Fox Rothschild LLP - The Inside View

A mid-sized, “non-hierarchical” firm with great national reach, this Fox is a lot more approachable than its four-legged namesake...

FANTASTIC Mr Fox and the equally excellent Mr Rothschild founded their Philly law firm exactly a century ago. These days, Fox Rothschild's stalking ground comprises no fewer than 22 different offices spread all around the country (as the map above illustrates). For some associates, joining full-service Fox was a fairytale come true as “some other firms aren't as collegial, it's not adversarial or intimidating here and I immediately felt comfortable during the callback. Fox is a large firm with 750 lawyers around the country but my office is relatively small, giving me substantive work faster.” Most of Fox's offices are small to medium in size, and even the largest – Philadelphia – houses a comfortable 250 attorneys.

Interviewees also liked Fox's steadily improving financial performance, helped from time to time by strategic mergers, like 2016's acquisition of Minneapolis's Wolff & Donnelly. “Apparently we've never laid anyone off. Not ever – even during '08,” one junior reflected. Recent lateral attorney hires include six entertainment lawyers from Lommen Abdo to the Minneapolis, New York and DC offices. "We are a multi-practice firm with entertainment practices in several offices, so we had the leverage to attract other laterals," managing partner Mark Silow tells us. "It's been a very smooth transition." The entertainment team boasts clients including husband and wife duo Angela Bassett and Courtney B Vance, the latter of whom recently played defense lawyer Johnnie Cochran in TV's The People v. OJ Simpson. Chambers USA  awards Fox top prize nationwide for its gaming & licensing expertise, and ranks various other transactional and litigation-related practices in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Minnesota, DC and Colorado.

The Work



At the time of our calls, the largest cohorts of juniors were in Princeton, Philly, New York and Atlantic City, with others spread across Minneapolis, Dallas, Miami, Wilmington, Denver, Montgomery County, Roseland, Pittsburgh, Exton, Warrington, Blue Bell, West Palm Beach and LA. Corporate and litigation take on the most juniors, followed by real estate, labor, and IP. The entertainment, and financial restructuring & bankruptcy departments also had a resident junior associate at the time of our calls. It's worth asking which office specializes in what. Insiders told us that “in LA it's pretty much just litigation and bankruptcy, Atlantic City does a lot of gaming and casino law. New York does a lot of local counsel work for generic patents in IP and anything from commercial disputes to contested estates and super funds. There's also a pretty big entertainment practice.”

In most teams, assignment is fairly informal: “It's mainly relationship-based and you get work from partners who trust you.” Over in litigation, however, there's a caveat for first-years who “are supposed to have all their assignments cleared through the head of the department to make sure they are not underwater.” Speaking of litigation, “if you're not afraid to do it, they'll throw you straight in at the deep end.” Sources had “drafted every level of litigation document that there is, everything from motions to appellate briefs.” Some had also gone to court: “I've gone to federal and state court and second chaired a trial – it wasn't a big case though.” 

I've gone to federal and state court and second chaired a trial.”

Juniors in the corporate department told us that “it's very much a general corporate practice but each partner varies in terms of what they specialize in.” In Princeton, newbies explained that “we have three partners who are well respected in securities law and three in healthcare. We have several in M&A, but in this office we really stick out for health law.” Insiders shed some light on what tasks they'd tackled: “Corporate work is cyclical so at points it can be quiet, but normally it's a lot of drafting things like purchase and acquisition agreements and basic contract formation drafting.” On mergers, some had “drafted resolution documents for subsidiary companies to approve the merger of the parent company and the sale of stocks and shares.”

Over in real estate, “we've been working on local zoning ordinance to determine what we can do for a particular housing development.” Others told us that despite the overriding transactional nature of the work, there's the odd overlap with litigation. “It's like a mini court trial when you have to appear in front of the zoning board. You have to put up witnesses, so I spend a lot of time prepping experts. In court appeals, I’ve drafted all the pleadings and argued general summary judgment motions.”

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, with the hours clocked up counting toward the overall billable total. There's mandatory writing training: “The most useful session was when an expert came in and told us how to write emails without annoying people.” There's also a mock trial program and plenty of lunchtime seminars and CLEs available in-house. Litigators described their “deposition weekend where we all go and take mock depositions while the partners critique you. I still use what I learned then to this day.”

It's a pretty steep learning curve and I'm still on it.”

Corporate attorneys get sessions on “how to conduct due diligence and all of the important provisions of purchase agreements.” However, transactional newbies wished there was more on offer because “corporate lawyers don't really get taught in law school because it's so geared towards litigators. It's a pretty steep learning curve and I'm still on it.”

Offices



“I don't feel like I'm in a prison.”

Although Philly is officially the homebase, insiders were keen to stress that “it doesn't seem Philly-centric, at least not in terms of work. Each office has its own identity.”  How so? “In New York it's a bit more casual. I know, I was surprised by that, but compared to Philadelphia the people here just feel more personable,” a Big Appler reckoned. Usually newbies get their own office straight away. Philly locals told us that “I have my own windows. Obviously that's the only thing you look for in a law firm!” Princeton sources revealed that “it's nothing flashy but I have a huge window and I don't feel like I'm in a prison.” New Yorkers were effusive about their impending move to a new purpose built space: “Everything is going to be brand new. We thought this building was fine but then we saw the new one and we were like 'oh wait!' Plus it's across the street from Grand Central station.”

Hours & Compensation



Litigators have a billing target of 1,900 hours, while it's 1,850 for everyone else. “It's pretty achievable. You don't see people running around the corridors with their hair on fire trying to get more hours.” The average day starts at around 9am and finishes at 6.30ish: “By 8pm no one is in the office.” Most weren't fussed about hitting the target and they didn't mind the different goals between groups. “I think litigators have a higher target because there's always plenty of work to go round. In corporate it's more hit and miss.”

The base salary was upped in 2016 to $160,000 in major markets, and starting at $115,000 (depending on location). “We're always a bit behind the market and even though we raised recently, it's not as high as other firms.” However, sources appreciated the reward for associates who bring in substantial new business. “It's great. If we bring in matters worth over $10,000, then we get a 10%  bonus.” General bonuses increase for every 25 hours associates clock up in excess of the billing target.

Culture



“The most unique thing about our culture? It's not hierarchical, it's me and the partner in the trenches.” This was a common theme, and some associates described regularly “being taken out for drinks or dinner by the partners.” Sources also wanted to stress that there was a strong sense of collaboration: “You don't get that walled off feeling that you can get in other firms. We like to work together.” Location also played a role in the Fox vibe. For example, “Atlantic City is a lot more laid back because we're right near the beach. It's a lot less formal and everyone lives more or less in the same area, so you regularly bump into partners doing their grocery shopping.” Most had no qualms about the partner-associate dynamic at the firm, although some mentioned that “the legal work is the easiest part of life here. Managing your day-to-day interactions and partner expectations can be challenging.”

Socially, there are usually happy hours every fortnight in Philadelphia, although these sorts of get-togethers happen less frequently in suburban offices, as you might expect. Insiders told us that “trying to get regular events sorted is a real difficulty.” But there's a national associates' weekend,  which happens every other year and comprises “different skill-based training in the day and then dinners and drinks in the evenings.”

Pro Bono



Associates can count 50 hours of pro bono work toward the bonus program; “if we need more we can just ask.” Most interviewees had got involved with a few matters that included “a guardian ad litem case [a guardian appointed by the court to represent the interests of children or incompetent people]. Others had  “helped out a lot with legal name changes. In Pennsylvania we have a different process for changing the name on official documents, so it can be difficult to navigate.” Tasks had seen newbies “first-chairing hearings, leading client meetings, and drafting all the relevant documents.”

Pro bono hours

  • For all attorneys: 1,793
  • Average per attorney: 10

Diversity



“It's definitely emphasized, but it's not anything amazing,” explained associates of diversity. “It's not tremendously racially diverse.” Newbies in a regional office rationalized that “it's not management's fault, we just don't have the same scale of recruitment pool that a major city would have. Here we tend to recruit people who have a local connection and they tend to be white and middle class.” Sources felt that New York was the most diverse even compared to the firm's main hub in Philly. In terms of gender, “we have a Women's Initiative that's really active. Every office has a partner and an associate head and there are lots of events to go to.” Most common were drinks or networking with speakers who tackled topics like the track to partnership. Others spoke of “virtual conferences which are streamed into every office and there are panel discussions on topics that affect female attorneys. Last year's conference was all about how we can make men more aware of our issues and how to discuss them freely.”

Strategy & Get Hired



“One of the key things about our firm is that they put a premium on a 'good fit',” an associate reported. “We're not super-obsessed about getting a 4.0 student who can sit in a room and bill 14 hours a day.” Others continued that “it sounds pie in the sky, but we're more about building a firm where we can collaborate and work in a nice environment. So in the interview be honest and be yourself.” Other than building a platform for collaboration, what else is the firm looking to build on? Managing partner Mark Silow tells us, “we will try to expand into other major metropolitan areas around the country. The cities that are very interesting to us are places like Boston, Seattle, Houston and Kansas City. Our second goal is to grow our newer existing offices that we want to make more vital in our current offering.”

 

Interview with managing partner Mark Silow



Chambers Associate: What have been the highlights at the firm over the last 12 months?

Mark Silow: We successfully executed what was the largest merger in the firm's history in January 2016 with Oppenheimer Wolff & Donnelly from Minneapolis. We have now finished integrating over 80 attorneys into our firm. We've also taken on six entertainment lawyers from Lommen Abdo. We are in a very unique position with our entertainment law offering. We are a multi-practice firm with entertainment practice in several offices, so we had the leverage to attract other laterals. It's been a very smooth transition. Several of those people already knew most of our existing entertainment people, so it was more a case of just getting together with colleagues they'd known for years.

Our gaming practice is also really very vibrant at the moment. We've engaged in a number of significant transactions. Other very hot areas are our white collar criminal defence and governmental investigations practices. I would also say that real estate development is also really active and everything else is pretty much on an even keel.

CA: What is your long term plan for the firm's future?

MS: It's a strategic vision, not a plan per se. We will try to expand into other major metropolitan areas around the country. The cities that are very interesting to us are places like Boston, Seattle, Houston and Kansas City. Our second goal is to grow our newer existing offices that we want to make more vital in our current offering.

CA: How do you think the legal industry is going to be affected by the new administration?

MS: That's the great unknown. The area that's probably going to be immediately affected is tax and wealth planning. It's probably good news in the short term. Change is always good for lawyers, but people need to understand what that change is and change their strategy to prepare. In the long term, it's not good if there's talk of eliminating federal estate and gift tax. We'll just have to see how it plays out. In a positive way, the energy and environmental sectors will likely see more development. Environmental will be somewhat more of a mixed bag. Federal regulation will likely be decreased, but States will respond by increasing State level enforcements and environmental laws. We hope that the pluses outweigh the minuses.

CA: What characteristics do you look for in potential candidates?

MS: We look for two things in particular. Firstly, we look for an entrepreneurial spirit. We don't have a lot of institutional clients to pass down from generation to generation. So we need our lawyers to go out and get business and lawyers that do this tend to do well with us. Secondly, we look for collaborative team players. We need people who are immediately willing to help others on matters and to pitch in to help service clients better. So you need to be entrepreneurial and collaborative.

CA: Finally, what makes Fox unique in terms of what it can offer younger lawyers?

MS: We're the kinda firm where you can really build your practice. We give you hands on exposure with clients really early on. We very much encourage and facilitate younger lawyers to find and develop their own clients and business.

More on getting hired



The Fox vibe is all about collaboration, so it makes sense that this is one of the key things they look for in potential new associates. Managing partner Mark Silow tells us that “we need people who are immediately willing to help others on matters and to pitch in to help service clients better.” The other key attribute that strikes a chord with interview panels is “an entrepreneurial spirit,” continues Silow. “We don't have a lot of institutional clients to pass down from generation to generation. So we need our lawyers to go out and get business and lawyers that do this tend to do well with us.” Alongside discussing the type of personalities that do well at the firm, newbies told us about the practical things that students should try to get involved with now to bolster their resumes. They advocated the benefits of “doing a lot of clinic work or getting exposure to mediation and settlement skills. You get client contact so early on here, so it's great to have these kind of basic abilities already.”

 

Fox Rothschild LLP

2000 Market Street,
20th Floor,
Philadelphia,
PA 19103-3222
Website www.foxrothschild.com

  • Head Office: Philadelphia, PA
  • Number of domestic offices: 22
  • Number of international offices: 0
  • Partners (US): 470
  • Associates (US): 224
  • Summer Salary 2017 
  • 1Ls: $2,211-$3,076/week
  • 2Ls: $2,211-$3,076/week
  • Post 3Ls: N/A
  • 1Ls hired? Yes
  • Split summers offered? No
  • Summers 2017: 25
  • Offers/acceptances 2016: 18 offers, 17 acceptances  (2Ls)

Main areas of work
Corporate; employee benefits and executive compensation; entertainment; financial restructuring and bankruptcy; intellectual property; labor and employment; litigation; real estate; taxation and wealth planning.

Firm profile
Fox Rothschild LLP is a national law firm with over 750 lawyers practicing in 22 offices coast to coast. Our lawyers provide a full range of legal services to public and private companies – from family-run businesses to multinational corporations. We also represent charitable, medical and educational institutions both in the United States and in more than 50 countries worldwide.

Recruitment details
• Number of 1st year associates: 22
• Number of 2nd year associates: 19
• Associate salaries: 1st year: $115,000-$160,000 depending on geographic location
• 2nd year: Non lock step compensation
• Clerking policy: Yes

Law Schools attending for OCIs in 2017:
Berkeley; Cardozo: Chicago; Chicago-Kent; Colorado; Columbia; Cornell; Delaware; Denver; Duquesne; Fordham; GWU; Georgetown; Iowa; Loyola (Chicago); Loyola (Los Angeles); Minnesota; Mitchell Hamline; Nevada; Northwestern; Penn State; Penn; Pittsburgh; Rutgers; Seton Hall; SMU; Temple; Texas; UCLA; UC Hastings; USC; Villanova; Wisconsin

Job Fairs/Consortia attending in 2017: BC/BU NY Recruitment Program; Delaware Minority Job Fair; NJ Law Firm Group Minority Job Fair; Philadelphia Area Minority Job Fair; Minnesota Minority Corporate Conference

Summer details

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 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-ofsummer evaluations. In addition, we encourage all summer associates to provide us with a detailed critique of all aspects of the summer program.