Jenner & Block

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.

David P. Saunders

Why did you join Jenner & Block?

I knew I wanted to be a litigator, so I looked at firms that had a strong litigation practice.  Beyond that, I looked for firms where the culture was such that associates were viewed as future leaders of the firm rather than just cogs in a machine.  The firm that met both of those criteria was Jenner & Block.

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

While I have worked on a wide range of matters, my practice primarily focuses on two areas: litigating complex securities transactions and counseling clients with respect to medical and financial privacy laws.  While I love being in the courtroom, developing my privacy law practice has been an amazing experience; doing work in an area that truly is the cutting edge for many of our clients.  With respect to pro bono, every year at Jenner & Block has given me an opportunity – if not several – to represent clients and be in charge of a matter.  I am currently involved in an evidentiary hearing that has been going on for more than a year in which more than a dozen witnesses have already been called, and a dozen more likely will be called in the near future.  When I was a first year, I started taking depositions in pro bono cases, and by my second year, I had argued an appeal before the Seventh Circuit. 

Name one to two things you’ve learned in the last year.

I do not think I learned this during the past year, but it was cemented as an important lesson: clients in litigation have a wide array of issues on which they can chose to fight.  However, not every opportunity for a fight advances the client’s cause.  Sometimes discretion really is the better part of valor, and best serves the client’s interests.

What are the people at Jenner & Block like?

Everyone here understands that cases are not won or lost on the strength of a single attorney, but on the cooperative effort of a team.  To that end, everyone I have worked with at Jenner has gone out of his or her way to make sure that everyone on a matter understands their role in the bigger picture.  One of the best things I can say is that Jenner & Block attorneys are not just skilled advocates, but they are people too.  Everyone understands the importance of balancing excellent client service with having a life outside of the firm.

What kind of training have you received?

While I could go on about the formal training and mentoring programs, the best training I received is through informal mentoring relationships.  Especially when you are a younger associate, everything you do is a training opportunity.  The first time you do anything is a learning moment, and the best way to learn is to engage those who have done the task before.  What I found is that if you take the time to engage attorneys senior to you, and ask questions, everyone has time to help you become a better attorney. 

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

The hardest thing about becoming more senior is learning to delegate.  The reality is that the more senior you are, the more you have to shift from being in the weeds to a supervisory roll, and that transition is not always easy.  I remember thinking when I was a first year associate that senior associates had it easy; on the phone and in meetings all day.  What I did not realize is that after each phone call or meeting, those associates then had a laundry list of tasks to accomplish.  Learning to manage your workload and the workload of others is an essential part of being a senior associate.

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

You have to be able to communicate clearly both to partners and to junior associates.  As a senior associate you are the intermediary for many projects, and it is essential that you both understand the scope of a project and be able to clearly communicate the project to those working with you.

What sets Jenner & Block apart from other firms?

The firm's commitment to maintaining its unique culture is something that I think sets it apart.  Everyone at Jenner understands that part of what makes the firm a great place to work is that the firm as a whole believes in serving the community through pro bono and community service and everyone also understands the value of training junior attorneys for the next generation.  There is a selflessness at the firm that permeates throughout, and that is part of what sets Jenner & Block apart.

David P. Saunders is co-chair of the firm's Associates Committee.

L. DAVID RUSSELL
Office(s):
Los Angeles
Law Schools(s):
University of Chicago Law School
Started with firm:
2011
DAVID P. SAUNDERS
Office(s):
Chicago
Law Schools(s):
University of Virginia School of Law
Started with firm:
2007