Jenner & Block's 100 Year Story

Our Name Partners

Albert E. Jenner (1907-1988) practiced law over a storied career that spanned nearly six decades and was regarded as one of the great stewards in all of the legal profession.  He argued five cases before the U.S. Supreme Court, including the Witherspoon case in which he successfully argued that our client’s death sentence was invalid because the jury selection process favored those who supported the death penalty. Bert represented such prominent clients as Henry Crown and Crown’s General Dynamics.  And he personified the firm’s commitment to public service, tapped by three U.S. presidents, two chief justices and two congressional committees to serve and support various panels of national importance. 

His public service included:

  • The Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under the Law (national co-chair);
  • The Warren Commission, investigating the assassination of President John F. Kennedy (senior counsel);
  • The National Commission on the Causes and Prevention of Violence, investigating the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy;
  • The House Judiciary Committee considering articles of impeachment for President Richard M. Nixon; after Republicans removed him as minority counsel, he became assistant majority counsel;
  • The U.S. Supreme Court Advisory Committee on the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure; and
  • The U.S. Supreme Court Advisory Committee on the Rules of Evidence (chair).

Bert was the youngest president of the Illinois State Bar Association, as well as president of the prestigious American College of Trial Lawyers, president of the American Judicature Society and a member of the ABA House of Delegates for more than 35 years.  He had a voice and manner that commanded respect and deference, but a civility toward others. 

Bert was born in Chicago, the son of a Chicago police officer.  He joined the firm as an associate in 1933 after receiving his law degree from the University of Illinois College of Law. He became a partner in 1935 and a name partner in 1955. When he died in 1988, Chief Judge William Bauer of the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals said, “Bert Jenner was one of the greatest lawyers I ever met. When he died, a whole era died with him.”

Samuel W. Block (1911-1970) led the firm’s transactional practice and gained prominence in handling corporate take-overs for numerous clients including Northwest Industries, Flying Tiger Line and Gulf & Western.  He was also an accomplished litigator and was, like name partner Albert Jenner, a fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers.  He argued one case before the U.S. Supreme Court.  In Chicago, Sam represented the motion picture industry and movie theaters, including the Balaban and Katz Corporation, which owned many “movie palaces” in the Chicago area.  In the 1960s, Sam took on the City of Chicago over the issue of film censorship at a time when the City had a review board that routinely banned the showing of any film the board judged as having objectionable sexual content.  For many years, Sam battled the City on behalf of the movie industry to allow the films to be shown. With his uncommon ability to excel at both corporate work – such as handling many of the firm’s large trusts and estates clients – and complex litigation, and his soft-spoken but confident demeanor, Sam was a mentor and set the standard for many young attorneys in the firm.  Rarely seen without his trademark monogrammed bowties and broad smile, Sam had compassion and generosity that matched his legal acumen.

Sam was born in St. Joseph, Missouri, the son of a department store proprietor.  He joined the firm as an associate in 1936 after receiving his JD from Harvard.  He became a partner in 1948 and a name partner in 1964.  When he died unexpectedly at age 59 in 1970, the senior partners of all the major Chicago law firms spontaneously gathered in the lobby of Jenner & Block’s offices to pay their respects.

Name Partners Albert E. Jenner Jr. (left) and Samuel W. Block.