Mid-Level/Senior Associate

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.

Samuel Jahangir

Why did you join Jenner & Block?

As someone who considers Chicago home, I knew I wanted to stay in Chicago.  In addition, I was looking for a firm with a strong litigation practice and a commitment to pro bono.  Even before my callback interview, I knew Jenner & Block offered both.  During my interviews, it became clear to me that Jenner & Block was a good fit.  The lawyers I met during the process were working on cutting edge litigation matters and had a passion for pro bono.  I came away with a strong sense that I wanted to work with the people I had met.  So I joined Jenner & Block.

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

I have worked on a variety of matters including several internal investigations and some complex commercial litigation matters.  My work has ranged from drafting motions and briefs to interviewing witnesses to representing clients in court.  I have an active pro bono practice and have worked on an employment discrimination matter, a post-conviction petition, and recently a habeas case.

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

The biggest thing I’ve learned is that no two days are the same and to expect the unexpected!  My assignments have been unpredictable, sometimes requiring travel, sometimes requiring me to play detective and be creative!  I have also had plenty of the more traditional assignments – research, legal analysis, brief writing – but the unexpected variety has been exciting.    Overall, I’ve learned how every case boils into its own adventure.

What are the people at Jenner & Block like?

The people I’ve worked with are some of the most brilliant people I’ve ever met!  But more importantly, they’re also some of the nicest.  We are a team here.  We rely on each other to get things done and to pitch in when needed.  We are all passionate about the work we do and also things outside of work -- from theatre to sports to community outreach.  The people at Jenner & Block definitely help to set this place apart.

What kind of training have you received?

I have received formal training, as well as on-the-job training.  Some of the formal training includes internal seminars led by senior associates or partners on practice areas or specific topics.  For example, the firm hosts a two-day deposition workshop where you simulate taking a deposition and an interactive legal writing seminar.  While on-the-job, I have received extensive feedback and guidance on a variety of topics including examining witnesses and summary judgment briefing. 

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

Simply put, being a team player is probably the most important quality.  Assignments vary.  Deadlines vary.  Your schedule certainly varies.  But what remains constant is that your team is relying on you to do your part.  Sometimes that’s easy.  Sometimes it’s not.  And when it’s not, those are the important moments.  That’s when you have to figure out what to prioritize.  That’s when you need to communicate with your team so that everyone’s on the same page.  There’s a lot of collaboration in legal work, so being an effective team player is a key aspect to be successful.

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

When managing your case load, it’s important to keep an eye towards the future and maintain some control over the type of work you do.  If there’s a particular area of the law that you’re interested in, look around for assignments in that area.  If there’s a particular person you’re interested in working with, walk over to that person’s office or give that person a call.  If you’re interested in trial work, seek out opportunities that will get you there.   

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

To get to the next level at the firm, it’s important to continually develop the fundamentals.  As a litigator, our jobs revolve around legal research and writing.  So to progress, you should always take the time to hone those skills.  You should also build out your personal network.  Given the collaborative nature of legal work, the relationships you build can and will help guide you and take you to the next level at the firm.

Alexis E. Bates

Why did you join Jenner & Block?

I joined Jenner & Block after working at another large law firm and then clerking for a federal district court judge. I liked Jenner’s reputation for doing great pro bono work and valuing diversity and inclusion, and I liked the law school classmates that I knew who worked at Jenner, so I thought: if it was a good fit for them, it probably would be for me too.

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

I’ve focused my practice on litigation based on the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA), which involves retirement plans, pensions, and other employment benefits. For pro bono, I’ve focused on immigration matters, as well as habeas corpus and criminal appeals.

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

In the past year, I prepared for and participated in a two-week, in-person ERISA trial. I got to prepare witnesses, do evidentiary video depositions, and conduct direct and cross examinations in court. I learned all kinds of trial skills.

What are the people at Jenner & Block like?

Jenner & Block people are both very good lawyers and very good people. They are at the top of their fields, but also approachable and down to earth.

What kind of training have you received?

I’ve received formal and informal training and mentorship, but I think the best training I’ve received is by getting real experience working on cases with more senior attorneys helping guide me through it.

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

Obviously, it’s important to work hard and do high quality work, but it’s even more important to be kind to everyone, from those in the mail room all the way up to the more senior partners.

What sets Jenner & Block apart from other firms?

The firm's culture sets it apart, and the values that the firm espouses. You can work on high-level matters at a number of firms, but I think it’s harder to find a good cultural fit with people whose values align with yours to be able to do that work together.

KATIE B. JOHNSON
Office(s):
Washington, DC
Law Schools(s):
Harvard Law School
Started with firm:
2017
SAMUEL JAHANGIR
Office(s):
Chicago
Law Schools(s):
University of Chicago Law School
Started with firm:
2016
ALEXIS E. BATES
Office(s):
Chicago
Law Schools(s):
University of Chicago Law School
Started with firm:
2016