Thomas Bolling, Abby Bried and Marc Warren
Thomas Bolling, Abby Bried and Marc Warren ()

A new aviation and aerospace practice is ready for launch at Jenner & Block.

Marc Warren, a former deputy chief counsel of operations at the Federal Aviation Administration and partner at Crowell & Moring in Washington, D.C., has joined Jenner & Block with two former top in-house lawyers at United Airlines Inc.

Thomas Bolling, a vice president and deputy general counsel at United, and Abby Bried, a former associate general counsel at the Chicago-based airline, have joined Jenner & Block as partners in Washington, D.C., and the Windy City, respectively. Both lawyers will co-chair the aviation and aerospace group at the firm with Warren, who co-chaired the same group at Crowell & Moring.

“[The new team’s] practice is under the umbrella of a regulatory practice that is core and central to companies that are in the aviation and aerospace industry,” said Craig Martin, chair of Jenner & Block’s litigation group. “They have deep experience in all things aviation and aerospace.”

Jenner & Block’s addition of the new aviation group comes as the firm seeks to rebound from a financial slump in 2016, as gross revenue dipped slightly, to $457.5 million. Jenner & Block, which a year ago this month saw the bulk of its government contracts team leave for Morrison & Foerster in Washington, D.C., is seeking to bolster its bench in the nation’s capital and expand its offerings in order to fully service its clients’ needs.

“We are client-centric with regard to how we approach things and we want to continue to build our base of institutional clients,” Martin said.

Earlier this year, Jenner & Block announced it would hire George Pain, the retiring general counsel at ammunition and chlorine manufacturer Olin Corp., as a partner in Chicago.

The new lateral trio’s move to Jenner & Block stems from the firm’s retention by United in 2015 to handle an internal inquiry into the airline’s dealings with David Samson, a politically-connected Garden State lawyer and former chairman of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

The United investigation resulted in the resignation of its former CEO, ex-Vinson & Elkins partner Jeffery Smisek, and two other senior officials. Jenner & Block’s Martin oversaw the firm’s work in the matter, which caused him to work closely with Bried and Bolling.

“Both [are] true aviation regulatory lawyers by training and trade and are probably among the most knowledgeable professionals in that industry bar none,” said Martin, who has spent his entire career at Jenner & Block in Chicago.

Bried has spent more than 20 years in the aviation sector. She first joined Continental Airlines in 1994 as a corporate attorney. When the Houston-based airline merged with United in 2010, she joined the combined company, United Continental Holdings Inc., first holding the role of managing counsel, international, and then assistant general counsel.

Bolling is a former of counsel at Crowell & Moring, having left the firm in 2004 to join Continental as a managing counsel. After the merger, Bolling served as United’s vice president and deputy general counsel. From October 2015 until April 2016, Bolling then took over as the airline’s acting general counsel after in-house legal chief Brett Hart was promoted to acting CEO when Smisek’s replacement, Oscar Munoz, went on medical leave.

When it came time for Bolling and Bried to leave United—Bolling is retiring from the airline—the duo left with the idea of establishing an aviation practice and consulted with several firms before ultimately deciding upon Jenner & Block.

“When I was at United we would work with various law firms, but really I thought in working with Jenner [it] would be the best platform for building a multidimensional practice,” Bolling said.

Bolling noted that in private practice he hopes to combine core regulatory areas in the aviation space—such as antitrust, government contracts, international law and litigation—to benefit Jenner & Block clients like United, Jet Aviation Holdings USA Inc., General Motors Co., General Dynamics Corp. and its subsidiary Gulfstream Aerospace Corp.

“To me this is a culmination of a vision that I’ve had for years,” Bolling said. “In the end, I feel it’s a very exciting challenge and one that I’m looking forward to and am very excited to build.”

Warren, a former judge advocate general who spent several years at the FAA in a variety of executive roles, joined Crowell & Moring in early 2014 to lead its aviation group in Washington, D.C. The American Lawyer reported Monday on his work with another former Crowell & Moring colleague—Baird Fogel in San Francisco—advising the National Football League’s Oakland Raiders on aviation regulatory matters related to their proposed relocation to Las Vegas.

And those issues have nothing to do with the Raiders’ vaunted aerial attack. New stadiums must conform with an array of FAA regulations, Warren said, especially if they’re located near airports.