June 01, 2020

Internationally recognized counselor and litigator joins firm’s broad crisis management and litigation team, bringing unique background in high-stakes global negotiations, brand-threatening crises and litigation, and national security matters.

Jenner & Block is pleased to announce that Ambassador David Pressman has joined the firm as a partner in its New York office.  A member of two firm practice groups – Complex Commercial Litigation and Government Controversies and Public Policy Litigation – his practice focuses on complex international disputes, investigations, national security-related litigation and high-stakes crisis management.  At Jenner & Block, Ambassador Pressman will continue to represent clients in a range of high-stakes commercial crises that pose existential threats to their businesses, brands or positions.  

He brings extensive experience to the firm, including having served as the founding Executive Director of George and Amal Clooney’s family foundation, the Clooney Foundation for Justice.  He also joins Jenner & Block’s long tradition of lawyers moving between public service and private practice, having served as the United States Ambassador to the United Nations Security Council and, before that, as Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security.

“Ambassador Pressman spent years negotiating with the Russians and Chinese on some of the toughest international peace and security issues of our time.  He brings a depth of experience and perspective that is global, unique, and hugely valuable to our clients as they navigate risks and threats at home and abroad,” said Katya Jestin, Jenner & Block’s co-managing partner.

Added Co-Managing Partner Randy Mehrberg, “There is a reason Ambassador Pressman is routinely called upon by some of the most well-known people in the world to offer advice in challenging times.  He has exceptional judgment that has been tested time and time again by crises ranging from lawsuits to armed conflict to impeachment inquiries.  When our clients are in trouble, they will be well served by the advice of this exceptional lawyer.”

Ambassador Pressman’s crisis management and litigation practice includes representing high-profile government whistleblowers; significant sovereign wealth funds; Fortune 50 companies; clients held hostage overseas; victims of terrorism seeking to vindicate their rights through litigation in US courts; investors and funds seeking to mitigate risk related to foreign investments; well-known leaders and executives who are the subjects of high-stakes Congressional investigations; and multinational companies navigating serious risk in a wide array of jurisdictions around the world.  Ambassador Pressman also conducts sensitive internal investigations and advises clients who are the subject of such investigations.

“I have an unusual and diverse background that I bring to bear for my clients,” Ambassador Pressman said.  “At this very uncertain moment, navigating serious challenges requires examining old problems in new ways.  Jenner & Block is a partnership of not only exceptionally talented lawyers, but also exceptionally creative ones who are personally committed to tackling the most significant problems both for our clients and for our world.” 

"David is a masterful strategist and the most tenacious advocate I know,” said Samantha Power, former US Ambassador to the United Nations.  “He combines exceptional judgment with fearlessness and fierce dedication.  I have repeatedly seen him run circles around our country’s toughest adversaries and navigate our most challenging disputes."

“David comes to the practice of law having served multiple members of the cabinet as we navigated some of the most vexing and trying crises of our time,” said Janet Napolitano, former US Secretary of Homeland Security and current president of the University of California system.  “He has uniquely good judgment and is able to see around corners that others cannot.”

Appointed by President Barack Obama and confirmed by the US Senate, Ambassador Pressman represented the United States on the United Nations Security Council and has served as the senior US negotiator on international disputes around the world, including leading US negotiations on Russia, Europe, East Asia and the Pacific, Africa, and Israeli/Palestinian issues, multilateral sanctions regimes and international tribunals. 

Before his service as US Ambassador, Ambassador Pressman served on the senior leadership team of the US Department of Homeland Security.  As Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security, Ambassador Pressman led the Department’s Office of Policy Development responsible for formulating and advancing policy and regulations on complex legal and security issues, including matters related to sanctions, export controls, customs, foreign investment in the United States, transnational criminal investigations, cybersecurity and related homeland security challenges.  In this role, Ambassador Pressman worked closely with counterparts in interior ministries around the world and at the US Department of Justice. 

As the Director for War Crimes on the National Security Council at the White House, Ambassador Pressman chaired the US Government’s interagency committee charged with managing efforts to locate priority fugitive war criminals and bring them to justice.  During his tenure, several prominent targets who had long eluded apprehension were arrested. 

The International Bar Association recently appointed Ambassador Pressman as co-chair of its Human Rights Law Committee.  He also co-founded the human rights organization Not on Our Watch with George Clooney, Brad Pitt and Matt Damon. 

Ambassador Pressman has worked directly for three Cabinet members under two US Presidents, all in the national security or law enforcement domain.  He has delivered the keynote address at major global convenings, including recently delivering the commencement address at New York University School of Law, with appearances at venues including the Milken Institute, McCain Institute Sedona Forum, and Concordia Summit, among others.

Ambassador Pressman received his BA from Brown University and his law degree, magna cum laude and Order of the Coif, from New York University School of Law. 

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*Jenner & Block lawyers who have moved between public service and private practice include firm Chair Thomas P. Perrelli (former Associate Attorney General of the United States), Thomas P. Sullivan (former US Attorney), Anton R. Valukas (former US Attorney), Ian Heath Gershengorn (former Acting US Solicitor General), Neil M. Barofsky (former Special Inspector General of the Troubled Asset Recovery Program), David Bitkower (former Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the DOJ’s Criminal Division), Emily M. Loeb (former Associate Counsel in the Office of White House Counsel), Kali Bracey (former Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Torts Branch of the DOJ’s Civil Division), Suedeen G. Kelly (former Commissioner with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission) and former federal prosecutors Reid J. Schar (Northern District of Illinois), Gayle E. Littleton (Northern District of Illinois and Northern District of Florida), Anthony S. Barkow (Southern District of New York, District of Columbia and Main Justice) and many others.

In 2020, the firm hired five lateral partners in this same tradition including Jennifer S. Amerkhail (former in-house lawyer with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission), Dawn L. Smalls (former Commissioner of the New York State Joint Commission on Public Ethics), Lee Wolosky (former US Ambassador) and Andrew Weissmann (former Special Counsel prosecutor, former Chief of the Fraud Section in the US Department of Justice Criminal Division, former General Counsel of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, former lead prosecutor in the Special Counsel investigation, the Director of the Enron Task Force, and the Chief of the Criminal Division in the United States Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of New York).