An “entrepreneurial spirit” permeates this full-service, Philly-born firm.
'HARD-working,' 'client-oriented,' 'commercial' – these words are emblazoned across law firm advertising the world over, and this branding homogeneity causes problems for students who just want to get to know the firms. But Fox Rothschild's marketing plumps for something more individual – 'chutzpah,' 'moxie,' 'grit' – and it tells you a lot about the firm. “Fox was on my radar because of their marketing materials and their fresher look," an associate thought. "I liked the fact they had full-body photos of their lawyers on their website rather than the usual mug shots. It reflected the fact that while Fox is obviously a serious place to work, the people here are less stern.” Our sources decided these first impressions had substance, agreeing there was a real “entrepreneurial spirit,” andexplained that “Fox doesn't just represent huge corporate clients – we are happy to take any business." The firm caters mainly to the midmarket, and while it has a presence across the nation, associates mused that the firm is “definitely more well known in Philly and the Northeast corridor than other parts of the country.” Philadelphia is the biggest office with around 100lawyers, followed by Minneapolis (80 attorneys), New York (78) and Princeton (69). At the time of our research there were juniors based in 17 of the firm's 22 offices.
Sources were drawn to the variety of practice areas on offer at Fox – a hefty 67 according to the firm's website. The usual suspects such as litigation, corporate, real estate and labor & employment sit alongside more specialist areas such as drone law, zoning & land use, and cannabis law. The firm is recognized by Chambers USA for its work across four states, with rankings for areas including corporate M&A, litigation, healthcare and labor & employment. Fox also earns a top-tier nationwide ranking for gaming & licensing law – work done, unsurprisingly, chiefly out of the Atlantic City office.
Culture & Offices
Consistent with its entrepreneurial spirit, Fox is a place which “appreciates creativity” and where “associates are never inhibited from making suggestions about the work. It's often two or three people on the team bouncing ideas off each other. The firm makes efforts to include everyone including paralegals and juniors.” All Fox associates are given an annual marketing budget of $500 on joining, which they are "encouraged to use to build up a book of business from the beginning.” With the exception of the odd “irrational partner,” associates also emphasized that the firm is “good at making sure associates and partners are in the trenches together,” exemplifying some of that 'moxie' and 'grit' we were talking about earlier. Monthly associate meetings keep associates in the loop on any major changes afoot, which ensures “that everybody knows the score – it helps us to understand the firm's expectations of us and how to meet those expectations.”
“Fox has grown by acquiring smaller firms."
Associates did however identify discernible differences between the offices and even a bit of tension. “Fox has grown by acquiring smaller firms, some of which still have a core of 30 attorneys who are now under the leadership of Fox in Philly,” sources explained.As such, those in some of the smaller outposts such as Atlantic City felt that their offices “didn’t have any of that big-firm mentality that can make things uncomfortable,” and took issue with things being so “Philly centralized: they are not familiar with the working habits and culture of other offices so sometimes the decisions made are not correct. Everything just trickles down.” However, the firm's executive committee is made up of managing partners from each of the firm's offices, who do have influence over any decisions being made.
At the time of our calls, the largest cohorts of juniors were in Philly, New York, Princeton, Atlantic City and Minneapolis, with others spread across Philadelphia's Chester, Bucks and Montgomery counties as well as Pittsburgh, Wilmington, Morristown, Washington DC, Dallas, Denver, West Palm Beach, San Francisco and LA. At the end of their summer with the firm, juniors rank their top three preferences for practice areas they'd like to join, and were happy to report that “rarely does the firm not honor your top choice.” The corporate and litigation groups take on most juniors, followed by labor & employment. We heard that “work assignment is meant to be run through the head of each office and allocated evenly,” but that for most juniors the reality is that you “receive work more informally from the people you naturally gravitate toward.”
The labor & employment team mainly sticks to management defense and draws in “a good mix of national and regional clients” such as Pennsylvania recruitment agency McGrath Systems and the Holland America Group cruise line. Associates start with “piecemeal assignments, doing research for different cases without seeing a case from the beginning,” but are able to advance to “take ownership of cases” and gain experience drafting discovery requests, answering complaints “and doing any other grunt work behind the scenes.” One junior relished the “divide and conquer” approach in their group, involving “regular scheduled collaborations and swapping of work between juniors and seniors.”
Over in litigation sources were happy to report that “you're not doing doc review: you're practicing law.” One source boasted of “handling all my own matters: I have unsupervised contact with the court and opposing council; I'm the primary contact for clients; and I am able to attend depositions and hearings outside the office. The cases I handle tend to be commercial, mid-level damages claims in the couple of hundreds of thousands range.” For those perhaps uncomfortable being “thrown to the wolves” like this, sources assured us that “you have control over getting as much responsibility as you want.”
In the corporate team attorneys tackle a range of business transactions: operating agreements, licensing, purchases and sales, contract formations, corporate governance and securities deals. Partners each specialize in different areas and clients include technology, pharmaceutical and consumer services companies. We heard of one associate who "recently assisted with a hospital merger, handling the research aspects, looking into the certificate of need, then drafting a memo."
Training & Development
Training kicks off with an initial orientation in Philly that lasts for around three days and covers basic skills like billing, IT and general admin. Following this, transactional associates and litigators have their own practice-specific training program, and they can count up to 25 hours from their programs toward their billable total. The “very structured” litigation program continues for associates' first four years and covers areas such as “working with experts and developing a litigation budget.” This is supplemented by weekend training on areas such as trials and depositions. “They try to create a whole trial experience and bring in people off the street to be the jury,” sources revealed.
“They try to create a whole trial experience."
As for less formal training, first and second-year associates can count 50 hours of time spent with their mentor or “observing a more experienced attorney on another case” toward their billing target. Sources believed this commitment to training is indicative of “the firm's investment in you as an associate – they're not just grinding you to crank out hours.”
Juniors were confident about their future at the firm, highlighting that “one of the firm's selling points is the higher percentage of associates making partner compared to at other AmLaw 100 firms." One concluded: "I do think that if you put in the time and effort you can make partner in eight to ten years.”
Hours & Compensation
“Most people come to Fox knowing they are paid below market because of the work-life balance on offer,” juniors reasoned. Litigators have a billing requirement of 1,900 hours, while it's 1,850 for everyone else. Most found that hitting the target “had never been an issue,” consistently billing eight to ten hoursa dayanywhere between 8am and 8pm. However, we also heard reports of associates working closer to 12 hours a day, as well as the odd weekend. Some sources reflected that the quality of your work/life balance “depends on the partner you are working with. There are some who want work done straight away on the weekend even though it could wait until the working week, which can be frustrating.”
Moreover, despite “the leadership's reasoning that slightly lower billable rates justify lower salaries,” the below-market pay and discrepancies between offices were the source of some dissatisfaction among associates. First-years in New York, LA, San Francisco and DC start on $160,000, while at the bottom end of the scale new starters in Denver and Las Vegas are paid $115,000. “My sense is that Fox has lost a few good associates because of the salary issue,” one source reflected. Associates did however praise the policy that gives associates 10% of any business they bring in over $10,000. One junior remarked: “I've brought in a few clients already and I'm only a second-year.”
Overall, 28.5% of partners are women and interviewees commented that “the firm does a lot to unify women throughout the firm.” The Women's Initiative comprises three subcommittees including a leadership, connectivity and associate steering committee. The group's designated budget has been put to good use, seeing juniors sent off to attend the Pennsylvania Women’s Conference – headlined by Michelle Obama in 2017 – and in other places used to sponsor fundraisers for local nonprofit women's charities. Sources were more muted in their review of ethnic diversity at the firm, reflecting that “women versus men isn't a problem as much as ethnic diversity.”
Associates can count up to 50 hours of pro bono toward their billable hours target.However, juniors were disappointed to report that there is “not much excitement about or even acknowledgment of pro bono,” adding that “any work is done off your own bat – it would be nice to have a fixed system.” Interviewees acknowledged that “some partners are more excited about it than others,” but otherwise conceded that it's “not on the firm's radar.” We also heard that the firm has recently appointed two partners to breathe life back into the pro bono committee; they will be working with partners in each office to implement a more formal structure and boost participation in pro bono.
Pro bono hours
- For all attorneys: 8,755
- Average per attorney: 9.5
This is reflected in the stats, as the average annual number of pro bono hours recorded per attorney at Fox comes to just under ten. Sources felt that this was slightly compensated by “the emphasis placed on going to fund-raisers on behalf of the firm,” which sees juniors heading off to “lots of different events,” including a recent lunch with the Governor of Pennsylvania.
Strategy & Future
"First, we feel we are well poised to fill out some of the offices we have," says managing partner Mark Morris. "After laying down some solid foundations, we are looking to make use of the infrastructure we have created. In offices such as Chicago, Dallas and Miami we want to grow beyond 20 to 30 lawyers to 70." Morris adds: "We have opened a new office in Seattle as a result of our merger with Riddell Williams, which has expanded our geographic footprint and resulted in some good cross-referrals for our clients."
Fox recruits nationwide for all its offices. “If we go on campus at Columbia for example, we are recruiting for all our offices, despite where that school might be,” director of associate recruitment Natalie Quinn explains. “We also provide an interviewer training program before on campus interviews where we discuss recruiting nationally rather than regionally, our distinguishing characteristics, effective interview questions, and how to be an ambassador for the firm – that way all the interviewees have all the necessary information.” Quinn makes clear what Fox is looking for during OCIs: “Having real world experience is definitely beneficial – especially if they can explain how it is relevant to being a lawyer.” Quinn adds that “if candidates don’t know yet what practice group they are interested in, that is fine.”
Callbacks are held in the firm's offices, where students meet with a mix of four attorneys in separate 30-minute interviews. “In most of the offices, we conduct a 'super-day,'” Quinn explains. “We invite all of the students to come in at the same time, provide a presentation on the firm's summer program, and then have them do the one-on-one interviews. After that we have a lunch or cocktail reception which serves as an opportunity for the students to meet with all the attorneys and get a feel for the culture.” At this stage candidates should expect to answer competency-based questions intended to elicit their “judgment and initiative skills” as well as closer inspection of their resumes. “If you clerked for a judge, we want to know what was most interesting about that, and what you liked the most. If you have experience working on a group project, what role did you play to help your team succeed?”
The firm's ten-week summer program kicks off with orientation in Philadelphia for all summer associates which includes a half-day writing program with the Associate Director of the Legal Practice Skills Program at the University of Pennsylvania Law School. “Orientation gives them the larger summer program experience and is an opportunity for everyone to get to know one another,” Quinn explains. Once the orientation is completed, all summer associates head back to their offices to begin work. “As a summer associate, you get assignments from all different practice areas allocated through an online portal,” juniors explained. “Nothing is overly formal,” another added. “I clicked with one particular attorney during the summer which has allowed me to explore different areas of law.” Work is supplemented with weekly training sessions on various topics such as pro bono, diversity and women’s initiatives, professional development, research and writing, marketing and business development, and law firm economics, as well as out of office events – “because being an associate is not just about being in the office writing memos and conducting research,” Quinn reminds us.
Interview with managing partner Mark Morris
Chambers Associate: Are there any significant highlights from the past year you think our readers should be aware of? Have any practice areas been particularly strong?
Mark Morris: We have opened a new office in Seattle as a result of our merger with Riddell Williams, which has expanded our geographic footprint and resulted in some good cross-referrals for our clients. We have also continued to be aggressive it terms of adding lawyers throughout the firm. We have grown our New York office to almost 70 lawyers and added several practice groups including an emerging companies group which we think is poised to do very well in the market. Our IP practice has been very strong as has litigation generally. Our fiscal year does not end until March, but so far so good.
CA: In your recent marketing materials, Fox used the words 'chutzpah,' 'moxie' and 'grit.' What do these words mean to you?
MM: I believe we are hired by many of our clients as councilors and as advisers to help them strategize, to help them plan and to help them grow their businesses. To represent a large middle-market population and to help them grow as businesses takes a certain amount of moxie, grit and planning. We are not just people tasked with a specific agenda, we view ourselves as partners with many of our clients. However, I would say that much of our work for Fortune 100 clients is different. There we are more hired for a specific expertise in a particular practice area. The relationship is different as they have their own in-house lawyers who do a lot of the navigation and are not relying on us for advice. The typical Fox client hires us for a broader purpose.
CA: What do you see as the advantages of tackling the mid-market?
MM: What I try to tell young lawyers, is that I believe this is a place where you can control your own professional life. I think many millennials who are entrepreneurial and concerned about lifestyle want to have that. I think the only way to do that is to bring in your own clients and practice law the way you want to do it – and you can only do that if the clients are midmarket. I don't think we are selling a lifestyle necessarily in terms of demanding less time from our associates, but what we are selling is opportunity. There aren't many firms our size where young lawyers can pursue a path of professional independence.
CA: Associates suggested that pro bono is not something which there's a massive emphasis on at the firm. Is that something you're looking to change?
MM: Since I assumed this role, I have tried to be more flexible and more willing to give credit to young lawyers for pro bono. We are interested in that and I think it's something that we could do better on, but it shouldn't be a metrics-driven process. Pro bono and community activities are undertaken on a case-by-case basis. We do encourage associates to be active in these endeavors – we see our responsibility as backing them up when they initiate their own ideas. It's on them to seize those opportunities.
CA: Fox has grown by acquiring smaller offices. Has this come with any growing pains?
MM: It has gone pretty smoothly. I think we are way ahead of the curve in terms of how aggressive we have been compared to other middle-market firms. We are at the forefront of trying to grow through expansion in terms of smaller acquisitions and mergers with existing firms – in Dallas, Seattle and Minneapolis for example. There are other middle-market firms that have embarked on the same path, but we have been doing it for a while and expansion is now a very seamless process for us. There are always some integration issues in terms of processes, billing, and people getting used to different computers – those physical integration issues are inevitable. But I think we are pretty good at integrating lawyers. It is easier when you are bringing in a big group rather than individuals because they all know each other; where you take in three or four people at a time, they have to adapt to the bigger firm independently. When taking in 30 to 40 lawyers our objective is to let them continue to do what they are doing – we don’t force people to change their practice habits. Our objective is to help them expand what they already have and help meld their culture with ours.
CA: What's the firm's strategy for the next five years?
MM: First, we feel we are well poised to fill out some of the offices we have. After laying down some solid foundations, we are looking to make use of the infrastructure we have created. In offices such as Chicago, Dallas and Miami we want to grow beyond 20 to 30 lawyers to 70.
The firm is always looking for opportunistic growth in terms of locations. There are other markets we would consider opening other offices in but we are not just going to plant a flag anywhere. It has to be the right opportunity, not only in terms of immediate economic benefit, but in the long term too. I can easily see us opening more offices, but I can't tell you exactly where that would be.
Fox Rothschild LLP
2000 Market Street,
- Head office: Philadelphia, PA
- Number of domestic offices: 21
- Partners (US): 497
- Associates (US): 241
- Counsel (US): 66
- Main recruitment contact: Natalie Quinn, Director of Associate Recruitment
- Diversity officers: Yesenia Gallegos and Prince Thomas, Diversity Committee Co-Chairs
- Recruitment details
- Entry-level associates starting in 2018: 18
- Chicago, IL: 1, Exton, PA: 1, Los Angeles, CA: 2, Minneapolis, MN: 3, Morristown, NJ: 2, New York, NY: 2, Princeton, NJ: 2, Seattle, WA: 1, Washington DC: 2, West Palm Beach, FL: 1, Wilmington, DE: 1
- Clerking policy: Yes
- Summers joining/anticipated 2018:
- 1Ls: 7, 2Ls: 26
- Summers joining/anticipated 2018 split by office:
- Atlantic City, NJ: 1, Blue Bell, PA: 2, Dallas, TX: 1, Denver, CO: 1, Exton, PA: 2, Las Vegas, NV: 1 Los Angeles, CA: 2, Minneapolis, MN: 4, Morristown, NJ: 2, New York, NY: 2, Philadelphia, PA: 4, Pittsburgh, PA: 2, Princeton, NJ: 2, Seattle, WA: 3, Warrington, PA: 2, Washington, DC: 2
- Summer salary 2018:
- 1Ls: $2,211-$3,076/week
- 2Ls: $2,211-$3,076/week
- Split summers offered? No
Main areas of work
Berkeley, Boston College, Boston University, Cardozo, Chicago, Columbia, Cornell, Fordham, George Washington, Georgetown, Iowa, Loyola — LA, Michigan, Minnesota, Mitchell Hamline, New York University, Northwestern, Rutgers – Newark and Camden, Penn, Seton Hall, Seattle, SMU, Temple, Texas, UCLA, USC, UVA, Villanova, Washington, Wisconsin Job Fairs/Consortia Attending in 2018: Delaware Minority Job Fair, New Jersey Law Firm Group Minority Job Fair, Philadelphia Area Minority Job Fair, Minnesota Minority Recruitment Conference, Northwest Minority Job Fair, Lavender Law Conference and Career Fair
Recruitment outside OCIs:
The firm participates in a number of recruiting events including law school and diversity event sponsorships. The firm also hires 1L summer associates through local diversity organizations.
Summer associate profile:
Our summer program is the foundation of our recruiting efforts. Each summer we invite a diverse group of bright, highly motivated law students to experience the practice of law at Fox Rothschild. Since the majority of our new lawyers come from the pool of second year summer associates who complete our program, we consider the summer program the most important component of the recruiting process.
Summer program components:
Our summer program is designed to expose summer associates to a realistic view of what it is like to practice law at Fox Rothschild. The program provides ongoing interaction with the attorneys on substantive assignments, through trainings, and during varied social events. Summer associates receive work assignments from all departments. We strive to ensure that the assignments given to summer associates are interesting and meaningful, with the results of that work used by our attorneys. Feedback is provided on an assignment-by-assignment basis, as well as through more formal mid-and end-of summer evaluations. In addition, we encourage all summer associates to provide us with a detailed critique of all aspects of the summer program.
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This Firm's Rankings in
Chambers USA Guide 2017
- Real Estate Recognised Practitioner
- Bankruptcy/Restructuring (Band 4)
- Corporate/M&A & Private Equity (Band 3)
- Litigation: General Commercial (Band 3)
- Bankruptcy/Restructuring (Band 4)
- Corporate/M&A (Band 3)
- Litigation: General Commercial (Band 3)
- Real Estate (Band 3)
- Bankruptcy/Restructuring (Band 2)
- Environment (Band 2)
- Healthcare (Band 2)
- Intellectual Property (Band 4)
- Labor & Employment (Band 2)
- Litigation: General Commercial (Band 2)
- Real Estate (Band 2)
- Bankruptcy/Restructuring (Band 3)
- Environment (Band 4)
- Healthcare (Band 3)
- Intellectual Property Recognised Practitioner
- Real Estate (Band 4)
USA - Nationwide
- Gaming & Licensing (Band 1)
- Startups & Emerging Companies Recognised Practitioner
- Bankruptcy/Restructuring (Band 2)
- Environment (Band 4)
- Labor & Employment (Band 3)