Jenner & Block’s central hub will always be Chicago, chair Tom Perrelli says, but Washington, D.C. has become a big business driver for the law firm.
Perrelli, a Washington-based lawyer who was a top Justice Department official in the Obama administration, about a decade ago launched a government controversies and public litigation practice at the firm. It’s since increased to a core group of 20 lawyers mostly based in the capital.
Perrelli has plans for that group to get bigger as the legal and regulatory environment for its corporate clients becomes more complicated, he said.
“We see a lot of opportunity given the work we have,” said Perrelli. “What we hear [from clients] is this is an area of significant concern for them.”
The firm on Thursday scored a big hire with the return of Emily Loeb, who left Jenner shortly after President Joe Biden’s innauguration to join the DOJ as an associate deputy attorney general .
Loeb, who practiced at Jenner for five years will lead its congressional investigations practice from the firm’s Washington office. She’ll co-chairthe government controversies group, along with San Francisco-based Partner Ann O’Leary, a former chief of staff for California Gov. Gavin Newsom who joined Jenner in 2021.
Loeb is among a list of new leaders to join Jenner’s office in the nation’s capital in the past year. The firm added former Davis Wright Tremaine partner Doug Litvack as co-chair of its antitrust practice and hired ex-Hogan Lovells partner Trey Hanbury to lead its communications, internet and tech group.
With nearly 100 attorneys, Washington represents about a quarter of Jenner’s lawyer headcount and serves as its second-biggest office. The number of attorneys in the region has hovered near that mark for the last 10 years, but the firm has redirected more resources to its investigations practice during the same time.
The investment gave the firm a “jumpstart” on the many Big Law firms now devoting more attention to the region, Perrelli said. Wall Street’s Cravath Swaine & Moore in June announced it is launching an office in Washington with a trio of former federal government officials.
“Others are seeing what we saw,” said Perrelli, whose firm generated about $465 million in gross revenue in 2021, according to the American Lawyer. Major clients include General Motors, Pfizer Inc. and Mitsubishi Electric Corp. The firm in 2021 was hired by the Chicago Blackhawks to conduct an independent investigation into the professional hockey franchise’s response to allegations of sexual misconduct by a former coach.
Jenner has carved out a niche advising businesses navigating government scrutiny from multiple directions, including from Congress. Loeb’s experience includes advising SoftBank and Sprint on the $26 billion T-Mobile-Sprint merger, including representing a Sprint executive in congressional hearings.
“More and more we’re seeing these problems where the issues are arising in multiple forums at once, meaning Congress is demanding to hear from a CEO even while internal and regulatory investigations are proceeding, not to mention parallel civil litigation,” said Loeb.
Regardless of the outcome of the midterm elections and who controls Congress, Loeb and Perrelli expect the practice to be plenty busy in the coming years.
“The trend on both sides of aisles is for increased use by Congress of their authorities, but also you’re seeing increased challenges to that authority by companies and individuals,” said Perrelli. “We’ve seen more litigation related to congressional inquiries in the last two years than we have probably in the last 200 years.”