John M ('Jack') Quinn was born and grew up in New York. He attended Georgetown University, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1971. Quinn later attended night classes at Georgetown University Law Center while serving as a staff member on the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Nutrition and Human Needs (1969-1973) and as a legislative assistant to Senator Floyd K. Haskell of Colorado (1973-1975). At Georgetown Quinn was a member of the Georgetown Law Journal staff. He was graduated with a J.D. in 1975.
At the age of 26, from 1975 to 1976, Quinn directed Mo Udall's presidential campaign. Later Quinn became a partner at Arnold & Porter in Washington, D.C., working there for almost 20 years. He also taught as an adjunct professor at Georgetown University Law Center and served as a Democratic National Committee appointee.
Arnold & Porter was the main boardroom legal company retained by Philip Morris to provided them with special confidential services, especially those involving Democratic legislative lobbying. Jack Quinn began to run one section of the tobacco giant's account from early 1989, specialising in 'tort reform' in a coalition committee with outside lawyers representing the other tobacco companies By May 1991 Quinn had become the tobacco company's counsel advising on lobbying, ethics, campaign finance and similar issues. 
Quinn served as general counsel to Al Gore during Gore's 1988 campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination. He was again a Gore advisor during Gore's campaign as Bill Clinton's running mate in the 1992 election, coordinating Gore's preparation for the vice-presidential debates.
During 1992 he was working at least part-time for Al Gore while simultaneously helping the tobacco industry mount a series of activities at the Democratic Convention which brought Bill Clinton and Al Gore to the fore.  When the Democrats won the White House he was given the job of aide to Gore.
After Clinton and Gore won the election, Quinn was appointed Deputy Chief of Staff and Counsel to the Vice President. Later he was promoted to Chief of Staff to the Vice President of the United States, also retaining the Counsel to the Vice President title.
During the transition period he is also advising Philip Morris on the establishment of APCO (originally A&P Co - a shelf-company of Arnold & Porter) and through APCO the infamous The Advancement of Sound Science Coalition (TASSC) to help them discredit the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Neal Cohen of APCO had also been hired in to run the 'tort-reform' operation: American Tort Reform Association (ATRA) and Steven J Milloy hired to provide back-room contact services for TASSC (He would later become its director). 
In September 1995 Quinn has become Chief Counsel to President Clinton. He was still being copied with material from his old associates at the tort reform coalition. 
In 1997 Quinn left the White House and set up as a lobbyist working once again for the tobacco industry.
He later founded Quinn Gillespie & Associates, a lucrative public relations firm with Ed Gillespie, a leading Republican operative. The two met as adversaries on Tony Snow's Fox News talk show. Their partnership is considered an early example of the trend towards an interdisciplinary and bipartisan "one-stop shopping" approach to lobbying. It has experienced a rapid increase in revenues http://www.hillnews.com/thehill/export/TheHill/Business/090705_quinn.html. However, QGA s lobbying income has dropped steadily in the past five years, falling from $18 million in 2006 to $12.3 million in 2010, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. 
In 2000 in the final days of the Clinton presidency, he joined forces with Republican lawyer Scooter Libby to present Clinton with a pardon-request from disgraced renegade Marc Rich (who's wife has donated generously to the Democrats). The scandal of this last-minute political pay-off sullied the President's name.
In the 2000 run by Al Gore for President, Gore has refused to take tobacco money. However both Jack Quinn and ex-Philip Morris staff lobbyist, Tina Flournoy are serving on as top Gore campaign staff, and a number of other old industry lobbyists are also offering their (unpaid?) services. 
More recently he joined the board of the Blackwater security firm (along with John Ashcroft). 
Jack Quinn is married to Susanna Monroney Quinn and lives in Washington, DC. He has four children from previous marriages: Jonathan, Megan, Caitlin and Brendan, as well as a stepdaughter, Jocelyn.