US Assistant Secretary of Commerce John Fernandez Joins SNR Denton as Innovation Strategy Director

As competitive global legal marketplace spurs law firm innovation, Fernandez fills post to promote global innovation in client services, technology integration and business development.

WASHINGTON, DC, April 10, 2012 - SNR Denton announced today that John R. Fernandez, former head of the United States Commerce Department's Economic Development Administration, has joined the firm to direct innovation initiatives designed to broaden the array of services offered to clients.

"Our clients are responding to the current economy by critically examining how they organize their operations and what they offer to their customers. We want to help them, which requires us to innovate as well," said Elliott Portnoy, chief executive of SNR Denton. "That means everything from adopting the best practices of our client service teams across the firm to tapping the entrepreneurial spirit of our lawyers to offer consulting services informed by a deep understanding of our clients' operations and industries. John's job is to harness those efforts to the advantage of our clients."

Fernandez joins the firm as a partner and Innovation Strategy Director, a newly created position. He comes to SNR Denton from the US Commerce Department, where he served since 2009 after appointment by President Barack Obama and unanimous confirmation by the US Senate. Fernandez led the US Commerce Department's Economic Development Administration (EDA), a $300-million, 215-person agency charged with directing the federal economic development agenda, conceiving and implementing economic development strategies designed to maintain and improve US competitiveness in the global economy.

Fernandez is based in SNR Denton's Washington, DC, office. His background as a practicing lawyer will also permit him to have direct input with client relations and business development matters as part of his broader strategic innovation mandate.

"Creating and implementing strategic innovation across a large professional services firm in a global marketplace is an exciting opportunity," said Fernandez. "I am looking forward to leveraging my private-sector and government background, and working with the great lawyers and professionals at this firm, in creating and pursuing its innovation agenda."

As head of the EDA, Fernandez was responsible for promoting innovation and competitiveness on a regional level across the US. As chief architect of the administration's inter-agency regional economic development strategies, he launched the Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship with a mission of promoting high-growth enterprises and accelerating commercialization of university research. Fernandez represented the US government in meetings of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and chaired the OECD's Territorial Development Policy Committee, the international body's main forum for deliberating regional development policies.

Fernandez began his career as a litigator in private practice, before serving eight years as mayor of Bloomington, Indiana, a city of 69,000 southwest of Indianapolis. As mayor he oversaw revitalization of Bloomington's economy, securing $240 million in private investment and the creation of 3,700 new jobs, as well as improvement of the city's credit rating to its highest level ever. He worked with the private sector and Indiana University leaders to launch the Bloomington Life Sciences Partnership, leveraging university assets and private-sector interests in a strategy that brought more than $140 million in investments.

Following his mayoral tenure Fernandez served as senior vice president for Finelight Strategic Marketing Communications, a brand direct advertising agency focused on health care. Simultaneously, he was of counsel at Krieg DeVault LLP, advising private and governmental clients on business advisory, real estate, economic development and policy issues.

Fernandez also served as partner and senior vice president at First Capital Investment Group, a real estate investment firm with more than $150 million in assets. He led the acquisitions and development team, directed corporate accounting and provided legal counsel on corporate transactions.

Fernandez earned his J.D. from Indiana School of Law, and his B.S. and M.P.A. degrees from Indiana University School of Public and Environmental Affairs. He was law clerk for Indiana Supreme Court Justice Roger DeBruler.

About SNR Denton

SNR Denton is a client-focused international legal practice delivering quality and value. We serve clients in key business and financial centers from more than 60 locations worldwide, through offices, associate firms and special alliances across the US, the UK, Europe, the Middle East, Russia and the CIS, Asia Pacific and Africa, making us a top 25 legal services provider by lawyers and professionals. Joining the complementary top tier practices of its founding firms—Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal LLP and Denton Wilde Sapte LLP—SNR Denton offers business, government and institutional clients premier service and a disciplined focus to meet evolving needs in eight key industry sectors: Energy, Transport and Infrastructure; Financial Institutions and Funds; Government; Health and Life Sciences; Insurance; Manufacturing; Real Estate, Retail and Hotels; and Technology, Media and Telecommunications. Please see for more information and Legal Notices.


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