Jenner & Block

Mid-Level/Senior Associate

Elizabeth A. Edmondson

Why did you join Jenner & Block?

I was drawn to interview at Jenner because of its reputation for quality legal work and its commitment to pro bono, but I decided to join the firm because of the people.

 

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

I’ve been lucky enough to have quite a variety of paying and pro bono work in my time at Jenner.  I’ve worked on matters as diverse as arbitrations involving complex financial transactions, contract disputes between manufacturing companies, intellectual property litigation, and internal investigations.  On the pro bono side, I’ve also helped draft an amicus brief in a death penalty case, represented an immigrant in removal hearings, and, together with a colleague, conducted a bench trial in federal court on behalf of a former inmate suing his prison.

 

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

I think in the last year I’ve learned the value of taking a moment to think about the long view at each juncture of litigation.

 

What has been your proudest moment?

My most fulfilling moment at Jenner was meeting again with a client, an immigrant who had faced deportation, a few months after the hearing that had allowed her to stay in the United States.  She excitedly recounted all the ways that she was now able to participate in the life of her community, including engaging in activism on behalf of domestic workers and teaching other immigrants English.  The transformation in how she carried herself was amazing.

 

What are the people at Jenner like?

I’ve found the people at Jenner to be dynamic, bright, and creative, and also to have a sense of humor and a sense of community.

 

What kind of training have you received?

I’ve received formal training in a few areas (including a wonderful deposition program), but most of my training has been on-the-job.  The partners with whom I have worked have been great about looking out for opportunities for associates to try something new.

 

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

One thing I appreciate about Jenner is that collegiality and collaboration seem to be valued at every level of the firm.

 

What sets Jenner & Block apart from other firms?

Jenner offers challenging work, a real commitment to pro bono, and great colleagues.

Joseph D. Kline

Why did you join Jenner & Block?

Back when I was in law school and going through the OCI / Callback process, I had only three simple criteria for selecting a law firm:  (1) the firm needed to offer a relatively robust set of litigation and transactional practice areas, simply because I did not know at the time what area of law I wanted to practice; (2) the firm needed to be located in Chicago; and (3) I needed to like the people I met at the firm.  The first two criteria “narrowed” my choices to Jenner & Block and around 30 or 40 other firms in Chicago, so that left the vague concept of “like” to carry the day.  And there is no hidden complexity or secret code built into “like.”  “Like” is admittedly unscientific and perhaps a bit naïve, but I really meant it:  what I came to value and enjoy most about law school, in the midst of the challenging classes and demanding course work, was the personal relationships I developed with my classmates.  What I wanted most in a law firm was a group of colleagues with whom I felt I could build the same friendships, have the same diverse and interesting discourse, as I did with my classmates in law school.  I found then, and continue to discover now, those people at Jenner & Block.  Quite simply, I uniformly liked the people I met at Jenner, so I joined the firm.

 

What kind of work have you been doing?

Jenner & Block’s Corporate Department encompasses not only the traditional Mergers and Acquisitions and Corporate Governance practice areas, but also the firm’s Securities and Finance practices.  As a result, I am working on a rather diverse set of projects at the moment, which include a recently closed merger acquisition for a large public company client, an exchange offer with respect to debt securities registered with the SEC and providing advice to another large public company client regarding its complex, leveraged lease financing arrangements. 

 

 

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

I have learned the value of clear, concise communications about my answers to complicated topics with colleagues and clients.  Any given legal issue that I may be tasked with researching or resolving may have a number of complex nuances to it, but I have learned that the value I can provide to clients and others in the firm is not an exhaustive description of those complexities, but rather as simple and straightforward an answer or plan of action as possible to address the issue that resolves the complexities.  Our clients do not ask us to merely “issue spot,” but also to advise them as to the best way to resolve those issues.

 

What has been your proudest moment? 

At the beginning of my second year at the firm, I was staffed as the only associate on a moderately complex transaction in which our client was the purchaser.  As the only associate, I not only was expected to manage all major deal documents, but was also tasked with tracking and shepherding all aspects of the transaction to the closing.  I had never been the only associate on a deal and was incredibly nervous about being entrusted with so much responsibility, but the partner leading the transaction showed confidence in me and my ability to successfully manage the deal, was incredibly supportive throughout, and gave me the opportunity to gain experience that is normally reserved for mid-level or senior associates.  Whether by luck or otherwise, the closing occurred without any major hiccups and our client was very pleased with the acquisition.  I was not only very proud of successfully managing that responsibility as a relatively junior associate, but that responsibility and success gave me the confidence to take on greater responsibility and more complex projects in the months following that transaction, which has made all the difference in my career.

 

What are the people at Jenner like?

Again and again, the people I have met at Jenner & Block remind me of my good friends and acquaintances from law school:  intelligent, but not pretentious, warm, friendly and oftentimes funny, and each coming from and offering a slightly different perspective.  Not only do the people at Jenner & Block remind me of friends, I have the great joy of counting many of them amongst my closest personal friends.

 

What kind of training have you received?  

Jenner & Block has provided me with a balanced mix of formal and informal training.  The Corporate Department’s monthly luncheons always include presentations on recent developments in corporate or securities law that are very informative.  The firm’s formal mentoring program provides associates in all departments with an excellent opportunity to gain further insight into specific practice points, as well as career development and management.  Finally, and most importantly, I have always received excellent “real world” transactional experience and training during every deal on which I have been staffed.  Partners and senior associates in the Corporate Department make a special effort to make sure every member of the core deal team is not only involved in important calls and meetings at every stage of any transaction, but also understands what is happening, why it is happening in this way, and how their part of the transaction fits into the overall process and structure.  

 

 

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

As with any job, attention to detail, timeliness in completing projects, clear communication with supervisors (including clients) regarding a project and the willingness to take ownership and responsibility for a given problem or project are key, but, even more importantly, a rising mid-level associate needs to be able to transition from problem spotter to problem solver.  In other words, a mid-level associate at Jenner is expected, and needs to be able, to recognize the broader context for any given case or transaction issue and be able to formulate a cogent and clear answer for, or plan of action to address, that issue that is suitable to be presented to the partner or client.  

 

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

The firm expects mid-level associates in all of its practice areas to be able to (1) begin to offer substantive analysis of and solutions for case or transaction issues that recognize the broader context and goals in that case or transaction and (2) effectively and efficiently manage junior associates staffed on the case or transaction.

 

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

First, I believe associates need to demonstrate those qualities that make for great junior associates:  attention to detail, timeliness in completing projects, clear communication with supervisors (including clients) regarding a project and the willingness to take ownership and responsibility for a given problem or project.  Second, I believe that associates also need to develop (1) the ability to think about the big picture in a given case or transaction and offer solutions to issues that recognize that big-picture and (2) the confidence in themselves and their abilities such that they can take that leap and put themselves and their solutions in front of a partner or client.

 

What sets Jenner & Block apart from other firms?  

Again, it is the people.  There are other large, elite law firms throughout the country that do the same quality work with the same top-notch clients as we do at Jenner & Block, but I truly believe that none of those firms can boast the same top-to-bottom group of warm, intelligent, collegial attorneys.  I once heard a dean for career services from a top ten law school (not Michigan) describe the typical Jenner & Block attorney as “smart with heart.”  That statement has stuck with me and I believe it is a very nice and succinct description for nearly every person I have had the pleasure of meeting or working with here at Jenner & Block.

Andrew F. Merrick

Why did you join Jenner & Block?

I joined Jenner & Block because I was looking for a top-notch litigation practice group to begin my career.  

 

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

During the past few years, I have been focusing my practice on litigating commercial arbitration disputes on behalf of corporate clients.  The experience has been tremendous – I have tried approximately six cases in the past two years alone.  I also have supplemented my practice with a number of significant pro bono matters, including defending clients charged with first-degree murder, arguing an appeal before the Seventh Circuit, and representing a client in an immigration asylum hearing, 

What has been your proudest moment?

My proudest moment at Jenner & Block was the day I secured asylum in an immigration hearing for a young woman from Tanzania who faced near-certain death if she were returned to her native country.  Our team literally saved this woman’s life – and there are not many professions where you can say that.  

 

What are the people at Jenner like?

The primary reason that I chose Jenner & Block was for the culture.  The partners and associates that I work with are not only excellent lawyers, but they are also wonderful people as well.  I feel blessed to work at a place where my colleagues are also my friends.

 

What kind of training have you received?

I have received substantial training through the Firm’s formal mentoring and training programs, but also through everyday practice.  The Firm’s partners excel at providing associates with real-time, substantive feedback, which is invaluable.

 

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

I think the primary qualities that are needed to be successful at this level are strong organizational skills and practical thinking.  

 

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

Prospective associates should know that they can expect to get substantial substantive experience at this level, including trying cases, arguing appeals, and serving as the primary interface for clients.  

 

 

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

I believe that hard work, diligence, and practical thinking are the skills necessary to get to the next level at the firm.

 

What sets Jenner & Block apart from other firms?

I think Jenner & Block’s pro bono program sets Jenner apart from other firms.  Within six months at the Firm, I was conducting direct and cross examinations of witnesses in a first-degree murder trial.  Since then, I have represented pro bono clients in multiple evidentiary hearings and trials, argued a criminal appeal before the Seventh Circuit, and represented a client in an immigration hearing.  The pro bono program is not only part of our responsibility as members of the bar, but it also provides associates with substantial, practical experience.  

Kelly M. Morrison

Why did you join Jenner & Block?

I wasn’t actually looking to leave my old firm until I got a call about Jenner & Block opening up a Los Angeles office.  The idea of joining a new office of an established firm, and helping to develop and grow that office seemed like a great opportunity.  Once I began researching Jenner & Block, I knew it was the firm for me.  The firm’s long-standing commitment to pro bono, its dedication to associate training, and its history of developing and retaining female attorneys made it stand out for me from the many other great law firms in Los Angeles.  And, finally, when I interviewed with attorneys in the Los Angeles and Chicago offices, I was convinced that Jenner & Block was the right place for me to develop my career.

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

I work primarily on class action cases at all stages in the proceedings – Rule 12 motions, discovery, class certification, and appeals – but I have also worked on numerous other types of complex commercial litigation matters, as well as white collar investigations.  In addition to my billable work, I have worked on immigration matters, pre-trial proceedings in a capital murder case, and a constitutional challenge to California’s lethal injection protocol.   

What has been your proudest moment?

Arguing an appeal in the Second Circuit.

What are the people at Jenner & Block like?

The attorneys at Jenner & Block are encouraging and always willing to help.  The firm’s collaborative culture makes it a great place to work, and results in excellent work product for its clients.  Beyond being team players, the firm’s attorneys are real people, with families, and hobbies, and lives outside the office.  I have made some of my best friends in LA at Jenner, and I’m positive the same is true in the other offices. 

What kind of training have you received?

Jenner & Block’s NITA deposition training is fantastic, as are its other formal training programs.  But the best training I’ve received is the on-the-job training.  There really is no better way to learn how to do a hearing, write an appellate brief, or examine a witness at trial than to be given the opportunity to actually do so, with the training and encouragement of those who have been doing it for years.

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

I think the most important qualities are a sense of eagerness and interest in the work, as well as the willingness to ask questions and provide honest  feedback.

What sets Jenner & Block apart from other firms?

The best aspects of Jenner & Block – and what I believe sets it apart from other law firms – are its people and philosophies about associates.  The firm does not over-hire associates with the expectation that most of them will burn out and leave the firm within the first few years.  It does not treat its associates as fungible, or leave them to fend for themselves.  The firm truly cares about its associates and hires them with the expectation that each and every associate has the potential to make partner.  This dedication to associates is reflected in the many training opportunities and the responsibility given to associates at an early stage of their career.  During my time at Jenner & Block, I have taken and defended over a dozen depositions, drafted appellate briefs, argued motions in state and federal courts, handled an arbitration proceeding, and examined a witness at a trial.  I don’t know of any other national firm that routinely gives these types of opportunities to junior and mid-level associates.  In addition, the firm has allowed and encouraged my colleagues and me to take on varied pro bono opportunities, providing amazing support along the way.

L. David Russell

Why did you join Jenner & Block?

I joined the Los Angeles office of Jenner & Block as third-year lateral hire.  I chose Jenner & Block because I wanted to work at a firm where I would be given substantial responsibility immediately.

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

I am a member of the Complex Commercial Litigation Department and have been working on a variety of litigation matters, including entertainment cases, class actions, and employment disputes.  I have had the opportunity to go to court, take depositions, and have direct client contact on these cases.  I’ve also devoted a considerable amount of time to representing pro bono clients.  Last year, I argued an appeal on behalf of a death row inmate in the Ninth Circuit.  Right now, I am preparing to first-chair a trial in the Eastern District of California in a case involving a prisoner’s Eighth Amendment claim.

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

In the past year I have learned a lot about litigating class action cases.  This past April, Jenner & Block also sent me to take a week of classes at the NITA Trial Institute, where I learned how to try a case.

What has been your proudest moment?

Arguing at the Ninth Circuit.

What are the people at Jenner & Block like?

The people are great.  There are no “screamers” or “jerks” at the LA office, and it is still small enough to feel like a family.

What kind of training have you received?

I have received formal training on taking depositions and trial techniques, and informal training on everything else from the partners and senior associates at the office.

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

Successful Jenner & Block associates take initiative, creatively attack problems and embrace increased responsibility.

What sets Jenner & Block apart from other firms?

There are a lot of great firms out there, but I believe the firm's commitment to pro bono and getting young associates real litigation experience at a junior level distinguishes it from its peers.

ELIZABETH A. EDMONDSON
Office(s):
New York
Law Schools(s):
Harvard Law School
Started with firm:
2008
JOSEPH D. KLINE
Office(s):
Chicago
Law Schools(s):
University of Michigan Law School
Started with firm:
2008
ANDREW F. MERRICK
Office(s):
Chicago
Law Schools(s):
Chicago-Kent College of Law, Illinois Institute of Technology
Started with firm:
2006
KELLY M. MORRISON
Office(s):
Los Angeles
Law Schools(s):
University of Virginia School of Law
Started with firm:
2009
L. DAVID RUSSELL
Office(s):
Los Angeles
Law Schools(s):
University of Chicago Law School
Started with firm:
2011