Wednesday, March 12, 2014

New Appellate Chair at Jones Day, First Woman

Beth Heifetz is the new chair of the Supreme Court and appellate group at Jones Day, known formally as “Issues & Appeals.” She succeeded Glen Nager as of 2014.

Heifetz is the first woman to lead Issues & Appeals, a group of more than seventy-five attorneys in twelve offices throughout the country.

Her career path to chairing a flagship group at a major law firm has been both traditional and non-traditional.

Heifetz is a longtime member of the Issues & Appeals group and a former Supreme Court clerk, working for Justice Harry Blackmun during the 1985 term.

“I learned law, and I learned baseball,” Heifetz said, in an interview Monday.

She and her co-clerks had breakfast with the justice every day during the week, and he would share details about players and statistics.

Blackmun and Judge Abner Mikva of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, for whom she also clerked, served as mentors and role models as her career progressed.

The part that is unexpected (and encouraging) in Heifetz’s career trajectory is that she stepped away from practice for five years, while raising young children. She also later worked part-time.

Heifetz attributes her success in returning to practice and now leading a nationwide appellate group to support from both her family and Jones Day. “Everyone was committed to making it work,” she observed.

Recently, Heifetz made news as the partner in charge of judicial clerk recruiting. In the last two hiring cycles, under her leadership, twelve Supreme Court clerks joined the firm, a jaw-dropping total.

Heifetz is excited about the new hires, “great young attorneys,” as she put it, and the future of the Issues & Appeals group.

“We’ve got a good formula,” Heifetz explained.

Jones Day is always a presence at the Supreme Court. This term alone, the firm has four arguments by four different attorneys. The variety of advocates is a Jones Day trademark, term after term.

Heifetz is currently working on the high-profile Detroit bankruptcy at the Sixth Circuit and in related proceedings, with other Issues & Appeals attorneys. She and Detroit’s Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr, formerly of Jones Day, worked together at the firm on bankruptcy matters. Now, both find themselves with roles in the supersized Detroit bankruptcy.

Heifetz also intends to continue her community involvement. In 2013, President Obama appointed her to the governing body of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. She works with the museum on its collections: obtaining and preserving evidence of the Holocaust and ensuring that it is accessible to researchers.

Nager, who led Issues & Appeals for fifteen years, maintains an active appellate practice at Jones Day. Just last week, the Supreme Court granted a petition for certiorari that Nager filed in North Carolina Board of Dental Examiners v. FTC. He also recently completed two years as president of the U.S. Golf Association.