A premier reputation for DC-oriented work like government contracts brought many juniors to A&P, but you should also add it to your list if life sciences, IP and pro bono matters appeal.
“I read about the firm in a book called The Buffalo Creek Disaster,” said one junior when telling us why they’d joined Arnold & Porter. We’ve heard many reasons for joining firms over the years, but this stood out as a pretty unique one. We were intrigued: what happened in Buffalo Creek and how was A&P involved? “A dam that had been made by a coal company collapsed, destroying a town and killing many people,” the associate explained, before adding that A&P had become involved in “a major class action” on behalf of surviving residents against the coal company. This happened in 1972, and, the associate pointed out, was just one historical example of many where A&P had shown its “willingness to provide excellent services to both those clients who can pay and those who can’t.” Indeed, the firm’s reputation for “focusing on its pro bono commitments” alongside its client billable work has long been a big attraction for juniors who join A&P.
Beyond this, A&P’s origins and strength in the DC legal market were also appealing. “It’s definitely a renowned DC firm,” said another junior, and an examination of A&P’s Chambers USA rankings supports their claim. The firm’s jewel in its crown is its top-rated government contracts practice, but A&P is also recognized in the US for other DC-oriented practices like international trade, antitrust and government relations work. We should also flag that the firm has long been known for its strength in the life sciences and healthcare sectors, and has a very highly regarded IP department too. Other areas to take note of include environment; white-collar crime and government investigations; product liability; real estate; and bankruptcy/restructuring.
Legacy A&P’s 2017 merger with New York’s Kaye Scholer consolidated its domestic and overseas presence. Today, most of the US juniors on our list were based in A&P’s DC and New York offices, but associates could also be found in the firm’s California bases, as well as in Chicago, Denver and Houston. Quality work and pro bono opportunities aside, it was A&P’s “fun-spirited approach” that swung the deal for aspiring associates, as it “made BigLaw feel easier.” One junior fondly recalled that at a reception event on campus “someone at A&P bought a bunch of inflatable clowns and put them up in the window!” Well, we all need to clown around once in a while don’t we?
The general litigation practice was home to the most juniors, but other groups with a significant number included corporate & finance, IP & technology, and real estate. Areas like tax, life sciences regulatory, environmental, and antitrust held just a few each. The nature of work assignment varies by practice group. Assignment is “kinda interesting” in corporate & finance, where a mix of staffing partners and a practice manager hand out assignments alongside more informal avenues. “The formal staffing structure is more there to track availability and provide support,” concluded one junior. For those in general litigation, “it’s more free-market – we're toward that end of the spectrum.”
Securities, white-collar, product liability, government contracts, employment and more disputes all fall under the general litigation banner. “The range of matters you get to see depends on the partners you follow, who of course tend to specialize. You follow the work according to what they’re dealing with, but they do encourage associates to speak up if they’re interested in certain matters,” one litigator explained. Our sources had worked on “mostly cybersecurity and privacy work, especially for high-tech marketing companies. We also do privacy compliance matters for the biotech sector, where we develop privacy policies that fit with EU GDPR regulations and the new California law.” The team also works on foreign relations matters (which involve representing sovereigns), as well as cyber-crime cases. Juniors can expect to write motions for summary judgment; prepare partners for taking and defending depositions; and assist with the discovery stage.
When it comes to government contracts work in DC, “we do both contracts and national security work. On the former, we support disputes between government contractors and their subcontractors, but we also handle more traditional federal court cases.” The “global footprint [of matters] is pretty much all over,” reported one junior. “It can be intimidating at times, but the partners trust you to interact directly with clients and US government entities. It’s an incredible way to learn what the practice is.”
Litigation clients: Samsung, Airbus, Honeywell. Defending Carnival Corporation and its subsidiaries in over 45 cases brought by plaintiffs over outbreaks of COVID-19 on cruise ships including the Diamond Princess and the Grand Princess.
On the corporate side, M&A continues to be the bedrock of the practice. The matters are typically midmarket but can fall anywhere within the $100 million to $2 billion range. On the finance side, the team handles a whole host of complex-sounding structured, syndicated and leveraged finance matters, with aviation and transportation highlighted as key sectors. Corporate governance is also another area of expertise covered in the wider transactional department. One associate told us that “we work with a lot of sovereigns, especially when they want to issue in international capital markets, so we help them do that. There’s also some loan agreement work, which is often on the borrower side.” Corporate juniors spent most of their time “working on closing documents for equity issuances, researching legal opinions, liaising with foreign counsel, offering circular documents and working closely with clients to update these.” Another source gave us a snapshot of what responsibilities they’d had: “If I was doing a regular financing, like a loan agreement, it would typically be just me and the partner. The client would tell us what they want and then I would work with someone on the other side to implement those comments.”
Corporate clients: Pfizer, Novartis, DC Capital Partners. Advised Pfizer on its $710 million sale of a potential treatment for neurological diseases to Biogen.
Associates viewed A&P’s pro bono efforts very positively. This source filled us in on what’s been going on of late: “We’ve been supporting veteran groups on housing issues, handling voter protection matters, providing a care coalition to BLM, and taking on a lot of immigration work. We worked on a reunification program recently, and we spoke with minors who were in Central America.” A big case that has recently been the focus for many litigators involved representing “150 senior citizen plaintiffs in a negligence suit against the owners and managers of a housing building that burned down.”
Even in transactional practices, associates found it easy to take on pro bono. “We recently helped a restaurant group foundation that had closed down to apply for small business loans,” said a corporate source. We also heard the firm has a program called Loaned Associate with the Legal Aid Society of DC, where an associate can be seconded for six months every year – “you keep the firm salary but work with Legal Aid.” The firm encourages each attorney to devote at least 15% of their time to pro bono.
- For all US attorneys: 115,538
- Average per US attorney: 133
Hours & Compensation
Billable hours: 2,000 target
Associates can bill up to 200 hours of pro bono and other credited activities (like business development work) toward their 2,000-hour target. “It’s definitely doable, but you will have to work hard for sure!” concluded one source. Another added that “there’s plenty of work to go around, and there isn’t really a culture of scrutinizing associates’ billable hours. There’s an expectation that we’ll meet those hours, but not a lot of pressure to do so.” Hitting the target generates a full market bonus, while an extra discretionary amount can be added for those who bill more. The baseline salary was described as “spectacular,” with this associate highlighting how grateful they were for the high BigLaw compensation but also “a more humane culture – they don’t try to ruin your weekend with work!”
“It’s definitely doable, but you will have to work hard for sure!”
So, what do those hours look like? For one junior working on the litigious side of things, “really busy cases” can mean “working from 9am until 11pm,” but that’s at the more extreme end. Another litigator mentioned how the past year had been up and down hours-wise: “It’s been a weird time, so I’ve either not had enough work or I’ve been working 60 to 80-hour weeks.” A corporate associate agreed that “some days it’s just nonstop," while some are more regular and involve working from 8:30am until 6:30pm quite comfortably.
While there are “a lot of training programs” for associates, our sources were glad that a sense of development continued in their day-to-day working life too. “It’s very much a case of getting on-the-job training in your specific departments,” commented one source, “and it really is the best way to learn here.” Others highlighted the existence of three full-time career development consultants, who are available to provide associates with advice on long-term career planning – whether that’s within the firm or not. “The firm has a revolving-door policy in terms of going to – and coming back from – the government. They’re very open to it.” Recent moves have seen “a few attorneys leaving to focus on voter protection work, while a couple more did move to other firms simply to focus on a different type of law that A&P doesn’t have a robust practice in.”
A&P’s culture was also felt to support this sense of career development: “The firm keeps associate classes relatively small, so there’s no real pressure to compete with your peers. I have had the opportunity to work some cases with multiple people at my experience level and there is great camaraderie.” Another beamed: “There’s no cut-throat competition or gunners in our office. Partners truly care about mentoring and associate development. We all want to do our best while creating an environment in which everyone else around us can do their best too.” This interviewee jokingly described A&P as “the Hufflepuff of law firms. People are always making jokes – even when you’re working on something pretty miserable, the people around you make it lighter.”
“...the Hufflepuff of law firms.”
Virtual cocktail and happy hours have become a norm across locations to maintain pre-COVID social activity levels. Of course, a Zoom chat is never going to be quite the same as socializing in person. One DC source became particularly nostalgic for the “open bar and snack table in the ‘garden room.’ It was open each day, from around 6pm, for all members of the firm to come and have a drink and decompress after a long day.” We heard the firm also created a TED Talk-style series called AssociaTED Talks that allows associates in their fourth and fifth years to deliver presentations within the firm on something non-law related: “For example, we had one about barbecues! It’s just a fun event, where you can hear interesting things from interesting people on topics not related to the law.”
Diversity & Inclusion
Juniors told us that diversity-based events are commonplace and held by the various affinity groups at the firm; VALOR (Veterans and Affiliates Leadership Organization), ACCORD (Attorney Community Championing Our Racial Diversity), and WISE (Women's Initiative for Success and Empowerment) were reportedly the most active. Associates agreed “there’s definitely a good representation of female associates” but felt the proportion hadn’t translated over to partner level. Over in DC, we heard the firm has a “very good childcare center,” which was much appreciated by the large parent cohort in the office. With regard to racial and ethnic diversity, some sources felt as though representation varied depending on the practice group. Those in a more niche area mentioned how “racial diversity is pretty poor. We are having constant discussions of how to diversify and engage with colleges and high schools to make our area of law more accessible.”
A&P has recently become one of 25 major US employers that’s committed to setting up a plan to become MLT Black Equity at Work Certified, alongside the likes of Amazon, Deloitte and fellow law firm Gibson Dunn. Mental health and wellbeing was another area where “they’re trying but it could be better.” On the complimentary side, juniors appreciated the regular check-ins during the lockdown period and having access to mental health services free of charge.
Strategy & Future
Early 2021 had already seen A&P make a number of lateral hires: a former Jones Day partner joined the firm’s New York corporate and finance practice, while an additional five lawyers were added across Houston, DC, New York and Denver to fill needs in the litigation, public policy and corporate practices. Juniors were grateful that “since COVID started there have been many calls with the firm chair, who literally lays out the numbers and lets us know how we are doing in comparison to last year. It’s comforting!”
The first stage: recruitment on and off campus
OCI applicants interviewed: 1,136
Interviewees outside OCI: 76
'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 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 A&P people are glad to hear you're interested in it.”
Applicants invited to second stage interview: 457
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 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
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 taking in a Broadway Show to a baking class at Milk Bar. The firm adapted these events for the virtual summer program in 2020.
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
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.
Arnold & Porter
601 Massachusetts Avenue, NW,
- Number of domestic offices: 9
- Number of international offices: 4
- Worldwide revenue: $961.2 million
- Partners (US): 276
- Associates (US): 472 (includes 39 staff attorneys)
- Main recruitment contact: Amanda Leslie, Firmwide Director of Attorney Recruiting
- Hiring partners: Angela Vicari, Darren Skinner
- Diversity officer: Anand Agneshwar, Diversity & Inclusion Committee Chair; Brenda Carr, Chief Officer of Diversity & Inclusion
- Recruitment details
- Entry-level associates starting in 2021: Anticipated 59 (includes 7 clerks)
- Clerking policy: Yes
- Summers joining 2021: 1Ls: 6, 2Ls: 71
- Summers joining/anticipated 2021 split by office: Washington DC: 31, New York: 22, San Francisco/Silicon Valley: 8, Los Angeles: 5, Denver: 3, Chicago: 6, Houston: 2
- Summer salary 2021: 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 13 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 133 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 2021: 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, 2021
- Environment (Band 3)
- Life Sciences (Band 4)
- Litigation: Appellate (Band 2)
- Technology: Outsourcing (Band 2)
California: San Francisco, Silicon Valley & Surro
- Corporate/M&A: Highly Regarded (Band 1)
- Litigation: General Commercial (Band 2)
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 4)
- Intellectual Property: Patent Prosecution (Band 2)
- 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 4)
- Litigation: General Commercial (Band 5)
- Antitrust (Band 4)
- Corporate/M&A: Highly Regarded (Band 4)
- Intellectual Property: Patent (Band 4)
- 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
- Antitrust (Band 2)
- Appellate Law (Band 4)
- Bankruptcy/Restructuring: Highly Regarded (Band 1)
- Capital Markets: Securitization: ABS (Band 3)
- Climate Change (Band 3)
- Corporate Crime & Investigations: The Elite (Band 4)
- Environment (Band 2)
- 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 (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 (Band 3)
- International Trade: Trade Remedies & Trade Policy (Band 3)
- Leisure & Hospitality (Band 4)
- Life Sciences (Band 3)
- Life Sciences: Regulatory/Compliance (Band 1)
- Privacy & Data Security: The Elite (Band 4)
- Product Liability & Mass Torts: The Elite (Band 1)
- Securities: Regulation: Enforcement (Band 4)