Jenner & Block

Brian J. Fischer

Why did you join Jenner & Block?

I joined Jenner & Block in early 2007 as a mid-level associate to become part of a top-notch litigation firm’s New York office.  I was excited at the notion of continuing to handle challenging, cutting-edge litigation matters while in a smaller environment where I’d have an opportunity to help shape the office’s direction and culture.

 

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

In my nearly five years at Jenner & Block I’ve been involved in an incredibly broad range of matters, including significant trials, multi-billion dollar commercial disputes, investigating potential claims on behalf of those with losses suffered directly as a result of the recent financial crisis, defending companies and individuals accused of white-collar crimes, and a variety of litigation matters that, though the stakes might be smaller as a relative matter, have been critically important to the clients.  I’ve also carried a diverse pro bono practice that has included immigration matters, criminal matters, and civil disputes and appellate matters.

 

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

As a junior level partner, I’ve learned invaluable lessons from senior partners about client relations and case management, and thus that mentoring at Jenner & Block continues well beyond one’s years as an associate. 

 

What has been your proudest moment?

Watching the New York office grow.  I joined as the 21st attorney in this office when it was not even two years old.  Now, we have roughly doubled in size, and the office’s practice areas reach into all corners.  Moreover, our office’s attorneys are a mix of individuals with a deeply varied, but uniformly excellent, background.  

 

What are the people at Jenner like?

In a word, collegial.  This is the ultimate team environment.  Not only are our attorneys incredibly smart, talented, and accomplished, but they are generous to one another with their time and guidance.

 

What kind of training have you received?

The most important training I’ve received is at the trial level.  With so many accomplished trial attorneys at Jenner & Block, including former AUSAs, there’s a wealth of guidance and direction available when it comes to trial preparation, strategy, and execution.  That guidance has helped me immensely in my trial experiences.

 

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

Dedication, self-motivation, creativity, keen attention to detail, and a desire to do what’s necessary to vindicate your clients’ needs and rights.

 

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

Prospective associates should know that being a partner at Jenner & Block is very much an extension of the associate experience.  Deep engagement in the guts of your work does not wane.  Constant strategizing on behalf of your clients’ interests continues.  If you are passionate about the law and litigation, that passion is met as the top focus remains client well-being.

 

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

To grow at Jenner, you need to be a team-player committed to seeing your cases succeed at each and every phase.  You need to be open to new challenges, confident in your ability to surmount them, and open to continually learning and growing as an attorney and as a professional.  

 

What sets Jenner & Block apart from other firms?

I think that Jenner & Block is unique among its peers for the extraordinary balance it has struck over many decades between representing its billable and pro bono clients.  Jenner litigators move seamlessly between work for its blue chip clients and its clients in perpetually dire straits.  This extends to all levels of practice, from the most senior of partners and associates to our paralegal staff.  It is rare, if not impossible, to find another law firm that is simultaneously so passionate about serving its private client interests and the public interest in seeing the law work for the disadvantaged. 

Jessica Ring Amunson

Why did you join Jenner & Block?

I was a summer associate at Jenner & Block in 2003 and right away knew it was the place for me.  I joined Jenner & Block officially in 2004 and then came back again in 2006 after leaving to clerk for a year.  I wanted to do appellate work and was very interested in election law.  A law school professor who was a former Jenner & Block associate told me she thought Jenner & Block would be a good fit for me and she was right.    

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

My practice has focused mainly on appellate and Supreme Court matters and on election law and redistricting.  I have litigated redistricting matters in a number of states, as well as cases involving voter ID, voter registration, and even an election contest case.  I have also worked on appeals and Supreme Court matters involving a range of topics -- First Amendment cases, statutory interpretation cases, administrative law cases, contract disputes, and of course voting rights cases.  My pro bono practice has also been varied, ranging from direct representation in landlord-tenant court to arguing on behalf of a pro bono client in the Supreme Court.

What has been your proudest moment?

My proudest moment was when I got to introduce my two children to my client, Jesse Webster.  Jesse was my client for a number of years as we sought to overturn his unjust life sentence for a non-violent drug offense.  In 2017, President Obama granted clemency to Jesse.  About a year later, Jesse and I spoke on a panel together hosted by our Chicago office about the importance of clemency in the criminal justice system and my son and daughter attended.  I was proud that they were able to see some of the good work that the firm does and the difference that we can make for other people.

What are the people at Jenner & Block like?

The people here take their work seriously, but don’t take themselves seriously.  Incredibly smart people who are also incredibly nice.  I consider the people at Jenner not just colleagues, but friends.

What kind of training have you received?

There is lots of formal training as you progress through the associate ranks – deposition training, ethics training, e-discovery training, etc.  But the best training is just on-the-job training, which happens every day.

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

Always think about how you can make life easier for the people you are working for – your clients as well as those you are working with at Jenner & Block.  Usually that means going above and beyond what was asked of you.  Show initiative and don’t be afraid to take on new challenges. 

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

Jenner & Block considers it very important that everyone who becomes a partner master basic litigation skills – taking depositions, putting on witnesses at trial, writing dispositive motions, briefing and arguing appeals, etc.  The firm is committed to making sure that all of its associates have opportunities to do each of these things.  Although associates will eventually specialize and become a part of a practice group, associates are not pigeon-holed into practice groups when they start.  Jenner & Block expects that anyone who becomes a partner in any practice group will first be a well-rounded lawyer.

What sets Jenner & Block apart from other firms?

Jenner’s commitment to pro bono and public services is truly unparalleled at other firms.

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 1 to 2 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.

Precious S. Jacobs

Why did you join Jenner & Block?

I was a summer associate at Jenner & Block in 2008.  My summer class was large and diverse, and I truly enjoyed networking with them.  I felt like I was working at a place where I could be my authentic self.  I worked with a dynamic group of lawyers during that summer, including Robert L. Byman and Joel T. Pelz.  I worked on an arbitration with Mr. Byman and Mr. Pelz and when we traveled to Connecticut for the arbitration, they really made me feel like a valuable member of the team.  After the summer, I knew that Jenner & Block was the right firm for me.  I joined Jenner & Block as an associate in 2009.

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

I have significant experience in a variety of forums, including in state and federal courts across the country in cases involving complex contractual disputes in a variety of industries, including retail, construction services and financial services.  I have also handled a number of bankruptcy litigation matters.  I also counsel clients on a number of data privacy related issues, specifically in the use of physical security measures to protect highly confidential and proprietary information.  In addition to my diverse litigation and counseling experience, I maintain an active pro bono practice.  I have assisted my pro bono clients with respect to defending against first-degree murder charges and overturning a void regulation utilized by the Illinois Department of Child and Family Services. 

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

In the past year, I have learned a lot about Tax Increment Financing Districts in connection with a bankruptcy matter I am working on.  This is one of the great things about my practice, there is always an opportunity to learn something new.

What has been your proudest moment?

One of my proudest moments in the last year was being selected as a fellow for the Leadership Council on Legal Diversity.  The firm is only able to select one fellow a year, so it was such an honor to participate in the fellowship.  It gave me the opportunity to meet and network with such an amazing group of lawyers across the country.  

What are the people at Jenner & Block like?

The people at Jenner & Block are incredibly intelligent and committed to the matters we work on.  I have learned so much from the people I have worked with over the years.  And, on top of being amazing at their jobs, they are amazing people.  Some of my colleagues are some of my best friends.  

What kind of training have you received?

We have formal CLE training sessions at the firm, which I routinely attend.  I even teach a few of those sessions now.  However, I believe the best training I have received over the years is just by working with such skilled lawyers.  I always tell new lawyers that they will truly learn to be great lawyers by just actually practicing the law.  

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

You need to be intelligent, flexible, dedicated, a team player and hardworking.  You have to also be efficient, take initiative, detail-oriented and friendly, of course.    

What sets Jenner & Block apart from other firms?

There are so many things, including our commitment to pro bono service and the sophistication of the matters we work on, however, the greatest distinction for me is the people.  There are so many great people that work here at all levels and I enjoy working with them.  One of my favorite events that the firm hosts is the annual Halloween party for the Jenner & Block families.  It is always well attended and it is amazing to see everyone with their families.

BRIAN J. FISCHER
Office(s):
New York
Law Schools(s):
Harvard Law School
Started with firm:
2007
JESSICA RING AMUNSON
Office(s):
Washington, DC
Law Schools(s):
Harvard Law School
DAVID P. SAUNDERS
Office(s):
Chicago
Law Schools(s):
University of Virginia School of Law
Started with firm:
2007
PRECIOUS S. JACOBS
Office(s):
Chicago
Law Schools(s):
University of Illinois College of Law
Started with firm:
2009