Hogan Lovells - The Inside View

Industry focus is now the name of the game at this “supportive" international maestro.

“2016 WAS a strong year. We had a particular focus on developing our industry sector capabilities,” the managing partner of Hogan Lovells' largest region in the States (DC), Eve Howard, tells us. Why the industry focus? It's "a powerful mechanism for bringing the whole of the firm to the whole of our clients. This approach also acts as a significant force in bringing together our different practices to align behind significant market issues, allowing us to be thought leaders in the industry.” In other words, a healthcare client (for example) can come to the firm's healthcare team for advice on a raft of legal specialisms, like regulatory, corporate/M&A and litigation, to name a few. “Demonstrating a deep understanding of their industry really resonates with clients,” Eve Howard adds.

Other differentiators of Hogan Lovells are its diverse geographies – 13 domestic and 36 international offices – and numerous practice areas. Unsurprisingly, these are a big draw for new recruits, but so too is the unique “personality of the firm –  it's a very warm place,” according to one junior. Helping this side of things further, in early 2016 HL rolled out a firmwide 'agile working' policy, giving lawyers and staff more flexibility over their own schedules compared to the the old reduced hours system. Associates also mentioned the firm's great rep for “commitment to pro bono” – demonstrated in early 2017, for example, when a huge pro bono team (20-plus lawyers) sprang into action against President Trump's travel ban, helping detainees at various international airports, and setting up an internal task force to coordinate efforts.

The Work



Incoming juniors join one of five main groups: litigation, arbitration & employment (LAE); corporate; government regulatory; finance; or IP. Only a sprinkling of newcomers join the latter two areas, while LAE, corporate, and government regulatory take on a fairly even load of juniors.

In DC – the flagship office – new recruits have the chance to do four-month rotations in different practice areas to get a feel for where they might best fit. There's even a popular pro bono rotation (for more on that, see below). However, rotating is by no means compulsory but sources appreciated the chance to dabble. “I did a few rotations and settled in my group after a year. All of those rotations happened because I wanted them to, but I could have settled at any time.” Of course, “people tend to have strong preferences coming in about litigation or transactional work.” In offices outside of DC, there's no rotation system. In most practices, work assignment comprises “a mix of a formal system, with a weekly email reporting what we have on and our capacity, and an informal free market system,” whereby associates “connect with partners or pick up things here and there when people are looking for bodies on a project.” A government regulatory junior told us “the head of our group does an incredible job of making sure everyone's getting the experience they want, but I also pester certain partners with specific practices to get staffed on their work.”

Over in litigation in DC, “when you first start, you are assigned a partner mentor and they physically give you you first assignment and organize others. Another partner sends out emails asking you about staffing. I think it's pretty effective.” Sources had tackled areas including white collar investigations, healthcare, general corporate litigation, construction, insurance, accounting disputes and entertainment issues. “I've done a lot of motions to dismiss, drafted briefs, coordinated all the depositions of 100-plus named plaintiffs and taken ten of the depositions myself,” said one junior. Transactional attorneys take charge of “a lot of paper that gets pushed and things like ancillaries. Then there's the more exciting and fun stuff like taking an initial draft of a credit agreement and helping with the negotiation process.” A transactional source in a smaller department said there's a formal “weekly reporting system” but “I get all my work informally!”

"I've handled discrete client questions, policy analysis and government investigations.”

In government regulatory, some sources focus their practice on FDA work. “I'd be the one to review FDA guidance, I'd chat with the partner about what I've found and how we should present the information. Then I draft an email with guidance as to what the client should do going forward. If a client is doing a product recall, I file a report with the Commission, interface with the client and take first draft of a report.” Other associates in government regulatory might home in on trade or cybersecurity work. “We tend to represent foreign companies being investigated and there's more of a disputes flavor,” a trade source reported. “I've been to the Court of International Trade, worked on a couple of briefs and a lot of exhibit preparation.” In cybersecurity, “the clients are top in their field –  cutting edge Fortune 100 companies and start-ups looking to do innovative things with data and information. My role varies a lot. I've handled discrete client questions, policy analysis and government investigations.”

Training & Development



Newcomers have an initial administrative orientation in their respective offices, which gets them up to speed with “an introduction to the firm covering things like how to bill your time.” Then, in late September or early October, everyone comes to DC for a week of more substantive legal orientation, with tips on the transition from student or judicial clerk to lawyer, and practice-specific training, which continues thereafter. A training highlight for litigators is NITA training in Colorado over three days, with actors assisting in witness interviews and deposition sessions. There are also legal writing classes and “really wonderful” public speaking training. “In my group there's a ton of institutional knowledge passed on, through PowerPoints and client alerts,” a government regulatory junior told us. Another source remarked that “one of the great things about being at a big firm is the massive amount of resources, but it requires initiative from associates. People are busy and so it's incumbent on associates to seek out feedback, but I certainly feel very supported by senior associates and partners. If I have questions I don't feel shy about asking them.”

First-years are assigned both an associate and a partner mentor, although “people also develop their own informal relationships.” As one commented: “I'm lucky to have some close mentors who will take the time to give me some substantive feedback if they think I'm missing a key point.”

Hours & Compensation



Sources had different feelings about the 2,000 hour billing target. For some, hitting the figure is “entirely realistic and not a concern.” Others, especially those in smaller groups, found that “sometimes the work doesn't trickle down so it's not realistic for a lot of associates. Historically I have not made my hours.” However, “talking to mid-levels it's never been an issue, it's understood that the work ebbs and flows. I’ve never really gotten pushback against my hours. I do a ton of pro bono and business development. They look at you holistically, so as long as you're not a slacker it's okay.” The first-year starting salary is $180,000 in all US offices except Miami, Minneapolis and Colorado Springs.

"They look at you holistically, so as long as you're not a slacker it's okay.”

On a typical day it's normal for juniors to spend around ten hours in the office, although they appreciated that “there's a lot of flexibility. I like to leave earlier and work from home in the evenings. Partners don't really care where you are as long as they can reach you.” However, this being BigLaw, “it's a demanding environment” and “working from dawn until dusk” is sometimes par for the course. Asked for an example of a late finish, one interviewee told us “5am the next day... but that was a unique circumstance.” Associates were pleased to note that time off is respected. “I just came back from a ten day vacation where I checked my emails twice and nobody called me.”

Pro Bono



All our sources spoke enthusiastically about Hogan's approach to pro bono. “It really sets the firm apart from others – it's definitely a very significant priority. We have a dedicated pro bono department with a full time partner [T. Weymouth, known as "T"] assisted by a senior fellow who's a mid to senior level.” First-years can do a four month rotation where they work exclusively on pro bono work. However, “even if you're not a rotator, most people do pro bono work.” Indeed, all of our sources had taken on projects, including immigration issues – most recently, the travel ban – and death penalty cases, including through the Innocence Project. One noted cheerily that “you can devote as much time as you want to it because the firm policy is if you hit 1,850 billable hours you can count an unlimited number of pro bono hours after that toward your total.”

Pro bono hours

  • For all US attorneys: 87,864
  • Average per US attorney: 85

Culture



The buzzword at Hogan Lovells is “collaborative,” but what does this actually mean? A “supportive, non-competitive, challenging environment,” was one junior's assessment, a sentiment echoed by others. “It feels like everyone is available to help and make sure you're succeeding. People are very affable and candid. Unlike a lot of workplaces, you can show your true personality and build real friendships.” Another associate commented that “people genuinely enjoy each other's company. I went on a hike with a couple of co-workers recently.” What else is going on socially? “The easiest answer is I went to a see a local Nineties cover band, who are popular in DC, with a bunch of Hogan folks. We then bumped into four other groups of Hogan people, from mid levels to juniors. Folk here are very social and fun to hang out with.”

"You can show your true personality and build real friendships.”

There are practice-specific gatherings, like lunches, happy hours and dinners, plus a monthly a firmwide happy hour, known as 'pub night' in true British style. “We are known in the market to be a very collaborative and friendly firm,” regional managing partner Eve Howard points out. “Lateral associates and partners from other firms also say that’s true." Her personal testimony bears this out: “I came to Hogan & Hartson nearly 30 years ago not only because of the great corporate practice, but also because it was known for its collegiality and warm culture. I'm proud to say that Hogan Lovells has retained that culture 30 years later.”

Offices



Renovation is taking place across the entire DC office: “It's currently a work in progress but the new developments are fabulous – open, light and with collaborative spaces.” There's even a rooftop solarium, as well as a new cafeteria and conference rooms. The LA and Denver offices have also been transformed. “There's a ton of glass, lots of big windows, and funky furniture, all staff and attorneys have standing desks. It looks like a law firm merged with a Silicon Valley tech start up.” New Yorkers told us that “in 2018 we're moving to a very modern space that has a better flow. The issue in our office is that corporate and litigation are on separate floors with another company in between, so to help with that situation the managing partners created a lounge space that's light and comfortable, with free apples and nice coffee and tea, and beer and wine after 5pm on Fridays.” New Yorkers won't be moving far: only a few blocks away on Madison Avenue. DC sources applauded their subsidized cafeteria: “It's a great social space and everyone uses it, including partners.” Most offices have their own pet name for their common areas: in DC it's called 'The Hive', while in Denver it's 'The Junction', and in Baltimore 'The Nest'.

"like a law firm merged with a Silicon Valley tech start up.”

Diversity



A notable hire in 2016 was the appointment of Leslie Richards-Yellen as director of inclusion for the Americas region. “Diversity is something that the firm is very aware of and focused on promoting,” associates told us. Diversity initiatives include affinity groups for African-Americans, Latin-Americans, LGBT people, and women. Every year or two the firm hosts its 'Pathways to Success' conference: the firm's African-American associates are invited to the capital, where they meet with diverse law students and offer advice on their career paths.

“We have a diversity committee and every month there's an event, like a documentary showing or a speaker. The partners are involved, which is really nice. They did a film showing the other day about disabilities, and people were encouraged to take time off from their day. A movie and food: who's going to  say no?” Other associates mentioned that “there are still efforts to be made, in terms of diversity in the upper echelons of the firm, which many firms suffer from.” On the topic of the new firmwide agile working policies, regional MP Eve Howard says: “Personally, it's an issue that's very important to me. We have always been open to working flexibly and I spent 15 years here on a reduced schedule to help balance the needs of my family. We encourage our people to work in the way that is smartest for them within the demands of the job. It’s a powerful tool for retaining and attracting the best talent.” In March, the firm won an award from The Diversity & Flexibility Alliance for its new initiative.

Strategy & Future



Hogan Lovells was formed by the 2010 mega-merger of the then 800-plus-lawyer US firm Hogan & Hartson and the UK's Lovells. The strategy since then of integration, organic growth (but no more mergers thus far), and occasional lateral partner hires has continued into 2017. In April, for example, the firm added four high profile attorneys in North California from Weil Gotshal, with collective expertise in M&A and IP in various industries, including tech and life sciences. M&A, incidentally,  has been “strong around the globe” for the firm and “we worked on some very large transactions, particularly with complex regulatory aspects.” according to regional MP Eve Howard.

Government-related practices, meanwhile, have taken advantage of the “revolving door” of talent freed up by the change in administration from Obama to Trump: recent hires include a former solicitor of the US Department of the Interior to the environment practice, and a senior Department of Justice official to Hogan's antitrust, competition and economic regulation (ACER) team.

 

 

Get Hired



Hogan Lovells recruits from around 25 to 30 law schools each year. Some offices also recruit locally – for example, the Denver office goes to the University of Denver, while DC visits George Washington, Catholic, Howard and American. 'National' schools include Harvard, Georgetown, NYU, Columbia, Duke, Michigan, Vanderbilt, Virginia, Stanford and Berkeley. According to one associate, the firm “values typical academic success” but “equally with that same open collegial, supportive type of personality.” Another said that beyond commonly shared “generic” traits of being “friendly and smart,” personalities here are “diverse.”

Managing partner of the DC region, Eve Howard, confirms that the best candidates demonstrate “obviously strong intellectual capabilities, a sense of curiosity, and problem-solving. Those are table stakes. But, just as critically, they need to really fit our culture. We hire people from a wide range of backgrounds, but the common factor is that you'd want to spend a lot of time with them. A successful lawyer here is not just a skilled technician, but a professional who is able to work as part of a close-knit team, and connect on a personal level with colleagues and clients. You can see it when you meet with someone face-to-face and you can see what they have done on their resumés, how involved they have been in their activities, and how engaged they are in their various communities.”

The full list of schools Hogan Lovells will visit for OCIs in 2017 is:

American University, University of Baltimore, Boston College, Boston University, University of California – Berkeley, University of California Los Angeles (UCLA), Catholic University, Columbia University, University of Colorado, Cornell, University of Denver, Duke, University of Florida, Florida International, Florida State, George Mason, George Washington, Georgetown, Harvard, Howard, University of Maryland, University of Miami, University of Michigan, University of Minnesota, Northwestern, New York University, University of Pennsylvania, Stanford, University of Southern California, University of Texas, University of Virginia, Vanderbilt, Washington & Lee, William & Mary, and Yale.

Interview with hiring partner Tim Lloyd



Chambers Associate: What's the scope of your recruiting drive? Which law schools do you traditionally draw from?

Tim Lloyd: We recruit from between 25-30 law schools each year. Within that we focus on schools that you would describe as national; schools like Harvard, Duke, Georgetown, NYU, Columbia, Michigan, Berkeley, Vanderbilt, Stanford and Virginia. A number of offices also recruit on a local level. In New York City, for example, we recruit at Fordham and Cornell; Denver goes to the University of Denver; in DC, we visit George Washington, Catholic, Howard and American. As our hiring goals increase, we are considering adding additional schools, such as those in the mid-west, and we are always open to speaking with strong candidates from other schools. At the same time, we find that going to schools where we have had past success and developed long-term relationships benefits all of our offices.

CA: What does the firm do to encourage diversity in recruiting?

TL: We do a number of things. We spend a fair amount of time interacting with law school students and making them aware of our commitment to having a diverse workforce and an inclusive workplace. We sponsor activities of diversity groups at law schools and make sure that our recruitment teams understand how important diversity is. We also participate in the LCLD Scholar program (the Leadership Council on Legal Diversity), in which we partner with our clients to promote diversity in the corporate and legal worlds.

CA: What are you looking for in a candidate? 

TL: We are very fortunate in that everyone we meet initially has great academic credentials and they are bright and motivated. Beyond that, this is a firm that places a high premium on team work and being able to work effectively with others. We are looking for someone who has demonstrated the qualities of being an engaging and engaged team player.

CA: What can students do now in their 1L summer to increase their chances of impressing you in their applications and at interview?

TL: Everything is potentially relevant. During the summer, anything you can do to try and improve your legal skills, especially writing, is helpful. It’s also useful to gain an understanding of what lawyers and clients do as well as refining what you think your career goals are. Anyone who comes to us with a good understanding of what it is lawyers do and specifically what they want to do as a lawyer has an immediate head start.

CA: Can you briefly outline your summer program? 

TL: We have a healthy mix of work assignments, formal training and social events. We strive to expose summer associates to all our areas of practice and give them the chance to get real hands-on experience in the areas that most interest them. We also think it is very important for students to gain an understanding of the firm and how it operates. As a specific example, all of our U.S. summer our associates take part in a summer associate retreat in DC that includes extensive involvement by our firm leaders. Summer associates learn about our firm history, practices, clients, finances, structure and goals. They also go through bonding exercises which they find fun and which really start to connect them to the wider firm.

CA: How can someone really stand out as a summer associate? 

TL: We expect everyone can do the legal work. I think they really will stand out if they are engaging, seek out opportunities and show initiative by making connections with people in practice groups they are most interested in. Summer associates who take best advantage of opportunities to refine their practice interests can really hit the ground running when they return to the firm as associates.

CA: What is the firm's approach to lateral hiring? 

TL: It’s really driven by our practice groups; we are always monitoring to see whether a practice's needs are being met. If they are not, we will supplement.

CA: What does Hogan Lovells offer that is unique? 

TL: If I was a law student, there are two things I would find most significant about Hogan, in addition to its outstanding global-facing practices. The first is its very positive culture – people here are genuinely friendly and supportive. The second thing, which takes a little bit of investigation to really appreciate, is the extent of the firm’s commitment to our attorneys’ professional development. We have devised and implemented a formal, professionally-developed program, which we call our lawyer development framework, for our attorneys. The program provides associates with essential “soft-skill” tools we believe will help them continue to grow professionally and succeed throughout their careers. I’m not aware of any comparable program.

 

Hogan Lovells

Columbia Square,
555 Thirteenth Street, NW,
Washington, DC,
20004
Website www.hoganlovells.com

  • Head Office: Washington, DC
  • Number of domestic offices: 13
  • Number of international offices: 36
  • Worldwide revenue: $1.925 billion
  • Partners (US): 411
  • Associates (US): 530
  • Summer Salary 2017:  
  • 1Ls: $3,500/week (in most offices)
  • 2Ls: $3,500/week (in most offices)
  • Post 3Ls: $3,500/week (in most offices)
  • 1Ls hired? Yes (in some offices)
  • Split summers offered? Case by case
  • Can summers spend time in overseas office? Case by case 
  • Summers 2017: 126 (111 2Ls, 15 1Ls)
  • Offers/acceptances 2016: 88 offers, 69 acceptances (to date)

Main areas of work
Working at the intersection of law, business and government, across a wide range of industries, Hogan Lovells US LLP’s global practices include corporate; finance; government regulatory; intellectual property, media and technology; litigation, arbitration and employment; and pro bono.

Firm profile
By joining Hogan Lovells, you will become part of a legal practice with a long tradition of excellence. Working as an integrated team, our lawyers provide sophisticated services on a broad spectrum of cutting-edge legal issues. Our unique global platform, collaborative culture and commitment to your professional development, provide an exceptional foundation on which to build a legal career – now and into the future. Hogan Lovells’ pioneering US Pro Bono practice began more than 40 years ago when we were the first law firm to establish a separate practice devoted exclusively to providing pro bono legal services. Our culture of inclusion, which respects and values the diversity of all of our people, enhances the quality of Hogan Lovells’ workplace and our ability to provide excellent legal services for clients. We prize our friendly, team-oriented environment, which encourages professional development, good associate-partner relations and early client contact.

Recruitment details
• Number of 1st year associates: 58
• Number of 2nd year associates: 51
• Associate salaries: 1st year: Varies by market - in most US offices $180,000
• 2nd year: Varies by market – in most US offices $190,000
• Clerking policy: Yes

Law Schools attending for OCIs in 2017:
American University, Baltimore, Boston College, Boston University, Catholic University, Columbia, Colorado, Cornell, Denver, Duke, Florida, Florida International, Florida State, George Mason, George Washington, Georgetown, Harvard, Howard, Maryland, Miami, Michigan, Minnesota, Northwestern, NYU, Pennsylvania, Stanford, Texas, UC Berkeley, UCLA, USC, UVA, Vanderbilt, Washington & Lee, William & Mary, Yale

Summer details
Summer associate profile:

With guidance from lawyer assignment coordinators/mentors, students do meaningful client work, and participate in training programs designed to develop and enhance legal skills. Summer Associates have opportunities to attend closings, depositions, and legislative and administrative hearings and meet with alumni and clients serving in prominent roles in government and business. In 2017, five US Summer Associates with strong interest in our transnational practices participated in a two-week program in the London office. All US Summer Associates attend a retreat in Washington where firm leaders share insights about Hogan Lovells’ pre-eminent practices and strategic plans for the future, our vision and values, and commitment to diversity. Through group dinners and team building exercises, US Summer Associates get to know their colleagues from other offices and make life long connections.