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Jenner & Block joins the country in celebrating the life of the late Justice John Paul Stevens, who died on July 16 at age 99. Born in Chicago, the justice started his legal career in 1948 as a young associate at Poppenhusen, Johnston, Thompson, Raymond and Mayer – known today as Jenner & Block. He left in 1952 to form his own law firm, which focused on antitrust cases. In 1970, he was appointed by President Richard Nixon as a judge on the US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. Five years later, President Gerald Ford nominated him to replace retiring US Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas.
The Justice became the leader of The Court’s liberal wing and wrote more than 1,000 opinions during his career, leaving a visible footprint in the Court's jurisprudence. Upon retiring in 2010, he was the second-oldest and third-longest-serving Justice ever to sit on the Court.
In 2014, the year of the firm’s centennial, Justice Stevens visited the firm’s Chicago headquarters to speak with Partner Thomas P. Sullivan. Asked to share advice with young lawyers, Justice Stevens observed that “the most important asset...is your reputation for integrity.” Please click here to see a video of the interview.
The Justice’s latest book, The Making of a Justice: Reflections on My First 94 Years, was released in May in honor of his 99th birthday. In the book, he recounts his time at the firm and what influenced his decision to join. He was favorably impressed with its religious diversity, the other young men being hired and the strong recommendation of his former professor at Northwestern University Law School. He discusses his friendships with several former and current firm lawyers, including his former law clerk and now a partner in the DC office -- David W. DeBruin. Other former clerks include Partners John Flynn and Ian Heath Gershengorn.