The former third highest-ranking official at the Department of Justice is returning to Jenner & Block to launch the law firm’s new government controversies and public policy litigation practice in D.C., the firm plans to announce Thursday.
Tom Perrelli, who was previously managing partner of Jenner’s Washington office for four years before joining the DOJ in 2009, is slated to start Dec. 1.
Perrelli left his post as associate attorney general in March, and is the second high-ranking government official Jenner has hired recently to lead a newly formed practice group in Washington. In September, the Chicago-based law firm, which has about 80 attorneys in the District, hired the former chief privacy officer of the Department of Homeland Security, Mary Ellen Callahan, to lead the firm’s new data privacy and security group.
Perrelli’s new group will represent companies in heavily regulated industriessuch as energy, financial services and pharmaceuticals in dealing with the fallout of major crises, such as product recalls and oil spills that may lead to congressional investigations, regulatory issues, and civil and criminal litigation.
“It targets the most significant problems that companies have,” Perrelli said. “We recognize when you’ve got a major issue ... to bring those pieces together, you need a team to help navigate lots of different [forums] and think creatively to come up with right solution for the problem.”
As associate attorney general, Perrelli was involved in the negotiations that led BP to set up a $20 billion trust fund to compensate victims of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill. He also negotiated a $25 billion settlement with five of the nation’s largest mortgage services providers over alleged violations of laws governing loan modifications and foreclosures.
Jenner has long had attorneys who specialize in white collar crime, internal investigations and civil litigation, but Perrelli will bring a new component — expertise in how Congress, which increasingly plays a role in regulating corporate malfeasance, intersects with those areas.
“He is perfect for those matters,” said Jenner & Block chairman Tony Valukas. “He is a big picture strategist, he understands how these things interface. He’d be sitting in the boardroom with the [general counsel] developing long-term strategy instead of just dealing with tomorrow’s subpoena.”
Perrelli said he interviewed with several other firms but was drawn to the opportunity at Jenner to build his own practice. He said he’ll be looking to hire lawyers from other firms or the government, but that he didn’t have a target number in mind.
“Jenner has always had a very strong presence in D.C. but didn’t really have this capacity,” Perrelli said. “Jenner was clearly building, and I wanted to be at a place that was building.”
This is not the first time Perrelli will be creating a new practice group at Jenner. In 2003, he helped found the firm’s content, media and entertainment group, which represents the Recording Industry Association of America, SoundExchange, Fox and News Corp, among others.