Andrew Weissmann, one of Robert Mueller’s top Russia probe litigators, will rejoin Jenner & Block in July following the book-writing and teaching stint he undertook a year ago upon leaving the special counsel’s office.
A Jenner & Block partner from 2006 to 2011, Weissmann led the prosecution of President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who was sentenced to nearly eight years in prison for money laundering, illegal lobbying, and bank-and tax-fraud.
Weissmann became a lightning rod of attention during his 22-month stint in the special counsel’s office. He drew the ire of conservative commentator Rush Limbaugh. Steve Bannon, once Trump’s chief political strategist, reportedly called him “the LeBron James of money laundering investigations.”
“He meant it as a compliment,” Weissmann said in an interview with Bloomberg Law. “But in any event, better and worse things have been said about me.”
Weissmann will co-chair Jenner & Block’s investigations, compliance and defense practice. His private practice title will add to a long list of public service roles, which is common for top lawyers at the Chicago-founded firm.
Weissmann served as chief of the fraud section in the U.S. Department of Justice, overseeing 125 white-collar prosecutions from 2015 to 2017. Prior to that, he served from 2011 to 2013 as general counsel of the Federal Bureau of Investigation when Mueller was FBI director. From 2002 to 2005, he was director of the Enron Task Force, investigating wrongdoing related to the energy trader’s bankruptcy.
Earlier, Weissmann served as chief of the criminal division for the Brooklyn-based U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York. There, he worked with Katya Jestin, whom he later recruited to Jenner & Block and who is now the firm’s co-managing partner.
Practicing alongside partners he mentored during his last stint at Jenner & Block was one reason Weissmann said he was eager for the homecoming.
“When I came to Jenner, the New York office was first starting, and a big part of what I did with other people was help create it,” Weissmann said. “And it is really great to now see it in full flower and to be able to rejoin.”
Jenner & Block’s New York office, which opened in 2005, now has nearly 70 lawyers.
Earlier this year, the firm hired New York-based Lee Wolosky, a former Boies Schiller & Flexner partner who served in various roles in the Obama, Clinton, and George W. Bush administrations.
Jenner & Block’s investigations practice has a long history that includes authoring the influential, 2,200-page Valukas Report documenting the downfall of Lehman Brothers. The practice is currently led by four partners, including Anthony Barkow, Christine Braamskamp, Jestin, and Reid Schar, who served as special counsel for the New Jersey legislator’s inquiry into Gov. Chris Christie’s “Bridgegate” scandal.
This month, the firm appointed Thomas Perrelli, a former Associate U.S. Attorney General, as the fifth chairman in its history. He replaced Craig Martin, a prominent litigator who held the title for a little more than a year before leaving with a group of partners to launch a Chicago office of the Wall Street firm Willkie Farr & Gallagher.
Weissmann said he conducted a rigorous search when he first was looking to join a law firm in 2006. At that time, he was looking for a place with a New York office, “excellent” talent, a list of lawyers who had served in government positions, and a commitment to pro bono.
“Jenner still has all those qualities, and coming home is a big thing for me.” he said. “I like having clients, helping people with a legal problem, and it’s really fun to do that in an environment where everything you’re doing is not on the front page of the New York Times every day.”
Weissmann is writing a book that he said covers his experience as a member of the special counsel’s office.
He said he couldn’t comment on the Mueller Report’s impact until his book cleared a Department of Justice review. But he said his work for the special counsel already “feels like another lifetime” ago, in part because of the broad changes caused by the spread of coronavirus.
“That and I went from a pressure-cooker to teaching,” he said, noting his role as a distinguished senior fellow at New York University Law School.
The Mueller team has been a source of high-profile hires for Big Law over the last year, with some firms welcoming back attorneys including Mueller himself, who returned to WilmerHale and Greg Andres, who went back to Davis Polk & Wardwell. Other Mueller lawyers have found brand new homes, including Andrew Goldstein, who worked at Paul Weiss earlier in his career, but joined Cooley last summer.