Imternational report: Jenner & Block

Jenner & Block has long been a mainstay of the Chicago scene. The firm has a highly rated litigation practice, but it is now looking for a subtle change of focus as it aims to ramp up its corporate commercial practice.

Firm:

Jenner & Block
Managing partner: Greg Gallopoulos
Turnover: $288.7m (£143.8m)
Total number of partners: 219
Total number of fee-earners: 437
Main practice areas: Litigation and dispute resolution, corporate Key clients: Dell, Exelon, General Dynamics, Honeywell and MCI
Number of offices: Four Locations: Chicago, Dallas, New York and Washington DC

Jenner & Block has long been a mainstay of the Chicago scene. The firm has a highly rated litigation practice, but it is now looking for a subtle change of focus as it aims to ramp up its corporate commercial practice.

Jenner recently opened its fourth office, branching into New York, in a move that gives it the national reach it has been striving for – national reach in a figurative, not a literal, way, as the firm remains cautious and slow to expand, with four offices that do not include any West Coast presence.

Managing partner Greg Gallopoulos says: “We’re not going to be opening offices all over the country, but it’s important to us that we have that reach practice-wise, if not geographically.”

Gallopoulos estimates that the firm is presently split 60-40 between litigation and corporate, but is committed to moving towards a 50-50 model. Jenner currently boasts more than 250 litigators and 170 corporate attorneys and it has seen “extraordinary growth” in its M&A and securitisation practices.

“We’re growing as we would like to grow: carefully,” Gallopoulos says. “We really are more concerned about remaining pre-eminent in our practice areas rather than achieving any particular size.

“The single most important thing to us is maintaining our quality. We have an absolutely ruthless focus on quality.”

Just to drive the point home, Gallopoulos uses the word ‘quality’ no fewer than a dozen times in under five minutes. Gallopoulos proudly points to the firm’s stringent recruiting policy and admits that the firm is prepared to cough up the dollars to ensure it gets the best.

“I think we’re superb [at recruiting the best trainees],” he says. “It’s expensive, but that’s okay. People don’t come out of great law schools as great lawyers. You have to invest in them and then you have to retain them. It’s important for our quality control.”

He says the firm has a “below-average” attrition rate and has a full-time director of associate development to keep its workforce happy.

The firm made 98 in The Lawyer Global 100 for 2005 with a profit margin of 43 per cent. Gallopoulos says: “Our track record on figures for the past several years has been going in the right direction.”