Jenner & Block

David B. Diesenhouse

Why did you join Jenner & Block?
I joined Jenner & Block because I wanted to be a part of a firm that matched a dedication to high-caliber, intellectually rigorous work with a deep commitment to community service and pro bono.  I was fortunate enough to have several friends already working at Jenner & Block before I came to the firm and who could recommend it to me based on first-hand experience.  Each of them was afforded the opportunity to take on meaningful roles on cases at the agency, trial court, and appellate court level.  Each of them also did substantial pro bono work on some of the most interesting issues of the day.  Based on their experiences, I knew that Jenner & Block hired the kind of people I wanted to work with and took on the types of matters I wanted to do.

What kind of work have you been doing?  Pro bono matters?
Most of my work has come from the Investigations, Compliance and Defense group.  I have worked on a large monitorship and another significant investigation.  As part of that work, I have conducted interviews and meetings, taken a lead role in report drafting, and interfaced with government prosecutors.  I have also had the opportunity to work on several pro bono matters.  Most significantly, I took on a Seventh Circuit habeas appeal, writing the briefs and arguing the case before the Court of Appeals.  I also represented a pro bono client in a federal criminal case in the SDNY, worked on a Supreme Court amicus brief, and was part of the litigation team for an administrative proceeding in New York state court.

Name 1 to 2 things you’ve learned in the last year.
In the last year, I have learned that, to be a truly good lawyer, you need to know how to function as a leader on a team.  While, in certain instances, it might be possible to handle every aspect of an assignment on your own, that simply won’t be true all (or even most) of the time.  Every lawyer is bound to face an assignment or a project that simply cannot be done by one person.  As you become more senior, it’s important to cultivate delegation skills.  If you delegate and mentor effectively, you empower those around you, increase efficiency, and create a better work product.  Moreover, delegation is not a sign of weakness.  It’s a sign that you understand your team members’ capabilities and have faith that they can live up to them.

What has been your proudest moment?
My proudest moment at the firm was completing an oral argument before the Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.  Although it was one of the most nerve-racking moments of my legal career thus far, it was also one of the most exhilarating.  Following my argument, I was pleased that my many hours of research and preparation had paid off.  I was able to maintain my confidence and composure (for the most part) and even get in a few good answers to the judges’ questions.

What are the people at Jenner & Block like?
Jenner & Block attracts competent and talented lawyers who are, in equal parts, committed to producing excellent work and an enjoyable work environment.  I am frequently struck by not only how intelligent and talented my colleagues are, but how much fun they are to be around.  I find that I can chat with my fellow Jenner & Block lawyers about pop culture and current events just as easily as interesting legal issues, and that we laugh nearly as much as we engage in serious discussion.

What qualities are needed to be successful at this level at the firm?
Organization, dedication, reasonableness, preparation, and respect for colleagues (both those who are senior to you and those who are junior to you).

What should a prospective associate know about being at your level in the firm?
As a mid-level or senior associate, you need to be able to balance between fielding questions and assignments from partners and guiding more junior members of the case team.  That takes a fair amount of coordination and organization.  In fact, managing logistical issues and cultivating good project management skills is often paramount, as it makes the substantive work easier to do.

What does it take to get to the next level at the firm?
Problem solving.  It’s important to be able to diagnose a problem or issue and see the multiple ways in which it can be tackled.  That doesn’t mean you always need to know the right solution, but, to succeed, you need to be able to identify the possible solutions and be able to discuss them and assess their pros and cons.   

What sets Jenner & Block apart from other firms?
Jenner & Block is a place where you can take on responsibility quickly and are treated like a valued member of any case team.  Associates of all class years, if they are interested in seizing the opportunity, can take depositions, argue in court, draft meaningful portions of court submissions, and participate substantively in constructing litigation strategy.  Pro bono is also ubiquitous at Jenner & Block.  It is the rare lawyer who is not involved in at least one – and usually many more – pro bono matters.  That recognition that we are members of a larger community, and have a responsibility to use our legal skills for more than just profit, is a hallmark of the Jenner & Block ethos and one that I really value.

Elin I. Park

Why did you join Jenner & Block?

I joined Jenner & Block because it is an exceptional law firm.  Jenner & Block is a top-tier firm that is deeply committed to its civic responsibilities and prides itself on its collegial environment.  During my interviews, I was struck by how smart, open, and friendly the lawyers were, and I knew that this was the right place to begin my legal career.

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

I work on various complex commercial litigation matters.  My most recent work has been focused on representing clients in contract and class action disputes.  I have also had some experience with government and internal investigations. 

On one of my pro bono matters, I had the privilege of being part of a tireless and fearless team of lawyers that successfully overturned a murder conviction that had been based on a false confession.  My pro bono matters are a mix of civil and criminal cases.

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

In the past year, I have learned how to manage and lead my cases.  I have learned, and I still continue to learn, how to prepare, strategize, argue, and organize my cases from the moment a complaint is filed. 

What are the people at Jenner & Block like?

The people at Jenner & Block are what makes this firm unique.  My colleagues are very smart, hardworking, passionate, and great team players.  My colleagues make this firm truly collegial. 

What kind of training have you received?

There are many opportunities for formal and informal training.  Jenner & Block does a great job of providing various formal training.  But, I have found that my most valuable training often comes from stepping up, taking ownership of cases, and simply learning by doing.

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

To be successful, junior associates should be eager to learn, work hard, and demonstrate talent.  Also, it is important to be reliable and be a team player.

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

Being a junior associate at Jenner & Block does not mean that you will only be engaged in select types of tasks.  Even at this level, my peers and I are expected to perform complicated and challenging work.  Such work can sometimes include being the point person to handle a case.

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

To get to the next level as a litigator at Jenner & Block, it is important to demonstrate an ability to navigate and master the various aspects of litigation.  And, at all levels, I think hard work is an important component of success.

What sets Jenner & Block apart from other firms?

What sets Jenner & Block apart from other top-tier firms is our collegial atmosphere and a deeply-entrenched sense of duty to the public.  The people at Jenner & Block make these two things possible.

Katie B. Johnson

Why did you join Jenner & Block?

I joined Jenner & Block largely because of the people.  Prior to joining the firm, I knew a number of people in the Washington office and all of them had a reputation as being both excellent lawyers as well as kind and thoughtful people.  I knew that the lawyers at the firm were taking on a number of critical cases pro bono and that if I went to Jenner & Block I would be able to do work on issues I cared about.

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

I have had a broad spectrum of work since joining the firm in the summer of 2017.  Most recently, I have been working on several corporate internal investigations that respond to government inquiries.  As part of that work I have helped manage the internal investigation process, including conducting interviews, developing government presentations and interfacing with government agencies.  I also advise clients, primarily with the aviation group, on potential regulatory changes.   

My pro bono work primarily focuses on immigration-related issues.  For example, early on in my time at Jenner & Block I successfully represented a West African family who were seeking asylum in the United States.  The family was detained in a local jail during the entire pendency of the proceeding, so everything moved at a very fast pace, and the firm fully supported the case during the entire proceeding.  

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

Over the past year I learned how to manage large teams and plan out an investigative process.  Part of any investigations practice is identifying and isolating the question you want to answer and then developing a process that will allow you to answer that question fully in the most efficient way possible.  Practically this means that I have had to hire and manage large teams of lawyers to review documents to ascertain the critical facts in various investigations.  Being able to coordinate and manage these teams is a critical skill that I have developed over the past year.

What has been your proudest moment?

My proudest moment at the firm was when the West African family I represented was granted asylum in the United States and the government chose not to appeal.  Because the family was detained during the pendency of their application, we had to develop facts and brief the case on an expedited timeline and present an expert witness at a one-day trial.  The judge was known to rarely grant asylum, but, partially because of all the resources Jenner & Block had devoted to the case, we were able to make a compelling argument, and they were released from detention the very evening of the trial.  I still stay in touch with the family, who are now in the Chicago area.  

What are the people at Jenner & Block like?

Jenner & Block attracts very intelligent, but also kind lawyers.  People are friendly and collaborative, which I believe improves the overall work product the firm produces.  I was friends with a number of people at the firm before I joined and I have expanded my network of Jenner & Block lawyers I would call friends since I have joined!  My colleagues in Washington DC often take on pro bono matters on issues they care about and engage with outside of the office – be it immigration, LGBT or voting rights issues.  

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

To be successful at Jenner & Block you need to be organized, adhere to deadlines, be a self-starter and be respectful of everyone you work with.  

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

As a mid-level or senior associate, it is important to start gaining knowledge in either a particular substantive area or process.  It is important that you be able to start managing components of matters, and the partners need to be able to rely on you as someone who is experienced in a given area.  Developing good management skills is important as you progress in your career.

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

Issue spotting and anticipating the future needs of a matter.  Often mid-level or senior associates are the ones managing the day to day aspects of a case and are most familiar with the documents and facts.  As the person in that position, you are able to help the partners on the case strategize about key areas to focus on or where future issues might arise.

What sets Jenner & Block apart from other firms?

Jenner & Block really gives each associate the freedom to chart their own course.  Part of that freedom derives from the firm’s commitment to pro bono work.  One of the wonderful side-effects about the value the firm places on pro bono work is that junior lawyers get to gain experiences they otherwise would not get for several years.  Marrying that pro bono experience with the skills gained from more traditional work allows each associate to develop a unique skill set and direct their own career at the firm.

DAVID B. DIESENHOUSE
Office(s):
New York
Law Schools(s):
Harvard Law School
ELIN I. PARK
Office(s):
Chicago
Law Schools(s):
University of Chicago Law School
Started with firm:
2012
KATIE B. JOHNSON
Office(s):
Washington, DC
Law Schools(s):
Harvard Law School
Started with firm:
2017