Market-leading litigation and pro bono define this Windy City native, but don’t be fooled by the work that they’ve got, they’re still, they’re still Jenner & Block.
We’ll be honest. Several firms we talk to describe themselves as litigation powerhouses, but at Jenner & Block, the identification is actually true. Several of the firm’s lawyers are former Assistant United States Attorneys and Solicitor Generals, and the firm boasts multiple members of the American College of Trial Lawyers. To put this into context, Jenner is involved in some of “the most sensitive and consequential matters;” it was hired by the producers of the film Rust to lead an investigation into the on-set shooting that killed the firm’s cinematographer. It’s this sort of work that earned the firm a host of litigation rankings in our sister guide, Chambers USA.
“Jenner is always on the front line, looking at the diversity, equity and inclusion implications in court processes."
But this is no one-trick pony. Multiple practices are held in high regard by the guide, including IP, media and entertainment, Native American law, corporate and government contracts, amongst others. Work aside, every associate we interviewed cited the firm’s “progressive values” as a reason for joining the firm: “Jenner is always on the front line, looking at the diversity, equity and inclusion implications in court processes, both for billable and pro bono clients.”
Of course, the firm also focuses on DE&I within the firm: “My personal identity is shared by the firm. This is the gayest firm in America!” In addition, Jenner recently pledged to provide $250 million in legal aid services between 2021 and 2025. Alexa, play Money, Money, Money by ABBA.
Strategy & Future
“We are definitely very stable right now in terms of growing gradually but we aren’t the sort of firm to open a bunch of new offices or do a hiring spree,” revealed one interviewee. And this is something chief talent and strategy officer, Charlotte Wager, confirmed when asked what was on the horizon at Jenner. “Whatever is going on, we maintain a steadfast commitment to our core values – excellent client service, giving back to our communities, and diversity, equity and inclusion. This laser focus serves us well – during both booming markets and economic downturns.” Sources highlighted that all offices were receiving attention, but identified two that were especially blooming at the moment: “The firm is growing the DC and San Francisco offices in terms of clients and work,” referencing the newly opened San Francisco base. Another associate noted “we have been looking at lots of new opportunities like cannabis and content and entertainment work, which is really cool and exciting!”
“Pro bono is in Jenner's DNA,” gushed one enthusiastic pro bono goer. A whopping 100% of respondents agree that firm is committed to pro bono. In fact, the firm does the third-highest amount of pro bono out of all the firms we cover! Everyone we spoke to had been involved in some kind of pro bono opportunity, be it corporate or litigation. One interviewee admitted: “I came into BigLaw wanting to do some pretty niche pro bono stuff and I was worried I would not have enough pro bono work for my interests. My experience now is that I have too much that I have to turn down which is crazy!”
“There's so much on offer!”
The types of opportunities some of our sources got involved with included things like “reproductive rights, asylum work, criminal injustice, human rights, family, trusts and estates...” Our interviewee had to take a breath and admitted: “There's so much on offer!” Sources found they benefited greatly from “direct client contact – partners and clients show us a high level of trust to deal with matters.” Tasks that came with this work saw associates “handling things from scratch, even just doing research into an area of law which was foreign to me. I don’t think there is any other law firm that is more committed to pro bono than Jenner.”
Pro bono hours
- For all US attorneys: 69,503
- Average per US attorney: 150
Hours & Compensation
Billable hours: 1,950 target
The firm recently dropped the billable target from 2,100 to 1,950 hours. Within this target, associates can dedicate 100 hours to things like pro bono, diversity, equity and inclusion and business development. There was concern that due to the high importance of pro bono work at Jenner, “the 100 hours don’t mesh with reality of the pro bono we are doing!” However, other interviewees told us that once the 1,950 threshold was crossed, all subsequent pro bono work was considered for the allocation of 'super bonus' amounts. Associates found the target to be achievable, with 83% of our survey respondents agreeing that the hours and workload are reasonable. Sources also felt the work they were doing was well compensated: Jenner matches the Cravath salary scale, aligning pay with the market rate.
The associates on our list were spread across all five of the firm’s US offices. Chicago houses most juniors, but New York and DC take on a good chunk each as well. The remainder were sprinkled across San Francisco and Los Angeles. It comes as no surprise that this litigation-heavy firm saw almost half its incoming associates join the overarching litigation group. These folks are typically unassigned for their first few years, but tend to specialize once they hit the third year.Other juniors found a home incorporate and investigations, compliance and defence, with individuals joining groups like energy, media and entertainment and government.
Associates initially get their work from an assignment-based system. As time goes on and juniors become more settled, work distribution is primarily free market, but always accompanied by a level of support. They can be expected to “provide survey feedback to rate availability on a scale of one to five, one being not very busy and five meaning I will exceed this year’s hours target if I continue at this pace.”Although partners will contact juniors with work eventually,associates advised that “you are responsible for reaching out and getting the work you want.”
“One partner even asked me to do a cross-examination – I was like, ‘what?!’”
Associates can get their hands on the many varieties of litigation at the firm. These include white-collar and government investigations, media and entertainment, antitrust class action, appellate and business litigation. When it came to day-to-day life, most of our interviewees had been involved in some large commercial matters, which were identified as “the bread and butter of the firm.” These larger investigations see juniors involved with “lots of doc review and becoming familiar with the chronology of the case.” Others found themselves “sifting through discovery inquests, and lots of legal research”. However, if cases consist of slightly smaller teams, “you end up running around more, dealing with communications with the client and opposing counsel.” One insider revealed: “One partner even asked me to do a cross-examination – I was like, ‘what?!’”
Business litigation clients: Uber, PG&E, Sony Music. Conducted an independent review of sexual assault allegations brought by a former Chicago Blackhawks player against a former assistant coach to the team.
Looking at corporate, the firm focuses on work in finance, securities and M&A. The latter takes up a chunk of the team's work, with sources identifying that “the clients are mainly midmarket, with deals ranging from $50-100 million.” Sources explained that securities work is growing, too. In recent months, the corporate team has been driving towards industry-specific focuses to expand its client base:“Our biggest focuses have been aerospace and defense - that’s where a lot of our clients come from.” Other notable mentions include energy, cannabis and life science. As first-years, newbies can expect to do due diligence work and review, typical BigLaw tasks. However, once the firm is happy to dish out more responsibility, juniors get to “take charge in first drafts of contracts, and collecting due diligence reports for our clients.” This was highlighted as “a great step up compared to my friends at other BigLaw firms.”
Corporate M&A clients: Aerojet Rocketdyne,Lonza, Schneider Electric. Represented Albertsons in its announced $24.6 billion merger with The Kroger Co.
Training at Jenner is for everyone, not just new associates: “I’m going to Chicago for career development training soon, and I know senior associates had a session recently on leading teams and new partner orientation.” Opportunities praised by associates included monthly meet-ups with mentors; the availability of professional development staff and career coaches for those looking at in-house or government roles; and the informal relationships they had built with their teams. A great training program for corporate juniors was the 'corporate bootcamp'. Scary? No! Our source admitted, “law school doesn’t really prepare you for corporate work as it’s more litigation-focused,” so “the firm provides a five-day program to relay the day-to-day expectations. We also create PowerPoints on topics we’ve learned, which is incredibly helpful.”
Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Culture
“It’s clear that there’s a women's presence,” said one associate. Sources were pleased to find that female representation can not only be found at the junior level, but at the top, too: “The upper ranks have all these amazing women with kids and amazing careers. It’s so cool!” In fact, Jenner ranks in thirteenth place out of the roughly 70 firms we surveyed for its number of female partners. At the junior level, more than half of associates are female.
A method of inclusion for females at the firm is the affinity group. This group “gets together for events like introducing new female partners and celebrating them.” Some sources did relay concerns with the lack of ethnic minority representation: “The firm tries to recruit minorities, but I don’t feel we have many.” Interviewees did note that the location of some of the firm’s offices may be to blame: “Although Chicago is a diverse city, it’s not as desirable as New York or DC or LA so people don’t join this office unless they have ties to the city.” To address this, the firm has created affinity groups for minorities - and even some for dads and veterans too. The associates were quick to highlight that “out of the firms trying, Jenner is doing more internally and externally.” The firm's introduction of a DE&I task force was identified as a great push in the right direction.
“Most people share the same core values.”
The firm’s “robust affinity groups” for attorneys inevitably affect firm culture. One associate admitted that their identified group is “one of my primary social outlets. It’s great!” For example, there’s a plethora of “monthly lunches for people in these groups to attend and share ideas.” Associates also found that through recruitment, “most people share the same core values and push for the same initiatives, like pro bono, so it's hard not to get along.”
Another value pushed by the firm is the idea of collaboration and teamwork. “There has been increased emphasis on this as we are exiting the virtual work and returning to the office,” said one associate. The firm's efforts in team-building exercises were praised: “There was a women’s 'plant and grow' event - we all met at the office with seed kits and built mini greenhouses together.” But don’t worry if you’re not green-fingered - the firm has just renovated its game room, and hosts happy hours every Thursday, a positive for “creating bonds with people you work all hours into the night with.”
The first stage: recruitment on and off campus
OCI applicants interviewed for the 2023 summer program: 580 across all US offices
The scope of Jenner’s recruitment includes 21 of the top law schools across the country, as well as five job fairs: the Cook County Minority Job Fair, Lavender Law, Loyola Patent Law Interview Program, the Southeastern Minority Job Fair and the Midwest-California-Georgia Consortium Chicago Walk-Around Program. However, the firm also tells us that “it is possible to apply for a summer position outside of the OCI process.”
“Candidates should be prepared to talk about anything listed on their resume,” with a particular premium placed on those who can demonstrate alignment with the firm’s core values of “excellence, collaboration, diversity and inclusion, and pro bono and public service. Interested candidates should be sure to highlight any areas in their backgrounds that point towards those ideals,” the firm emphasizes.
While the callback process varies slightly by office, “students can expect to meet with five to six lawyers during their callback interview,” the firm tells us, adding that “depending on the office, one to three of those interviewers are usually associates. At this point, we are interested in learning more about the candidate’s interests and experience. We are also evaluating their leadership ability and initiative.”
Jenner & Block summer associates can work on both short-term and long-term projects during their summer experience. Assignments are tailored to individual practice area and pro bono interests, subject to client needs and availability. Summer associates have the flexibility to work with various practice teams during the program. The firm also offers a variety of specially designed training opportunities focusing on helping summer associates develop a broader range of skills, including legal writing courses and a communications workshop.
While most of the firm’s summers return as first-year associates, the firm encourages summers who wish to clerk before joining the firm to do so. For example, in the DC office, the firm tells us that “many, but not all, of our summer associates clerk prior to re-joining us as second- or third-year associates.” Finally, the firm recommends hopefuls consult the website to read up on the firm’s annual ‘The Heart of the Matter’ pro bono and community service report and ‘Equal Time,’ its annual report on DEI.
Jenner & Block LLP
353 North Clark Street,
Main areas of work
Anticorruption and FCPA; antitrust and competition; appellate and US Supreme Court; bankruptcy and restructuring; business litigation; class action; congressional investigations; copyright; corporate; data privacy and cybersecurity; election law and redistricting; employee benefits and executive compensation; environmental and workplace health and safety law; ERISA; finance; government contracts; government controversies and public policy litigation; human rights and global strategy; insurance recovery and counseling; intellectual property; international arbitration; investigations, compliance and defense; investor and securities litigation; Japan practice; labor and employment; mergers and acquisitions; monitorship practice; Native American law; national security, sanctions, and export controls; patent litigation and counseling; professional responsibility; real estate transactions; state enforcement and regulation; tax; trade secrets and restrictive covenants; and trademark. Key industries served include AI; aerospace and defense; cannabis; communications, internet, and technology; consumer brands, content, media and entertainment; education; energy; financial services; fintech and crypto assets; food and beverage; investment, private equity, and hedge funds; law firms and professional services firms; life sciences; real estate and hospitality; and technology.
Founded in 1914, Jenner & Block is now an internationally recognized powerhouse with more than 400 lawyers across offices in Chicago, London, Los Angeles, New York, Washington DC, and San Francisco. Throughout its history, Jenner & Block has shaped the direction of law, business, and policy—from Witherspoon to Watergate, Lehman to Lawrence, Guantanamo to GM’s IPO. The firm continues to shape some of today’s greatest legal battles – from DACA to Dobbs, energy transitions to voting rights, data security to national security. Our clients include Fortune 100 companies, technology companies, large privately held corporations, emerging companies, Native American tribes, and venture capital and private equity investors. The American Lawyer has recognized Jenner & Block as the #1 pro bono firm in the United States in 11 of the last 15 years.
Law Schools attending for OCIs in 2023: Chicago-Kent College of Law, Columbia University, DePaul University of College of Law, Fordham, Georgetown, Harvard University, Howard University, Loyola University Chicago School of Law, 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, 1L LCLD Scholars 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 bond at baseball games, comedy shows, and city-specific events, but the real value of the summer program comes from the opportunity to see first-hand what makes our firm so special. As an organization filled with smart people who take their work—but not themselves—seriously, we welcome our Summer Associates with handpicked assignments that are substantive, interesting, and engaging. You will have the chance to explore our different practices—from cybersecurity and blockchain to voting rights, antitrust, government investigations, and more. You will play an integral role across the firm by drafting briefs, preparing for depositions or trials, and doing the legal research and analysis we need to guide our clients. The summer associate experience at Jenner is one you’ll never forget.
Recruitment website: www.jenner.com/joinus
This Firm's Rankings in
USA Guide, 2023
- Intellectual Property: Trademark, Copyright & Trade Secrets (Band 3)
- Litigation: General Commercial: Highly Regarded (Band 1)
- Litigation: White-Collar Crime & Government Investigations (Band 5)
- Media & Entertainment: Litigation (Band 2)
District of Columbia
- Intellectual Property: Trademark, Copyright & Trade Secrets (Band 3)
- Litigation: General Commercial: The Elite (Band 3)
- Media & Entertainment (Band 2)
- Telecom, Broadcast & Satellite (Band 1)
- Bankruptcy/Restructuring (Band 2)
- Corporate/M&A & Private Equity (Band 5)
- Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation (Band 3)
- Energy & Natural Resources (Band 1)
- Environment (Band 2)
- Insurance: Dispute Resolution: Policyholder (Band 1)
- Intellectual Property (Band 3)
- Litigation: General Commercial (Band 1)
- Litigation: White-Collar Crime & Government Investigations (Band 1)
- Real Estate (Band 4)
- Tax (Band 3)
- Intellectual Property: Trademark, Copyright & Trade Secrets (Band 3)
- Litigation: General Commercial: Highly Regarded (Band 4)
- Litigation: White-Collar Crime & Government Investigations: The Elite (Band 3)
- Media & Entertainment: Litigation (Band 1)
USA - Nationwide
- Appellate Law (Band 3)
- Corporate Crime & Investigations: The Elite (Band 3)
- Derivatives (Band 3)
- Energy: Electricity (Regulatory & Litigation) (Band 4)
- Food & Beverages: Regulatory & Litigation (Band 2)
- Government Contracts: The Elite (Band 4)
- Intellectual Property: Trademark, Copyright & Trade Secrets (Band 2)
- Native American Law (Band 2)
- Native American Law: Appellate (Band 1)
- Transportation: Aviation: Regulatory (Band 2)