Jenner & Block has scooped up half a dozen top airline and aviation lawyers from Chicago and Washington, D.C., to create a new practice.
“It’s an industry here to stay” and one that faces a future of complex issues, said partner Craig C. Martin, chairman of Jenner’s 400-plus lawyer litigation department.
A viral video of a United passenger being pulled off of a flight seems to highlight his point. But it was another scandal that led to Jenner expanding into airlines and aviation.
Martin led an investigation into the infamous “chairman’s flight.” That was the money-losing route created by United at the request of David Samson, a clouted New Jersey and New York Port Authority executive. He got probation for pressuring the airline to create a flight that personally benefited him. Jeff Smisek, the former CEO of United Continental Holdings, lost his job in the scandal.
“I got to know the aerospace industry and aviation industry at a level of detail that I never thought I’d know,” Martin said of the case. “There was a natural synergy for us to take what we’ve learned in the aviation arena, and take some relationships we’ve developed and launch a practice.”
Former United attorneys Thomas Bolling and Abby Bried are among the lawyers joining Jenner’s new practice.
The new practice dovetails with Jenner’s work representing General Dynamics, which makes Gulfstream business jets and owns Jet Aviation, an aviation services company. The firm also represents AAR Corp., which services the airline industry.
Jenner is among a growing number of law firms nationwide working to build their profile and bottom line by expanding specific practice areas. Along with airline and aviation, Jenner has built a private-wealth practice for families worth billions. The focus is on trusts and estates, ownership, real estate and succession planning. It’s a good fit for another of Jenner’s top clients: financier Lester Crown.
“We call it being client-centric. In the aviation and aerospace business, you need lawyers who understand their business very well,” Martin said. “The same exact thing applies to folks who have accumulated private wealth and a substantial amount of money.”
Lettuce veteran at Cornerstone
Dan McGowan, a veteran of Lettuce Entertain You restaurants, has joined Cornerstone Restaurant Group, which is behind Michael Jordan’s Steak House, and chef Bill Kim‘s bellyQ and urbanbelly restaurants.
“Job No. 1 for me will be to help define the urbanbelly menu and concept so we can set it up for future growth in neighborhoods, college towns and airports,” McGowan told me.
McGowan spent more than 30 years with Lettuce and gained fame for creating Big Bowl before going out on his own. He worked in New York for a time before returning to Chicago and consulting for Gibsons and Labriola restaurant groups.
He met Cornerstone CEO David Zadikoff a year ago and the two hit it off.
McGowan joins the company as Michael Jordan’s Restaurant makes plans to open in Oak Brook this summer.
On the road to China
Chicago retailers Doug Van Tress and Chauwarin Tuntisak are headed to China this week to work on their latest business project: designing nightclubs and coffee shops.
They own The Golden Triangle in Chicago, which is known for eclectic furnishings and antiques imported from Asia and Europe.
Their expertise has caught the attention of a China businessman who’s hired them to help furnish and design his nightclubs in Shenzhen, Wuhan and Shanghai.
“It’s turned out to be the biggest thing that’s ever happened in our business,” Van Tress told me.
The collaboration began in 2015 when Xu Arbin visited the warehouse in Thailand where Van Tress and Tuntisak store their furnishings and handcrafts.
After Xu purchased some items, he made a trip to Chicago to see how the Golden Triangle owners decorate their store.
He liked what he saw.
Now Van Tress and Tuntisak are consulting on everything from interior design and furnishings to American music that might fit China’s club scene. They’re also helping design two Rama Club Cafés (coffee shops).
N’Digo publishes luxe book
N’Digo, the news mag focusing on the African-American community, is releasing a commemorative book featuring notable names who have been showcased in its pages.
Publisher Hermene Hartman says the goal was to tell a narrative that goes beyond headlines about violence. “We’re telling stories of success.”
“N’Digo Legacy: Black Luxe, Profiles of Iconic Chicago African Americans” features local business leaders including Ariel Investments Chairman John Rogers Jr., Ariel President Mellody Hobson, Midway Broadcasting Corp. Chairman Melody Spann-Cooper, retired ComEd CEO Frank Clark, and the Rev. Jesse Jackson. There are celebrities, too, including record producer Quincy Jones (he was born in Chicago) and former President Barack Obama.
Read more Taking Names at shiakapos.com.