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.
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 14 years for commercial litigation, and the last 19 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 litigation. Jenner also picks up more rankings in California, New York and DC (i.e. all the locations it has offices in), earning high praise in California and New York for media & entertainment litigation and in DC for its telecoms expertise.
Strategy & Future
“Our goal is not to grow for the sake of it,” an interviewee informed us. “We’ll be growing organically and continuing to be the masters of what we’re good at, as well as becoming the masters of what we’re growing into.” We heard that Jenner is growing its corporate and regulatory practices, and recently hired “a new partner in New York who specializes in crypto currency and NFTs.” Another source agreed that growth will be sustainable(“we’ll never be thousands’ deep”) and highlighted that “they’ve come up with a new practice group structure that’s focused on bringing in new work and more collaboration between partners.”
Hours & Compensation
Billable hours: 1,950 target
Jenner recently reduced its billable hours target for bonus eligibility, from 2,100 to 1,950. Commenting on the previous target, a source explained: “The official rule before was that 2,000 hours had to be client billable, but it was always wink-wink. There were years when, for example, an associate who had 1,700 client billable and 400 other hours would still get a market bonus, so it was all a bit mysterious. Associates asked for more clarity, and they moved it down to 1,850 client billable and now they are very clear about it.” While the clarity was appreciated, concerns were raised about the impact the new billing target might have on the ability of associates to spend as much time on pro bono work; 100 hours of pro bono can now officially count towards the 1,950 target. However, “they’ve said that they know there are people doing big pro bono trials, business development, and recruiting activities, so if you hit 1,850 client billable, they’ll do above market bonuses for those who go above and beyond with additional contributions.”
On the subject of compensation: Jenner matched the new Cravath salary scale earlier in 2022. That was no doubt welcome news for the firm’s associates, who also gave us a positive overview of their working hours. “I probably start around 9am and then work until 6 or 7pm most days,” a litigator told us. Later finishes – of 10 or 11pm – can be expected when there’s a filing deadline, and weekend work only happens, we heard, “when there’s a reason for it – I wouldn’t say it was a regular part of my practice!”
While the future effect of the new billing target is unknown, Jenner’s average number of pro bono hours per attorney (152.4) for ‘21/’22 is among the highest of all the firms we survey and was a big part of our interviewees’ experience of the firm. “In my first year I did more pro bono than billable,” one enthused, while another mentioned “pro bono is an active practice for me. I’ve done quite a lot while my billable picked up.” Sources explained that “you can do anything if you get partner approval,” and we heard of work involving “nonprofits that focuses on criminal justice matters,” and cases that confront “state policies that target LGBTQ+ youths.” In fact, we heard, if you’d like to specialize in a type of pro bono, “Jenner has enough work that you can do that.”
“There’s a lot going on around abortion at the moment,” one source commented, and Jenner recently filed a lawsuit – together with the ACLU of Florida and Planned Parenthood – to bring a state constitutional challenge against Florida’s House Bill 5, which intends to place a ban on abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy.
Pro bono hours:
- For all US attorneys: 69,507
- Average per US attorney: 152
The associates on our list were spread across all five of Jenner’s US offices; Chicago housed over half of the juniors, while DC and New York took on a handful each. Jenner’s Cali bases in San Francisco and Los Angeles were home to just a couple of junior Jenners each. Nearly three-quarters were in the firm’s unassigned litigation group, while around 10% were in corporate. The rest were spread out between groups like government contracts, private wealth, and energy. For the first two years, junior litigators are assigned work from a centralized system: “It still allows you to get the work you want,” said one source. “Once you’ve been around for a bit and people know your name, you can reach out directly [to partners] or you can communicate to the assignment people what you want to do.” This interviewee confirmed that the centralized system gives way to something more flexible: “It’s an augmented free market system – if you have a bit of a lull, there’s always a point person.”
The firm’s junior litigators remain generalists for the first two years but are expected to specialize at the beginning of their third year. 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.
"There’s always a point person.”
General commercial litigation clients: Uber Technologies; Mondelēz International; BMO Harris Bank. Representing Gulfstream Aerospace Corporation as respondent and counter-claimant during two arbitrations.
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 M&A clients: General Motors Company; Honeywell International; The Hertz Corporation. Advised Synalloy Corporation on its acquisition of DanChem for $33 million.
In a hot lateral market, the fact that our sources wanted to stay at Jenner will be sweet, sweet music to the firm’s ears; and an encouraging sign for people wondering what type of environment the firm fosters. The firm’s approach to mentoring received plenty of praise: “I think they do a really good job,” said one interviewee. “Normally you have three people – junior, senior, and partner mentors – who can give you different things. They are very open about their experiences.” Another source highlighted that a career development plan is usually drawn up around the third or fourth year, while this junior was quick to commend Jenner for orchestrating “intentional check-ins: we’ll hear from HR and development people, who ask us if we need any help and like to get a sense of the work we’re interested in doing.” This source summed up the overall associate take on the future: “I’m not sure if partnership is what I want yet, but for the next five years I want to stay. I won’t move to another firm!”
“Jenner does more than just affinity groups.”
Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
“The partnership class for this year was more than 50% women, which was great,” an interviewee noted. Another flagged that both women and LGBTQ+ people are “well represented – and there’s a lot of intentionality around these areas.” Sources also liked that “Jenner does more than just affinity groups.” The “matters we take on and the treatment of clients really indicates that we’re inclusive,” an interviewee boasted. Another noted: “I was conscious of not only how many Black female lawyers there are, for example, but how they’re retaining them.” This junior felt that Jenner’s success in the DE&I area was evidenced by the fact the firm “has resources available to me and I want to use them – I feel comfortable talking about things.”
Our interviewees still felt that Jenner’s culture very much reflects its continued commitment to pro bono. “Anytime there’s a big social crisis, the firm responds thoughtfully,” one commented. “Not only do they acknowledge that something has happened – there will be mobilization.” For example? “When the US withdrew from Afghanistan and Kabul was captured, 40 very busy partners were doing emergency immigration work.” More recently, “when the news about Roe vs. Wade dropped, there was a big push to get involved. We’re going to partner with Planned Parenthood in various states – everyone’s treating it like a huge billable case.” There’s a “commitment to public service that’s really ingrained. The firm puts its money where its mouth is.”
“‘No one is going to bother you on holiday!’”
Our sources acknowledged that “even though the job can be hard, the firm wants to make sure that you’re happy doing it. Those are their values.” The hours, for BigLaw, appear to be reasonable, with several sources noting 9am to 6pm as the norm (barring busy times mentioned above). In addition, a healthy attitude to taking vacation was noted: “I was chatting with a partner about going on holiday and some ongoing work I was involved in – and how they could reach me if they need to – and he said: ‘No one is going to bother you on holiday.’” Also on the plus-side was the reported prevalence of cross-office work: “Everyone’s really nice and there are tons of opportunities!” Juniors felt able to seize these opportunities in a comfortable way, as “there’s no air of competition – it’s not fratty here, as it can be at other firms!”
The first stage: recruitment on and off campus
OCI applicants interviewed for the 2022 summer program: 570 across all US offices
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.
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.”
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,
- Head Office: Chicago
- Number of domestic offices: 5
- Number of international offices: 1
- Worldwide revenue: $465.58M
- Partners (US): 200
- Associates (US): 183
- Main recruitment contact: Heather Conrad, Associate Director, Legal Recruiting
- Hiring partner: Charlotte L Wager, Chief Talent and Strategy Officer
- Diversity officers: Courtney Carter, Director, Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
- Recruitment details
- Entry-level associates starting in 2022: 37
- Clerking policy: Yes
- Summers joining/anticipated 2022: 2Ls: 40, SEO: 7, 1L LCLD Scholar: 1, LiTD Summer Associate: 1, 1L Diversity Scholar: 1, 1L FCBA Intern: 1L Interns (returning SEO): 3
- Summers joining/anticipated 2022 split by office: Chicago: 22; Los Angeles: 6; New York: 9; San Francisco: 4; Washington DC: 12
- Summer salary 2022: 2Ls: $4134.61/week Post 3Ls: $4134.61/week
- Split summers offered? Yes
- Can summers spend time in overseas office? No
Main areas of work
Antitrust and Competition Law • Appellate and Supreme Court • Aviation and Aerospace • Bankruptcy & Restructuring • Business Litigation • Communications, Internet, and Technology • Content, Media, and Entertainment • Data Privacy and Cybersecurity • Energy • ESG: Environmental, Social, and Governance • ERISA Litigation • Government Contracts • Government Controversies and Public Policy Litigation • Investigations, Compliance, and Defense • National Security, Sanctions, and Export Controls • Native American Law • Mergers & Acquisitions • Patent Litigation and Counseling • Professional Responsibility • Trade Secrets and Restrictive Covenants
Jenner & Block offers a distinctive combination of exceptional people, challenging work, and a collegial and accessible environment that develops superior lawyers. If you ask anyone why they choose Jenner & Block, their first answer is often “the people.” We are diverse in our backgrounds and opinions, yet we share a passion for delivering excellence for our clients and giving back to our communities. We approach the practice of law not as a job but as a calling, whether we are arguing a landmark case at the US Supreme Court, fighting for our clients as part of our Corporate practice, or representing an individual, pro bono, to overturn a wrongful conviction. Pro bono has been part of our DNA since the 1950s – both because it is the right thing to do for our communities but also because it offers unparalleled experience for our people.
Law Schools attending for OCIs in 2022: Berkeley Law, Chicago-Kent College of Law, Columbia Law School, Cook County Minority Job Fair, DePaul University College of Law, Fordham University, Georgetown University Law Center, Harvard Law School, Howard University School of Law, Loyola Chicago School of Law, Northwestern Law, Notre Dame Law School, NYU Law, Stanford Law School, UCLA School of Law, University of Chicago Law School, University of Illinois College of Law, University of Michigan Law School, University of Pennsylvania Law School, USC Gould School of Law, Vanderbilt Law School, Yale Law School
Recruitment outside OCIs: Loyola Patent Law Interview Program; Southeastern Minority Job Fair; The Midwest- California-Georgia Consortium; Lavender Law; SEO Program; 1L LCLD Scholars Program; Cook County Minority Job Fair; Move the Needle Fund – Diversity Lab. 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: Our Summer Associates bond at baseball games, comedy shows, and city-specific events (from architectural boat tours to “Hamilton” on Broadway), but the real value of the summer program comes from the opportunity to learn the “Jenner way,” and 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 and the chance to explore our different practices--from cybersecurity and blockchain to voting rights, antitrust, and government investigations (to name a few). Summer Associates 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. We don’t yet know which legal issues our next Summer Associates will be tackling, but we can promise that the work, like everyone at Jenner, will be substantive, interesting, and engaging.
Recruitment website: www.jenner.com/joinus
This Firm's Rankings in
USA Guide, 2022
- Intellectual Property: Trademark, Copyright & Trade Secrets (Band 3)
- 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 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)
USA - Nationwide
- 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)