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  • J.D., The George Washington University Law School, 1992, Book Review Editor, George Washington International Law Review
  • B.A., Mount St. Mary’s University, 1989

Bar and Court Admissions

  • California
  • District of Columbia
  • Maryland (inactive)
  • U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia
  • District of Columbia Court of Appeals

Other Professional Affiliations

American Bar Association

California Political Attorneys Association

Joseph M. Birkenstock

Member, Washington, D.C.
(202) 862-7836 | v-card | PDF
Joseph M. Birkenstock is a member in Caplin & Drysdale's Washington, D.C. office. He joined the firm in 2005 after serving as Chief Counsel of the Democratic National Committee and practicing political law with a firm in Los Angeles.


Mr. Birkenstock focuses on advising corporations, non-profit organizations, candidates, officeholders, and other clients in structuring new political efforts and administering their political, lobbying, and issue-advocacy projects. He also helps clients respond to controversies involving issues of political law such as alleged campaign finance improprieties, conflicts of interest, and real or perceived violations of other legal and ethical obligations.


While at the DNC, Mr. Birkenstock worked closely with the party's fundraisers and campaign staff to help ensure their compliance with the myriad of state and federal laws governing their activities. He took primary responsibility for responding to several investigations into Democratic Party fundraising following the 1996 presidential election. He also assisted in the litigation and public relations efforts surrounding the 2000 Florida recount and helped implement the DNC's transition to the McCain-Feingold campaign finance regime.

Professional Activities

Mr. Birkenstock speaks before many professional associations and conferences. His recent engagements include:

  • Speaker, Political Outreach Considersations: PACs, SuperPACs, and Beyond, Financial Services Roundtable, Washington, D.C. (June 2012) 
  • Lecturer at The University of Virginia Law School, where he teaches an upper-level seminar on the Law of Politics
  • Lectured or appeared on panels at The George Washington University Law School, George Mason University School of Law, Vanderbilt Law School and the Pepperdine University School of Law

Awards & Rankings

  • Best Lawyers in America®, 2010-2014
  • Super Lawyers®, 2013
  • Chambers USA®, 2010-2013
  • DC's Best Lawyers in Washingtonian Magazine, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2012

Recent Media

Mr. Birkenstock has been published or quoted in the media including the Associated Press,, and, legal niche media such as the Election Law Journal and the American Lawyer Media publications, as well as more narrowly focused media outlets including The Daily Tax Report and The Capitol Weekly.

For a comprehensive list of Mr. Birkenstock's mentions in the media, please click here.

Recent Publications