Lawyer Spotlight: Jonathan Bunge

Jon Bunge

Jonathan C. Bunge, described as a “super lawyer,” is the Managing Partner of Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan’s Chicago office. Also serving as co-chair of the firm’s National Trial Practice Group, Jon has tried more than 50 jury and bench trials, many as first chair, during his 34-year career. He has been listed in Best Lawyers in America since 2008, ranked in the top 100 by Superlawyers, and dubbed one of Lawdragon’s 500 Leading Litigators in America for 2022. 

From the complexities of white-collar criminal cases to cases involving securities, energy, and employment issues, Bunge specializes in business disputes. Not only has he handled numerous just and bench trials, he has seen cases through to arbitration as well, both domestically and internationally. In one particular case, Jon oversaw an International Chamber of Commerce dispute on behalf of client Colgate-Palmolive. He won the case at arbitration, in which Colgate-Palmolive was awarded more than $13 million in a case governed by Swiss law. 

Harkening back to his early days as a federal prosecutor, Jon has not completely bid farewell to the public sector. He still finds himself appointed to handle high-profile issues, such as assisting the Illinois Attorney General’s Office in its Public Integrity Unit. This amounts to a vote of confidence in his ability to navigate delicate situations while remaining unflinching in his mission of justice. This level of dedication that has earned him four Special Achievement Awards from the Department of Justice and a Director’s Award for Superior Performance.

In 1984, Jon earned an A.B. degree with honors from Princeton University, following up shortly afterward with a J.D. in 1988 from the University of Chicago Law School. He loved academia, served as an editor of the University of Chicago Law Review, and still comes back to teach law school classes on occasion, including Evidence, Federal Criminal Law, and even a course on the Sarbanes-Oxley Act. He has appeared as a lecturer in the Stanford Continuing Education Program, the UCLA School of Law, the University of San Diego School of Law, the University of Southern California Gould School of Law, the University of Washington School of Law, the UC Berkeley Hastings College of the Law, the Harvard Negotiation Project, and at the American Bar Association.

Additionally, Jon has been cited or quoted in numerous first-tier media outlets, including the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Reuters, Forbes, Fortune, Inc., Bloomberg News, Crain’s Chicago Business, the Associated Press, and the San Jose Mercury News. Furthermore, he has appeared on-air on NBC Nightly News, CBS Evening News, ABC World News Tonight, CNN, Fox News Channel, CNBC, and MSNBC. 

After college and law school, Jon clerked for both the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (Honorable James Buckley) and the U.S. Supreme Court (Justice Byron White). During the time of Jon’s clerkship, Justice White produced numerous important opinions, including Alabama v. White, 496 U.S. 325 (1990) on reasonable suspicion and anonymous tips. In a 2017 interview, Jon admitted to doing a lot of preparation for his clerkship with Justice White, even figuring out which books to read to impress the Justice when asked. (For those curious, the impressive book he settled on was Battle Cry of Freedom by James M. McPherson).

His clerkship experience and relationship with Justice White led next to a nine-year career in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Chicago after his clerkship ended. He rose to be Deputy Chief of General Crimes before pursuing a career as a litigator in private practice. Jon then spent 15 years at Kirkland & Ellis before joining Quinn Emanuel, where he now thrives as one of the firm’s most accomplished trial lawyers.

Jon also serves on the board of the Better Government Association, a non-partisan non-profit that investigates and reports on political practices in order to combat secrecy and corruption. Originally created in response to Al Capone during Prohibition, the BGA has long been a force for encouraging government transparency. Still active today, the organization relies on board members like Jon to keep itself on-mission. With his experience fighting injustice, racketeering, and corruption, Jon has seen the BGA do amazing things. In 2020 for example, the BGA submitted almost 1,000 Freedom of Information Act requests to build its Illinois Public Salaries Database. 

When he has time to himself, Jon spends time with his family and indulges his love of sports, particularly Chicago sports. The Bears, the Cubs, the Bulls, and the Blackhawks all vie for his attention when their seasons overlap. And when they don’t, he finds time to spend in the great outdoors with his family. He’s keen on keeping the Earth clean and healthy so that future generations can enjoy it, too. But no matter how often nature beckons, he’s back in the office the following week, preparing tirelessly for the next case.