Trump advisers return to Jones Day law firm

Jones Day has hosted a slew of lawyers from the Trump administration since the start of the year, sealing the Midwestern firm’s reputation as a central player in Republican party politics.

The return of the Jones Day partners began in earnest in April 2019 when Don McGahn returned to the 2,500-lawyer firm based in Cleveland, Ohio, after serving as Donald Trump’s first lawyer in the White House.

Between January and March of this year, Jones Day hosted at least seven other lawyers from the White House and federal agencies such as the Department of Justice, according to announcements from the firm. Eighteen Jones Day lawyers worked for the Trump administration, according to ProPublica.

Some of the returning lawyers have held higher positions than before at Jones Day, highlighting ties between the Trump movement and the firm, lawyers and recruiters have said. Among them were McGahn, who now heads his government regulation group, and Noel Francisco, the former U.S. solicitor general, who heads the company’s Washington office.

Federal records show Jones Day has earned more than $ 25 million in honoraria from Trump campaigns, groups linked to the former president and the Republican National Committee since 2015. However, after representing the Pennsylvania Republican Party in litigation On mail-in ballots in the 2020 election, the firm said in a blog post that it “is not representing President Trump, his campaign, or any affiliated party in a dispute alleging electoral fraud.”

Jones Day declined to comment.

Two former Jones Day attorneys said many attorneys at the firm felt uncomfortable with its close ties to Trump’s world. Last year Parker Rider-Longmaid, a partner at the firm, wrote to colleagues expressing concern that Jones Day was giving “prestige and credibility to the project of an administration bent on undermining our democracy,” according to the Minister. New York Times. In February of this year he left for rival Skadden Arps.

Jones Day has also been hit by several high profile departures in recent years – including antitrust partner David Wales in Skadden and real estate partner Michael Haas at Latham & Watkins in 2018; restructuring partner Scott Greenberg at Gibson Dunn in 2019; and corporate partner Ferdinand Mason at White & Case in March.

However, legal recruiters and former lawyers at the firm said Jones Day’s ties to Trump were unlikely to affect the prospects of a company that has represented clients ranging from the National Rifle Association to Procter & Gamble, RJ. Reynolds, McDonald’s, Chevron and Goldman Sachs. .

“Jones Day has been around for a long time and represents all kinds of clients in all kinds of places,” said Mark Jungers, a headhunter for top US law firms. “The vast majority don’t care about representing Trump. . . It’s not necessarily some kind of eternal stain, and not necessarily a stain at all. “

Jones Day, who took over UK law firm Gouldens in 2003, is led by managing partner Stephen Brogan, one of America’s most powerful lawyers and one of seven executives in the firm’s 130-year history. . The litigant, who is in his late sixties, has great discretion in appointing his successor – an unusual feature for law firms known for their leadership.

While his network of Trump administration alumni may only be rivaled by Kirkland & Ellis – last year the world’s most profitable law firm – not all Jones Day lawyers favor republicans. Most Jones Day Lawyers’ Donations went to democrats rather than Republicans in 2020, according to research group OpenSecrets.

Jones Day was founded in the 19th century in Cleveland, Ohio, and made a name for itself representing companies in the industrial Midwest, including Standard Oil. It has become a powerhouse in Washington, where its prominence is symbolized by its office’s proximity to the United States Capitol.

The company’s involvement in Republican politics dates back decades. One of the firm’s lawyers advised Richard Nixon during the Watergate scandal. He also defended Ronald Reagan in 1980 in an attempt to prevent him from receiving $ 29.4 million in federal election funds.

The company’s relationship with Trump was forged by McGahn, 52, who met the real estate developer in 2014 and joined his White House bid in 2015, when his victory seemed unlikely. A product of Atlantic City, New Jersey, McGahn also had family ties to the future president through his uncle Patrick “Paddy” McGahn, an attorney who helped Trump make deals at the onboard gaming center. sea ​​in the 1980s.

The company tends to top the rankings for volume rather than value. Unlike East Coast ‘white shoe’ rivals such as Cravath, Swaine & Moore, who set the bar for US wages, Jones Day is as likely to recruit at Notre Dame as the Ivy League, insiders say .

Brogan graduated from Notre Dame Law School and McGahn received his undergraduate degree from college.

Jones Day is notoriously secretive – especially when it comes to compensation, which varies widely from lawyer to lawyer. Its equity partners took in $ 1.3 million on average last year, placing it behind 71 other law firms in the annual ranking of U.S. law firms by American Lawyer. It was 10th in terms of revenue, generating some $ 2.2 billion.

“Jones Day is one of those companies that is deeply opaque on the outside. Internally, their partner’s compensation is a complete black box, ”said Bruce MacEwen, founder of consulting firm Adam Smith Esquire. “No one knows what someone else does or even how their own compensation is determined. You receive a visit towards the end of the year to dictate to you what your composition will be and do not dare to ask questions. “

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