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David Churchill believes in the value of relationships. For more than 20 years, the Jenner & Block partner has worked with many of the same clients, including the General Dynamics Corp. and the General Electric Co. As current president of the U.S. Court of Federal Claims Bar Association and past chairman of the American Bar Association’s Public Contract Law Section, Churchill, 52, has made it a priority to build bridges with fellow lawyers as well. “I think you can work better with each other if you know each other in a context other than adversarial,” he says. Besides, he adds, “clients don’t like it when their lawyer spends a lot of time and energy fighting with the other side. Clients want someone who can solve their problems.” That’s a quality that David Savner, senior vice president and general counsel of General Dynamics, values greatly in Churchill. “He tells us, ‘This is the issue as I see it, this is the problem that could result, and this is how you can solve it,’ ” says Savner. He also appreciates Churchill’s “ wonderful rapport with people in our operation. David is a guy they look to for knowledge and help. That kind of rapport in a large corporation is very helpful.” Churchill’s biggest case for General Dynamics is also the largest default termination in government contracts history. A billion-dollar battle over the A-12 Avenger, the case has lasted 13 years already, through four trials and two appeals, and is now back before Judge Robert Hodges Jr. in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims. The Avenger was supposed to be a carrier-based stealth attack aircraft. General Dynamics and the McDonnell Douglas Corp. together won a $4.78 billion contract in 1988 to build and test the planes for the U.S. Navy. But the companies soon encountered problems in meeting the delivery dates and weight specifications, and reported that their costs would exceed the limits of the contract. The Navy terminated the contract for default in 1991. Now it wants a refund of $1.3 billion in progress payments. But the companies say that the Navy actually owes them $1.2 billion in unpaid costs. The case, says Churchill, “has a life of its own.” Churchill has also defended a General Dynamics contract to supply armored vehicles to the U.S. Army. In 2001, the General Accounting Office (now the Government Accountability Office) rejected a protest by United Defense, L.P., over the $4 billion joint award to General Dynamics Land Systems and the General Motors Corp. Another client is the Lockheed Martin Corp. In 2000, Churchill was lead counsel in an international arbitration brought by Thomson CSF (now the Thales Group) over a contract that involved the development and testing of short-range anti-aircraft missiles. Churchill has also handled a variety of matters for GE, particularly within the company’s aircraft engine group. These include issues related to federal cost principles and internal investigations. Indeed, internal investigations make up a large part of his practice, says Churchill. He’s seen an uptick of late, he notes. While increases in defense spending tend to produce more government scrutiny, he says, he also sees it as part of a “general corporate trend” in the post-Enron era. Churchill received his J.D. from Cornell University in 1979. He then accepted a one-year clerkship with Judge Louis Spector of what was then the U.S. Court of Claims. Spector, who had been the first chair of the Armed Services Board of Contract Appeals, was interested in government contracts and “he got me excited about it too,” Churchill recalls. After his clerkship, Churchill joined D.C.’s Sellers, Conner & Cuneo (now McKenna Long & Aldridge) as an associate and remained there for 20 years. He moved to the D.C. office of Chicago’s Jenner & Block with five other lawyers in 2000. “I enjoy the diversity of what I do,” Churchill says. “I enjoy the challenge, and I enjoy the people I work with.”

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