Arnold & Porter combines respected litigation, life sciences and government practices with a stellar reputation for pro bono work.
Every year in our associate survey, we ask juniors to tell us whether getting to do pro bono (and making the world a better place) was part of their motivation for becoming a lawyer. Around half of our respondents across the firms we survey say that it was, but at Arnold & Porter that figure jumps to over 80%. This gives you a sense of the kind of firm A&P is and the type of person it attracts. “I interviewed at several other firms and chose A&P because it took public interest matters seriously, and the people were the nicest,” an interviewee recalled, while another declared that they have “a heavy interest in nonprofit work.” Chairman Richard Alexander tells us: “We continue to be one of the leading organizations in the world for pro bono work. All the work we do in this space is important, whether it’s helping tenants to deal with abusive landlords; challenging when there were attempts to gerrymander; protecting reproductive rights; or dealing with the gun violence in this country.”
“...everyone was intellectual but not snooty.”
Of course, A&P is not a public-interest firm. It is very much BigLaw (“you still have to do client billable work!”), with over 50 Chambers USA accolades – 11 in the top tier – to its name. “We have leading practices across the life sciences, financial services, and government contracts spaces, and clients come to us for their most complicated matters," says Alexander. "We focus on industries where our transactional and litigation work is impacted by regulatory issues.” Other highlights for Chambers USA include the firm’s healthcare, international arbitration, bankruptcy/restructuring, IP, litigation, and real estate work. Aspiring litigators joined A&P for its generalist practice that could expose them to white-collar, antitrust, and product liability matters, while others liked that “everyone was intellectual but not snooty” and that A&P “would be a good place for women and those with families – I verified that they walked the walk.” Most juniors were based in DC, but the New York office housed a similar number. The rest were spread across A&P’s offices in California, Chicago, Houston, and Denver.
Strategy & Future
“You’ll see Arnold & Porter continue to invest in core areas that are strengths of the firm, so that we maintain our leading practice positions,” says chairman Richard Alexander. He adds that while DC is the biggest office, A&P has more lawyers working beyond the capital and around the world: “We’re not a geographically centered firm; we think of ourselves as a firm without walls. Our offices and practice groups work seamlessly and collaboratively together.”
“Law firms that are best able to navigate those complications come out on top.”
“We are continuing to see challenges in the way that our political institutions across the world are handling climate change, equity, and social justice,” Alexander continues. “We’re seeing the rates of inflation and disruption in the market as a result of what’s happening in Ukraine and elsewhere – those things affect our clients, and they affect us. Law firms that are best able to navigate those complications come out on top.” He also highlights the importance of investing in talent to remain a leader in the BigLaw market.
Almost half of the associates on our list were in A&P’s general litigation department, but other groups with higher concentrations of juniors included corporate & finance; IP & technology; antitrust; life sciences & healthcare regulatory; and real estate. Work allocation across the departments was said to combine free market and work coordinator approaches. “When I started, I mainly got my work through the work coordinator, but once I started to build up relationships I could get my own assignments,” said one litigator, while another added that “the practice managers exist not just to get you more or less work, but to get you specific types of work you’re looking for.” Ultimately, “help is there if you need it, but no one is discouraged from finding the work they want.”
“I was able to prep the experts on our side and earn my colleagues’ respect.”
Litigators operate as generalists for three years, before specializing at the beginning of their fourth year. “We do a lot of product liability work,” sources said, and the firm is ranked at the very top by Chambers USA for its elite product liability and mass torts expertise. Other big areas, we heard, were antitrust, white-collar crime and investigations, complex commercial litigation, securities, and regulatory. Appellate and international arbitration were smaller areas for juniors to potentially target. One source noted that they had “typically worked on the defendant side for big companies, and a lot of pharma entities, which is really interesting as you get to work on multidistrict cases.” We heard that “there’s a lot of doc review in the white-collar space,” but the knowledge gained from this task meant that “you can help with things like witness preparation and deposition outlines.” This source had been lucky enough to do “a lot of substantive writing on briefs and cross-examination outlines for experts – I was able to prep the experts on our side and earn my colleagues’ respect.”
Complex litigation clients: Novartis Pharma; Samsung Electronics America, Penguin Random House. Represented pharma company Sandoz and its subsidiary in multidistrict litigation spanning 54 states and territories regarding allegations of conspiracy and price fixing.
“I’ve also been able to sit in on some depositions and do a couple of district court cases.”
For those in the dedicated IP & technology practice, there had been plenty of inter partes review (IPR) work to get their hands on, as well as the chance to attend International Trade Commission (ITC) trials. The IPR matters can involve circumstances “where you’re trying to invalidate a patent, and these cases can be quick.” Sources had encountered IP work connected to the electronics and apparel spaces and felt that there wasn’t much doc review to churn through: “It’s mostly research and drafting,” confirmed one interviewee. “I’ve also been able to sit in on some depositions and do a couple of district court cases – it's mostly litigation, but we also collaborate with people from the tech transactions team.”
IP clients: Google, Adobe, Nike. Recently secured a win for Crocs in a patent infringement suit against entities that were accused of using the company’s design and utility patent rights in their footwear.
Hours & Compensation
Billable hours: 2,000 target
A&Pers need to hit 2,000 hours to be bonus eligible and can count 200 hours of pro bono, DE&I, well-being initiatives, and business development toward the target (once they’ve racked up 1,800 hours in standard client billable work). Some sources were confident that they would hit the target, while others knew that they wouldn’t: “I had been advised that it’s not a big deal to not make it in the first year and that it’s much more important to find the work I liked and to get good reviews.”
“...great way to get experience and develop the skill sets you want.”
For the litigators, “the hours get tougher as you get closer to the trial – I work a lot, but that’s not unusual.” Another said that “weekends are typically respected, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have weekend work! You have your highs and lows and sometimes it’s insanely busy when we have a deadline coming up.” At the same time, we did hear that people at the firm don’t celebrate or promote working extra long hours: “I had an extremely busy month and the reaction was ‘Why are you working that much?’ Everyone I spoke with said, ‘That’s very busy, let’s see what we can do.’”
“Possibly the only thing I wish we did differently was the amount of pro bono that counts toward the billable target,” a source told us, echoing the thoughts of others we interviewed. However, we did hear that in certain circumstances when associates are involved in a big pro bono matter, more hours beyond the 200 mark can be counted as billable with sign-off. Sources liked that the pro bono work offered them a “great way to get experience and develop the skill sets you want. It’s the first place I did any research and drafting.” Other lucky interviewees got the chance to “stand up in front of a judge, second-chair during a cross-examination, and write the deposition outlines.”
Juniors have a wide range of pro bono matters to choose from and sources highlighted the firm’s partnerships with the Brady Campaign on gun violence; the ACLU on voting rights; and Planned Parenthood and Americans United for Separation of Church and State on reproductive rights. Sources also had access to asylum work for Afghan refugees, as well as criminal defense matters.
Pro bono hours
- For all (US) attorneys: 130,167
- Average per (US) attorney: 133
Juniors generally felt that A&P was transparent about career development. “They had a meeting about the partnership recently,” one commented. “There was a speech about how your billable hours weren’t the be-all and end-all, and that what counts are your experiences and acquiring them through work.” Some sources wanted to make partner and told us that they “see people higher up who love their lives! If that’s the way it is, I’m happy to stick around!” We were told that there are good exit opportunities and “they’re supportive of people who would like to leave and do something else. There’s a culture of people rotating in and out of government positions, especially in the DC office.” A New Yorker also said that “if you want to go into government, the partners will make connections for you. We also have a career center with a person we can speak with confidentially.”
“They made the experience really wonderful and helped me to navigate the matters I should take on.”
Several interviewees spoke very highly of the mentorship opportunities at A&P, with this source explaining that “you get three levels of mentors: a junior, a mid-level, and a partner. In the first year, they really let you know that they’re always available. They made the experience really wonderful and helped me to navigate the matters I should take on.”
Interviewees felt that the emphasis on mentorship permeated the culture across A&P: “I’ve found lots of informal mentors and people who look out for me, help me with assignments, and say things like ‘You need to look out for yourself and set boundaries.’” Another source was glad that “the impression that I got of the people during interviews turned out to be correct. With BigLaw you expect people to be yelling at you, but while there have been stressful times, I’ve felt supported by partners and peers.” The view from the Big Apple was that “the office here seems less intense compared to other New York firms – I've not heard any horror stories at A&P and I’m the kind of person who would hear those!”
This source added that “generally, people are personable and will care about you as a person – if you have a personal matter to attend to then they will say ‘Tell us what you need, and if you need to take time off, then take time off.’” Chairman Richard Alexander points out that “it has become a challenging business. My call to action to my colleagues and the profession at large is that we can be a noble profession and a competitive profit-oriented business. Getting that balance right is really important.”
“...we had a rodeo in the office!”
Little things like “starting and ending meetings with some personal stuff and ‘How’s everyone doing?’” made a big difference, interviewees felt. Rebuilding the social scene after COVID has also been a factor in shaping the culture, with this DC source explaining that “now we’re back and there are lots of events to get people mingling. Every Thursday evening we do pizza and wine in the office, plus there are lots of random events – we had a rodeo in the office!”
Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
Sources were positive about the firm’s efforts moving forward. “A&P has hosted several events to promote women,” an interviewee told us. “We had a panel recently where women who were promoted to partner or of counsel spoke about their career path.” While gender diversity was felt to be heading in the right direction, racial and ethnic diversity was highlighted as an area for improvement. “I think within the limitations of DE&I, A&P is doing a good job. They’ve expanded the DE&I team and since 2020 they added the ACCORD group [Attorney Community Championing Our Racial Diversity] and a Black attorney coalition. It’s about having groups, initiatives and people we know we can go to if we have an issue.”
Chairman Richard Alexander adds that “we’re one of only two law firms to be a part of Management Leadership for Tomorrow (MLT)'s Black Equity at Work certification; they’re an external organization that certifies our commitment to black equity in the workplace. This initiative is aimed at all our business practices, not just our lawyers but also our professional staff, what our business practices are, who we’re banking with, and who our vendors are. We’ve submitted plans to them, and they certified by MLT at the Gold level. This reflects our ongoing commitment to an inclusive and equitable work environment and to fostering business practices that support Black equity.”
The first stage: recruitment on and off campus
OCI applicants interviewed: 851
Interviewees outside OCI: 50
'Geographic diversity' is one of Arnold & Porter'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 for this stage:
“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 Arnold & Porter people are glad to hear you're interested in it.”
Applicants invited to second stage interview: 249
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 Arnold & Porter 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 Arnold & Porter'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 for this stage:
“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.” - a junior associate
“We look for candidates who are interested in our work and core values, and are intellectually curious and collegial. We want to know why candidates are interested in Arnold & Porter, so be prepared to answer that question when you interview.” - Arnold & Porter
Arnold & Porter 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 taking in a Broadway Show to a baking class at Milk Bar.
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 for this stage:
“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.” - a junior associate
“Attorneys are genuinely interested in meeting summer associates. Take every opportunity to meet attorneys at the firm and don’t be afraid to reach out to someone directly. They want to get to know you and your interests and talk about their practice and the firm.” - Arnold & Porter
Arnold & Porter 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.
Arnold & Porter
601 Massachusetts Avenue, NW,
Main areas of work
Our nearly 1,000 attorneys in 14 offices practice across more than 40 areas, including antitrust, corporate and finance, intellectual property, life sciences and healthcare regulatory, litigation, real estate, and tax, providing 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 multi-disciplinary practices. We are the firm of choice for 121 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 2023: 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. https://www.arnoldporter.com/en/careers/law-students-trainee-solicitors/careers-recruiting-events
Recruitment outside OCIs: Please visit our website for interviewing and application options outside of OCIs. https://www.arnoldporter.com/en/careers/law-students-trainee-solicitors/current-opportunities
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 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 endeavour to match work assignments to each summer associate’s practice area and pro bono interests. 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 social events and programming 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, 2023
- Environment (Band 3)
- Life Sciences (Band 4)
- Litigation: Appellate (Band 2)
- Technology: Outsourcing (Band 2)
- Technology: Transactions (Band 4)
California: San Francisco, Silicon Valley & Surro
- Corporate/M&A: Highly Regarded (Band 1)
- Litigation: General Commercial (Band 1)
District of Columbia
- Antitrust (Band 2)
- Bankruptcy/Restructuring (Band 1)
- Corporate/M&A & Private Equity (Band 3)
- Environment (Band 1)
- Healthcare (Band 1)
- Healthcare: Pharmaceutical/Medical Products Regulatory (Band 2)
- Intellectual Property: Litigation (Band 3)
- Intellectual Property: Patent Prosecution (Band 3)
- Intellectual Property: Trademark, Copyright & Trade Secrets (Band 2)
- Litigation: General Commercial: The Elite (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 3)
- Litigation: General Commercial (Band 5)
- Antitrust (Band 3)
- Corporate/M&A: Highly Regarded (Band 4)
- Environment (Band 3)
- Intellectual Property: Patent (Band 5)
- Intellectual Property: Trademark, Copyright & Trade Secrets (Band 4)
- Litigation: General Commercial: Highly Regarded (Band 2)
- Litigation: White-Collar Crime & Government Investigations: The Elite (Band 4)
- Real Estate: Mainly Corporate & Finance (Band 4)
USA - Nationwide
- Advertising: Transactional & Regulatory (Band 4)
- Antitrust (Band 2)
- Appellate Law (Band 4)
- Bankruptcy/Restructuring: Highly Regarded (Band 1)
- Capital Markets: Securitization: ABS (Band 3)
- Climate Change (Band 2)
- Corporate Crime & Investigations: The Elite (Band 4)
- Corporate/M&A: Highly Regarded (Band 5)
- Environment (Band 2)
- False Claims Act (Band 1)
- Financial Services Regulation: Banking (Compliance) (Band 4)
- Financial Services Regulation: Banking (Enforcement & Investigations) (Band 3)
- Food & Beverages: Regulatory & Litigation (Band 3)
- Government Contracts: The Elite (Band 1)
- Government Relations: Federal (Band 2)
- Healthcare: Highly Regarded (Band 1)
- Intellectual Property (Band 4)
- Intellectual Property: Trademark, Copyright & Trade Secrets (Band 2)
- International Arbitration: The Elite (Band 2)
- International Trade: Export Controls & Economic Sanctions: The Elite (Band 3)
- International Trade: Trade Remedies & Trade Policy (Band 4)
- Leisure & Hospitality (Band 4)
- Life Sciences (Band 3)
- Life Sciences: Regulatory/Compliance (Band 1)
- Privacy & Data Security: Highly Regarded (Band 1)
- Product Liability & Mass Torts: The Elite (Band 1)
- Product Liability: Regulatory (Band 1)
- Retail (Band 4)
- Securities: Regulation: Enforcement (Band 4)
- Sports Law (Band 4)