Jenner adds federal contracts judge as firms eye gov’t spending boom

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Signage is seen outside of the law firm Jenner & Block LLP in Washington, D.C., U.S., August 30, 2020. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

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(Reuters) - Jenner & Block said Tuesday that it’s brought on Jeri Somers, formerly chair and chief judge of the United States Civilian Board of Contract Appeals, as a partner in Washington, D.C.

Somers has been at the CBCA, an independent tribunal within the General Services Administration that resolves non-military government contract disputes, since 2007. She was appointed vice chair in 2008 and chair in 2017.

Her move comes amid an expected government spending surge, including new federal spending tied to President Joe Biden’s proposed $2.3 trillion infrastructure plan. That, in turn, is likely to lead to an uptick in government contract disputes, fueling demand for law firm contracting and disputes practices.

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“I look forward to collaborating with my colleagues to guide clients through their most important matters and help grow the firm’s successful government contracts practice,” Somers said in a statement.

Among other matters during her tenure at the CBCA, Somers presided over a trial pitting engineering construction company Fluor Intercontinental Inc against the U.S. government over disputed contract terms for the multi-million dollar construction of an embassy complex in Kazakhstan.

“Jeri is widely known and respected in the government contracts community, and her Board of Contract Appeals judicial experience is a rare find among law firms and will be invaluable to our clients,” David Robbins, a co-chair of the government contracts practice at Jenner, said in a statement.

Somers is at least the third senior government official to join the firm’s government contracts group in the last three years. David Robbins, a former Air Force lawyer, joined last June. Noah Bleicher, former deputy assistant general counsel for the U.S. Government Accountability Office, joined in January 2019.

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Chinekwu Osakwe covers legal industry news with a focus on midsize law firms. Reach her at