A rebrand, expanding international reach and a sturdy reputation in areas like tech and life sciences make Goodwin an attractive place for litigators and deal-doers alike.
GOODWIN is one of Boston's powerhouse firms. Its junior associates knew they'd be joining a firm with a robust set of resources and practices, as well as a clear sense of direction: “Goodwin is a firm that knows what it's good at and sticks to it.” But an examination of Goodwin's Chambers USA rankings show that it is in fact good at a variety of things, both litigious and transactional in nature: in its native Boston the firm excels in areas like banking & finance, IP, general commercial litigation, venture capital investment, and real estate. On the national stage, however, its corporate/M&A and REITs practices stand out, alongside high nods for financial litigation, fund formation and life sciences work. The latter is a key industry focus for Goodwin, as are the technology, real estate, financial and private equity sectors.
Favoring a policy of steady and careful growth, Goodwin has continued on its upward trajectory in recent years. In 2015 the firm debuted in mainland Europe by opening offices in Frankfurt and Paris within six months of each other, boosting its real estate, private equity and M&A capabilities. This expansion was followed a year later by a snazzy rebrand, which in the spirit of conciseness saw the firm drop the 'Procter' part of its name; this aesthetic overhaul was bolstered by a physical move in Boston to brand new premises in the city's Seaport District. While most of Goodwin's juniors are based here, the firm's New York office also takes on a hefty chunk of new starters. Its remaining domestic bases (in DC, San Francisco, Silicon Valley and Los Angeles) hire a handful each year too. Sources in the Northern Cali offices told us that “we're known for our tech and emerging companies work,” but were also drawn to Goodwin because “it felt more laid back.” As we'll see, this easygoing vibe is not just consigned to the West Coast offices at Goodwin. To top off this successful run, the firm recently posted a record year of revenue growth, which saw the amount push past the $1 billion mark for the first time.
Juniors elect to go down the litigation or business law path at the end of their summer, and subsequently start full-time associate life as generalists for their first two years. This gives newbies a chance “to play around with all the subgroups and get a feel for what's on offer.” For litigators these groups cover the likes of product liability, IP, white-collar, securities and antitrust work, among many other strands. In the business law department, juniors had sampled everything from venture capital matters and M&A deals to real estate transactions and tax issues.
In the beginning, work is assigned in a simple way: “Associate development managers [referred to as ADMs] look at your hours and staff you on projects based on your schedules.” Juniors estimated that around 50% of their assignments were staffed like this during their first year, but they tended to transition into “more of a free-market system” by their third year. Some juniors praised the ADMs for being “an easy pathway to express your interests through – they do try to connect us, and they send round a monthly email asking us what we want to do.” However, others highlighted that “there can be a perception that the assignments obtained directly from partners are better than those sourced through the ADMs.” In addition, assignments from the ADMs “are not always in the practice groups that you want to work in – they try to steer you towards the areas where the resources are needed.”
“...we're known for our tech and emerging companies work.”
Typical first-year tasks for business juniors include “doing all of the back-up diligence on IPOs,” as well as “taking the first crack” at stock certificates, signature packets and ancillary documents. “As a first-year the firm tries to protect you as much as they can,” one deal-doer explained, “but in the second-year things really take off, especially with regards to direct client contact. It's been a drastic step up.” Running venture capital deals was flagged as a particular highlight for one source, who praised the level of client contact required when helping to form a company: “As a second year I was running deals in the $2 million range but going into the third year it's more in the $4-5 million range. I'm taking a much bigger lead on M&A deals too.” One third year provided us with a breakdown of their average day: “A third of my day is spent doing client management – things like answering one-off questions or collecting input on negotiations. Another third is spent internally coordinating with other team members, while the final third sees me drafting documents.”
Litigators follow a similar trajectory, with one source noting that “most associates should be taking depositions by their third year.” This junior took us through their role throughout a typical a case: “I start by fact-checking expert reports, and during the deposition phase I help to prep the partners. As we move into pretrial I draft orders and outlines of direct testimonies; by the time we get to trial I'm helping to prep the witnesses.” Some juniors enjoyed white-collar cases the most, as they're “fact-intensive and fast-moving – especially when they're in the investigation stage and you're responding to queries from the DOJ.” Others preferred patent litigation cases, as they often come with good drafting opportunities and allow juniors to spend ample time liaising with experts.
Offices & Strategy
“THIS IS IMPORTANT,” one source declared. “Goodwin's policy of not making juniors specialize until their third year means that they encourage us to work with people from all of the offices. We do a lot of cross-staffing, which is wonderful; the team I'm currently on has members from across six offices.” Fortunately, our sources also liked the offices they were actually based in.The Boston HQ was dubbed by one interviewee as “the best law firm office I've ever stepped foot in: we moved a year ago into a brand new building with lots of natural light and touches that were designed for a law firm in this millennium.” New York residents were also happy: “We're in the New York Times Building, and we share a cafeteria with them. The location is ideal, as we're in something of a transit hub.”
“...the best law firm office I've ever stepped foot in.”
The New York office has indeed benefited from its status as a hub in recent years. Sources had “noticed a power shift from Boston to New York, especially as the firm has become more international. The head of litigation is here and a lot of the major cases are originated here. They're trying to grow out of the impression that we're a Boston-based firm, so that we're seen as a truly international entity.” On the whole our interviewees were buoyed by the fact that “we're definitely growing, and it's visible. In San Francisco, for example, it's evident in the rising number of attorneys we have and the larger physical space we're occupying.” Others flagged that “there is excitement about the firm's future; they're taking a reasoned and practical approach to growth – it's very organic.”
Many of our interviewees were looking for a firm with a more “easygoing environment” at the time of their OCIs, so we were curious to know how their expectations matched up to the reality of life at Goodwin. “It's a go-getter culture but it's not cutthroat,” one junior reflected. Another praised the firm for being a place that “encourages you to ask questions rather than make mistakes. I have messed up a few times and the partners have all been very nice about it – they understand that you learn from them.” Sources felt that this level of interaction was facilitated, in part, by the fact that “the partners are generally younger than they are at most firms, which makes it easier to talk to, be candid with and even be friends with them.”
“It's a go-getter culture but it's not cutthroat.”
On a more obvious level, Goodwin's less buttoned-up vibe is evident in its dress code. “Three people have walked by my office wearing jeans in the last five minutes,” one interviewee told us, adding that “there is one partner who turns up in Hawaiian shirts and Birkenstocks every day!” Of course, sources recommended that incomers still have a suit at hand for facing clients or attending court, but otherwise explained that “jeans Friday is creeping into every day.” But it's not just the more relaxed dress code that shapes this “relaxed and laid back” vibe. “I think it's more about the hiring,” one interviewee pondered. “They avoid pretentious people. Also, they don't try to change you – they're not looking to mold you into a particular type.” Ultimately this more flexible atmosphere bodes well for a healthy social life from coast to coast. San Fran sources told us that “a lot of my colleagues like to go out for a drink – we're just normal people who happen to work in the law,” while Bostonians revealed that the firm hires out a gym each week “so we can go and play basketball. Around 20 to 30 of us go. Last night, I was working late on a deal and the partner encouraged me to finish early and go – they do a good job of trying to respect people's work-life balance.”
Hours & Compensation
For one source, Goodwin's culture was evident “in the better-than-expected work-life balance that I've had here. The more I've been exposed to what my friends at other firms in New York are doing, the more I realize how good I have it. There's not a rigid face-time requirement and a lot of people work remotely every Friday.” Associates aim to meet a1,950 billable hours target from their second year onward; if they do, a bonus is granted, and we heard that “it's based on both your year and the quality of your reviews.” Most of our interviewees found the target achievable, especially because a generous amount of pro bono can be put toward it [see below].
At the same time, sources did admit to working “some intense hours” as theyapproached trial and deal closings. So while a “normal day” might see juniors exiting around 6:30pm (and billing around eight to ten hours), a busy period could see associates finishing closer to the 10pm mark – in some cases for a couple of months. Juniors did, however, elaborate on some regional differences: “In New York it's more common to roll in later and leave later, but here in California most people get in before 8:30am and the office tends to be empty by six.”
Training & Development
Formal training is divided into business and litigation tracks. The former favors “a lot more front-loaded training and covers anything you want,” sources explained, “from using Excel to forming signature pages – I remember receiving more calendar invitations than I could accept!” Litigators, on the other hand, described a “lighter, more 'as you go'” approach to training.“The more substantive sessions occur later on,” juniors noted. “In the third year, you're taught how to prepare your own depositions and manage cases, and you're also given a breakdown of what the steps are to the partnership.” Until then, “the emphasis is more on midlevel mentors walking first-years through things,” and the quality of such tutelage is “dependent on the midlevel you are working with – I have such a good relationship with mine, for example. It's so easy to talk to each other!”
All pro bono hours can be counted toward Goodwin's billable target. As a result, some juniors reported billing over 200 hours of pro bono each year. Our sources had worked on immigration, asylum and prisoners' rights matters, but also mentioned specific relationships with GLAAD, Kids in Need of Defense (KIND) and the Innocence Project. “There's also a housing court you can attend once a month, to assist landlords and tenants who fall beneath our pro bono threshold.”
Some of our transactional sources grumbled that “there tends to be more opportunities for people in litigation. The partner in Boston emails out around eight opportunities every other week, but there are hundreds of us jumping for them – they go really fast.” However, we also spoke to transactional associates who had no problem racking up over 100 hours of pro bono.
Pro bono hours
- For all US attorneys: 59,453
- Average per US attorney: 67
The firm's affinity groups include a women’s initiative, an LGBT group, and the Committee on Racial and Ethnic Diversity (CRED). Associates reflected that the groups are “pretty active,” and typically host monthly dinners and regular events. Bostonians agreed that their office “doesn't feel as diverse compared to New York, as Boston is a less diverse city generally.” They did, however, mention that both 1L and 2L diversity fellowships are on offer; the latter provides students from under-represented backgrounds with a $15,000 award to help cover expenses during their third year of law school.
In New York, sources felt the women's initiative was the most visible: “They have created an open forum where people can speak freely, form mentor relationships, elevate issues, meet others outside of their group, and generally create awareness.” Those in the Californian offices, meanwhile, told us that “there's a good amount of room left for improvement,” highlighting practice groups with no female partners and a recent dip in local women's initiative activity following a key figure's departure. The firm, however, tells us that things are back up and running on that front now.
Associates get a taste of Goodwin's less 'buttoned up' vibe during their OCIs: “The interviews are chilled,” one source recalled. “The person interviewing me was wearing jeans and a sweater – which was different to the other firms!” Similarly, another associate described walking out of the interview “feeling like I had just had a conversation. A little bit of it was the formal 'what are are you looking for in the firm?' type questions, but the other half was about them getting to know me.” During callbacks candidates typically meet a mixture of around six associates, partners and counsel over a series of 20-minute interviews.
Interview with national hiring partner Emily Rapalino
Chambers Associate:What's the scope of your recruiting drive?
Emily Rapalino: We recruit internationally. We recruit at law schools and participate in job fairs across the globe. Our work cuts across many disciplines and geographies and our recruitment efforts follow suit. Part of our summer program, our newly implemented Asia-track program, recently profiled by The American Lawyer, is designed to attract native Mandarin speakers studying at US law schools. Those accepted into the program are trained in one of Goodwin’s US offices for two or three years before joining our Hong Kong office. It’s a way to help ensure that our firm culture remains strong and vibrant across all our offices.
CA: How can a candidate stand out during their OCI?
ER: Similar to most law firms, we’re looking for bright, talented students. We value curiosity, grit and determination, qualities we believe serve lawyers well when faced with challenging cases and demanding clients who expect legal excellence on every level. We also look for leadership and interpersonal skills. We want people who are personable, collegial, and will inspire our clients’ confidence. During the OCI we want to hear how your experiences have shaped your development, why what you've learned has brought you to us, and how those experiences can make you an important addition to our team.
CA:What does the firm do to encourage diversity in recruiting?
ER: We believe that having a diverse and inclusive law firm is critical to our success. Our firm chairman leads our Inclusion Advisory Committee, and Goodwin is a signatory to the Mansfield Rule, which measures whether law firms have affirmatively considered women lawyers and attorneys of color in their recruitment and promotion practices. We make a concerted effort in our entry-level recruitment to meet with student leaders of on-campus affinity groups, to host additional in-office programs and to have our attorneys speak to students about their own experiences working in BigLaw.
We also offer innovative diversity fellowship opportunities for law students. Our 1L Diversity Fellowships offer $10,000 awards to students from underrepresented backgrounds who work in public interest positions the summer after their first year of law school. Fellows are guaranteed a 'straight-to-callback' interview with a Goodwin office of their choice in the interviewing season between their first and second year of law school. Fellows are also invited to participate in many of our summer associate program events during their summer at the public interest organization, allowing them to give back to the community and also experience a law firm environment. Goodwin’s 2L Diversity Fellowships provide second-year law students from under-represented backgrounds with awards of $15,000 each to help cover expenses for their third year of law school.
CA:It's important for candidates to drive interviews – how should they prepare for the process?
ER: Students will need to familiarize themselves with different firms and get to know them through as many events and opportunities as possible, but obviously not at the expense of their academic achievement. Many students benefit from mock interview programs, and we do participate in those at various law schools. The key is to know your narrative and that means being prepared to discuss anything on your resume. It’s also important to come armed with questions you have about the firm that will help you decide whether the firm is right for you.
CA:What makes Goodwin's summer program distinctive from other firms' programs?
ER: First, while many firms require future summers to decide upfront whether they want to do corporate or litigation work, we believe it's okay to be unsure, and that it's hard to know what you want to do before getting the full summer experience. We make sure to let students know that we encourage them to explore options at Goodwin. Not only does this allow students to make a more informed choice about their career path, but it allows them the opportunity to network with a wider array of our attorneys in different practice areas over the summer. Second, our people take the time to teach. As part of our formal mentoring program, we have developed a firm-wide advisor network, through which partners collaborate to provide associates with mentoring, career guidance, and feedback that is tailored to associates' career stages. We believe career success is about working smarter not harder, and we provide numerous opportunities to develop positive mentoring relationships during the summer program and beyond.
CA:What sort of person thrives at Goodwin?
ER: The status quo at law firms often stifles creativity, new ideas and new ways of doing things. We take a proactive approach to solving our clients’ problems and value innovative thinking. We are proud of our entrepreneurial spirit, our willingness to embrace change and our willingness to take reasonable risks. Our culture is collaborative and collegial and we believe that humility breeds camaraderie.We look for people prepared to work diligently to help our clients achieve their goals, who want to be part of something larger than themselves, and who bring their passion and purpose to work with them every day.
CA:Is there anything we haven't covered that our readers should know about the recruitment process?
ER: Goodwin is a cohesive blend of ideas, customs, values, personalities, backgrounds, relationships and skills. We are a bit different from other firms in that we're not programmatic in how we approach things. We don't have grade cutoffs or grids to determine who we recruit. We recruit bright, motivated people – whatever their background or wherever they come from – who appreciate our firm culture and want to work in an environment filled with energy, momentum and smart people who love what they do. This may sound more like a start-up venture than an established law firm – but it’s a good description of Goodwin.
Interview with partner and Boston office leader of the Business Law Department Scott Webster
Chambers Associate: How has the firm performed in 2017? Have any practice areas been particularly strong?
Scott Webster: 2017 was an outstanding year for Goodwin and the most financially successful one in our 106-year history. Gross revenue and net profit both grew by double digits, with revenue surpassing the $1 billion mark for the first time. Not only was this our best year ever, but it was also Goodwin’s fifth consecutive year of record revenue and profit.
Client demand has been strong across both our business law and litigation departments. On the transactional side, MergerMarket in its 2017 year-end report ranked Goodwin among the top 5 legal advisors across all geographies and sectors, demonstrating our continued strength across the technology, real estate, life sciences, financial and private equity industries.
CA:What's the firm's five year plan?
SW: Our financial performance validates our strategy of being a dominant player in specific client industries, delivering extraordinary client service and prioritizing collaboration. To remain competitive, we constantly review what’s happening in the market and consistently seek out ways to enhance connectivity among our lawyers and professional staff, but our core strategy, as outlined above, will remain in place for the next five years.
CA:Are there particular sectors you anticipate growth in?
SW: Technology, Real Estate, Life Sciences, Financial Industry, Private Equity, Intellectual Property Litigation, and Securities Litigation and White Collar Defense continue to drive our revenue and are currently our largest areas of growth. We anticipate this will continue to be the case for the next couple of years.
CA: What opportunities and/or challenges do advances in technology present to the firm?
SW: With the development of new technologies, the business of law is becoming more complicated. To meet these challenges and differentiate our firm in the market, we are intently focused on partnering with our clients to deliver value. In addition to delivering exceptional practice of law value in our key industries, we are partnering with our clients’ operations teams and COOs to help them improve operational effectiveness, develop and test new products, and share risks and rewards throughout. To this end, and in recognition of the continued importance of focus on the business of law, we have rebranded our professional staff as Goodwin’s Global Operations Team (or GO! Team for short.)
CA:What's unique about Goodwin's culture?
SW: Culture is the foundation upon which our firm is built, and we never take it for granted, always working to ensure its vibrancy and health, especially as our clients’ needs drive our global growth. At Goodwin, we are collaborative, collegial, innovative, entrepreneurial, financially disciplined and committed to giving back to the communities in which we work and live. We consider the cultural implications of everything we do – from hiring laterals at all levels to how we speak to each other. We believe that humility breeds camaraderie. We appreciate that we are more than an aggregation of numbers; we are a community with our own distinct culture, which we believe is our firm’s primary asset.
CA:What role does pro bono play in associates’ development at Goodwin?
SW: We believe that an active pro bono program creates a true "win-win" for everyone. What all of our pro bono matters have in common is the opportunity for our lawyers and other legal professionals to work directly with clients and broaden their professional experience while making important and rewarding contributions to the communities in which they work and live. We ask all of the firm’s lawyers to commit at least 50 hours annually to pro bono. Pro bono matters are reviewed in the same way as billable matters, and pro bono hours are counted one-to-one for billable hour credit.
CA:How is Goodwin going about making itself more diverse?
SW: We are committed to promoting diversity and inclusion in our law firm and in the legal profession, and an open work environment in which each employee can excel and thrive. Diversity and inclusion are core to our strategy and our values, and our Chairman-led Inclusion Advisory Committee ensures we make our efforts in this area a top priority.
Chambers, at its annual Women in Law Awards last summer, named Goodwin “Most Innovative Gender Diversity Initiative” for our Brightspots Initiative, which we launched to combat unconscious bias of all types and to build even stronger, more inclusive teams. Last fall, we signed on to the Mansfield Rule to drive diversity in leadership roles and lateral hiring. In January, we brought on a new director of diversity and inclusion, Bernard Guinyard, who has held diversity leadership roles in the investment banking, corporate, accounting and legal sectors.
100 Northern Avenue,
- Largest Office:
- Number of domestic offices: 6
- Number of international offices: 4
- Worldwide revenue: $1,032,437,000
- Partners (US): 318
- Counsel (US): 94
- Associates (US): 444
- Main recruitment contact: Ashley Nelson, Director of Legal Recruitment, Associate & Professional Track Hiring
- See the full list of office-based recruiting contacts on our website
- Hiring partner: Emily Rapalino, National Hiring Partner
- Diversity officer: Bernard Guinyard, Director of Diversity & Inclusion
- Recruitment details
- Entry-level associates starting in 2018: 50
- Clerking policy: Yes
- Summers joining/anticipated 2018: 1Ls: 1, 2Ls: 58
- Summers joining/anticipated 2018 split by office: Boston: 23, New York: 17, Washington, DC: 5, Los Angeles: 2, San Francisco: 5, Silicon Valley: 5, Hong Kong: 2
- Summer salary 2018: 1Ls and 2Ls: $3,650/week
- Split summers offered? No
- Can summers spend time in an overseas office? Case-by-case
Main areas of work
Berkeley, Boston College, Boston University, Brooklyn, Catholic University of America, Columbia, Cornell, Duke, Emory, Fordham, George Washington, Georgetown, Harvard, Howard, Loyola Law School (Los Angeles), McGill, Northeastern, Northwestern, NYU, Santa Clara, Stanford, Suffolk, UC Davis, UC Hastings, UCLA, UNC, University of Chicago, University of Connecticut, University of Michigan, University of Pennsylvania, University of Texas, USC, UVA, Vanderbilt, Washington University in St. Louis, William & Mary, Yale
Recruitment outside OCIs:
Bay Area Diversity Career Fair, Boston Lawyers Group, Boston Job Fair, Lavender Law Career Fair, Loyola Patent Law Interview Program, NEBLSA Job Fair, Southeastern Minority Job Fair
Goodwin’s Asia Track program is designed for summer associates who have a particular interest in pursuing a legal career in Asia. Native fluency in Mandarin Chinese is required. The Asia Track summer program involves spending eight to ten weeks in one of our US offices and two to three weeks in our Hong Kong office.
Summer associate profile:
Goodwin hires summer associates with exceptional academic records, demonstrated leadership abilities and excellent written, verbal and interpersonal skills.
Summer program components:
Goodwin’s summer program provides summer associates with a realistic work experience mirroring that of a junior associate. We work closely with summer associates to understand their interests and provide opportunities to work on a broad range of assignments. Summer associates are encouraged to observe client meetings, court hearings, depositions, negotiations and attend practice area meetings. We provide leading litigation and business law training programs throughout the summer. Through our adviser program, summer associates are paired with partners and associates to help them integrate.
This Firm's Rankings in
Chambers USA Guide 2017
- Capital Markets: Debt & Equity (Band 3)
- Life Sciences (Band 4)
- Litigation: Securities (Band 4)
- Real Estate (Band 2)
- Venture Capital (Band 2)
District of Columbia
- Corporate/M&A & Private Equity (Band 3)
- Environment (Band 4)
- Intellectual Property: Litigation (Band 4)
- Banking & Finance (Band 3)
- Banking & Finance: Corporate & Regulatory (Band 1)
- Corporate/M&A (Band 1)
- Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation (Band 1)
- Environment (Band 3)
- Hedge & Mutual Funds (Band 2)
- Intellectual Property (Band 1)
- Labor & Employment (Band 2)
- Litigation: General Commercial (Band 1)
- Private Equity: Buyouts (Band 2)
- Private Equity: Fund Formation (Band 2)
- Private Equity: Venture Capital Investment (Band 1)
- Real Estate (Band 1)
- Tax (Band 1)
- Technology (Band 2)
- Bankruptcy/Restructuring Recognised Practitioner
- Corporate/M&A: Highly Regarded (Band 3)
- Intellectual Property: Patent (Band 3)
- Litigation: Securities (Band 4)
- Litigation: White-Collar Crime & Government Investigations (Band 3)
- Real Estate: Mainly Corporate & Finance (Band 4)
- Corporate/M&A (Band 4)
USA - Nationwide
- Capital Markets: Debt & Equity (Band 4)
- Corporate Crime & Investigations (Band 4)
- Corporate/M&A: Highly Regarded (Band 1)
- ERISA Litigation (Band 2)
- Financial Services Regulation: Consumer Finance (Compliance & Litigation) (Band 2)
- Food & Beverages: Regulatory & Litigation (Band 3)
- Intellectual Property (Band 4)
- International Trade: Export Controls & Economic Sanctions Recognised Practitioner
- Investment Funds: Private Equity: Fund Formation (Band 4)
- Investment Funds: Registered Funds (Band 3)
- Investment Funds: Venture Capital: Fund Formation (Band 2)
- Leisure & Hospitality (Band 3)
- Life Sciences (Band 2)
- Private Equity: Buyouts (Band 5)
- Product Liability & Mass Torts (Band 5)
- Real Estate (Band 3)
- REITs (Band 1)
- Securities: Litigation (Band 4)
- Startups & Emerging Companies (Band 2)
- Tax: Corporate & Finance Recognised Practitioner