If it’s antitrust and IP with a litigious twang you’re on the hunt for, start axing other firms for this boutique.
Axinn shows that the Goldilocks approach really does work; it’s a firm that, according to our sources, has got its size and reputation just right. Let’s break each part down: Axinn’s cozier dimensions consist of just under 100 lawyers spread across four offices (New York, DC, San Francisco, and Hartford). As for its reputation: the firm picks up three Chambers USA accolades for its nationwide antitrust expertise and is highly regarded for its general commercial litigation know-how in Connecticut. It's a firm that boasts longstanding clients along the likes of Google and Stanley Black & Decker, and, more recently, TikTok. Ultimately, for our sources, these two variables amounted to “BigLaw caliber work and pay,” with a “nurturing atmosphere” and a “focus on each attorney’s personal growth.”
“One of last year’s interviewees called us the Navy SEALs of litigation and I couldn’t put it better myself!”
One well-read source enthused: “One of last year’s interviewees called us the Navy SEALs of litigation and I couldn’t put it better myself!” Another added: “I saw the firm was Chambers-ranked and well regarded for its antitrust and IP work, so I was sold!” (Not to toot our own horn.) Others were drawn in by the prospect of “a flat hierarchy that gave juniors lots of responsibility.” According to our survey results, this promise rang true for many, as respondents scored Axinn well below the market average for the presence of a hierarchy within the firm. And finally... “Snacks were actually one of my deciding factors, and Axinn is almost too generous with snacks!”
Strategy & Future
“The firm has been very active in advising clients on matters that involve both IP and antitrust components. We’ve identified opportunities for growth in areas such as IP, litigation, and cartel work,” Axinn’s managing partner Matthew Becker details, adding: “Because of this, we have lateraled new hires including Jimmy Attridge from the Department of Justice.” This growth remains targeted, and Becker lays down the law: “We’re managing the growth in a way that maintains our outstanding services coupled with our tight-knit culture. We don’t want to be a 1,000-lawyer firm, so structuring our growth alongside our core values is intentional.” This focus is well communicated to juniors too, who noted that “antitrust law is exploding right now, but intelligent and disciplined growth remains the big commitment.”
Axinn’s branches of antitrust, IP, or litigation are where associates are placed for the summer, and where juniors ultimately join. According to our associate sources, “around 70% sit in antitrust, with handfuls joining IP and litigation.” Location-wise, the majority of juniors join the firm’s DC and New York practices, with only a select few joining the San Francisco and Hartford offices. Regardless, cross-office collaboration is common with this bunch, with an insider noting: “I work across the other offices more often than just within my own office!”
“Antitrust is a diverse practice, but Axinn always has the person for the matter!” one associate enthused. A case in point: the firm has over 80 antitrust attorneys who deal with M&A; domestic and international cartel work; private and public antitrust litigation; and government investigations and relations cases for household clients like Google and Stanley Black & Decker. Among the associate cohort, there’s an informal divide between transactional and litigious antitrust work. Those primarily exposed to M&A deals found themselves working with “large healthcare and life sciences companies to evaluate their M&A targets.” On the level of responsibility handed to juniors, one source stated that “it’s cool to be so involved. The companies trust the partners and in turn the partners hand out lots of responsibility.” Here, associates are tasked with research, drafting memos, filings, regulatory requests, and sitting in on client calls. “Initially, you wouldn’t ask any questions during the calls but as you progress you’re expected to contribute and be a real member of the team,” a seasoned interviewee explained.
“I didn’t think there’d be this much writing!”
On the litigious side of antitrust, associates’ daily workloads are filled with motion drafting, legal research, and writing. “I didn’t think there’d be this much writing!” one associate laughed, adding it was experience they’d requested. Sources explained that, when staffed on teams, the junior’s role is to “be the person closest to the ground so partners can focus on the strategy and the bigger picture. They really lean on junior associates to raise any issues they come across.” No pressure!
Antitrust clients: Google, TikTok, Thermo Fisher Scientific. Representing software company VMware during its $69 billion acquisition by semiconductor manufacturer Broadcom in relation to anticompetitive concerns.
Like antitrust, the firm’s intellectual property practice is also a go-to for many big-name clients. While most of the work is centered around pharmaceutical, biotech, and life sciences patent matters, associates noted an “introduction into the tech world.” Becker flags that “we are investing in continuing the growth of our technology practice to keep pace with the evolution of that industry similar to the depth of capabilities we have in life sciences.” As is expected with IP, associate interviewees were “juggling lots of balls and deadlines.” Responsibility ramps up quickly: “On my first matter I personally drafted a notice letter to the opposing counsel as well as counterclaims for an expert witness.”
IP clients: Samsung, Thales Group, Norwich Pharmaceuticals. Defended Alembic Pharmaceuticals against a patent infringement filed by AstraZeneca in relation to the former’s production of a generic version of Tagrisso, a lung cancer medication.
Litigation is a smaller but no less mighty team. While the antitrust and IP groups deal with their fair share of litigious work, the firm’s dedicated ligation team works on more commercial matters, including multidistrict litigations and class actions in industries of all sorts. A recent example is the firm’s representation of Reed Smith against a malpractice and breach-of-duty case filed by rapper 50 Cent… We guess you’ll find him In da Courtroom on this matter.
Litigation clients: Reed Smith,New York Community Bank, Alvogen. Represented Alvogen in relation to state and federal lawsuits filed against the pharmaceutical company regarding the marketing, sale, and distribution of opioid products.
Off the bat, associates are paired up with a partner and a senior associate mentor. According to our sources, this duo is “heavily invested in your personal development,” and often provides juniors with advice on anything from giving presentations to networking. On top of mentorship, the firm has formal training programs aligned to different practice areas. A litigation associate told us: “We have advanced trial trainings once a month with litigators and various learning lessons. The firm also hosts a mock deposition program which I’ve heard really good things about!”
“You’re expected to contribute to client pitches and build your brand..."
Interviewees were also keen to highlight other measures the firm takes to further personal development: “You’re expected to contribute to client pitches and build your brand through Bar associations, panels, and public speaking work.” The firm also encourages and helps associates to “build a LinkedIn profile, publish articles, and attend talks from outside speakers to build commercial awareness. You’re encouraged to get your name out there!”
Hours & Compensation
Billable hours: 2,000 target
To qualify for a bonus, associates are required to hit the 2,000-hour billable target. In practice, our sources reported working an average of ten to 11 hours a day, though they were keen to note associates “don’t need to be available past 6:30pm.” According to our survey, on average associates were working just over 54 hours a week – above our reported market average of 48.8. Insiders voiced a few concerns over the hours and flow of work: “I’ve gone through some low periods and some relatively high ones; I do sometimes worry about being on track to hit the target.”
When it comes to pro bono, associates can count up to 100 hours toward their billable target with the possibility of extensions if needed. “It’s highly encouraged for junior associates as it’s a great way to get your hands dirty early on,” a source explained. Across the offices, associates can get involved in immigration and asylum work for Ukrainian and Afghan refugees; copyright matters for nonprofits; and other ad hoc matters. Cases are circulated via monthly emails, which associates can respond to and express their interest in.
Pro bono hours
- For all US attorneys: 4,526
- Average per US attorney: 63
“We’re all nerds for antitrust law."
So, what kind of dynamic can you expect to step into at Axinn? “I’d describe it as an intellectual environment, but in the most relaxed and personal capacity,” said one interviewee. Others widely agreed with the sentiment, adding that Axinn’s full of “funny and charming personalities who you want to work with.” Admittedly, “we’re all nerds for antitrust law,” a source laughed. As the firm’s headcount sits around 100 lawyers, sources highlighted that “the smaller cohort allows people’s personalities to shine through.” So be warned, “if you’re a jerk, word travels fast!”
On the social side, interviewees spoke of informal happy hours and dinners: “It usually starts off with a few people and snowballs into a larger event!” Highlights include a pizza tour, bowling, and bumper cars.
Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
Axinn’s efforts for DE&I were highly praised among the associate cohort, with sources praising the “high female associate presence which demonstrates a close in the gender gap.” But much like the rest of BigLaw, this level of representation is yet to push through the ranks. “There are fewer female partners and it’s harder to work in groups with not as much representation,” one interviewee noted. Thankfully, the firm has made a push to keep DE&I at the forefront of people’s minds; associates are allocated 50 diversity hours which they can use to attend talks and events regarding matters of racial and gender identity. Sources added that “because of these talks, people have taken the initiative to add their pronouns to email signatures.”
The first stage: recruitment on and off campus
OCI applicants interviewed: 253 (OCI only)
Interviewees outside OCI: 48 (fairs, candidate outreach/referrals)
Axinn conducts OCI at 17 schools, attends four job fairs and participates in resume drops at several additional schools each season. At each location, interviewers meet with 15 to 25 students. The firm attends the following job fairs: NEBLSA, Bay Area Diversity, Lavender Law and the Loyola Patent Fair. Additionally, Axinn participates in Google’s Legal Summer Institute, a unique in-house and law firm experience where underrepresented 2L law school students are invited to spend the first week of the program at Google followed by a full summer internship with an outside counsel law firm.
Our interviews are conducted by partners or associates who are typically alumni of those schools. Hiring partners at the firm tell us interviewers look for “bright, motivated and team-oriented” individuals who have a demonstrated interest in the firm’s practice areas: IP, antitrust and litigation. Candidates will be asked behavioral-type questions, such as describing a situation where they proved to be a reliable teammate.
Top tips for this stage:
“Having a summer internship at the Federal Trade Commission, the Department of Justice, or the state equivalent of those goes a long way to demonstrating an interest in antitrust.” – a junior associate
“We look for someone who’s interested in what we’re interested in. When big decisions come out of the DC Circuit, people here are tracking it. Not just because our work is in it, but because we’re interested in it and love it.” – a junior associate
Applicants invited to second stage interview: 98
Successful candidates are invited to four to five half-hour interviews with partners and associates. Here, interviewers will be gauging “candidates’ ability to think analytically, their interest in our practice areas, and their fit within a team-oriented work environment.” Hiring sources continue that “candidates should be prepared to discuss one of their writing samples in detail, examine legal issues they have studied or analysed from all angles, and provide examples of how they embody the attributes we value.”
Top tips for this stage:
“They like to see there’s some real intellectual interest in antitrust. My interview was a lot like that – they were making sure I had the chops!” – a junior associate
“Be knowledgeable, be passionate, be engaged, be yourself.” – hiring partners Ted Mathias, Leslie Overton, Dan Oakes and John Tanski
Successful candidates are hired directly into their desired practice group in the firm’s summer program, which will run for ten weeks from mid-May to mid-July. Summer associates typically get work assignments within their respective groups, but there can be opportunities to work on projects outside of their group as well. Work is assigned by the recruitment staff, but attorneys at the firm can also assign tasks directly.
Summer associates are assigned two mentors and get regular training programs. Social events range from virtual smaller team-building events to larger office-wide programs. Our summer associates can expect to travel to other offices and have ample opportunities to attend depositions, court hearings and trials. Summer associates receive offers directly from their chosen practice group, and they tend to stay in that group throughout their career at Axinn.
Top tips for this stage:
“We encourage summer associates to seek out opportunities of interest, such as working on particular matters of interest (including pro bono opportunities) and sitting in on depositions.” – hiring partners Ted Mathias, Leslie Overton, Dan Oakes and John Tanski
114 West 47th Street,
Main areas of work
Antitrust, intellectual property and complex litigation.
Axinn combines the skills, experience and dedication of the world’s largest firms with the focus, responsiveness, efficiency and attention to client needs of the best boutiques. The firm was established in the late 1990s by lawyers from premier Wall Street firms with a common vision: provide the highest level of service and strategic acumen in antitrust, intellectual property and high-stakes litigation. Axinn’s lawyers have served as lead or co-lead counsel on nearly half a trillion dollars in transactions and, in the last 10 years alone, have handled more than 300 litigations.
Law Schools attending for OCIs in 2023:
Antonin Scalia, Berkeley, Columbia, Duke, Georgetown, George Washington, Howard, Fordham, New York University, Stanford, UPenn, Washington University in St. Louis, University of Chicago, University of Connecticut, University of Michigan, UCLA, The University of Memphis
Recruitment outside OCIs:
We visit various diversity and practice group focused job fairs, including Google LSI, MCCA, NEBLSA, Lavender Law, Bay Area Diversity Fair and the Patent Law Interview Program.
Summer associate profile:
We seek to hire students, like you, with excellence in a range of areas that illustrate your desire and potential to be a great lawyer. Academic distinction, law journal participation, moot court experience, and/or prior work experience are just a few of the characteristics that can set an applicant apart.
Our Antitrust practice is one of the largest in the country and counsels leading companies in diverse industries such as technology, health care, sports, aerospace, fintech and many others. We represent clients across the spectrum of antitrust matters: mergers, civil and criminal investigations, and litigation. While many of our attorneys have an economics background, this is not required.
Axinn’s IP practice offers skills and experience in numerous industries and technologies, including all areas of life sciences, chemicals, mechanical, electronics and software. A STEM background or degree is preferred, but not required. Axinn’s complex litigation practice represents companies in a broad range of high-stakes business disputes, including matters involving allegations of unfair trade practices, malpractice and fraud. Our trial lawyers have varied academic backgrounds but share a drive to persuade judges and juries through their oral and written advocacy.
Growing to more than 100 attorneys over our 25+ years, Axinn continues to excel and flourish. Come learn more about our culture of excellence, opportunity-rich work environment, and strong commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion.
Summer program components:
During their summer with Axinn, associates attend internal meetings and seminars to familiarize themselves with lawyers, clients and a range of projects that comprise our practice. In addition, Axinn attorneys and outside professionals provide training in such topics as legal writing, litigation strategy and how to effectively utilize firm resources and support services. Each training experience emphasizes “learning by doing” and serves to enhance opportunities for summer associates to develop, exercise and build confidence in their skills. Each summer associate is assigned a partner and associate mentor, who are available to prioritize assignments and act as a sounding board. Summer associates are invited to join events such as wine tastings, theater, sporting and museum outings, and cooking classes.
Recruitment website: www.axinn.com
This Firm's Rankings in
USA Guide, 2023
- Litigation: General Commercial (Band 2)
District of Columbia
- Antitrust (Band 3)
- Antitrust (Band 2)
USA - Nationwide
- Antitrust (Band 3)