Jenner & Block LLP - The Inside View

This formidable Chicagoan is a force to be reckoned with in the courtroom and a champion of pro bono and diversity.

JENNER'S culture of inclusivity – it’s the portrait, the identity of the firm,” beamed our interviewees.The view from the top supports this, with managing partner Terry Truax telling us: “We have an excellent commitment to working with a diverse team of extraordinary talent, to pro bono and to engagement with communities.” This reputation was not lost on Jenner's junior associates, who targeted the firm especially for its dedication to these areas: “I didn't apply to any other BigLaw firms – only Jenner!” We'll explore their thoughts on pro bono and diversity shortly…

Jenner is also well known for its capabilities in the courtroom, and Truax highlights that “complex commercial litigation is the defining aspect of who we are.” On this front, Jenner picks up some superb Chambers USA rankings for its insurance, media & entertainment, general commercial and IP expertise. The firm also has a transactional arm, which contains practices like corporate, real estate, internet & technology, and communications. Future deal-doers are encouraged to seek out Jenner too, as “our transactional group is really growing – we're growing our client base and making sure we're doing everything we can to secure repeat clients,” juniors here told us. Most newbies join the firm's Chicago HQ, but Jenner's domestic presence extends to New York, DC and LA. In 2015 the firm made its first foray overseas and opened a London branch that's currently focused on litigation work.

TOP READ: Jenner & Block has the highest number of LGBT associates in BigLaw. We caught up with them to learn why they've been so successful in tackling diversity.

Strategy & Future



“We're very much known for our complex commercial litigation practice in the US,” Truax explains, “but I like to think that this area and others are beginning to take a foothold in London and Europe.” Commenting on the London office, Truax tells us that “the strategic focus there is on gaining leverage into further litigation, investigation and public international law opportunities.” Alongside strengths in appellate and white-collar, Truax is eager to tell us about another practice that's recently taken flight: “We’ve made a great effort to develop our aviation practice and have been fortunate to recruit a team of excellent lawyers to build that out.”

“Complex commercial litigation is the defining aspect of who we are.”

Jenner's also been rounding out its energy offering beyond its historical specialty of electric utility companies, and while corporate remains “a smaller portion of the firm, it continues to be an area we want to be locked into,” says Truax. “I'm certainly interested in seeing that develop on a smaller scale that's still high-end.”

The Work



The overwhelming majority of second and third-year juniors (76%) were working in Jenner's litigation practice. A handful were sprinkled across smaller groups, including bankruptcy, corporate, private wealth, government contracts, and communications, internet and technology. Positions in the latter two groups were concentrated in the DC office. Across the groups an open market system of work allocation dominates, though there are assignment partners on hand to help juniors if needed. Our sources liked this set-up, and found it “really beneficial, as it gives you more control over the type of matters you want to work on. Plus everyone's really nice – it's not scary to walk up to a partner!”

In litigation, juniors “start out as generalists for the first three years and are exposed to a variety of areas before declaring a specialism in the fourth year – some people have primary and secondary groups.” Areas available for sampling include complex commercial, aviation, energy and IP litigation, as well as arbitration and government investigations. Patent matters enabled one source to “be in charge of an expert witness, which involved communicating with them and getting them ready for the trial while also preparing the related report. The fact they trusted me to be a part of that process meant a lot to me.”

“It gives you more control over the type of matters you want to work on.”

Complex commercial matters, meanwhile, can be “very large, with 20 attorneys or so working on them, so they often involve a lot of gathering, organizing and summarizing facts.” On arbitrations juniors had “gotten the opportunity to go to a hearing and draft a lot of the required documents – it's a really great responsibility and I feel like an important part of the team.” Government investigations, on the other hand, “involve a lot of writing and figuring out what the law is when there's a gray area. You're also drafting interview outlines for witnesses, attending those interviews and putting together the subsequent interview memo that's circulated to the team and the client. I feel challenged and not drowning in mundane things!”

Middle market M&A is set for growth; the specialists at Jenner & Block tell us how to cut it in this fast-paced sector...

About 10% of the firm is corporate and it’s growing and it’s great,” Jenner's deal-doers told us.Though most people walking through the door end up in litigation, some people do switch practices: “A person in my year came in thinking ‘I’m going to only do litigation’ and now is mostly doing transactional work and really enjoys that.” Associates here can expect to work on “small to midsized M&A deals, but we also support other departments and counsel clients on topics like privacy, advertising and marketing.” Tasks include drafting memorandums and risk assessments, as well revising promotional agreements and, of course, due diligence.

Diversity



Everything you’ve heard about Jenner is true!” our interviewees exclaimed.They were lightning quick to praise Jenner as “a very inclusive place” that’s “genuinely committed to creating an environment that’s comfortable for people of all backgrounds.” Current trends bode well for the future configuration of the partnership too: 62% of Jenner's 2018 partner class were LGBTQ, ethnically diverse and/or women. In addition, “we have strong female role models at the firm, like Susan Kohlmann, who is the managing partner of the New York office.”

“It’s about creating a culture where diversity is normalized.”

Jenner has one of the highest percentages of LGBTQ associates recorded by the firms in our guide, which means “you don’t feel 'exampled' by your LGBTQ identity because there are so many of us here!” Diversity is encouraged through the firm’s many affinity groups, with one source telling us: “They put their money where their mouth is. They recently held an attorneys of color networking event in Chicago and flew in attorneys from all over the country to attend.” Another associate emphasized that “it’s not just about the numbers; it’s about creating a culture where diversity is normalized. By saying ‘partner,’ for example, rather than assuming someone has a ‘boyfriend/girlfriend.'

Pro Bono & Culture



Jenner’s emphasis on diversity is “reflected in the pro bono that we do,” juniors felt.The firm worked on the milestone Lawrence v. Texas case that paved the way for equal marriage in the US and it's currently working on fighting North Carolina’s transphobic ‘bathroom bill.’

What’s most important about Jenner’s culture is the pro bono. Everyone here has this unwavering dedication to giving back to the community,” sources emphasized.Pro bono is so embedded in Jenner’s culture that one associate told us: “I can’t remember which cases were pro bono and which were client billable!” It’s not uncommon to hear of associates spending a few hundred hours a year on pro bono matters, which provoked one interviewee to say: “It’s astounding to me how much pro bono my colleagues and I have done.” The firm's pro bono matters spanareas such as immigration, prisoners' rights, criminal defense, family law, trademark infringement and election law. “There are incredible and exciting opportunities,” juniors agreed, with one adding: “I’ve seen about five of them on my email today!”

“Everyone here has this unwavering dedication to giving back to the community.”

Associates also reasoned that “because Jenner has its reputation for pro bono, it attracts people who value doing good.” This creates a supportive atmosphere all around, with one source recounting a day “when I came in with a cold: everyone on my team was wishing me well and trying to lighten my workload – they didn’t have to do that! I couldn’t ask for a better workplace in that sense.”

Pro bono hours

  • For all US attorneys: 90,254.6
  • Average per US attorney: 168.4

Hours & Compensation



Jenner has an “all-around target” of 2,100 hours, “which encompasses 2,000 hours of billable and pro bono work, and 100 firm approved hours for things like recruitment activities, CLEs – even office meetings!” Hitting 2,100 hours makes associates bonus eligible, but the amount they get is determined “on a case-by-case basis.” On the whole, sources had no qualms with the system, and appreciated that “all attorneys are treated individually.”

“There’s certainly enough work to keep you busy.”

Most felt that “there’s certainly enough work to keep you busy.” This steady tide of matters translated into consistent 9am to 7/7:30pm days, with some evening and weekend work from home when required. “The workload has been more manageable than expected,” one litigator sighed in relief, but some of those in the smaller departments did highlight that “the craziest weeks have seen me bill 70 hours, but that doesn't happen regularly – most of the time you're hitting 40 to 45 each week.” Juniors also praised the “great home technology system we have – a lot of people live in the suburbs, so they can put the kids to bed and log back on around 8pm.”

Training & Feedback



A weeklong orientation in the Chicago HQ gets newbies “up to date on how the firm works – it's housekeeping training really.” Transactional lawyers subsequently undertake an additional week of 'corporate boot-camp' in November. “In terms of ongoing training, there are all sorts of CLEs you can go to,” with litigators highlighting the benefit of writing workshops and tailored group sessions on particular niches. “We also had an informative CLE on recognizing implicit bias – it was very helpful to detect the biases I have and ensure they don’t affect anyone.”

“It's great to get your feet wet and receive instantaneous feedback.”

Our interviewees' favorite training program was Jenner's two-day deposition workshop. “It's intensive and lasts from 8am until 5pm both days. They bring in actors to play the defendants and you practice giving the deposition in front of partners. It's great to get your feet wet and receive instantaneous feedback.” On the subject of feedback: the firm’s chief talent officer, Charlotte Wager, received praise from associates regarding the formal review process. “She reviews each person extensively. She knows me by name and what cases I’m on – having Charlotte is a huge benefit!”

Get Hired



It’s not uncommon for associates entering Jenner to have a clerkship (or two) under their belt. “They are helpful because they expose you to a variety of areas of law. You get into the habit of being given a lot of material over the course of three weeks and becoming acquainted with a new area of law – that's useful at Jenner because you work in a broad range of contentious groups.”

Associates told us that a passion for pro bono is a good indicator of compatibility for recruiters: “Someone with a demonstrable commitment to pro bono and giving back to the community would have the mentality of someone who would fit into Jenner as a whole.” In general, juniors felt that it was important to “show a dedication and genuine interest in the law, as well as intellectual curiosity, empathy and a kind demeanor.”

One associate also gave future candidates a hot tip: adopt a careful approach when inquiring about hours. “If your first concern when picking a firm is ‘what is your weekly hour average?’ it takes the focus away from your intellectual curiosity and dedication to the law. Instead, ask ‘what kind of work are you doing and are you enjoying it?’ first and when you have an offer, that’s an appropriate time to ask ‘what’s your life like?’”

OCI applicants interviewed: 751

Interviewees outside OCI: n/a

Applicants invited to 2nd stage interview: 199

Offers: 142

Acceptances: 39

Notable summer events: The firm organizes many educational, social and community events, including frequent firm trainings, an annual firmwide Diversity Dinner, cooking classes, museum visits, theater outings, professional baseball games, volunteer sessions at local food banks, affinity group happy hours, Whirlyball with mentors, brewery and winery tours, boat and segway city tours, beach day at a partner’s home and a private tour of the Supreme Court.

Offices & Social Life



Jenner's Chicago HQ is located “right over the river, just outside of the 'Loop' – it’s a recently developed, cool area so the building is pretty new.” Inside, associates can go to the “pretty well attended” happy hours on the top floor every Friday, and beyond that an annual summer trip to “a famous gay bar up in Boystown” also scored rave reviews.

Though around half of the associates on our list worked in the Windy City, the other half were divided quite equally between Jenner's DC, LA and New York offices. “DC isn’t as crazy a city as New York or Chicago,” said relieved juniors here, who were also happy that “we're based in a good location right in the center of the city.” There are “around 100 attorneys here, so you get to know everyone on your floor. It's a friendly office, but it's not the kind of place where people all go out drinking together. It's not a 'frat type' environment, which is a good thing!”

“It’s not a 'frat type' environment.”

New Yorkers “partly chose this office because of its size – there are around 65 lawyers here, so it has a very familial feel.” Based in midtown, the office “has been decorated in a modern art contemporary style; we have a committee that selects the art and there are a lot of Kandinsky-style paintings!” On the social side there's “a monthly lunch held by the associate committee, plus a women's lunch – we'll sit down and chat about how court went the other day, for example.”

Over in LA Jenner is based in the US Bank Tower, “which is the second tallest building in the city – we're right in the financial district so it feels very business-oriented.” There's still time to mix business with pleasure though, as at the time of our calls associates were in the middle of a ping pong tournament: “I got knocked out!” wailed one source. What's more, there's a slide on the roof! Lawyers here also recently did a charity stair-climb up all 74 floors of the building. “A fair number of the people in the office did it. It was for the YMCA next door and we were all happy to help out.”

Pro Bono



Notable pro bono opportunities:

Jenner & Block actively seeks out pro bono opportunities through various local court-sponsored programs such as the Cook County Circuit Court Domestic Violence Division’s Order of Protection Pro Bono Representation Program and Municipal Court Pro Bono Panel Program; CVLS Probate Court Assistance Program, BIA Pro Bono Project, the Central and Eastern District of California Pro Bono Programs; and the Ninth Circuit Pro Bono Program.  We also have longstanding relationships with, for example, the federal and local DC courts and the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals that provide pro bono opportunities for our attorneys.  The firm also receives referrals from the DC Bar Pro Bono Clinic and numerous other nonprofits that handle pro bono work, for example, the national and local chapters of the ACLU; Alliance for Children’s Rights; Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law; Community Law Project; Heartland Alliance National Immigrant Justice Center; Lex Mundi Pro Bono Foundation; Legal Services NYC; Northwestern Law Center on Wrongful Convictions; Kids in Need of Defense; Bet Tzedek; Human Rights First; The Human Trafficking Pro Bono Legal Center, and others.  

 

 

Jenner & Block LLP

353 North Clark Street,
Chicago,
IL 60654-3456
Website www.jenner.com

  • Head Office: Chicago
  • Number of domestic offices: 4
  • Number of international offices: 1
  • Worldwide revenue: $448,745,291
  • Partners (US): 227
  • Associates (US): 179
  • Contacts 
  • Main recruitment contacts: Alexis M. Reed, Director of Lateral Partner Recruiting, (areed@jenner.com); Amanda Griffin, Legal Recruiting Manager, (agriffin@jenner.com)
  • Hiring partner: Charlotte L Wager, Chief Talent Officer and Co-Chair of the Hiring Executive Committee
  • Diversity officers: Courtney Dredden Carter, Associate Director of Diversity and Inclusion
  • Recruitment details 
  • Entry-level associates starting in 2018: 33
  • Clerking policy: Yes
  • Summers joining/anticipated 2018: 2Ls: 39, SEO: 5
  • Summers joining/anticipated 2018 split by office: Chicago: 24; Los Angeles: 3; New York: 7; Washington DC: 8
  • Summer salary 2018: 2Ls: $3,653.85/week Post 3Ls: $3,653.85/week
  • Split summers offered? Yes
  • Can summers spend time in overseas office? No

Main areas of work



 Antitrust and competition; appellate and US Supreme Court; aviation and aerospace; communications; complex commercial litigation; content, media and entertainment; copyright; corporate; data privacy and cybersecurity; election law and redistricting; employee benefits and executive compensation; energy; environmental and workplace health and safety law; government contracts; government controversies and public policy litigation; insurance recovery and counseling; international arbitration; investigations, compliance and defense; media and First Amendment; mergers and acquisitions; patent litigation and counseling; private wealth; professional responsibility; real estate; restructuring and bankruptcy; securities litigation and enforcement; tax; trademark, advertising, and unfair competition.

Firm profile



 Jenner & Block is a firm with global reach, comprising more than 500 lawyers and offices in Chicago, London, Los Angeles, New York and Washington, DC. Our lawyers are widely recognized for securing significant litigation victories from the trial level through the US Supreme Court as well as producing results in sophisticated and high-profile corporate transactions. We are a firm with a conscience, committed to pro bono and public service and to creating an unrivaled environment for superior talent. In 2017, The American Lawyer named us the number one Pro Bono firm for the eighth time.

Recruitment



Law Schools attending for OCIs in 2018:
Columbia University, Fordham, Georgetown, Harvard University, Howard University, New York University, Northwestern University, Stanford University, University of California-Berkeley, University of California-Los Angeles, University of Chicago, University of Illinois, University of Michigan, University of Notre Dame, University of Pennsylvania, University of Southern California, Yale University

Recruitment outside OCIs:
Loyola Patent Law Interview Program; CCBA Minority Law Student Job Fair; The Midwest-California-Georgia Consortium; Lavender Law; SEO Program. We also accept write-in applications.

Summer associate profile:
We seek summer associates who have excelled in law school, and have exceptional oral and written presentation skills, leadership experience, and strong interpersonal skills.

Summer program components:
Summer associates work with our lawyers and firm clients on a wide variety of complex cases and transactions. Among other things, our summer associates attend court hearings and closings, observe depositions and participate in strategy sessions with firm lawyers and clients. We also offer extensive training programs on a wide range of subjects. Summer associates are encouraged to attend department meetings, firmwide monthly associate lunches and weekly lunch-and-learn sessions. All summer associates have mentors and receive feedback from lawyers with whom they have worked. 

Social media



Recruitment website:www.jenner.com/joinus
Linkedin:jenner-&-block
Twitter:@JennerBlockLLP

This Firm's Rankings in
Chambers USA Guide 2017

Ranked Departments

    • Media & Entertainment: Litigation (Band 2)
    • Intellectual Property: Trademark, Copyright & Trade Secrets (Band 2)
    • Litigation: General Commercial Recognised Practitioner
    • Media & Entertainment (Band 1)
    • Telecom, Broadcast & Satellite (Band 1)
    • Bankruptcy/Restructuring (Band 2)
    • Corporate/M&A & Private Equity (Band 4)
    • Environment (Band 1)
    • Insurance: Dispute Resolution: Policyholder (Band 1)
    • Intellectual Property (Band 2)
    • Labor & Employment: Employee Benefits & Compensation (Band 3)
    • Litigation: General Commercial (Band 1)
    • Litigation: White-Collar Crime & Government Investigations (Band 1)
    • Media & Entertainment: Litigation (Band 1)
    • Real Estate (Band 4)
    • Tax (Band 3)
    • Corporate/M&A: Highly Regarded (Band 5)
    • Intellectual Property: Trademark, Copyright & Trade Secrets (Band 3)
    • Litigation: General Commercial: Highly Regarded (Band 4)
    • Litigation: White-Collar Crime & Government Investigations Recognised Practitioner
    • Media & Entertainment: Litigation (Band 2)
    • Appellate Law (Band 4)
    • Corporate Crime & Investigations (Band 4)
    • ERISA Litigation (Band 3)
    • Food & Beverages: Regulatory & Litigation Recognised Practitioner
    • Intellectual Property: Trademark, Copyright & Trade Secrets (Band 2)
    • International Arbitration (Band 5)
    • Leisure & Hospitality (Band 4)
    • Transportation: Aviation: Regulatory (Band 2)