November 01, 2012

Former Associate Attorney General Thomas J. Perrelli has re-joined Jenner & Block as a partner in its Washington, DC office.  As the third highest-ranking official at the United States Department of Justice from 2009 until his departure in March, Mr. Perrelli was responsible for the Department’s Civil, Antitrust, Civil Rights, Environment and Natural Resources and Tax Divisions, the United States Trustee Program, the Office of Justice Programs and the Office on Violence Against Women, among others.

Mr. Perrelli will lead Jenner & Block’s newly formed Government Controversies and Public Policy Litigation practice group, which will focus on advising clients and their leaders on the most intractable problems at the intersection of law, law enforcement and government regulation.  The practice group will draw on Jenner & Block’s strength and depth as a premier litigation firm and its nationally known white collar practice to provide a full suite of services.  This will include internal investigations and crisis management for businesses facing problems that draw the attention of the federal civil and criminal law enforcement authorities, government regulators, Congress, state legislators and the media.

“We are thrilled that Tom is returning to Jenner & Block,” said Anton R. Valukas, Jenner & Block Chairman.  “He has a remarkable track record for finding creative solutions to “bet-the-company” legal problems, and he knows how to implement those solutions in a complex political and media environment.  He has developed strong relationships in Washington D.C. and throughout the law enforcement community nationwide, particularly among state attorneys general, and he will be a tremendous asset to clients who face the most significant legal, regulatory and public policy challenges.”

During his tenure as Associate Attorney General, Mr. Perrelli oversaw all of the most significant civil litigation of the United States, involving virtually every federal agency.  These matters spanned the entire range of litigation by the federal government, including constitutional challenges to government programs, enforcement of the False Claims Act, government contracts disputes, and enforcement of the nation’s environmental, antitrust, tax and civil rights laws.  His many accomplishments include the following:

  • Negotiating all aspects of the $20 billion trust fund that BP set up to compensate victims of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and monitoring the operation of that fund.  Mr. Perrelli subsequently led negotiations with BP to set aside $1 billion for early restoration of the Gulf of Mexico in the wake of the oil spill, and also oversaw the Justice Department’s litigation against those responsible for the Deepwater Horizon tragedy.
  • Brokering settlements that exceeded $25 billion arising out of the five largest mortgage servicers’ alleged failure to comply with legal obligations owed to their customers (including such things as robo-signing, other violations of law in the foreclosure process, and violations of law related to the making of loan modifications).  For more than a year, Mr. Perrelli led this complex, multi-lateral negotiation involving 49 state attorneys general, the country’s largest financial institutions, and a dozen federal agencies.
  • Resolving the long-running dispute between Native Americans and the United States over individual trust accounting (the Cobell case), which had been in litigation for more than a decade and involved claims that went back over a century.  Mr. Perrelli led negotiations that resulted in a landmark $3.4 billion settlement and successfully pursued congressional legislation to implement aspects of the settlement.
  • Resolving (for a second time) the claims of African-American farmers against the Department of Agriculture for discrimination in the making of farm loans (the Pigford II case).  Mr. Perrelli led the United States’ effort to negotiate a $1.25 billion settlement and successfully pursued congressional legislation to implement aspects of the settlement.

“I was fortunate to have many options coming out of Justice and am very excited to be returning to Jenner & Block,” Mr. Perrelli said.  “With the extraordinary talent of its lawyers, especially in the areas of litigation, white collar, and internal investigations, the firm is an ideal fit for me to utilize my public and private experience to help clients advance their business objectives by finding creative solutions to their most complex legal problems.  I look forward to building a practice with this as the focus."

“Tom is a tremendous legal talent and I am extremely pleased and proud that he has chosen to re-join us,” said David W. DeBruin, Managing Partner of Jenner & Block’s Washington, DC office.  “Tom’s return is just another example of how Jenner is a firm on the move, both in Washington and nationally.  With Tom’s return, other recent high-profile additions, and plans for significant growth in the future, we are combining our renowned litigation practice with substantial regulatory and government policy depth to provide a unique and robust offering to clients.”

Mr. Perrelli's announcement follows the recent arrivals of Mary Ellen Callahan, former chief privacy officer for the Department of Homeland Security, to head up Jenner & Block's new Privacy and Information Governance group; Reid J. Schar, who led the government’s prosecution of significant public corruption cases, including that of former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich; and Kenneth L. Doroshow, former Senior Vice President and General Counsel of the video game industry’s national trade group. 

Mr. Perrelli began practicing law as an associate at Jenner & Block in 1992.  Over the next five years, his practice focused on constitutional and appellate litigation, telecommunications, and patent litigation.  He left the firm in 1997 to serve as counsel to then-U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno, rising to the position of Deputy Assistant Attorney General before returning to Jenner & Block in 2001.

During the next eight years, Mr. Perrelli concentrated his practice in copyright, media and constitutional litigation, as well as complex litigation with a public policy or regulatory component.  He regularly represented the recording industry in cutting-edge intellectual property, technology and anti-piracy litigation, as well as in traditional copyright and copyright royalty matters.  Mr. Perrelli was a lead attorney on the Jenner & Block team that represented a consortium of 28 of the largest entertainment companies in the country in the landmark copyright case MGM v. Grokster, involving peer-to-peer file-sharing services.

For several years, Mr. Perrelli also represented, pro bono, the husband of Terri Schiavo, in the high-profile Florida case involving Ms. Schiavo’s right to control and decline life-extending medical care and efforts by the state and federal governments to overturn prior court decisions that had ascertained her wishes.  He led the constitutional challenge to state and federal laws before state and federal courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court.

At the time he was nominated and confirmed to serve as the Associate Attorney General in 2009, Mr. Perrelli had been serving as the Managing Partner of Jenner & Block’s Washington, DC office.