Jenner & Block’s Washington, D.C. offices. (Photo by Diego M. Radzinschi/THE NATIONAL LAW JOURNAL)
One way to solidify your relationship with clients is to hire lawyers from their legal departments. Another is to plant your partners in their positions. On both fronts, Jenner & Block recently scored twice.
Jenner & Block announced Monday its hire of George Pain, the former general counsel of ammunition and chlorine manufacturer Olin Corp., which the Chicago-based Am Law 100 firm has called a client for about 15 years. The 66-year-old Pain is retiring from the company where he spent the last 36 years—excluding a brief stint as in-house legal chief for a spin-off corporation—due to a mandatory retirement age. He will move from St. Louis to the Windy City.
Meanwhile, Jenner & Block bankruptcy and commercial litigation partner Andrew Olejnik left the firm to become chief of staff for Henry Crown & Co., a Jenner & Block spokeswoman said. The privately held company is named after the patriarch of the billionaire Crown family, which made a large portion of its fortune from ownership in defense contractor General Dynamics Corp.
Olejnik was not immediately available for comment, but Jenner & Block has deep ties to the Crown family, whose family planning needs helped convince the firm last year to build a trust and estates group. The firm also has a strong relationship with General Dynamics, where Jenner & Block’s former corporate department chair, David Savner, spent more than 12 years as chief legal officer before returning to Jenner & Block in 2010.
Other partners at Jenner & Block with general counsel or chief legal officer experience include Rebekah Goodheart, a former legal chief at the U.S. Federal Communications Commission who joined the firm in 2016; Robert Osborne, who spent more than three years atop the legal department at Jenner & Block client General Motors Corp.; and, among others, Richard Ziegler, a former general counsel at 3M Corp.
Pain, the most recent in-house alumni to join the “GC club” at Jenner & Block, said he was excited to join the firm after first starting to work with litigation chair Craig Martin about 15 years ago – thanks to another General Dynamics connection. At that time, Pain had become general counsel of an Olin spin-off named Primex. General Dynamics paid $350 million for the company in 2001, leading to Pain’s introduction to Martin. Pain then returned to Olin and has since turned to Jenner & Block to advise on a variety of matters, including litigation, transactions, investigations and board governance issues, he said.
Still, for a complicated acquisition of Dow Chemical Corp.’s chlorine business, closed 15 months ago and structured as a Reverse Morris Trust transaction valued at $5 billion, Pain turned to Cravath, Swaine & Moore.
Speaking of Pain, Jenner & Block’s Martin said in a release that its new hire “is a strategic fit whose deep understanding of the business and legal landscape will be an asset to the firm as we continue to expand our strategic efforts across a number of our practice groups. We will rely on his significant leadership experience as well as his work in corporate governance and strategic counseling.”
Pain said he’s excited to move north for his job as a Big Law timekeeper, where he said he will advise corporate boards while working with both the litigation department and the corporate group run by veteran dealmaker Joseph Gromacki.
Jenner & Block “is a firm that’s very, very driven with high quality people and an atmosphere I’m really excited about becoming more involved in,” Pain said in an interview. “After 36 years at Olin, it’ll be somewhat refreshing to do something from a different side of the fence.”
Pain’s move to Chicago will bring him closer to two children and six grandchildren who live in the area. He’s scheduled to join Jenner & Block’s partnership on March 1. Pain said he was deeply involved in the hiring of Olin’s next general counsel, Eric Blanchard, an accomplished in-house lawyer whose last gig was as general counsel of office supply wholesaler Essendant Inc. Blanchard began his career as an associate at Schiff Hardin.
Jenner & Block, whose leader bikes to its headquarters in the frigid Chicago winter, recently saw its top appellate litigator Paul Smith, co-chair of the firm’s media and First Amendment group, announce his plans to leave the firm for a teaching position at the Georgetown University Law Center. The firm, which hired Baker McKenzie’s North America antitrust head late last year, had its second straight year of financial growth in 2015.