17 Jul 2020

Jenner & Block hires team of eight from Kilpatrick Townsend to bolster Native American law practice

Three-partner team joins as Chicago-based firm celebrates landmark Supreme Court victory for Creek Nation in Oklahoma

As Long as the Waters Flow by Allan Houser in front of the Oklahoma State Capitol, Oklahoma City, OK, USA

As Long as the Waters Flow by Chiricahua Apache sculptor Allan Houser at the Oklahoma State Capitol. Joseph Sohm; Shutterstock

Jenner & Block has expanded its Native American law practice with the acquisition of an eight-person team from Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton.

The new hires include six lawyers and two government relations advisers, including partners Keith Harper, Charles Galbraith and Robert Harmala. Harper, a former US ambassador, will chair the firm’s Native American law practice, with Galbraith—who served as White House tribal liaison for President Barack Obama—named as co-chair. Harmala will chair the firm’s government relations practice.

Thomas Perrelli, chair of Jenner & Block, said: “Our Native American Law Practice has already established its prominence through our work on complex, high-profile cases. Adding these established practitioners builds on our reputation and allows us to immediately expand our offerings to clients. Their work also aligns with many of our other practices, particularly in expanding the firm’s international and energy practices. They are also a great cultural fit and share the firm’s values as well as our commitment to racial and social justice.”

The team’s arrival follows last week’s Supreme Court victory for Jenner & Block’s Native American law practice, where it succeeded in upholding a 200-year old government treaty with the Creek Nation recognising that almost half of Oklahoma remains an Indian reservation. That came after a 2019 Supreme Court victory that upheld the Yakama Nation’s tribal rights in a treaty dating back to 1855.

Galbraith said: “Jenner & Block’s landmark Supreme Court wins upholding tribal treaty rights have been an inspiration throughout Indian Country. These successes, along with the team’s outstanding record, its history of government service, and its genuine commitment to social justice, shows why the combination of our practices brings exceptional value to our tribal and other clients.”

In addition to Galbraith, Harper and Harmala, the team includes Lawrence Roberts, who joins as special counsel, and Krystalyn Kinsel and Julian SpearChief-Morris, who join as associates. The team is completed by government relations specialists Craig Williams and Joshua Bertalotto.

Harper said: “We built our team from the ground up into one of the country’s foremost Native American law practices because we are keenly aware of the unique legal needs tribal governments, businesses, and individuals face and the specialised services they need.”

This month, Andrew Weissmann, former lead prosector in the Robert Mueller Russia probe, rejoined Jenner & Block to co-chair its investigations, compliance and defence practice.

In April, top 50 US firm Willkie Farr & Gallagher hired former Jenner & Block chairman Craig Martin to open a Chicago office.