(Photo: Diego M. Radzinschi/ALM)
After three years serving as U.S. ambassador to Czech Republic, litigation partner Andrew Schapiro has returned to Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, trading his old office in Prague for some new digs in Chicago and New York.
“It was an easy choice for me,” Schapiro said of his return to Quinn Emanuel, which he first joined in 2011 from Mayer Brown. “There’s a culture here that I think is remarkable because on the one hand you have a firm that presents itself to the outside world as incredibly tough and aggressive, yet internally is the most collegial place I’ve ever worked.”
Schapiro left Quinn Emanuel in 2014 after being appointed by President Barack Obama, his former classmate and law review colleague at Harvard Law School, to replace former Obama administration ethics czar and ex-Zuckerman Spaeder partner Norman Eisen as ambassador to the Czech Republic.
“It was fascinating and I loved every single day of it,” Schapiro said of his ambassadorship, a post that saw his diplomatic outpost confront some of continental Europe’s toughest challenges, such as Brexit, the Greek economic collapse and a growing migration crisis. “But I really enjoyed being in the trenches as a litigator.”
Schapiro (pictured right) began his legal career as a law clerk for Judge Richard Posner on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit and then for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun. He went onto serve in the public defender’s office in New York City for five years before heading to Mayer Brown, where he became partner 2001 in the firm’s litigation department, specializing in appellate, intellectual property and white-collar work.
In June 2010, Schapiro made headlines when he was named an “Am Law Litigator of the Week” after winning summary judgment for YouTube and its parent company, Google Inc., in a $1 billion copyright infringement suit brought by Viacom Inc. Schapiro was also part of a Quinn Emanuel team that took on Fox News in another copyright case.
“[Schapiro] is a lawyer’s lawyer,” said a statement by Quinn Emanuel managing partner John Quinn, who last week made waves after acknowledging preliminary tie-up talks with Williams & Connolly, although the latter quickly knocked down the notion. “He is a standup trial lawyer, a skilled strategist and an accomplished appellate advocate. We are pleased to have him back.”
Upon his return to Quinn Emanuel, Schapiro will shuffle between the firm’s offices in New York and Chicago (where the firm moved into new space on July 31), using the broader view of the world he’s gained in his time away from Big Law to help the litigation shop’s current and future clients, he said.
As an ambassador, Schapiro said, “You try and persuade an audience, whether it’s a government minister or a chamber of commerce or a company, that your position is right and you are advocating for you, either on behalf of the U.S. government or U.S. companies and values.”
So to some extent, Schapiro noted that there is some overlap with being a litigator. He left Prague in January following the change in U.S. presidential administrations and is slated to be replaced as ambassador by Wisconsin businessman and longtime Republican National Committee member Stephen King. (Richard Graber, another Republican from Wisconsin and a former partner at Milwaukee-based Reinhart Boerner van Deuren, served as U.S. ambassador to the Czech Republic from 2006 to 2009.)
Thinking back on his time as ambassador, Schapiro hopes that the U.S. remains a world leader in times of global uncertainty.
“In a time of many challenges, I came away very optimistic and I just hope that the U.S. does not abdicate its role as a world leader speaking out not just about our interests, but also about our values,” said Schapiro, whose mother, Raya Czerner Schapiro, was a Holocaust refugee born in Prague. “I think it’s not good for the world when the U.S. is not engaged and turns inward—that hasn’t worked out very well in the past.”
Asked about his former boss and law school buddy, Schapiro acknowledged that he and the former U.S. president have connected a few times since they both left office in January.
“He seems very relaxed,” Schapiro said.