Jenner & Block LLP - The Inside View

Every year, junior associates at this Chicago native heap praise on its pro bono practice, and this year’s Jenneration is no different.

“It’s in times of crisis that you see the true nature of a firm,” according to one wise junior associate. In the midst of the pandemic, Jenner & Block reaffirmed its commitment to pro bono by pledging to provide $250 million in legal aid services between 2021 and 2025. The move went down well with associates at the firm, one of whom felt “it'd be hard to find another place that encourages work in the public interest while still offering the benefits of the private sector.” Juniors were encouraged not only by the firm’s pro bono efforts, but also by the fact that “the firm made a huge financial commitment in the middle of the pandemic!” And it wasn’t the only one. Jenner opened a San Francisco office in March 2021, bringing its total office count to a modest five, encompassing bases in LA, New York, DC and the headquarters in Chicago. It also has an overseas base in London.

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

Alongside pro bono, the firm's litigious expertise was another major pull factor for our sources. And that’s no surprise, given that the firm has been ranked top in Illinois by Chambers USA for the last 12 years for commercial litigation, and the last 18 years for media and entertainment litigation. The firm’s other top-ranked practices in the state include white-collar crime and investigations, energy & natural resources, and insurance. Jenner also picks up more rankings in California, New York and DC (i.e. all the regions it has offices in), earning high praise in California and New York for media & entertainment litigation and in DC for its telecoms and IP expertise.

Strategy & Future



Co-managing partner Katya Jestin commented on the firm's commitment to pro bono that “the commitment was over 10% of our revenue. The pandemic and the Black Lives Matter protests elevated the need for legal services for many people in society, so we decided to lean into all these issues and make ourselves accountable.” Despite the pandemic, the firm has been firing on all cylinders over the past twelve months: “Our government practice has been booming… our transactional practice has also been pretty busy. Despite the pandemic, Jenner has had a good year – 2020 was our second most profitable year ever and our revenue per lawyer was up by seven percent.”

"The pandemic and the Black Lives Matter protests elevated the need for legal services for many people in society."

Pro Bono



Expanding on Jenner’s multimillion-dollar pledge to legal aid, associates felt justified in saying that “when the firm talks about its commitment to public service, it's not just lip service.” There’s no cap on the amount of pro bono associates can do, and everyone is required to do at least 20 hours, though many went far beyond. “I billed hundreds of hours in my first year,” one shared. “It's crazy.” Another source reassured us that “you can take on as much or as little as you are comfortable with, all under the supervision of a partner.”

Juniors were eager to talk about their pro bono experiences, which included working with asylum seekers and domestic violence victims, and handling restraining orders and prisoner rights cases – “you can work on anything under the sun!” Projects are available through a pro bono coordinator, who associates can approach with their interests. “You can source really substantiative experience,” juniors said, highlighting “attending court and depositions, and writing briefs.” Another enthused: “I was given ownership over my tasks; the partner really relied on me.”

Pro bono hours:

  • For all US attorneys: 67,458
  • Average per US attorney: 152

At 152 hours, Jenner falls within the top 10 firms in the US for pro bono hours billed. >

The Work



Jenner recruits juniors into Chicago, New York, LA and DC, with the Chicago HQ housing just over half; the San Francisco office will be hiring from 2022. Given Jenner’s litigation slant, most juniors join as litigators. A handful go to corporate and one or two join departments such as bankruptcy, government contracts, Native American law, and environment.

As part of the firm’s D&I program, Jenner recently improved its informal assignment platform whereby associates fill out an online survey once a week showing their availability. Assigning partners then distribute work accordingly. “Partners wanted to make it easier for associates who might not have as strong connections to get work, particularly during the pandemic,” insiders explained.Overall, juniors were comfortable with their workloads, noting that “partners are great at anticipating your schedule.”

“Biometric law involves fingerprints and face recognition software. It's becoming a hot area of law for plaintiff attorneys.”

Jenner’s junior litigators remain generalists for their first three years, before selecting primary and secondary practices to enter into. Associates got a real spread of matters, including media and entertainment litigation, complex commercial cases, class actions, investigations, appellate work and antitrust matters. “At Jenner, you don’t have to be, for example, just a white-collar lawyer,” one interviewee explained. “My work has been truly varied.” On investigations, juniors were entrusted with the more nitty-gritty tasks, like “organizing deadlines, getting documents ready for production, and preparing interview outlines.” Some associates were geeking out on biometric security law cases. “Biometric law involves fingerprints and face recognition software,” one explained. “It's becoming a hot area of law for plaintiff attorneys.” Associates felt they got high levels of responsibility at the firm. “As a first-year associate I had the chance to travel to do a deposition,” one told us. “It was great in terms of my skill development.” We also heard of juniors attending mediations. Day to day, juniors kept themselves busy with drafting motions to dismiss, court appearances, client interviews, conducting research, and preparing briefs.

Litigation clients: Uber, Microsoft, Gulfstream Aerospace, WMC Mortgage, Hyatt Hotels. Represented food and beverage company Mondelēz International in a dispute with Zurich American Insurance, which concerned the coverage of losses of over $100 million caused by computer malware.

Over in corporate, associates work on M&A transactions on the buy and sell side: “I’ve been a part of all different types of transactions, from $7 billion down to the $50 million mark.” Some deals were cross-border, with juniors working with parties in Japan and Europe. Juniors got some drafting experience on “primary deal documents,” and were called on for the (often much dreaded) due diligence tasks. “A lot of people knock it, but diligence has been really great experience in terms of developing as an associate and being able to manage people,” one associate reasoned. The firm also does a bit of private wealth work, which for juniors involved estate planning mostly. With many juniors taken up by the litigation department, their corporate counterparts found themselves on small teams. “You receive a lot of responsibility early on and are expected to take ownership of tasks,” said one interviewee, “which means you can quickly go up the ranks in the firm.” 

Corporate clients: General Motors, Honeywell International, car rental company Hertz, Swiss chemicals company Lonza Group. Advised packaging supplier Silgan Holdings on its $900 million acquisition of Albea Group’s dispensing business.

Career Development



Juniors felt equipped with the necessary tools to build their careers at Jenner: “Everyone is so welcoming and willing to assist in my personal and professional development.” Associates are kept in the loop of what is expected from them during the annual review process. “There are clear benchmarks for each class of associates,” one explained. “You don’t have to tick every box but it’s a goal to work toward.” The firm starts considering associates for partnership after seven and a half years.

Associates receive introductory and then ongoing training covering writing skills and deposition training. “The firm hired professional actors who played the deponent,” a junior explained. “We took the deposition and received feedback from the partners.” Jenner also hosts CLEs, all of which are uploaded onto an online library, so associates are able to go back and catch up on any they’ve missed.On arrival at the firm, all newbies participate in an orientation program in the Chicago office. The program features skill-building sessions on writing and drafting, a legal ethics program, and sessions on time management, how to use the firm’s resources, and law firm accounting.

Diversity & Inclusion



During this orientation, associates also attend a mandatory diversity awareness training program. The firm’s director of D&I (Courtney Dredden Carter) works with the hiring committee to focus on approaches to recruiting and retaining diverse talent. The firm also partners with the Sponsors for Educational Opportunities (SEO) Law Program and hosts pre-law fellows in all of the firm's offices.

While acknowledging that “as with a lot of BigLaw firms, there is still a way to go” with D&I, our interviewees were aware of the firm’s efforts. One source in LA highlighted that “partners in my office are having discussions on becoming a more diverse and welcoming workspace.” The firm boasts above average statistics for LGBTQ+ associates and partners, and is also above the national average for women partners. Associates said“it’s a great way to get to know other people from similar life paths to you and discuss each other's experiences.” We also heard a new multicultural affinity group had recently been formed.

In terms of mental wellbeing, interviewees felt they were looked after during the pandemic, with weekly mindfulness events and yoga sessions. “A psychologist also came in to talk about empathy and stress management in demanding careers.” The events of 2020 promoted the launch of multiple new initiatives including Inclusive Leadership Training, a sponsorship program for black lawyers and a centralized assignment system for incoming unassigned litigation associates.

Culture



For one interviewee, “warm is the word that comes to mind when I think about Jenner.” Another felt “everybody legitimately cares about your wellbeing. Even though we’re in a big law firm, partners still look out for you and care about your mental state.” Sources pointed to the firm’s pro bono practice, and suggested that the type of people attracted to it was one factor shaping firm culture. “People have strong values here,” we heard. “They are very empathetic, which creates a collegial and collaborative working environment.”In LA, associates described a “cozier” feel, with around 50 attorneys. Similarly in New York, “the smaller size leads to a small-town feel, in a good way.” Chicago-based juniors pointed out “we’re quite a big office so you have to make an effort to meet everyone.”

“How to grow your own succulents.”

Associates found the firm’s Midwest roots manifested in that “people are always smiling and friendly to each other – we say hi to each other in the hallways.” Now that the majority of people are working remotely, “we still have socials over webcam to recreate those hallway conversations.” There are virtual coffee hours, and we heard the firm’s women's forum also throws a pretty good virtual party, including educational events on “how to grow your own succulents.” Pre-pandemic, happy hours were a staple feature at Jenner.

Hours & Compensation



Billable hours: 2,000 target

Painting the picture of an average day at Jenner was tricky for many, as this litigator summarized: “My days really vary – some last five hours, others last 17!” That particular interviewee may have been hyperbolizing, but the point they were making is that “it really depends on when matters flair up.” Others estimated they worked from roughly 8am to 6pm, and fortunately “don’t pull many all-nighters.” Some attributed their work/life balance to an ‘all in it together’ mentality. “Partners are really cognizant of making sure we work as a team,” said one. “There have been times where I’ve had a couple of deadlines happening at once and others have pitched in to help.”

“If your work is a bit slow, you don’t need to be pulling out your hair worrying!”

Associates become eligible for bonuses at 2,100 hours – and as well as pro bono they can clock other ‘firm approved’ hours, such as time spent on training and development activities, participation in committees, and professional writing. The firm also offers an extra bonus. And “if your work is a bit slow, you don’t need to be pulling out your hair worrying!” Associates told us that if they’re a little short on hours, they may still receive a bonus from jennerousJenner.

Get Hired



The first stage: recruitment on and off campus

OCI applicants interviewed: 318

Interviewees outside OCI: 33

The scope of Jenner’s recruitment includes 18 of the top law schools across the country, as well as four job fairs: the Cook County Minority Job Fair, Lavender Law, Loyola Patent Law Interview Program 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 & 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.

Callbacks

Candidates invited to second stage: undisclosed

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.”

The nature of Jenner’s summer program varies by office: “In Chicago, for instance, summers can be staffed on a litigation case rotation, a transactional department rotation or a combination of both. You choose! Summers are also encouraged to pick up additional one-off projects and have the flexibility work with various practice groups. In our New York, Los Angeles and Washington, DC offices, summer associate assignments are tailored to individual practice area preferences, subject to client needs and availability.” The firm also offers “a variety of specially designed training opportunities focused on helping summer associates develop a broad range of skills. They range from legal writing courses to a communications workshop.”

Summer program

Offers: undisclosed

Acceptances: undisclosed

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 to read up on the firm’s annual ‘The Heart of the Matter pro bono and community service report’ on its website.

Jenner & Block LLP

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

  • Head Office: Chicago
  • Number of domestic offices: 5
  • Number of international offices: 1
  • Worldwide revenue: $446,295,250
  • Partners (US): 196
  • Associates (US): 204
  • Contacts 
  • Main recruitment contact: Charlotte L Wager
  • 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 2021: 30
  • Clerking policy: Yes
  • Summers joining/anticipated 2021: 2Ls: 49, SEO: 6, 1L LCLD Scholar: 1, LiTD Summer Associate: 1
  • Summers joining/anticipated 2021 split by office: Chicago: 21; Los Angeles: 9; New York: 10; Washington DC: 17
  • Summer salary 2021: 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; Native American law; patent litigation and counseling; private wealth; professional responsibility; real estate; restructuring and bankruptcy; securities litigation and enforcement; tax; trade secrets and restrictive covenants; trademark, advertising, and unfair competition.

Firm profile
Jenner & Block is a firm with global reach, comprising approximately 500 lawyers and offices in Chicago, London, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, 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 2020, The American Lawyer recognized the firm for the fourth consecutive year as the #1 pro bono firm in the United States, marking the 10th time in 13 years the firm received the recognition. In 2020, Reuters Legal also named Jenner & Block its inaugural “Pro Bono Hero.”
Recruitment
Law Schools attending for OCIs in 2021:
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, 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 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
USA Guide, 2021

Ranked Departments

    • Intellectual Property: Trademark, Copyright & Trade Secrets (Band 3)
    • Media & Entertainment: Litigation (Band 2)
    • Intellectual Property: Trademark, Copyright & Trade Secrets (Band 2)
    • Litigation: General Commercial: The Elite (Band 3)
    • Media & Entertainment (Band 2)
    • Telecom, Broadcast & Satellite (Band 1)
    • Bankruptcy/Restructuring (Band 3)
    • 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)
    • Media & Entertainment: Litigation (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)
    • Appellate Law (Band 3)
    • Corporate Crime & Investigations: The Elite (Band 4)
    • Derivatives (Band 3)
    • Energy: Electricity (Regulatory & Litigation) (Band 5)
    • Food & Beverages: Regulatory & Litigation (Band 2)
    • Government Contracts: Highly Regarded (Band 1)
    • Intellectual Property: Trademark, Copyright & Trade Secrets (Band 2)
    • International Arbitration: Highly Regarded (Band 1)
    • Native American Law (Band 2)
    • Native American Law: Appellate (Band 1)
    • Transportation: Aviation: Regulatory (Band 2)