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Jenner & Block Reels Back Acting Solicitor General

May 1, 2017, 11:28 PM

Jenner & Block announced Monday that former Acting Solicitor General Ian Heath Gershengorn is rejoining the firm as the new head of its Supreme Court and Appellate practice.

Gershengorn was named acting solicitor general in June 2016 and stayed in his post until the January afternoon that President Donald J. Trump was inaugurated.

“I think we’d like to continue to expand the firm’s national appellate practice,” he said, about his plans in his new leadership role at Jenner.

[Image “Gershengorn_Ian” (src=https://bol.bna.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/Gershengorn_Ian.jpg)]Gershengorn plans to take the summer off and begin full-time in September in the Washington, D.C. office. His arrival comes after the firm elevated three partners in January — Matthew S. Hellman and Jessica Ring Amunson in Washington, D.C. and Chicago partner Michael T. Brody — to co-chairs of its Appellate and Supreme Court practice, but Gershengorn will takeover as the sole chair upon his return.

He said he only met President Obama when interviewing to be named acting Solicitor General, but declined to disclose the details other than to say he told Obama he remembered playing basketball with him when the two were at Harvard Law School.

Gershengorn described Donald Verrilli, who immediately preceded him as solicitor general, and who he worked with before that years earlier as partners at Jenner’s Supreme Court and Appellate practice, as a mentor.

But unlike Verrilli, who elected to open a Washington, D.C. office for the West Coast firm Munger Tolles & Olson when he left government, Gershengorn has returned to Jenner, which he said is one of just a small number of firms consistently arguing cases before the U.S. Supreme Court.

According to the firm, its lawyers presented 10 oral arguments at the U.S. Supreme Court in the last two terms.

Gershengorn had served as the principal deputy solicitor general, since 2013, and before that, starting in 2009, as the deputy assistant attorney general in charge of the Department of Justice’s Federal Programs Branch, in which he oversaw 130 lawyers litigating on behalf of federal agencies.

During his time in the government, he argued in front of the U.S. Supreme court 13 times and said he is looking forward to returning.

“Certainly, we’ll have to see how things changed with Justice Gorsuch,” Gershengorn, said when asked how the Court has changed. “There seems to be a general sense that he’ll be on the conservative side of the Court and that very much is the Court I am used to arguing in front of.”

He also supervised cases involving federal immigration laws, the Voting Rights Act and advised the White House and Attorney General on a range of cases.

Gershengorn personally defended and argued the district court challenges to the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare.

“For a lawyer, you want to work on the cases that are keeping the clients up at night,” he said. “There are a handful of cases that reach the president’s desk, that was one ... [and] that is ultimately what I’m hoping to recreate here at Jenner, helping clients work on their hardest problems.”