Jenner & Block

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.

Keri L. Holleb Hotaling

Why did you join Jenner & Block?

I joined Jenner & Block because I wanted the opportunity to work on really interesting and challenging litigation matters and learn from the best. Jenner & Block was a good fit for my personality. I felt comfortable in my own skin and could see myself being happy at the firm.

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

In recent years, I have spent considerable time conducting internal investigations, and I am currently working on a monitorship.

I also maintain an active pro bono practice. This year, I focused my pro bono work on a federal prisoner civil rights matter in which I was appointed counsel by the federal district court. I was lucky enough to get the chance to work closely with Associate Jeremy Dunnaback, who has been fantastic. Jeremy got to take his first deposition in the matter and get some really good litigation experience. In addition, I continue to chair the firm’s Domestic Violence Pro Bono Program. It is a truly rewarding experience. I love witnessing young attorneys put on their first witnesses and make their first evidentiary arguments in court, and the satisfaction we get from helping someone in a crisis situation is worth all of our time and effort. 

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

I learned that I enjoy working with witnesses in all types of settings. I know how to make people feel comfortable, even in a difficult situation. This is a skill that has taken time to develop and one I greatly value.

What has been your proudest moment?

My proudest recent moment was receiving the Jenner & Block Mentoring Award from the Associates Committee.

What are the people at Jenner & Block like?

Intelligent, hard working, and genuine. I have made some of my dearest and closest friends at Jenner.

What kind of training have you received?

I received fantastic on-the-job training from senior attorneys who took time to mentor me as an associate.  I gained early litigation experiences, like taking my first depositions, in pro bono matters.

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

You need to be smart, dedicated, exercise good judgment, be a team player – but know when you need to step up and lead. You also have to be flexible and know when you need to develop new skills and expertise.

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

You need to continue to strive to better yourself, to become a more valuable attorney at each stage of your career. This can take on many different forms, including service to your clients, to the firm, to the bar, and to the community.

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

Hard work, commitment, and the support of those whom you have worked for and with.

 What sets Jenner & Block apart from other firms?

Its people and the quality and complexity of our work. We strive to live up and be true to our firm values on a daily basis.

Reena R. Bajowala

Why did you join Jenner & Block?

When interviewing for a summer associate position, I knew I wanted to be at a firm with top-notch litigation work.  Jenner fit the bill for that perfectly.  But ultimately the decision came down to the people.  Jenner is filled with down-to-earth, interesting, passionate people who practice law.  When I visited the firm for my callback, doors were open, people were chatting in the halls and the elevators.  These were people I wanted to work with.

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

Earlier this year, I just completed first-chairing a federal civil jury trial in a 1983 prisoner rights action.  It was a great experience.  I have had the opportunity to do a variety of work.  My two areas of focus for billable work are ERISA litigation and class actions.  I have recently been involved in implementing a class action ERISA settlement for over 85,000 class members.  

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

How to put together a large trial and how to build a business plan.

What has been your proudest moment?

Being part of a team on a pro bono matter to make federal law acknowledging a 13th Amendment private right of action and a federal and state RICO cause of action, for the first time, in a human trafficking matter.  Also, winning full dismissal of a consumer fraud class action in a plaintiff-oriented federal district court.

What kind of training have you received?

The training opportunities are plentiful at Jenner.  There are a host of practical, skills-oriented seminars that take place weekly or biweekly offering learning opportunities in all aspects of the practice of law.  In addition, the Firm has excellent career seminars that teach business development and effective communication.  

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

Excellent work and reliability are critical to working at Jenner in the first place.  In order to progress at the Firm, you need to add value to cases by taking initiative, raising issues others may have bypassed, and treating each case as if you own it.  

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

Jenner does an excellent job of training its associates – through the formal training and through work experience – so anyone has the ability to succeed provided they have the drive and are willing to work hard.

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

The practice of law is a business.  It is a noble business, but it is a business nonetheless.  The Firm looks to you to establish yourself in the legal community as an attorney clients want to work with.  Whether that means fostering relationships with institutional clients, or soliciting new clients, an associate looking towards partnership should be actively laying the foundation for future business opportunities for Jenner.

What sets Jenner & Block apart from other firms?

The people.  As I noted above, there are passionate, wonderful people at this firm who are unlike any other.  The one thing they share is a drive to deliver excellent services to our clients, while always maintaining their ethical and civil responsibilities to opposing counsel and parties.  Apart from this, however, each person has a unique set of interests.  It is wonderful coming to work with people committed to bettering the world.

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 filing amicus briefs in the Supreme Court.

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

In the past year, I’ve had a number of appeals in state, rather than federal courts, so I have learned (sometimes the hard way!) the variation in practice between the state and federal systems and how important it is to become intimately familiar with the local appellate rules. 

What has been your proudest moment?

My proudest moment was when our former partner Don Verrilli, who is now the solicitor general, called me into his office just before leaving to work at the Department of Justice and told me that it was now time for me and others of my generation at the firm to step up and make this place our own, just as Don and Paul Smith had done when they were young associates in the Washington office under the tutelage of Bruce Ennis.  I was an associate at the time and really took to heart Don’s message, that this is a special place, that it is the people here who make it special, and that it takes work to keep the special culture we have here alive.

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.  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?

In speaking with my friends at other firms, I am continually struck by the fact that Jenner & Block really is a unique place.  People here seem to genuinely enjoy their jobs and truly like their colleagues.  Unfortunately, I don’t think that is true everywhere, but it is true for me.  

Kenneth K. Lee

Why did you join Jenner & Block?
I joined Jenner & Block because of its reputation and its people.  The litigators here are seasoned, aggressive trial lawyers, but they are also down-to-earth folks.  
 
What kind of work have you been doing?  Pro bono matters?
Recently, I’ve focused the bulk of my time defending Fortune 500 as well as smaller companies in consumer class action lawsuits.  But I’ve also handled other complex commercial disputes (including first-chairing a trial), and have conducted various internal investigations.  I’ve also been fortunate to work on a variety of challenging pro bono matters, ranging from a First Amendment challenge to a major city’s zoning ordinance to a Section 1983 lawsuit on behalf of a client on death row.
 
Name 1-2 things you’ve learned in the last year.
Because I’ve been handling many matters on behalf of food companies, I’ve had to learn arcane FDA regulations as well as scientific issues relating to food.
 
What has been your proudest moment?
I’ve been proud to be involved in the growth of the Los Angeles office.  In 2009, I joined the firm’s Los Angeles office shortly after it opened as a young lateral partner and as the fourth lawyer in that fledgling office.  Since then, our office has grown to over 30 attorneys.  I’ve helped recruit accomplished law students and laterals, worked on pitches to obtain new clients, and even helped select some of our office’s artwork (but my initial suggestion of a Yoda poster for the lobby area — perhaps wisely — was nixed).
 
What are the people at the Jenner & Block like?
The people take their work very seriously and are excellent lawyers, but they don’t take themselves too seriously and enjoy each other’s company.  In fact, many of the attorneys socialize together outside the office, and family members are routinely invited to office-related functions.  In short, our office feels like family (minus the crazy uncle).  

What kind of training have you received?
There have been ample formal training sessions, but I’ve learned the most from observing my more senior colleagues and taking advantage of the opportunities given to me.  
 
What qualities are needed to be successful at this level at the firm?
You must have self-initiative and a strong work ethic.  But the firm also emphasizes that you need to be a team player, work well with fellow lawyers, and treat the staff with respect.  You can’t be a primadonna, even if you have impressive credentials.
 
What should a prospective associate know about being at your level in the firm?
You not only have to be a good nuts-and-bolts lawyer, but you also must think more strategically on behalf of your client.  
 
What does it take to get to the next level at the firm?
You need to be open to learning new things, whether it’s a new subject area or how to handle a delicate client situation.  It may be true that you can’t teach new tricks to an old dog (or even a puppy in my family’s case), but lawyers, even senior ones, can always learn something new and strive to become a better lawyer.
 
What sets Jenner & Block apart from other firms?
Its people.  Jenner & Block lawyers come from diverse backgrounds — ethnically, socioeconomically, politically — but they are all committed to being excellent lawyers and collegial colleagues.  When you practice at a large law firm, the hours can be long.  But even hectic days can be enjoyable if you like your colleagues.   

L. David Russell

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.

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.

BRIAN J. FISCHER
Office(s):
New York
Law Schools(s):
Harvard Law School
Started with firm:
2007
KERI L. HOLLEB HOTALING
Office(s):
Chicago
Law Schools(s):
University of Virginia School of Law
Started with firm:
2005
REENA R. BAJOWALA
Office(s):
Chicago
Law Schools(s):
University of Michigan Law School
Started with firm:
2005
JESSICA RING AMUNSON
Office(s):
Washington, DC
Law Schools(s):
Harvard Law School
KENNETH K. LEE
Office(s):
Los Angeles
Law Schools(s):
Harvard Law School
Started with firm:
2004
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