Bruce Springsteen sang that two hearts are better than one, but in the case of Arnold & Porter and Kaye Scholer two balance sheets were even better, as this enhanced platform now has “much more ability to invest in talent” and work on “more interesting and creative projects.”
ELECTION week 2016 marked the beginning of something new, but for law students destined to start their careers at either DC-founded Arnold & Porter or New York's Kaye Scholer another change was waiting on the horizon: “Trump got elected, then the next thing I knew the firms were merging!” one source recalled, adding: “And so it didn't seem quite as significant as it otherwise might!” As the (latter) news sunk in the reality of these two legal hotshots joining together became clearer and any concerns were allayed: “It took some time for the gears to align when the merger happened, but a lot of that is done now,” according to our associate sources.
Chairman Richard Alexander tells us: “For associates and my fellow partners and counsel, the combination has expanded the kind of work we can do for clients. This expanded expertise gives us opportunities to work on more interesting and creative projects.” So what does the post-merger Arnold & Porter – with its 15 offices across the globe and over 1,000 lawyers powering them – stand out for now? On a nationwide basis Chambers USA showers particular praise on the firm's antitrust, environment, government contracts, IP, life sciences and product liability expertise; the DC office (the firm's largest), meanwhile, picks up the largest number of domestic rankings, with the highest being awarded to the likes of its real estate, bankruptcy/restructuring, corporate/M&A, healthcare, IP and white-collar practices.
Strategy & Future
“We don't expect the combination to drive us toward new practice areas that aren't already a part of our DNA,” chairman Richard Alexander tells us. “What we'll continue to ensure is that we maintain our place as market leaders in practice areas such as antitrust, financial services regulatory, real estate finance, government contracts, and international arbitration.” For our full interview with Alexander, click on the 'Bonus Features' tab above.
Nearly half of the juniors on our list were working in the general litigation group, while the rest were divvied up into corporate & finance, IP, real estate or a smaller practice like tax or bankruptcy. New York is the most common destination for newcomers (especially in corporate), followed by DC. Each office has work assignment coordinators for each practice groups, but how tight a grip they have varies. “The idea is that it’s centralized but in reality it’s not really at all,” some interviewees in New York relayed. “On the transactional side it doesn’t seem to work as well.” Reflecting the setup in smaller offices, those in San Francisco told us that “we do have an assignment partner but an informal system is probably more prevalent – a lot of the partners will just come into my office and talk through things.”
“Partners trust first-years here; they want you to get client communication experience.”
The umbrella of general litigation covers employment, product liability, white-collar defense and securities enforcement. Antitrust is a separate practice, but general litigation associates can still draw work from this area. Pharmaceuticals and life sciences matters have dominated juniors’ dockets since the merger, with most “spending the majority of their time on product liability cases.” These come with “a lot of case management and discovery tasks, but because you’re directly interacting with partners they also get to know what you’re capable of.” One source who’d impressed quickly was “in the process of drafting complaints for the appellate court.” Smaller offices like Denver have “a lot of local clients; we get pretty constant contact, though direct trial experience can be rare.”
Litigation clients: Samsung, Airbus and Barnes & Noble. Currently serving as national counsel to Endo Pharmaceuticals during multidistrict litigation against several testosterone manufacturers.
IP at A&P covers both patent prosecution and litigation, though most attorneys stick largely to one or the other. Litigators were doing “almost exclusively life sciences cases, like trying to invalidate patents on pharmaceutical products.” In this smaller department, juniors were more likely to be the only associate on a case, which enabled them to “draft expert reports and get a lot of client contact.” While one was “glad that I’ve had higher-level responsibility” they did still “wish there was a bit more supervision”; patent prosecutors could also sometimes find what they were doing “overwhelming.” However, interviewees on this side also noted that they liked the “challenge of what I do” and found themselves “talking to inventors about their work, reviewing portfolios and drafting applications and responses – a real range.”
IP clients: Google, Adobe and Novartis. Recently acted for Google when its navigation app Waze was challenged in a patent suit brought by Israeli software firm Makor Issues & Rights.
The influence of legacy Kaye Scholer has created an uptick in transactional business for A&P – in New York especially “the practice has expanded significantly because KS was so much bigger here.” That corporate practice focuses primarily on private equity M&A, and is topped up by public mergers and some capital markets work. East Coasters also told us a bit about the Cali arm of corporate work; over in sunny Silicon Valley there's “quite a bit of work for emerging companies,” while San Francisco has “a fairly broad practice that includes work for startups rooted in the Bay.” One New York junior helpfully put their schedule into numbers: “40% of the time I'm doing due diligence and reviewing contracts; 50% is spent generally putting out fires and one-off issues; and the remaining 10% is occupied by drafting documents.” This source and others were also pleased that “partners trust first-years here; they want you to get client communication experience.”
Corporate clients: private equity firms American Securities and DC Capital Partners, and San Francisco-headquartered First Republic Bank. Recently advised American Securities during its sale of manufacturer Unifrax Holdings to an affiliate of Cali-founded Clearlake Capital Group.
New York litigators were happy to tell us that there are “great training programs on depositions, and by the fifth year you start a whole new trial school program that they’ve put together, which is soup to nuts.” In DC, litigators relayed that “there are good long-term opportunities if you’re flexible; white-collar work, for example, is harder to get, so if you’re willing to do product liability matters you can get substantive experiences sooner.” Corporate sources also gave the thumbs-up to formal training, especially “when you first start out – there’s quite a bit you can attend, and not just on substantive corporate law, but first-year survival lessons too, like what to do and what not to do.”
A&P has three full-time career development consultants (one in DC, one in NYC, and one in LA) who “travel to other offices and chat with associates and provide on-demand career advice on anything.” Partnership prospects are especially evaluated around the sixth year, thanks to a “review process that helps people get a realistic sense of their chances and what the path looks like for them.” For those that don’t aspire to partnerdom, exit opportunities were a cause for optimism, with litigators in DC noting that “a lot of associates leave to take up clerkships and government positions – some come back and some don’t.”
Most of our junior sources had spent at least a year (or at the very least a summer) either at legacy Arnold & Porter or Kaye Scholer. One suggested that “KS was more work-hard play-hard, while A&P was a lot more buttoned-up.” Another gave a more measured assessment and told us that “the A&P side was probably nerdier and quirkier, but there were plenty of people like that at KS too!” Nobody we spoke to had noticed any friction as the two firms became one. Indeed, almost all our interviewees had collaborated with attorneys from both legacy firms and were confident that “if you were coming into the firm now as a summer or a lateral, you wouldn't know who had come from where.”
“You wouldn't know who had come from where.”
There were some nuances detected in the smaller offices, with those in San Francisco explaining that “we're definitely more informal and personable here,” while Denver sources admitted that “we’re probably a bit more relaxed than DC and New York; it feels friendly and intimate as we’re all on one floor and see our co-workers everyday. Sometimes in a bigger office you can feel that you’re in your own little bubble.” However, even in the larger offices a communal touch was noticeable, as this DC junior made clear: “It’s hard work and not for the faint of heart, but everyone works as a team and we all have each other's backs.”
“It's all about overall fit, so don't be afraid to show your personality: we're not looking for candidates who are bookish to the point they can't function in a team.” Get more tips for getting into A&P at chambers-associate.com.
Diversity & Inclusion
New York juniors were pleased to highlight the presence of a dedicated director of diversity and inclusion. Those in DC also praised that person for organizing “regular education programs that open people’s minds and makes them aware of topics.” Across the firm, A&P maintains several affinity groups complete with helpful acronyms: VALOR (Veterans and Affiliates Leadership Organization); ACCORD (Attorney Community Championing Our Racial Diversity); and WISE (Women's Initiative for Success and Empowerment). The latter hosts “lunchtime discussions about #MeToo and other trends in the workplace affecting women.”
“definitely noticed more women in senior positions..."
Sources singled out the San Francisco office for doing well on the LGBT front, while the Denver base was felt to be “lacking in minorities. It's not through lack of leadership, as partners are looking for ways to reach out to diverse groups.” Across A&P some had “definitely noticed more women in senior positions, and hopefully we'll see that trend occur with minorities too.” The firm also deserves credit for being one of just 27 to achieve Mansfield Certification Plus status, which means that at least 30% of A&P’s lawyers in leading roles are women or diverse.
The good news continues here as “pro bono is definitely encouraged and respected” at A&P and was a major reason why several interviewees joined the firm in the first place. Officially, all attorneys are encouraged to spend 15% of their time on pro bono, and “toward the end of the year the firm can give you ideas for quick projects if you haven't got it done.” Immigration law has long been an A&P specialty, and sources in the smaller offices told us that they’d been “representing detained individuals seeking asylum – I’ve felt nothing but encouragement and support from the firm.”
In New York interviewees highlighted that “an associate here is really passionate about transgender name change matters, and people take those on quite a bit.” Over in DC, matters took on a political twist, as we heard of juniors assisting nonprofits with research on Supreme Court candidates. On the whole, corporate lawyers aren't left out: one of the pro bono coordinators used to be one and now “pushes us toward nonprofit mergers and general advice for charities.” On top of that, A&P recently co-founded (along with seven other law firms) ‘Lawyers for a Sustainable Economy’ – an initiative that promises to devote $15 million of pro bono services toward sustainability causes.
Pro bono hours
- For all attorneys across all US offices: 92,648
- Average per US attorney: 108
Hours & Compensation
Associates gain bonus eligibility if they reach 2,000 hours, of which 200 can be pro bono, business development, training, or 'firm service.' Being able to hit that target “depends on your practice group,” and we found that litigators were generally more confident about reaching that goal than transactional attorneys. “It feels quite manageable,” a litigator revealed. “You put a lot of hours into your job, but it doesn't mean that you're working late into the evening or every weekend.” A corporate source, meanwhile, told us that “it's pretty cyclical, so some months I'm billing over 200 hours and some I'm getting less than 150 – the work comes in waves.”
A&P did match the salary increases that occurred over the summer of 2018, but our interviewees were on the whole a bit irked that the firm didn't do so sooner. “If it had been matched more quickly it would have signaled greater confidence in our market standing and the associates' work,” one concluded. Across the New York and DC offices we heard that there's quite a lot of flexibility when it comes to working hours, with associates choosing to arrive and leave earlier/later depending on their preferences. “Most people are not in the office for more than eight or nine hours,” a DC-based litigator revealed, but it's not uncommon to “go home and log on for an hour or two later.” Late nights are part of the package at times, with corporate juniors in New York explaining that the latest they'd worked was 4am. However, “the whole team is up and working so you don't feel like you're drowning by yourself; even the partners are up at 3am doing the same work.”
The first stage: recruitment on and off campus
OCI applicants interviewed: 1,438Interviewees outside OCI: 100
'Geographic diversity' is one of A&P's primary aims when it puts together a summer class, so interviews take place across the country and write-ins are encouraged. Partners, counsel and senior associates alike conduct OCIs. School alumni are often picked for this, as are current and former members of the firm's recruitment committee.
Beyond the usual academic criteria, applicants are also questioned on their commitment to the location they're interviewing for; how much research they've done into the firm's practice; and additional skills like languages or a technical education. Given the firm's DC roots, it's no surprise that a clerkship will stand you in good stead if you’re looking to join the litigation practice.
Top tips: “I was asked about my first summer internship, and felt like I needed to speak substantively about the lessons I learned from it. They questioned me on why I chose to do it and the value it offered.”
“A lot of firms don't want to hear you talk about pro bono in interviews, but at A&P people are glad to hear you're interested in it.”
Applicants invited to second stage: 514
Alumni from the candidate's law school also hop on board come callback time, where those who've progressed to this stage meet between four and six attorneys for interviews. At least one of these will take place with a lawyer/lawyers working in the practice area that the applicant is interested in. More informal lunches or coffee meetings with other attorneys might be included if there's time.
Potential summers get quizzed on why A&P is the firm for them, and would do well to think up some thoughtful questions about their target practice area or the firm more generally ahead of time. Keep in mind the following things the firm is looking for: interest in A&P's specific practice; realistic expectations about working at the firm; leadership potential; commitment to the firm's values; and general good manners and intelligence.
Top tips: “People here aren't really arrogant or show offs. It's all about overall fit, so don't be afraid to show your personality: we're not looking for candidates who are bookish to the point they can't function in a team.”
“In the past we've had candidates express an interest in an area that makes it clear Arnold & Porter isn't for them, so consider carefully what the firm does.”
Offers: 212Acceptances: 60
A&P prefers summers to spend at least the first eight weeks of the summer with them. That time will be filled with actual case work – the vast majority of summers will get to sample a variety of practice areas – as well as events like a two-day training forum and more fun stuff. Houston, for example, hosts a Bayou City Bike Tour so everyone can get to know the local area better; over in New York, events have ranged from ‘axe throwing’ to cocktail classes (presumably not at the same time).
Give your all when it comes to the work side of the summer: the firm is looking for content they can use to form part of real cases, and a strong work ethic is a prerequisite for coming on board. As in every summer program, it's also crucial to treat everybody at the firm with respect and professionalism. Don't panic, though – the vast majority of summers return to the firm as juniors, and if you've made it this far you've clearly got the skills to make the cut.
Top tips: “Associates get a lunch budget during the summer, so introduce yourself to everyone around the office and get to know as many people as possible over lunch!”
“If by the end of the summer you can find a niche you're interested in, make your mark there and when you come back work will be waiting for you. It's invaluable to come out of the summer with a sense of how your path will progress going forward.”
And finally...A&P made it crystal clear to us that anything that shows commitment and makes you stand out from the crowd – even if it's totally unrelated to law – is worth talking about at interview.
Interview with chairman Richard Alexander
Chambers Associate: Following the merger with Kaye Scholer, how have the firm's integration efforts progressed?
Richard Alexander: We were very pleased with how the firm’s operational, social and cultural integration issues were handled. We did not experience anything unexpected; a seamless transition supporting client service was our major focus.
CA: What were the biggest challenges coming out of the merger?
RA: It's always hard to bring together different accounting and computer systems, but my colleagues worked really hard and did an excellent job. Another critical step was working collaboratively to learn about each other's practices. It was a lot of work and something that's still happening on a daily basis. We have made considerable progress and this work will allow us to take full advantage of the synergies of the combination.
CA: What new opportunities will be available to associates going forward?
RA:. We have a stronger balance sheet now and therefore have much more ability to invest in talent. We now have a chief talent officer – a role that will help guide the firm as we invest more heavily in the people we have on board.
The combination strengthened our practice offerings and client base. For example, if you were a transactional associate at legacy Kaye Scholer, but didn't have regulatory colleagues in life sciences, you can now bring this expertise together to expand the work we do for our clients
The combination has expanded the kind of work we can do for clients. This expanded expertise gives us opportunities to work on more interesting and creative projects. And we have a broader geographic platform.
Finally, we remain focused on continuing to be a leading pro bono firm; we've not missed a beat after the combination and have done some exciting work in that area. Our associates play a critical role in our pro bono work.
CA: Which other practices, sectors, or offices have you earmarked for growth over the next year and why?
RA: In terms of offices, one of the things I've said is that we intend to remain strong in the cities where we have a larger presence, while simultaneously investing more in our smaller offices. An example of that investment, is the fact that we have recently hired lateral partners in our Denver, Chicago and London offices.We don't expect the combination to drive us towards practice areas that aren't a part of our DNA; we will continue to ensure that we maintain our place as market leaders in practice areas such as antitrust, financial services regulatory, real estate finance, government contracts, and international arbitration. I do not anticipate any material change in terms of the services we are capable of providing to our clients.
CA: What are the main challenges that law firms and their lawyers will have to navigate and adapt to in the future?
RA: I could talk about this for hours! Many law firms have been slow to react to market changes. Whether it’s the impact of technology, the need for emphasis on entrepreneurship or the antiquated way in which some firms staff their cases, law firms ignore these things at their peril. We're going to be facing continuing pressure resulting from globalization of our clients’ businesses, as well as the impact of technology and AI. It is really important from an associate perspective to understand these market changes. We're in a war for talent, not only with law firms, but with businesses as well. How we compete for that talent is crucial: there are great firms across the world and they have to find their niche and play to their strengths.
The recent geopolitical changes in the United States and abroad present challenges and opportunities for the legal system. For a firm like ours, the pendulum swing between administrations – particularly from a regulatory standpoint – means that we have to be nimble. We see the states coming into the fold more and doing what the federal government may be emphasizing less in such areas as consumer and environmental protection.
Another issue facing a lot of firms is a wave towards consolidation. It will be interesting to see what impact that will have on the sense of partnership in a firm. Partnership is all about building and maintaining strong ties, and when firms get really massive for the size, that can place great strains on the sense of partnership.
CA: When did you decide to become a lawyer? Why?
RA: It sounds a bit corny, but my mother was a teacher and my father was a salesman, and I was very focused on the challenges working class people face. So I wanted to be a labor lawyer from a very early age. I had that itch through high school, but had a tipping point while doing an internship at the House Banking Committee during college. When I graduated, having done a thesis on banking regulation, I was recruited to join one of the federal banking agencies where I spent the first three years of my career. I spent many years practicing in the financial services space until I became heavily involved in firm management. I very much enjoyed government service; it was a very important part of my personal and professional development.
CA: What's been the most valuable lesson you've learned in your career?
RA: I'd pick two things: first, learning to be a good listener is an incredibly important skill to have in any profession, especially the law. It makes you a much more effective lawyer. Second, one can be a zealous defendant of the client but it's also important to be candid with them. Our responsibility is to tell clients what they need to hear, not what they want to hear, and sometimes that's hard. I've been proud to fulfil that responsibility over the years because I know that clients are better served when we do that.
CA: Looking back at your career and the knowledge you've gained, what advice would you give to students who are about to enter the legal industry?
RA: Writing is still at a premium in our profession and with the rise of technology we sometimes forget how important the written word is and how important it is in the practice of law. Point two: it's really important that lawyers understand not only the legal world but the world of their clients, which means understanding financial issues, regulatory developments, etc. Young lawyers need to invest in client relationships in all the ways they can, which makes a huge difference in how successful you can be as a lawyer. Third, language skills are becoming increasingly important to us as an employer in the global marketplace.
CA: Any final thoughts?
RA: We've really attracted some fantastic talent to the firm including former United States Attorney, Paul Fishman and ex-Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, Tom Shannon. That these preeminent practitioners are coming on board shows the talent market is excited about the Arnold & Porter-Kaye Scholer combination. Recently, we've also made a number of internal promotions: these are the people that will take the firm into the future and I am extremely proud of my colleagues. And, our clients have reacted to the combination by entrusting us with their most interesting and important work.
Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer LLP
601 Massachusetts Avenue, NW,
- Number of domestic offices: 9
- Number of international offices: 5
- Worldwide revenue: $961.2 million
- Partners (US): 298
- Associates (US):Contacts 473 (includes 43 staff attorneys)
- Main recruitment contact: Jennifer Gewertz, Firmwide Director of Attorney Recruiting
- Hiring partners: Ellen Fleishhacker, Catherine Schumacher, Darren Skinner
- Diversity officer: Anand Agneshwar, Diversity & Inclusion Committee Chair; Brenda Carr, Director of Diversity & Inclusion
- Recruitment details
- Entry-level associates starting in 2019: Anticipated 68 (includes 11 clerks)
- Clerking policy: Yes
- Summers joining/anticipated 2019: 1Ls: 6, 2Ls: 60, 3Ls: 0, SEO: 0
- Summers joining/anticipated 2019 split by office: Washington DC: 26, New York: 19, San Francisco/Silicon Valley: 10, Denver: 3, Chicago: 2, Houston: 2
- Summer salary 2019: 1Ls: $3,655/week 2Ls: $3,655/week
- Split summers offered? Case by case
- Can summers spend time in overseas office? No
Main areas of work
Our 1,000+ attorneys in 14 offices practice across more than 30 areas, including antitrust, corporate and finance, intellectual property, life sciences and healthcare regulatory, litigation, real estate, and tax, provide clients a multi-disciplinary approach to their most complex legal issues.
Arnold & Porter is recognized for its regulatory experience, sophisticated litigation and transactional practitioners, and leading multidisciplinary practices. We are the firm of choice for 111 Fortune 250 companies. The firm’s core values of excellence in the practice of law, maintaining the highest standards of ethics and professionalism, respecting and promoting diversity and individuality among our colleagues, and maintaining a deep commitment to public service and pro bono work, keep us grounded, focused, and evolving to meet new opportunities and challenges.
Law Schools attending for OCIs in 2019:
Arnold & Porter interviews students from over 40 law schools across the country. Please visit our website for a complete list of job fairs and on campus interview programs. www.arnoldporter.com/en/careers/law-students-trainee-solicitors/careers-recruitingevents
Recruitment outside OCIs:
Please visit our website for interviewing and application options outside of OCIs. www.arnoldporter.com/en/careers/law-students-trainee-solicitors/careers-recruitingevents
Summer associate profile:
Our firm is a collection of independent, diverse personalities who share a common devotion to first class legal work and client service. We seek candidates with outstanding academic and extracurricular achievements, relevant work experience, as well as strong interpersonal skills and references.
Summer program components:
Our summer associates experience first-hand the firm’s strong commitment to excellence, diversity, pro bono work, and professional development, working side-by-side with our attorneys on actual client matters. We seek to match assignments to the interests each summer associate has identified, including pro bono work. Our summer associates participate in the firm’s extensive training programs, including attending a retreat in one of the firm’s US offices. All summer associates have mentors and receive feedback on each assignment. Our summer program features a mix of events designed to appeal to a broad range of interests.
Recruitment website: www.arnoldporter.com/en/careers
Linkedin: Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer LLP
This Firm's Rankings in
USA Guide, 2019
- Environment (Band 3)
- Intellectual Property (Band 4)
- IT & Outsourcing: Outsourcing (Band 2)
- Life Sciences (Band 4)
- Litigation: Appellate (Band 2)
- Litigation: General Commercial (Band 3)
District of Columbia
- Antitrust (Band 2)
- Bankruptcy/Restructuring (Band 1)
- Corporate/M&A & Private Equity (Band 3)
- Environment (Band 1)
- Healthcare (Band 2)
- Healthcare: Pharmaceutical/Medical Products Regulatory (Band 3)
- Intellectual Property: Litigation Recognised Practitioner
- Intellectual Property: Patent Prosecution (Band 2)
- Intellectual Property: Trademark, Copyright & Trade Secrets (Band 2)
- Litigation: General Commercial (Band 3)
- Litigation: White-Collar Crime & Government Investigations (Band 2)
- Real Estate (Band 1)
- Tax (Band 4)
- Telecom, Broadcast & Satellite (Band 3)
- Bankruptcy/Restructuring (Band 4)
- Litigation: General Commercial (Band 5)
- Antitrust Recognised Practitioner
- Corporate/M&A: Highly Regarded (Band 4)
- Intellectual Property: Patent (Band 4)
- Litigation: General Commercial: Highly Regarded (Band 3)
- Litigation: White-Collar Crime & Government Investigations (Band 4)
- Real Estate: Mainly Corporate & Finance (Band 3)
USA - Nationwide
- Antitrust (Band 2)
- Appellate Law Recognised Practitioner
- Capital Markets: Securitisation (Band 4)
- Corporate Crime & Investigations (Band 4)
- Environment (Band 2)
- Financial Services Regulation: Banking (Compliance) (Band 4)
- Financial Services Regulation: Banking (Enforcement & Investigations) (Band 3)
- Food & Beverages: Regulatory & Litigation Recognised Practitioner
- Government Contracts (Band 1)
- Government Relations (Band 3)
- Intellectual Property (Band 4)
- Intellectual Property: Trademark, Copyright & Trade Secrets (Band 2)
- International Arbitration (Band 3)
- International Trade: Export Controls & Economic Sanctions (Band 3)
- International Trade: Trade Remedies & Trade Policy (Band 3)
- Leisure & Hospitality (Band 4)
- Life Sciences (Band 2)
- Privacy & Data Security (Band 3)
- Product Liability & Mass Torts (Band 2)
- Securities: Regulation (Band 4)