Jenner & Block

Paul B. Rietema

Why did you join Jenner & Block?

After completing a clerkship, I was looking to join a large law firm based in Chicago.  I was initially attracted to Jenner & Block because of the excellent reputation of its litigation department.  I chose Jenner & Block because of its smaller size (relative to other major Chicago law firms), its practice of raising up its own associates into the partnership, and its dedication to providing legal services to the underprivileged.

What kind of work have you been doing? Pro bono matters?

For the most part, I have focused on complex commercial litigation involving either class actions or business disputes between large companies.  I have also done some FCPA compliance work.  Most of my pro bono work has been representing criminal defendants either at trial or on appeal, although I have also assisted a local non-profit with some transactional matters.

Name 1-2 things you’ve learned in the last year.

In the past year, I learned how to do a cross-examination and how to take witness interviews.

What are the people at Jenner like?

Attorneys at Jenner & Block are smart, professional, and accomplished.  They also tend to share certain core values, like dedication to serving the community and the bar, that make for a very collegial atmosphere.  The firm has an open door policy and there is a strong sense of respect for the contributions of others.  Some of my colleagues have become close friends.

What kind of training have you received?

The firm has a formal training program that focuses on a variety of core competencies.  As a litigation associate, I have received training in taking and defending depositions, brief writing, and oral advocacy.  Of course, most training is still of the informal, on the job variety.

What qualities are needed to be successful at this level at the Firm?

As a second year, no one expects you to have mastered every aspect of being a lawyer.  If you are hard working, detail oriented, and eager to learn, you will be successful.  The easiest way not to be successful is to not be engaged in developing new skills.  The culture at Jenner rewards those who express ownership over their careers.

What should a prospective associate know about being at your level in the firm?

The work given to me as a second year has often been interesting and challenging.  Document review has been rare.  It is my experience that if you are willing and able to take on new and demanding tasks, there is a good chance they will be given to you irrespective of your level.

What does it take to get to the next level at the Firm?

Generally, the same qualities that make you successful at any particular level (hard work, attention to detail, and eagerness to learn) are what take you through to the next level.  More concretely, skill development seems to be critical.  If you cannot do what associates of your level are expected to be able to do, it is hard to progress.

What sets Jenner & Block apart from other firms?

The mix of high profile litigation and support for pro bono at Jenner provides a unique atmosphere to develop as an associate. I argued my first Seventh Circuit appeal this past year.  I also worked on a team opposing Supreme Court review of a major judgment.  I do not think many firms are structured to provide either of those types of experiences to second year associates, let alone both.

 

Tamara T. McClatchey

Why did you join Jenner & Block?

I joined because the firm’s values are largely aligned with my own. I came to the practice of law with a not-for-profit background, and appreciate the firm's  focus on pro-bono work. I also feel at home with my colleagues and have found that we share many values. I am able to be myself at work and do not have to check my core identity at the door.

What kind of work have you been doing? Pro bono matters?

I have worked on a number of mergers and acquisitions involving both public and private companies. In the relatively short time that I have been in the Corporate department, I have handled anything from research assignments to due diligence review of company documents and drafting of transaction agreements. I have also worked on a couple of securities matters, assisting in the preparation of form filings. I also had exposure to a finance matter, through which I had quite a bit of client contact. I have also had the opportunity to do a fair amount of pro bono transactional work. I currently serve as outside corporate counsel for a sophisticated and well-known not-for-profit organization.

Name 1-2 things you’ve learned in the past year.

The skill sets that I have developed the most over the last year involve conducting research related to transactions and general corporate matters and drafting a variety of transactional documents. I believe that these are two of the most important areas for a junior associate to focus on. Solid research and writing skills will serve you well on any project.

What are the people at Jenner & Block like?

The people are hard working, value-driven professionals who care deeply about the work that they do for the firm’s clients. I never feel alone in my responsibility to see that any project I am on is handled carefully, and that the firm’s best resources are utilized to ensure the most desirable outcome for the client. I always have a dedicated team working alongside me.

What kind of training have you received?

I have received comprehensive formal training, beginning with the firm’s orientation for new associates and continuing to date in the form of department-specific and skill-specific workshops. I also have unlimited access to on-line continuing legal education. Most importantly, I have both formal and informal mentors that make themselves available to me on an ongoing basis. My colleagues are committed to supporting one another in the learning process that we begin as new associates and continue throughout our tenure with the firm.

What qualities are needed to be successful at this level at the firm?

It is important for a junior associate to be responsive to requests, flexible in terms of availability and open to opportunities of every kind. To be successful, a junior associate must be willing to push themselves beyond their comfort zone as everything will be new and challenging at first. Showing dedication to the learning process is the best place to start.

What should a prospective associate know about being at your level in the firm?

As a junior associate, you are just beginning to build the basic skill sets that will serve you throughout your legal career. It is important to take advantage of the resources that the firm provides. These include formal training, mentoring and support-staff services to name a few. Three of the most critical skills to come in the door with are good communication, organization and attention to detail.

Mark P. Gaber

Why did you join Jenner & Block?

Foremost because of the people.  Like many firms, the attorneys and staff are dedicated, talented, and impressively intelligent.  But unlike many law firms, the people are also caring, down-to-earth, and often quite funny.  Add to that the impressive and rewarding work the firm does, and the choice was clear!

What kind of work have you been doing?  Pro bono matters?

I am a third-year associate; I started at the firm in 2010 and returned in 2012 after a one-year clerkship.  I have had an array of experience in the two years I’ve been here, including representing video game clients in seeking Supreme Court review of First Amendment claims, representing Internet service providers in data privacy class action suits, litigating telecommunication disputes, and representing hospitality companies in complex commercial disputes with hotel owners. 

As is typical at the firm, I have also had remarkably rewarding pro bono experiences.  Currently, I am working on behalf of Lambda Legal and ACLU challenging Virginia’s ban on same-sex marriage.  As a summer associate, and then again as a first-year associate, I spent considerable time seeking damages in a civil case for a human trafficking victim; in my first few months as a first-year associate, the partner on the case asked me to present our legal argument to the federal district court judge handling the mediation.  In addition, I have represented a tenant in a landlord-tenant dispute, a prisoner seeking parole, and written pro bono amicus briefs and cert petitions to the Supreme Court.

Name 1-2 things you’ve learned in the last year.

How to take a deposition and strategies for negotiating a settlement agreement.

What are the people at Jenner & Block like?

The people are diverse, dedicated, smart, and fun.  It makes coming to work enjoyable!

What kind of training have you received?

In January of this year, I participated in multi-day deposition training.  By April, I had taken two depositions and had defended several more.  Through my pro bono work, I have had the opportunity to make my first court appearances and argue motions.  The best training, however, is in watching and learning from the skilled partners at Jenner & Block — truly, here you learn from the best!

What qualities are needed to be successful at this level at the Firm?

The obvious—intelligence, willingness to work hard, and care for detail and precision—but also professionalism and communication.  Taking ownership, and proving you have earned ownership, are key to success for a Jenner Associate.

What should a prospective associate know about being at your level in the firm?

 You will have more responsibility than your peers at other firms.  This is an incredible opportunity for learning and professional growth.  And each day can be rewarding, with the ability to develop your own pro bono practice at all levels of litigation.

Natalie Orpett

Why did you join Jenner & Block?

I wanted to work with excellent attorneys and have the opportunity to learn on my feet.  But I also wanted to work with people I respect, and I wanted to work in a firm that takes attorneys’ social responsibility to serve the community beyond the pages of its brochures and into action.  When I first interviewed at Jenner & Block, I did not meet a single attorney – whether partner or associate – who was not actively working on at least one pro bono matter.  That has remained the case since I started working here.

What kind of work have you been doing? Pro bono matters? 

I’ve intentionally sought to expose myself to a wide variety of matters, and I’ve been lucky to have succeeded in doing so.  In less than one year, I worked on an entire complex civil litigation matter from complaint to judgment, intellectual property matters, an internal investigation, another investigation, an immigration matter, a criminal sentencing, a matter representing a Guantanamo detainee, a custody dispute, and more.

Name 1-2 things you’ve learned in the last year.  

Having just passed my one-year anniversary of taking the bar exam, it’s hard to grasp just how much I’ve learned in one year.  Certainly an enormous amount of substantive law on areas I had previously known nothing about.  How to research and write more effectively.  How a trial is managed.  How discovery works.  How to interact with many different types of clients.  The list goes on.

What are the people at Jenner & Block like?  

Hard-working, smart, professional, and extremely talented.  But just as importantly – if not more so, in my mind – friendly (not just polite), compassionate, and deeply committed.

What kind of training have you received?  

I’ve received a great combination of formal and informal training.  The formal trainings included a very valuable multi-day deposition training in Chicago as well as trainings on managing client relationships, basic lawyering skills, effective oral advocacy, conducting interviews, ethics, and more topic-specific matters like the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and First Amendment issues.  Informal training happens all the time – I have been fortunate to have several wonderful mentors who take the time to give me feedback on my work and provide me with opportunities to develop my skills.

What qualities are needed to be successful at this level at the firm?  

Like any other firm, it is important to do excellent, thorough, careful, and timely work.  Because of the culture at Jenner & Block, though, it is also important to be collegial, to take the time to get to know people, and to be both a reliable and an enjoyable person with whom to work.

What should a prospective associate know about being at your level in the firm?  

This is not the place to come if you want to hide in your office.  It’s not that you won’t receive work if you do, it’s just that you’ll miss an enormous part of what this place is all about.  Even as a first-year associate, if you show that you’re willing and able, you’ll be given opportunities well beyond the typical experience of a first-year.  

Christina Avedissian

Why did you join Jenner & Block?

I was initially attracted to Jenner & Block because it is a top-tier firm with a national reputation for excellence.  But I ultimately chose Jenner & Block because of the incredible people at the firm.  From my very first interview, I was impressed by the friendliness, dedication and talent of the attorneys and staff at the office.  Additionally, Jenner & Block demonstrated a tireless commitment to pro bono work, which was important for me in choosing a firm.

What kind of work have you been doing? Pro bono matters?

During my first year as an associate, I had the opportunity to work on a wide variety of matters, ranging from consumer class action suits to insurance matters.  I have drafted responses to written discovery, prepared expert witnesses for trial, written motions and briefs on a variety of topics, and have even assisted with a multi-million dollar trial.  I have also worked on several interesting and rewarding pro bono cases.  I helped advise a non-profit charitable organization on First Amendment libel issues, assisted individuals from Guatemala and Somalia with immigration applications and served as a trustee for a minor victim of violent crime. 

Name 1-2 things you’ve learned in the last year.

I have learned how to conduct legal research much more effectively and efficiently.  I have also learned how to prepare witnesses for testimony at trial and how to conduct an effective direct examination. 

What are the people at Jenner & Block like?

The people at Jenner are incredibly smart, professional, and hard-working.  I consider it a privilege to be able to work with some of the most talented and accomplished individuals in the legal profession.  Additionally, the attorneys and staff at Jenner & Block are friendly, helpful, and fun!  They make it a pleasure to come to work each day. 

What kind of training have you received?

Jenner & Block has provided great formal training opportunities.  Earlier this year, I participated in a multi-day deposition training program in Chicago.  Additionally, I have heard practical, real-life advice about jury selection, persuasive legal writing and direct and cross examination from partners at the firm's lunch-time training series. 

What qualities are needed to be successful at this level at the firm?

To be successful, a junior associate must be diligent and reliable, produce high-quality work, and turn in assignments on time.  At Jenner & Block, it is also important to be respectful to your colleagues and to maintain the collegial atmosphere of the office. 

What should a prospective associate know about being at your level in the firm?

Because the firm's Los Angeles office is on the smaller side, junior associates are often given much more responsibility and challenging assignments than junior associates at other firms.  A prospective associate should be eager and willing to take on this responsibility and to quickly develop new skills.  Jenner & Block is also unique in commitment to pro bono work.  Junior associates are highly encouraged to give back to the community through pro bono legal assistance.

Daniel D. Welsh

Why did you join Jenner & Block?

I joined Jenner & Block’s Los Angeles office because I was excited about having the opportunity to work with truly outstanding attorneys.  The positive energy of everyone I met during the recruitment process, the firm’s legendary commitment to pro bono service, and the responsibility given to young attorneys all confirmed for me that Jenner & Block was the ideal place to build my career in the law.

What kind of work have you been doing? Pro bono matters?

My work at Jenner & Block has encompassed everything from protecting the trademarks and copyrights of Hollywood blockbusters to defending nationwide class actions to pro bono representation of a human trafficking victim.  I have been consistently challenged to take on greater responsibility while being provided with the support and mentorship to needed to succeed.  In my first year alone, I took depositions, interviewed witnesses, drafted a wide range of trial and appellate briefs, and led settlement negotiations with opposing counsel.  At each stage, I was given guidance and feedback that have fueled my professional development.

Name 1-2 things you’ve learned in the last year.

The most important thing I have learned is how complete dedication to exemplary client service sets Jenner & Block apart from other law firms.  Whether representing a Fortune 500 company or a pro bono individual, Jenner & Block attorneys demand the highest standards of attention to detail, quality of work product, and responsiveness to client needs. 

What are the people at Jenner & Block like?

Every attorney at Jenner & Block with whom I have had the privilege to work has been intelligent, engaged in their work, and exited to help junior associates learn and develop professionally.  Partners treat associates with the highest levels of respect, and the collegiality among associates makes it a pleasure to come to work every day.

What kind of training have you received?

While Jenner, like most other large firms, offers a number of valuable formal training programs, the most important training has been the informal mentorship I have received on a daily basis.  From my first week at the firm, partners and more-senior associates have taken the time – even during late nights or under tight deadlines – to teach new skills, share experiences, and constructively critique my work.  At Jenner & Block, I feel that I am surrounded by examples of the kind of attorney that I would like to be.

What qualities are needed to be successful at this level at the firm?

New associates need to be willing to assume responsibility for providing exceptional client service to all clients on all matters.  Simply put, if you are willing to go above-and-beyond on every matter, for every client, you will find tremendous encouragement and support from the firm.

What should a prospective associate know about being at your level in the firm?

Being a junior associate at Jenner & Block is exciting, challenging and deeply rewarding.  You will have the opportunity to learn from the best attorneys in the country, to work on matters of national significance, and to change lives as you take the lead on pro bono cases.  For me, there is no better place to begin a career.

PAUL B. RIETEMA
Office(s):
Chicago
Law Schools(s):
Harvard Law School
Practice Area(s):
Litigation
Started with firm:
2010
TAMARA T. MCCLATCHEY
Office(s):
Chicago
Law Schools(s):
University of Chicago Law School
Started with firm:
2012
MARK P. GABER
Office(s):
Washington, DC
Law Schools(s):
Stanford Law School
Practice Area(s):
Litigation
Started with firm:
2010
NATALIE ORPETT
Office(s):
New York
Law Schools(s):
Columbia University School of Law
Practice Area(s):
Litigation
Started with firm:
2012
CHRISTINA AVEDISSIAN
Office(s):
Los Angeles
Law Schools(s):
University of Southern California Gould School of Law
Practice Area(s):
Litigation
Started with firm:
2012
DANIEL D. WELSH
Office(s):
Los Angeles
Law Schools(s):
Stanford Law School
Practice Area(s):
Litigation
Started with firm:
2012