This Texan’s sociable nature and go-getting attitude continue to deliver in the Lone Star State and elsewhere.
HAYNES and Boone may not be the biggest bucking bull in Texas, but 46 years after its founding the firm is a major player in its home state and, increasingly, beyond. The Texan economy over the years has attracted new competition in the form of several big out-of-state law firms opening an office here too, but under the leadership of previous managing partner Terry Conner and, since January 2015, Tim Powers, Haynes and Boone has continued to offer something different to grow here and nationally. The New York branch (launched in 2004) is a big focus these days, while new offices in Denver and Chicago further power the firm's national ambitions. Chicago, it's worth mentioning, came from the August 2015 addition of an IP boutique, Mavrakakis Law Group, located in the Windy City and Palo Alto. A Shanghai base established in 2013 is "focused on outbound investment from China into the US and South American markets, particularly in the energy technology, private equity and real estate sectors," Tim Powers tells us. "Our China strategy is very different compared to most other firms." The 20 year-old Mexico City office has also expanded with lateral hires recently. There's been a lot going on at HayBoo, in other words.
While energy is inevitably a major industry for the Texan, Haynes and Boone's Chambers USA rankings indicate the diverse spread of work on offer for associates: capital markets, M&A, IP, insurance, bankruptcy/restructuring, real estate, antitrust, general litigation, and Latin American investment, among others. Getting bigger doesn’t necessarily mean getting more BigLaw, however, and the firm still places high importance on letting associates have a life of their own. "I think the work/life balance is as good as it gets for a larger firm," one third-year told us. Revenue in 2015 rose nearly 7% to $362 million – another year of impressive revenue growth.
The Work & Offices
From our interview pool of 60 junior associates, almost half were in litigation, the bulk in Dallas and others in Forth Worth, Houston, San Antonio, DC, Orange County, Silicon Valley, and New York. Juniors involved in corporate work were more or less entirely located in the Dallas and Houston offices, and they constituted about a third of our sample. The remaining associates were spread around finance, IP transactional, IP litigation, real estate, and business planning, taxation & benefits.
Summer associates can try a range of areas during their summer program, after which the firm "assigns you based on preference forms at the end." Particularly in corporate, new junior associates can pick up a variety of work: "I was in all transactional groups, and after a year they asked me if I wanted to focus on just one," one told us. Another added: "Here in the corporate group they let you dabble in what you want for the first year or so, then naturally you gravitate toward one discipline." Although new starters are assigned a supervising partner who's in charge of workflow over the first few months, a few talked of knocking on doors, even simply because "some people forget there’s a new associate, so it was good to just go and say hello and remind them I’m here."
Day-to-day responsibility levels vary. One associate in litigation spoke of how "during my first month I got pulled in on an appeal on the Sixth Circuit, and I got to write an entire section for that." Corporate sources described handling closing calls and drafting purchase agreements, although there is still "a fair amount of due diligence and document review." Deal size usually dictates the amount of responsibility offered: "I’ve been given small deals in the $10-15 million range to work through on my own, whilst on the bigger deals I’m a cog in the machine." Associates described a lot of M&A work and a fair amount of private equity cases. There is also overlap with other areas including energy, financing transactions and bankruptcy. "We work a lot between practice groups." The litigation group has a similarly broad range of focus, as well as a fair amount of crossover with other areas including white-collar, government investigations, and healthcare regulatory matters.
"I'm the client's first point of contact."
Those working in IP had lots of contact with their clients, "regularly interviewing inventors," and other tasks include "drafting patent applications and communicating with the Patent Office to get the patent allowed." In finance, the focus tends to be on lending. One of the group's juniors described recent work with a smaller bank: "I’ve taken on that entire process; I don’t think anybody else even gets copied on their emails. I’m the client’s first point of contact."
Just as overlap in the work is the norm, matters are handled between offices fairly regularly, too. All of the sources we spoke to had worked with teams in other parts of the country. A Dallas associate noted that "the first big project I did was with a partner from DC. I worked on that probably 70% of the time for the first six months." And the interconnected nature of the firm extends to the international level, as "every month we have telecom section meetings with our offices across the world." A New Yorker described "doing work for the transactional guys in Dallas," another adding, "I’ve worked with offices in Houston and Washington, DC. We’re really well connected." After all, it must be hard to feel excluded from the action when you’re working in the Rockefeller Center and sharing an elevator with NBC. "I can see what’s going on in the Today Show out the window, so that’s kind of cool."
Training & Development
The introductory ‘HayBoo U’ training program consists of a week's worth of general orientation, during which "they teach you about how to use your secretary, how to make connections with partners in the office: all the tangible things." After this, training varies according to practice area. For those in IP, for example, "the firm has a patent boot camp for new associates," while corporate juniors are given an introduction to their practice: "They walked us through the documents, orienting us for the different transactions that we’d encounter." Other areas seemed to have a less structured training process, with one litigator noting that "there is nothing that’s comparable to HayBoo U going forward. That’s fine with me: I prefer to learn on the job."
"I can ask the dumbest of the dumb questions like, 'How do I respond to this email?'"
All juniors are assigned a mentor, usually a mid-level associate: "I talk to her all the time. I can ask the dumbest of the dumb questions like, ‘How do I respond to this email?’ Or more sensitive questions about strategy." Others mentioned regular workshops that all juniors are encouraged to attend, in areas like public speaking and negotiation.
"It’s hard not to be in the loop," revealed one junior. The powers that be "send emails out all the time telling us about new offices and lateral hires, and they have a state of the firm meeting with us every year." Most interviewees liked this approach. "I’m in a place that’s investing in me and I can see myself here for the rest of my career." Another reflected: "As the firm is expanding it's great for people to grow a legal career here. You get to know everyone and learn how things work, and all of a sudden you’re part of the process, and that makes me want to stay."
"I'm in a place that's investing in me and I can see myself here for the rest of my career."
Many of our interviewees were keen to highlight their decent (for BigLaw) work-life balance: "After a really busy week, I was worried about whether I would be able to take a planned vacation, but they were literally pushing me out the door!" Someone in Richardson reported: "Here people get together and do stuff. We’ll go to concerts and rock climbing together. It makes work a lot easier." Nevertheless, some felt the firm could organize more official social events: "I would give them a C in that respect," a New Yorker grumbled.
Does this sociable environment extend to the offices outside Texas? While one junior thought "they do try to keep that friendly Texas vibe in the New York office," another pointed out that "each office alters its culture to make it more appropriate to their location. New York is more BigLaw, for instance." They were quick to add that "ultimately it’s still Haynes and Boone. As it gets bigger, I think that we’re maintaining that mentality."
Hours & Compensation
"In Texas, there’s a billing target of 2,000 hours, and depending on whether you hit it or not, you’re put on high base or low base. The gap between high and low depends what year you are, and the difference between bases expands as you’ve been there longer." But while some associates seemed clear on exactly how their billed hours impacted their compensation, others were a little confused: "I don’t feel like they tell us a set number. My understanding is if you hit 2,000 then you’re going to get a bonus, but maybe they should be clearer." One junior even mentioned, "I’ve asked three or four times and they don’t really want to talk about it."
"They don't want it to become about just hitting the hours."
Interviewees in Texas found the 2,000 target more than achievable: "I hit about 2,200 in my first year," said one. In New York, however, associates faced more of a struggle to hit their 1,800 target. Associates who are close to hitting their target will still receive a reduced bonus. There was a strong sense from some juniors that the hours were more of a guideline, and that quality over quantity was still important, as "they don’t want it to become about just hitting the hours."
"I forget they're pro bono cases at times, as we treat them like any other client."
While pro bono isn’t mandatory, juniors can count up to 100 pro bono hours toward their billables (and more with approval). Assignments in Dallas we heard about included wills, taxes and divorces, and working with the organization ACT to help disadvantaged members of the community take a stand against drug houses. In New York, many pro bono cases are related to immigration: "We do a lot of work with situations where illegal immigrants are subject to domestic violence." Houston associates talked about tax cases as well as "lots of people working on family law matters like divorce cases." One junior told us how "I forget they’re pro bono cases at times, which is good as we treat them like any other client."
Pro bono hours
Many associates mentioned the high proportion of female attorneys, both among junior associates and in leadership roles. "In my group, all of the associates above me are women except for one. And only two people below me are male." Others spoke of regular lunches for female associates with discussion topics like the problems faced by women in the workforce.
"In my group, all of the associates above me are women except for one."
What about racial diversity? "I don’t think we’ve totally figured that out, but I don’t know that any firm has," admitted one associate, "but they’re actively working toward it." The firm does have a diversity committee and is making the effort to recruit more diverse candidates, with a range of programs in place in Dallas, Houston, New York and California which bring in diverse 1L students for six-week scholarship programs.
At OCIs, interviewers look for "students who are excited about the opportunity to interview with the firm," felt one who'd been through them. Make sure you do your homework because successful candidates must "demonstrate genuine interest in us: ask specific questions about the firm, its clients and practice areas."
"Ask specific questions about the firm, its clients and practice areas."
Candidates who show initiative over and above academic performance do well, too, and involvement in law journals and law school organizations is a definite plus. But make sure you can back up everything you put on paper. One had "put on my resume that I spoke French, and when the interview began, it was in French – not at my request obviously! So they will call you on it."
Strategy & Future
“In the short term we are focused on growing in the depth and breadth of the markets that we’re in,” managing partner Tim Powers tells us. The firm is focusing its attention on three core areas of energy, technology and financial services, although the recent acquisition of an IP boutique and resultant new offices in Palo Alto and Chicago demonstrates commitment to IP too.
"We may at some point expand into London.”
And what about expansion geographically? “In the long term, we want to continue to grow in New York and California, and we believe that we should have English law capabilities, so I think so we may at some point expand into London.” Read our full interview with Powers in the Bonus Features.
Interview with Tim Powers, managing partner
Chambers Associate: You took the reins of Haynes and Boone in January; how’s it all going?
Tim Powers: I think our year has gone very well! We’ve got a lot to accomplish in the fourth quarter but we’re very much on track to achieve our goals in terms of our budget and net revenue for the year. Notwithstanding what’s been going on in the marketplace with the reduction in energy prices, and the way that market growth in China is impacting global markets as a whole, I’m feeling pretty good about things. There are some overall economic changes we’re adjusting to, but even in terms of the downturn in energy, it’s something we’ve been through before; we’re long term players in the energy cycle.
CA: Can you flag up any particular highlights over the past year?
TP: While we’re Texas-based we’re really a national firm. We’ve grown particularly in New York and California, and our focus now is very much on three areas: energy, technology, and financial services. The latter includes for us investment and commercial banking, private equity, real estate and restructuring. This year, even though energy prices were down, we opened in Denver, which is the second-largest US energy market. Our focus is on our long-term energy clientele and business, and we have been very successful there. The office in Denver is complementing what we have in Texas and what we have in New York. Much like we did in New York in 2010, when we invested in the real estate practice, we’re doing the same thing with energy; going into Denver is part of our long-term strategy.
In August we made an acquisition of a group [Mavrakakis Law Group] that is very experienced in the technology area and successful in IP and IP litigation. That not only allowed us to grow in the Silicon Valley, but they also had a group of lawyers in Chicago, so we ended up also opening there in August. That is not necessarily to do with wanting to be in Chicago, as it is a hyper-competitive market, but we felt very good leading with one of our strengths: technology. We’ll work on integrating this team and growing in Chicago in IP, and then in Chicago more generally. Denver and Chicago are following our strategy of being a national firm, and focusing on our core areas.
CA: So what about international ambitions?
TP: Well we’re already in Mexico and Shanghai. We’ve been in Mexico for the past 20 years, and recent legislation changes there have opened up opportunities over the past few years. With the changes in Mexico’s energy and telecom markets, and energy, real estate and technology also being our big focus points, you can see how that aligns well for us.
We’ve been in Shanghai for just two years at this point, but our China strategy is very different compared to most other firms. We are focused on outbound investment from China into the US and South American markets, particularly in the energy technology, private equity and real estate sectors.
CA: Your predecessor Terry Conner spoke to us last year about potentially re-establishing in Brazil. Are there any developments there?
TP: Actually our partner that leads Brazilian developments is in the office two doors down, so I was just talking to him about that. We’ve continued to ferry our people back and forth between Brazil, so we’re still focused on that, but as Brazil this year has experienced its own recession and reduction in demand on commodities, as well as the political turmoil that’s happening right now, we’ve not moved much further in that process. I think in the long term we will be there, but right now isn’t the time to make that investment. As any firm will tell you, we’ve got a number of investments that we could make, but it’s the timing that’s important.
CA: You mentioned that part of your core focus is on energy, but Haynes and Boone has typically been distinguished from other Texan firms in that the focus hasn’t solely been on oil and gas. Would you say that this is still the case?
TP: I should start by reiterating that while Texas is still overall where we’re based, probably 35-40% of our lawyers are now outside the state, so we are becoming more diversified. Around 20-30% of our income relates to the energy business in some way or another, but while we do a lot for energy companies, that work relates to pure oil and gas work, as well as work for energy companies in the M&A, finance, labor and employment, litigation, and technology areas, too. When the oil markets are booming, we may be doing much more capital markets work, whereas now, while the market is down, we’re doing more financing, litigation and restructuring work.
Technology is also a big part of the energy business now, too. And, around 20% of our revenue and our lawyers are in our IP practice. When you take that and add it to our finance and real estate work, we probably are a bit more diversified than our Texas peers like Vinson & Elkins or Baker Botts. I also think an important factor is that we were not formed as a firm until the 1970s, whereas our Houston peer firms were formed around the 1870s, so they had a more advanced jump into the energy business than we did. But that has ended up being more of a blessing than a curse for us.
CA: In general then, what would you say is your strategy moving forward?
TP: In the short term we are focused on growing in the depth and breadth of the markets that we’re in right now, and improving our expertise and brand recognition in the three core areas of energy, technology and financial services that I mentioned earlier. But the most important part of our strategy is how best to service our clients and meet their needs. We’re also focused on how we position our lawyers in order for them to have the greatest chance for success in developing the best clients and the most sophisticated work, and in turn reaping the financial rewards for this.
In the long-term, we want to continue to grow in New York and California, whilst remaining at the top in Dallas and in a strong position in Houston. We also believe that we should have English law capabilities to better serve our clients, so I think we may at some point expand into London, although I don’t know that I necessarily see us doing a big cross-Atlantic merger.
CA: Do you think the firm’s growth is starting to give it a more typical BigLaw feel?
TP: Not necessarily. More than anything we are focused on the distinctiveness of our culture, and part of that is being very teamwork-oriented. I was a rower in college, and rowing is considered to be the epitome of a team sport. So I talk a lot about us all being in the boat and working together to make it go faster. If anything, our teamwork culture is probably being more emphasised now. For us it’s a real distinguishing factor, particularly for students who are choosing a firm, and trying to decide what makes one place a better environment to work in.
If you’re able to cast a vision of the future in the firm and show how everyone is a part of that, then no matter how much you grow you’re able to maintain that team spirit. We’re very careful when hiring to make sure candidates fit that culture; if they’re only about making money, we’re not the right place for them. If you’re all about helping to build a great institution and doing great client work, and working together to achieve that, then I think you have a great chance for success here.
One of the things we did this year to emphasise this was an undertaking called ‘bringing the family back to the firm’, which was made up of several social events throughout the year that our lawyers could bring their spouses and significant others along to. We believe they are as much a part of the firm as our lawyers are, and if they understand the firm, they understand what their spouse is doing, you’ve got family and firm in sync. It has been really well received. We promote a one-firm culture and always will as long as I’m the managing partner, although I don’t see that ever changing. We think it allows us to compete better and have greater success.
Haynes and Boone, LLP
2323 Victory Avenue,
- Head Office: Dallas, TX
- Number of domestic offices: 12
- Number of international offices: 2
- Worldwide revenue: $362,000,000
- Partners (US): 230
- Associates (US): 357 (including other attorneys)
- Summer Salary 2016
- 1Ls: $3,077/week
- 2Ls: $3,077/week
- Post 3Ls: $3,077/week
- 1Ls hired? Yes, in specific offices
- Split summers offered? Case by case
- Can summers spend time in overseas office? No
- Summers 2016: 2Ls: 39
- Offers/acceptances 2015: 40 offers, 30 acceptances, 3 outstanding offers
Main areas of work
Corporate/securities/M&A, private equity, hedge funds, business litigation (including IP, insurance coverage, environmental, energy, real estate, securities, healthcare and appellate), bankruptcy and restructuring, energy, banking and finance, franchises, intellectual property/technology, labor and employment and real estate. Firm profile Haynes and Boone, LLP is an international corporate law firm with offices in Texas, New York, California, Colorado, Washington, DC, Shanghai and Mexico City, providing a full spectrum of legal services.
• Number of 1st year associates: 26
• Number of 2nd year associates: 34
• Associate salaries: 1st year: $180,000
• Clerking policy: Yes Law
Schools attending for OCIs in 2016:
Baylor, UC Berkeley, Columbia, Duke, Fordham, Georgetown, Harvard, Santa Clara, Southern Methodist University, Stanford, UC Davis, UC Irvine, UCLA, University of Houston, University of Pennsylvania, USC, University of Texas, University of Virginia, Vanderbilt, Cornell
Summer associate profile:
To sustain what we feel is a blend of culture and sophistication of practice that is unmatched in the market, Haynes and Boone is looking for internally driven law students with a personality that would augment our firm’s commitment to teamwork and a long-term approach to the practice of law.
Summer program components:
Our summer associates spend 8-10 weeks (depending on office) with us working in one or two of our practice areas. Each summer associate is given a supervisor who assigns them work and they are able to attend client meetings, negotiations, hearings, etc. Feedback is provided throughout the summer as well as through the midclerkship review. Our summer associates also enjoy several social events designed to get to know our attorney.