David Pressman, a former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Security Council and assistant secretary of U.S. Department of Homeland Security, has signed on with Jenner & Block, making him the latest high-profile departure from Boies Schiller & Flexner.
Pressman has joined Jenner & Block’s New York office, where he will reunite with three former Boies Schiller partners, Lee Wolosky, Dawn Smalls, and Douglass Mitchell, who have all made the leap since February.
Boies Schiller, founded by famed litigator David Boies in 1997, has seen a raft of partner departures in recent months. The firm named its next generation of leaders in December, tagging New York-based Nick Gravante and London-based Natasha Harrison, to serve as managing partners.
Pressman served as an ambassador to the UN Security Council from 2014 to 2017 during the Obama administration, negotiating with Russia and China on issues from sanctions to North Korean denuclearization. Pressman also co-founded a human rights organization, Not on Our Watch, with George Clooney, Brad Pitt, and Matt Damon.
More recently, Pressman represented Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman in the former White House National Security Council member’s testimony during President Trump’s impeachment inquiry.
In private practice, Pressman said he helps companies and individuals navigate crises. By joining Jenner & Block he said his clients would be able to draw on a broader team of partners with government experience to bring to bear.
“In trying to tackle those kinds of problems it’s not enough to assemble a bunch of lawyers who have only practiced law in a Big Law firm,” Pressman said in an interview. “You really need to get people who have worked on issues in a practical way in a variety of environments.”
Pressman pointed to Jenner & Block partners Neil Barofsky, who oversaw the $700 billion 2008 TARP bailout fund, and firm chairman Thomas Perrelli, who is a former Associate Attorney General of the U.S. He also noted Andrew Weissmann, who will return to Jenner & Block in July following his role as one of Robert Mueller’s top Russia probe litigators.
Pressman will be at least the 30th partner to depart Boies Schiller this year, according to data from Leopard Solutions. Pressman said in an interview that Boies Schiller was an “excellent” firm with “excellent” lawyers, but declined to comment on specific reasons for leaving.
Boies Schiller managing partner Nick Gravante said in a statement, “We wish David the best at his new firm.”
For its part, Boies Schiller on Monday said it will be hiring two partners. Lauren Bell, a senior counsel and acting chief of staff to the head of the U.S. Department of Justice Criminal Division, will join the firm this month in Washington. John Kucera, an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California, will join in Los Angeles in August.
“Boies Schiller Flexner is well known for its involvement at the highest levels in white collar investigations throughout the world, acting for both corporations and individuals, victims and suspects,” Kucera said in a statement on his hire.
In Jenner & Block’s New York office, Pressman will join two other former Boies Schiller colleagues, Wolosky and Smalls, who share ties to the Obama administration. Wolosky served as Obama’s Special Envoy for Guantanamo Closure and Smalls was the executive secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services.
Pressman will be Jenner & Block’s sixth lateral partner hire this year. In addition to Wolosky, Smalls, Mitchell, and Weissmann, the firm hired Jennifer Amerkhail, a former in-house lawyer with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
Those additions will help to offset the departure of Jenner & Block’s former chairman, Craig Martin, who launched a Chicago office for Willkie Farr & Gallagher in March. The New York-founded firm has brought on about 20 former Jenner & Block lawyers in Chicago.
Aside from managing recent personnel changes, the firm is also facing a Covid-19 related lawsuit filed by its Chicago landlord, which said it owes $3.8 million in rent for April and May. The firm’s co-managing partner Randy Mehrberg said the rent wasn’t due because of a provision in its lease triggered by the pandemic noting the firm’s “very strong” financial state.
“Our Chicago office lease includes a negotiated provision for rent abatement in the event of a situation, like the global pandemic, that renders the firm unable to use and occupy the space for its intended purpose,” Mehrberg said in a statement. “The firm has invoked that provision.”
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