Practically a next-door neighbor to the White House, this quirky midsizer is well suited to handling all things government.
“WE'RE weird.” That’s how one Crowell & Moring associate likes to put it. “Quirkiness is a virtue” at this midsized international firm. “They want to be seen as a firm that evolves with the times,” one associate said; several of our interviewees gave a sense that they were put off by other “traditional, more macho” firms, and enticed by Crowell’s career development prospects, and the “freedom to contribute meaningfully to cases.” There’s been “a lot of lateral recruiting efforts” this year – associate and partner – across all five of Crowell’s domestic offices. New hires have come from the Department of Justice, the Department of Health and Human Services, and Homeland Security – in case you hadn’t clicked, DC-based Crowell is known for its government contracts work, and has been scooping top rankings in government work from Chambers USA for years now. Firm chair Phil Inglima tells us: “We continue to work very consciously to hold on to our core identity of a firm that faces government, works with and against the government, draws talent from the government and gives back to the government.” Although merger talks with Herrick Feinstein fell through, chatter of changes to come persists on the Crowell grapevine. Phil Inglima hints at what the future may hold: "Growth continues to be an important strategy for us in New York, and we’re going to have to be looking beyond our walls to do that."
DC's influence can be seen in the firm's best recognized strengths – healthcare, IP, environmental law, climate change, international trade, antitrust, white-collar crime – but its commercial offering is also broad, with well-regarded corporate, private equity and commercial litigation practices. Anyone serious about Crowell's specialist areas should take a look at the blogs and podcasts it produces on its website, covering areas like whistle-blowing, trade secrets, and health law. One podcast ‘Trump: The First Year’ follows regulatory changes under the new administration. While that Donald continues to divide opinion, one Donald who wouldn’t have any trouble fitting in at Crowell is Donald Duck – in DC, the office is famous for its foyer fountain full of rubber ducks.
Crowell juniors are assigned to two departments “normally within their top three choices.” More senior attorneys approach juniors with work through an online system that logs their hours and availability, but associates also have the “freedom to chase their own work.” With “low walls” between practice areas, associates here emphasized the approach here is not at all “one size fits all” but that they had “the agency to shape their own strategy.” One associate appreciated “the book wasn’t written for me.”
Crowell’s well-established government contracts group drew in the current crop of associates for being “one of if not the best.” A lot of the team “studied government contracts at school and knew exactly what they wanted to do, but there’s something for everyone.” The team divides its time between bid protests, claims recovery, internal investigations, ethics and compliance issues, appellate work, litigation, transactions, procurement protests, brief writing, and “research assignments on some obscure issues.” One “self-proclaimed dork” particularly enjoyed the scope for administrative law research. Associates in this department enjoy “a sense of ownership” in their practice, and appreciate “a lot of client interaction” and “being able to answer their questions.”
"It was just how I'd pictured it at law school."
Several antitrust and litigation associates got the chance to work on the proposed $34 billion Aetna/Humana merger (“the largest-value merger of its kind at the time that had ever been litigated to a judicial decision”). Juniors were on trial prep, mock cross-examinations, economic research, drafting questionnaires, preparing trial exhibits and “everything else that goes with preparing for trial and being part of a big team.” The “crazy, hectic hours” went hand in hand with this one, and law school premonitions were realized: “It was just how I’d pictured it – eating Chinese food with people around a table, trying to figure it out.” Aspiring litigators also do a fair bit of motion drafting, brief writing and some doc review.
Opportunities are pretty “forthcoming” at Crowell. One associate was put on a United Airlines antitrust litigation “before the end of orientation week,” and getting to work with “the partners I wanted to be when I grew up.” During a mock deposition, one associate got to “pretend to be a Department of Justice lawyer grilling the senior executive. That was intimidating and incredible.”
Associates described the healthcare lawyers as "a funny bunch" – we'll take that to mean they're hilarious. Here there's an “unofficial split” between litigation and regulatory. They handle contract disputes, class actions, fraud and abuse work, and general compliance issues, “helping hospitals comply with government programs where they can receive additional funding.” They deal with clients’ compliance questions, providing them with “a risk assessment, basically.”
Cybersecurity is a growing area for the firm. “It was a working group” when one junior started, and has since become its own fully-fledged practice group. Other juniors are sprinkled among other departments like IP, international trade, corporate, insurance, environment, and white-collar, among others.
Training & Development
There’s “a ton” of training at Crowell. Each group “has its own benchmark and tells you what you should be achieving,” and partner mentors “encourage monthly lunches or coffees to check in.” This year associates enjoyed “pretty regular training retreats” and white-collar associates got stuck into “role-playing” how they’d respond to a call from “a client being raided by the FBI.”
"Hardcore trial training."
Crowell takes part in the Loaned Lawyer Program, sending voluntary associates on six-month secondments to the Legal Aid Society’s housing unit. There, they can get “totally immersed” in work such as “eviction defenses” with a full salary, so they “don’t have to stress over finances.” One associate who’d completed the program gushed, “It’s a great way for associates to get on-your-feet experience in court.” Then there’s the invite-only week-long trial academy, where 12 to 16 lucky invitees endure “hardcore trial training” with guest speakers and a “big mock trial in the federal district court.”
Offices & Culture
Just “a few blocks from the White House” you’ll find Crowell’s HQ, which is now starting to resemble something “like an Apple store” thanks to “sleek” upgrades that haven’t quite yet reached every corner. One hopeful junior angling for some of the refurb action said, “My office is kind of ‘meh.’ I wouldn’t take pictures of it and brag.” They have an otherwise “high morale” in DC, with a weekly 'Cheap Booze' night, which was “the brainchild of one of the partners.” It takes place in the cafeteria, which received rave reviews. “I sit dangerously close to that cafeteria,” one associate said.
A “family-friendly” atmosphere “permeates through the office” in LA, and New York is said to have a similar “homey” feel. The “active” San Francisco team has run a few relay marathons, and after last year’s they “went back to a partner’s house for brunch.” Some associates would prefer “more geographical options” within the firm, and there has been “a big push to make smaller offices more relevant.” Crowell also has an Orange County office, and overseas ones in London and Brussels.
"We're the firm with a bunch of rubber ducks."
“Yes, we’re the firm with a bunch of rubber ducks,” one associate acknowledged. The unconventional mascot evolved after firm founder Took Crowell placed a plain old rubber duck in a “pretentious, eyeroll-inducing” fountain in the DC office’s lobby. A few more found their way in there, and despite a couple of attempts to distance themselves from the image, the firm eventually decided it didn’t give a duck, and embraced their aquatic motif. Forty years on, rubber ducks are to be found “lining the desks” of well-respected Crowell attorneys, and there are “thematic” ducks for every occasion includinga Fourth of July duck, a superhero duck, and a poker duck for the summer program casino night.A bemused associate admitted, “I didn’t know there were so many kinds of rubber duck.”
Hours & Compensation
Last year’s salary bump made associates pretty happy, as well as the switch to a lockstep bonus system – everyone is guaranteed if they hit their billing target. A 100-hour jump put that up to 2,000. A government contracts associate was confident speaking for their group: “We’re so incredibly busy that people aren’t struggling to meet it,” but for associates elsewhere, “it can be quite stressful.” Another had “less time for vacation.”
"It can be quite stressful."
At the time of our research, there were “murmurings” of change still to come. “I think they’re going to change our compensation,” one junior speculated. In late 2017 the firm formally announced that 70% of the bonus associates receive will be based on hitting the 2,000 hours target and 30% on quality of work.
“Hours are long” across departments, with many juniors spending over nine hours in the office each day, and one remembered a 15-hour day during trial. “There isn’t a huge face-time requirement” though, which was a big plus for associates: “They treat us like adults.”
Crowell & Moring has had two female leaders in the past decade, which is a rarity in the profession. However, associates point out that “the partnership isn’t 50:50 for sure. It would make you feel better about your prospects if we knew both perspectives were being taken into account.”
"A work in process."
The firm held its first diversity retreat in DC this year, which turned up ideas that Crowell is “in the process of implementing.” Partnershave taken “bias training” and heard from an “expert who used walk-through scenarios to show how biases may play out in the workplace, and how to mitigate that.” Despite the “significant steps” Crowell’s taken this year, it’s “still a work in process,” one minority associate said, “but they’re doing everything I’d expect a big firm to be doing.”
Public service partner Susie “amazing” Hoffman assigns projects across offices, but the firm also “gives you the keys and lets you run with it,” one associate said. “Lambda Legal asked if I could handle a brief regarding the misgendering of a trans student at school, and now we’ve had two cases in the LGBT civil rights movement, solely because the partner fully supported me when I went to her.” Pro bono opportunities arise “after every major disaster, like the Orlando shooting.” One recent opportunity is with the Texas Access to Justice Foundation, helping to ensure immigrants in Houston won’t be deported when seeking help in the wake of Hurricane Harvey.
"It was fun seeing celebration emails go around the firm."
Other cases associates were keen to talk about included an asylum case for a woman from Burkina Faso, who was “ostracized for not undergoing FGM,” and a clemency petition for an inmate under Obama’s clemency project. One associate billed 250 hours on a petition that “challenged a life sentence for crimes committed as a juvenile,” which a federal judge eventually granted. “It was fun seeing celebration emails go around the firm after that.” Pro bono hours currently “count 100% toward the billable target,” but some sources were sceptical this “might change in the near future.” However, management assured us it has no intention of changing the policy.
Pro bono hours
- For US attorneys: 45,530
- Average per US attorney: 81
Strategy & Future
After rapid expansion in the 2000s (three mergers and three office openings), it might look as if the pace has slowed down over this decade. Two offices closed their doors in 2016 (Anchorage and Cheyenne), and a merger with Herrick Feinstein was called off earlier this year.
Phil Inglima replaced Angela Styles as firm chair in late 2017. Inglima says: “We don’t anticipate any major shift in direction. We’ve really been focused in the past few years doubling down on our strengths and continuing to expand and increase our offerings in ways we think meet the growing client needs. In our view we’ve always had a strong regulatory core, we’ve been reinvesting in that strength in the past year, and we’ve also been growing our litigation strength over time.”
Hiring partner Ryan Tisch emphasizes the importance of “underused” career services in law schools. Get ready for interviewing by “taking advantage of programs at school to demystify what can be a mystery when you’re starting in the legal profession.” He also strongly advises students “talk to employers at pre-recruitment fairs and follow up with an email – we love those students who keep in touch so that, come fall, we know who we’re interviewing.” Ryan says the best interviewees can explain clearly why they want to be a lawyer: “Even if they don’t have legal experience, they can draw parallels readily between the profession and the experience they do have.” Telling interviewers about “how you fixed someone else’s mistake” isn’t going to impress anyone: “That’s not self-reflective at all.”
And Ryan’s number-one tip? It’s simple: “Be yourself. I worry about candidates who’re being what they think I want them to be, rather than authentic.” He says this rings particularly true for diverse candidates: “It helps to be unfettered by what you think the interviewer expects.” Diversity is a “top issue” in Crowell’s recruitment: “We want the diversity of our staff to mirror the diversity of our clients, the world we live in and the commercial world we compete in.”
OCI applicants interviewed: 572
Interviewees outside OCI: 15
Applicants invited to 2nd stage interview: 132
Notable summer events: Cooking classes, community service events, Major League Baseball games, boat cruises, concerts, karaoke, Escape Room events
Notable pro bono opportunities
The firm has a broad indigent criminal defense practice, representing defendants on both on the trial court and appellate levels through referrals from the Office of the Public Defender for Montgomery County, Maryland; the Office of Public Defender for Maryland (appeals); the Federal Defender for the District of Columbia; and the Federal Public Defender for the Eastern District of Virginia. These representations enable lawyers to obtain valuable jury trial, brief writing and oral argument experience. In addition, the firm has several ongoing death penalty cases. The firm has also been successful in representing prisoners referred by Families Against Mandatory Minimums in having their sentences commuted.
As co-counsel with Public Counsel, the Firm’s Los Angeles office filed a lawsuit in December 2017 on behalf of the Labor/Community Strategy Center (“Strategy Center”) asking the court to order the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (“MTA”), the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department, the Los Angeles Police Department (“LAPD”), and the Long Beach Police Department to follow the law requiring transparency in government and disclose documents that detail a pattern of policing which has resulted in grossly disproportionate citations of African American train riders.
As co-counsel with the ACLU of Maryland, the firm filed two separate lawsuits in June 2017 challenging the constitutionality of “confidentiality agreements” in settlements of police misconduct cases in the State of Maryland as a condition of resolving these cases.
The firm represents refugees and LGBT individuals on a variety of immigration matters, ranging from representation in political asylum trials, to assisting undocumented clients, particularly domestic violence victims, with applications for U visas, T visas and self-petitions for legal status under the Violence Against Women Act to drafting amicus briefs on important immigration policy issues.
The Firm through its offices in LA, DC, and New York continues to represent victims of human trafficking and other low-income workers who are victims of wage theft in pursuing claims for past due wages and overtime.
The Firm has continued its work as co-counsel with the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law on two significant Voting Rights Act cases that are moving to trial most likely in the coming year after the Firm succeeded in opposing and having motions to dismiss filed by the state defendants denied in each case.
Crowell & Moring LLP
1001 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW,
- Head Office: Washington, DC
- Number of domestic offices: 5
- Number of international offices: 2
- Worldwide revenue: $418.7 million
- Partners (US): 188
- Associates (US): 149
- Counsel/Sr Counsel (US): 141
- Main recruitment contact: Torey Phillips, Director of Attorney Recruiting and Development (firstname.lastname@example.org)
- Hiring partner: Ryan Tisch
- Recruitment details
- Entry-level associates starting in 2018: 20
- Clerking policy: We encourage clerkship opportunities.
- Summers joining/anticipated 2018: 1Ls: 1, 2Ls: 20
- Summers joining/anticipated 2018 split by office: Washington, DC: 10, New York: 4, Los Angeles: 3, Orange County, CA: 2, San Francisco: 2
- Summer salary 2018: 1Ls: $ 3,462/week 2Ls: $ 3,462/week
- Split summers offered? Case by case
- Can summers spend time in an overseas office? No
Main areas of work
Berkeley, Chicago, Columbia, Cornell, Duke, Fordham, George Washington, Georgetown, Harvard, Howard, Loyola, Maryland, Michigan, Northwestern, NYU, Rutgers, University of Pennsylvania, UC Hastings, UC Irvine, UCLA, USC, University of Virginia
Recruitment outside OCIs:
We participate in the following job fairs: Lavender Job Fair, On Tour Interview Program (in LA), Bay Area Diversity Career Fair
Summer associate profile:
The firm looks for highly qualified, entrepreneurial candidates with diverse backgrounds. We prefer candidates with law review, journal or moot court experience and/or strong relevant legal employment experience, including judicial clerkships; as well as demonstrated leadership capabilities.
Summer program components:
The diversity in our summer program reflects the diversity of our firm at large. We want summer associates who take the practice of law and client service more seriously than they take themselves, who will contribute to the life of the firm, and who share our sense of responsibility to the community.
Most of our junior associates come from our Summer Associate Program. We want you to go back to law school knowing who we are, what we do, and how we do it. Work for summer associates includes mostly short-term projects that will allow you to experience as many practice areas and as many lawyers as possible.
Summer associates have the opportunity to participate in workshops and seminars on such topics as “The Law Firm as a Business” and “Oral Advocacy Training.” In addition, the firm offers summer associates opportunities to accompany Crowell & Moring attorneys to “Live Events”, which are real-world activities such as court hearings, client meetings, depositions, presentations and negotiations, to observe our lawyers in action.
This Firm's Rankings in
Chambers USA Guide 2017
- Antitrust (Band 4)
- Healthcare (Band 4)
- Litigation: General Commercial (Band 5)
- Litigation: White-Collar Crime & Government Investigations (Band 3)
District of Columbia
- Antitrust (Band 4)
- Corporate/M&A & Private Equity (Band 3)
- Environment (Band 2)
- Healthcare (Band 2)
- Insurance: Insurer (Band 1)
- Intellectual Property: Litigation (Band 4)
- Litigation: General Commercial (Band 4)
- Litigation: White-Collar Crime & Government Investigations (Band 3)
- Tax Recognised Practitioner
- Healthcare Recognised Practitioner
- Litigation: White-Collar Crime & Government Investigations Recognised Practitioner
USA - Nationwide
- Climate Change (Band 2)
- Energy: Electricity (Regulatory & Litigation) (Band 4)
- Environment (Band 3)
- Government Contracts (Band 1)
- Healthcare (Band 4)
- Insurance: Dispute Resolution: Insurer (Band 2)
- International Trade: Customs (Band 3)
- International Trade: Export Controls & Economic Sanctions (Band 4)
- Privacy & Data Security Recognised Practitioner
- Product Liability & Mass Torts Recognised Practitioner