Jones Day

Jones Day’s slow but steady climb up the rankings of the GCR Global Elite has far more to do with the work the firm attracts than any combination to grow the practice. Since a takeover of London firm Gouldens 15 years ago, the firm has made no major acquisitions. Instead, Jones Day has grown in size through a series of strategic hires across continents, and it has grown in prominence by taking on some of the most difficult antitrust cases of the past two decades.

But like many of their peers at other firms, Jones Day lawyers have been both sides of the revolving door between government agencies and Big Law practice. Indeed, a significant number of its strategic hires have been from government. Joe Sims, one of the top antitrust lawyers in the world before retiring last year, came from the ranks of the US Department of Justice. Deborah Majoras, now Procter & Gamble's chief legal officer, worked at the firm between her stints at the DOJ’s antitrust division and the Federal Trade Commission, where she served as chair. Bernard Amory, who co-heads the group, spent time at DG Comp. And more recently, former FTC senior official David Wales led the competition group from Washington, DC, before leaving for the partnership at Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom earlier this year.

Practice leadership insists that a firm as robust and established as Jones Day remains on even footing regardless of partner hires or departures.

“We can all highlight significant people who have been in our antitrust practice for 40 years. But you don’t really look at it as this era or that era,” says antitrust partner John Majoras. “The practice as a whole just keeps building and keeps expanding.”

Even at the time the firm hired Wales – a moment when others might have boasted about the game-changing nature of the acquisition – practice leaders appeared excited that the ex-enforcer was joining but also confident that Wales would add to, rather than define, the practice. Indeed, the antitrust bar teems with examples of less-established firms making high-profile hires of senior administration officials to be the face of their practice, only to have that official struggle without the institutional support and client base that a firm such as Jones Day can provide.

Many of its high-profile partners are homegrown. Ryan Thomas, who helped Steris/Synergy win at trial against the FTC and has also handled a slew of difficult mergers, began at the firm as a summer associate. Johannes Zöttl in Düsseldorf came up through the Jones Day ranks.

Still, we should not understate the importance of hiring senior government officials such as Wales and established partners at other firms. After all, Wales took over leadership of the Jones Day antitrust group soon after being hired, and maintained that position until he left. The current co-head of the practice, partner Craig Waldman in San Francisco, was a lateral hire as well; he joined the firm from Cooley at the same time as Wales. In top-tier Big Law antitrust groups, building a practice happens in myriad ways – including the government’s revolving door.

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