23 Mar 2021

Jenner & Block expands West Coast footprint with San Francisco office launch

Chicago firm hires California Governor's former chief of staff Ann O'Leary as a partner

Jenner & Block is opening a San Francisco office as it seeks to expand its tech coverage on the US West Coast.

The San Francisco launch is the Chicago-based firm’s second outpost in California, having opened in Los Angeles in 2009. The firm has also hired Ann O’Leary – former chief of staff to California Governor Gavin Newsom – as a partner in its new West Coast office and as co-chair of the firm’s government controversies and public policy litigation practice.

She joins a team of lawyers that includes former federal prosecutor Reid Schar, who will serve as managing partner of the new San Francisco office.

In a joint statement, Jenner & Block’s co-managing partners Katya Jestin and Randy Mehrberg, said: “California is a vibrant marketplace for companies from around the world, and now is the perfect moment to launch our second California office, under Reid’s leadership, so we can provide even better service to clients doing business in the state.”

They added: “Ann is a leading figure in both California and Washington DC, she shares our values, and we are delighted to welcome a lawyer of her stature as we establish our presence in the Bay Area.”

Alongside Schar and O’Leary, the San Francisco team includes government controversies and public policy litigation practice partner Brian Hauck – who is also co-chair of the firm’s state enforcement and regulation practice – and Zeb Zankel, a partner in the firm’s communications, internet and technology practice. Litigation partners Lindsay Harrison and Keisha Stanford will split their time between San Francisco and Washington. 

Schar said: “Our strategy is to grow the office over time and to lead with the firm’s values, which include providing excellent service for our clients, championing diversity and inclusion and remaining fully committed to pro bono and public service.”

Prior to becoming Newsom’s chief of staff, O’Leary spent almost two years as a partner at Boies Schiller Flexner in California.

She said: “Jenner & Block is a natural choice for me because of its leading global investigations practice, commitment to diversity in the legal profession and because of its extensive pro bono work in issues that are important to me, including gender justice, civil rights, and voting rights. The firm’s values, priorities and experience align perfectly with companies throughout the Bay Area and beyond.”

Jenner & Block is not the only high-profile firm to have beefed up its California footprint of late. Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer launched in Silicon Valley last July, signing a 10-year office lease in Redwood City last month. Allen & Overy. meanwhile, opened a Los Angeles office at the start of this month after hiring a highly-rated six-partner US project finance and renewables team from Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld.

Earlier this month, Debevoise & Plimpton announced it would be opening a San Francisco office in the second half of this year to support a West Coast client base that includes PayPal, Twitter and Robinhood. New York-based Debevoise will move 14 of its lawyers to its new tech and private equity-focused Californian outpost.