil spill in the Delaware River caused by CITGO’s failure to provide a “safe berth” for an arriving oil tanker.
  • Supervised the successful defense of a DOT regulation prohibiting the use of electronic cigarettes on commercial flights is consistent with the statute banning “smoking” on airlines.
  • Achieved favorable decisions affirming the Coast Guard’s authority to require foreign-flagged vessels suspected of violating U.S. anti-pollution laws to agree to non-monetary conditions before receiving clearance to leave U.S. ports.
  • Successfully defended a First Amendment challenge to the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act.
  • Persuaded the D.C. Circuit, after a decade of litigation, federal rules governing the hours of service of federal motor carriers.
  • Successfully handled the first court of appeals decision addressing the merits of a petition for writ of habeas corpus brought by a Guantanamo Bay detainee.
  • Obtained reversal of a ruling that certified a nationwide class action in an action challenging the Terrorist Screening Database.
  • Successfully defended two separate constitutional challenges to requirements governing legal services grant recipients.
  • Won multiple appeals upholding the constitutionality of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act as applied to federal law.
  • Obtained reversal of district court decision permitting Puerto Rico to participate in the presidential election.