Mortimer M. Caplin (1916 - 2019)
Caplin & Drysdale
Mortimer M. Caplin (1916 - 2019) Founding Member

P: (202) 862-5000

F: (202) 429-3301

Washington, D.C. Office


Mr. Caplin has deep commitments to public service, teaching and the educational process itself. His contributions have been widely recognized:

  • American Bar Foundation honored him at National World War II Museum in New Orleans founded by historian Stephen Ambrose.
  • UVA presented him the Thomas Jefferson Medal in Law, the university's highest honor, and the William J. Brennan Jr. Award from its National Trial Advocacy Program 
  • Named "Chevalier" of the Legion of Honor by the President of the French Republic for his contributions to the United States' role in the liberation of France during World War II 
  • Maryland General Assembly official citation in recognition of appointment as "Chevalier" of the Legion of Honor.
  • Medal of the "Jubilee of Liberty" authorized by the Governor of the Normandy Region
  • Alexander Hamilton Award, highest award conferred by the Secretary of the Treasury, for "distinguished leadership" as IRS Commissioner.
  • Achievement Award, Tax Society of New York University; Judge Learned Hand Human Relations Award, American Jewish Committee; Tax Executives Institute Distinguished Service Award; Federal Bar Association's Kenneth S. Liles Award; Federal Veterans of Foreign Wars Public Service Award.
  • Professor Emeritus, University of Virginia, after service as Professor of Law (1950-1961) and Visiting Professor of Law (1965-1987) 

Government Experience

Following President John F. Kennedy's election, Mr. Caplin served on the President's Task Force on Taxation and in January 1961 was appointed U. S. Commissioner of Internal Revenue. He remained in that post until July 1964 when he resigned and formed Caplin & Drysdale.

In his law practice, Mr. Caplin uses his broad experience dealing with U.S. Treasury Department, Internal Revenue Service, and U.S. Justice Department.

Professional Activities

Served as trustee of many educational and charitable entities:

  • Member, University of Virginia Board of Visitors
  • Member, University of Virginia Law School Foundation
  • Member, George Washington University
  • Member, Arena Stage
  • Member, Shakespeare Theatre
  • Member, Wolf Trap Foundation
  • Honorary Chair, UVA Council for the Arts
  • Member, Governing Council of the Miller Center at UVA  
  • Chair, Board of Advisors, The Hospitality & Information Service for Diplomats ("THIS for Diplomats")

Awards & Rankings

  • Best Lawyers in America, 1995-Present
  • University of Virginia Sawnson Courage Award, 2015
  • Martindale-Hubbell® AV® Preeminent™

Recent News

Mr. Caplin is frequently quoted and referenced by the media. Recent media mentions include:

Click here for a full list of media coverage.

Recent Speaking Engagements

  • Speaker, D-Day Experience, The Counsellors Luncheon, April 16, 2014
  • Speaker, The Ethical Framework - Duties of the Tax Practitioner to the Client and to the System, University of Virginia Tax Foundation, 64th Annual Conference on Federal Taxation, June 7, 2012
  • Speaker, Historical Perspective of the Code: Evolution and Mission of the IRS, Tax Executives Institute, Inc., Virginia Chapter Meeting, November 18, 2010
  • Speaker, Guest Speaker, The Counsellors Luncheon, January 19, 2010

Click here for a full list of speaking engagements.

Recent Publications

Click here for a full list of publications.


  • LL.D., Washington College, 2006
  • LL.D., University of South Carolina, 2006
  • LL.D., Saint Michael's College, 1964
  • J.S.D., New York University School of Law, 1953
  • LL.B., University of Virginia School of Law, 1940, Order of the Coif
  • B.S., University of Virginia, 1937, Phi Beta Kappa, Raven Society

Bar and Court Admissions

  • New York
  • Virginia
  • District of Columbia
  • U.S. Bankruptcy Court, District of Columbia
  • U.S. District Court, District of Columbia
  • U.S. Supreme Court
  • U.S. Tax Court
  • District of Columbia Court of Appeals
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