Anton R. “Tony” Valukas, who oversaw the investigation into General Motors’ handling of a defective ignition switch in 2014, has stepped down as chair of Jenner & Block, the firm announced on Tuesday.
Valukas, the former U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, is also known for his 2009 lead role in producing the 2,200-page Valukas report, which examined the demise of Lehman Brothers during the financial crisis.
In an interview, Valukas, 73, said that his title as chair was always an honorary role and wasn’t stipulated in the firm’s partnership agreement. Therefore, nobody is expected to replace Valukas as firm chair, he said.
“I think the feeling of the policy committee is that they are going to [run the firm] as a team,” said Valukas. “That’s their choice and an appropriate one. I was honored to be the chair, but there is no requirement for one in the partnership agreement.”
In the Jenner partnership agreement, there is only a requirement that the firm holds an election in January, when partners elect nine members to a policy committee, including managing partner, whose responsibilities oversee the day to day administration of the firm, said Valukas.
He said the policy committee also nominates a management committee, which is comprised of 13 partners, who help oversee firm management decisions. The current managing partner of the firm is Terry Truax, a litigator who is based in Chicago and spoke at the inaugural Big Law Business Summit in 2015.
Of the most difficult decisions he had to make as chair, Valukas pointed to the challenge of balancing pro bono with corporate client matters.
“There is balancing that goes on with that,” said Valukas. “We contribute tens of millions of dollars per year to pro bono. We have to bring in partners who have the same expectations, who say ‘Yes, we want to do that; we will pay a generous tax to do pro bono.’ We need to be screening partners for that commitment and partners need to self-select themselves to come to a place like ours.”
Valukas served in the chair role for the past decade and will now serve as a partner.
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