England's 'lovely Lovells' formed one half of this transatlantic success story – but its international scope and sweep of practices show there's much more to HL than a reputation for being 'nice.'
TEA and scones, or fries and a soda? Transatlantic giant Hogan Lovells comes with flavors of both – an infusion borne out of the 2010 mega-merger between DC's Hogan & Hartson and London's Lovells. Today, HL's offices in both cities have 'headquarter' status, but the firm's reach extends far beyond them: even after closing an office in Mongolia in 2017, HL's name sits atop 50 locations across the world, and Chambers Global recognizes the firm as top of the market in 24 different practice areas spanning various jurisdictions.
In the US, thoroughbred HL is certainly no one-trick pony; it scoops up a healthy spread of top-tier Chambers USA rankings spanning corporate, litigation, healthcare, investment, international trade, private & data security, telecommunications and transportation. DC managing partner Eve Howard explains: "Our internal focus on industry sectors has really gained traction and allowed us to bring all the different strands of our practices together. Something that makes us distinctive from other firms is the breadth and depth of industry focus we have."
The Work & Pro Bono
Incoming juniors slide into one of five groups: corporate, government regulatory, and litigation, arbitration & employment (LAE) take the majority; the rest join finance or IP. In its flagship DC office new recruits have the chance to do four-month rotations in different practice areas (including a pro bono option). The aim is to settle into one within two years, though “most people know where they want to go by their second rotation,” sources said.
Each group in each office has a workflow coordinator, but interviewees got most of their work directly from partners on an ad hoc basis. Corporate is a particularly free-flowing group, with juniors typically dipping in and out of M&A, private equity, securities, life sciences and other subsections. Due diligence is a common thread throughout, but “the level of responsibility can escalate pretty quickly. That said, they never let it go beyond what you can handle.” Higher level tasks include drafting commercial agreements, as well as board minutes and resolutions. Client contact is also common: “I ended up as the primary connection for the CFO and general counsel,” one source revealed, “it was an incredible experience.” Others agreed that “senior associates and partners are very good at keeping juniors in the loop of the deal.”
In government regulatory, some focus their practice on Food and Drug Administration work and can specialize in food or healthcare within that; others might home in on trade or cybersecurity and privacy matters. Each wing then splits into different feathers: for instance, cybersecurity and privacy encompasses transactional regulation, regulatory counseling and agency interaction. Wherever the wind takes you, diligence and document review are “pretty standard” along with initial drafts of motions. Investigation matters “vary the most, as you see elements of fact-gathering, memo preparation, talking to clients and conducting interviews” across the longer projects. Interviewees were “pleased to be exposed to many different areas,” and also found that “partners are very willing to invest juniors with significant responsibility.”
“It's generally encouraged that you take on a broad mix of work as a junior.”
LAE insiders had their own high-flying tales to tell, with one recalling: “As a first year I was put on a trial team and ended up second-chairing two key witnesses.” Litigious strengths vary by office: DC is the white-collar hub; Denver houses an extensive environmental and energy practice; and Colorado Springs has a strong foundation in construction. Regardless of location, newbies aren't pigeonholed, as one New Yorker explained: “It's generally encouraged that you take on a broad mix of work as a junior – you can docommercial litigation, internal investigations, arbitrations or bankruptcy cases.” Most groups afforded “a fair bit of drafting” on things like motions to dismiss and witness statements,as well as standard research and document review assignments (“I'm not doing the sexiest work, but it's more than I expected”). With white-collar work, “the traditional model of juniors stuck on document review is thrown out of the window. As a second year I manage a lot of contract teams and prepare talking points for conferences and government presentations.”
DC first-years can do a four-month rotation devoted entirely to pro bono. “It literally covers everything from individual representation of tenants facing eviction to Supreme Court amicus briefs.” On a broad level, associates get staffed on pro bono matters via partner T. Clark Weymouth and a full-time pro bono associate (who serves an 18-month term in the position). “When you join you're asked to provide a list of what you might be interested in,” juniors explained, “and every time relevant cases pop up you get an email. It's an effective mechanism for sending through a steady stream of opportunities.”
Associates must dedicate 20 hours minimum to pro bono each year. Once they've logged 1,850 hours of paid work they can use pro bono to get them to their hours target (see below). There's also an option to apply for credit without reaching the 1,850 threshold if a matter goes on long enough: “I had a case that took up over 300 hours and the firm granted me billable credit for it.”
Pro bono hours
- For all US attorneys: 102,539
- Average per US attorney: 91.1
Hours & Compensation
The billing target itself is 2,000 hours. “Some make it and some don't,” but sources agreed that “the firm helps you get the work to reach it, and the pro bono allowance helps people out.” Associates tended to spend around ten hours in the office on an average day, before logging on for another hour or two after a home-cooked meal. “I've been lucky not to have many crazy nights in my first year,” one source reflected; “here and there I've been up working until 1 or 2am, but the nice part of the agile working policy is people can start and leave when they want unless something urgent comes up.” Some preferred to bill a few hours at the weekend to keep late nights and long slogs to a minimum.
“The bonus policy has become much more transparent.”
The first-year starting salary is $180,000 in all US offices except Miami, Minneapolis and Colorado Springs; the latter two don't normally take newcomers. “The bonus policy has become much more transparent” after some confusion in recent years – associates who hit the 2,000-hour mark automatically qualify for a market bonus, while going above and beyond can nab you extra. Most were happy with the arrangement, as “it takes a lot of stress off people – there aren't tons of metrics to consider.” The unlimited vacation policy was similarly popular, though “at first juniors aren't sure how to handle it; it's now clear the firm is good at respecting vacation time.”
Training & Development
“We all have one weekof training when we first get here, which is focused on administrative things like how to keep time, as well as your expected work product in the law firm universe,” associates revealed. After that there are both class-based and practice area-specific training. With regard to the latter we heard of “quarterly M&A sessions” and “weekly lunches in white-collar,” while the former was described as being “focused on entrepreneurial qualities – they get us to think like clients.” In addition there are “plenty of advertised PLI sessions and we can take online courses whenever we want.”
“They get us to think like clients.”
With the associate review process itself being reviewed at the time of our research, some juniors felt a little lost at sea. “It still feels like we're in a transition,” they reflected;“it's a matter of everyone being on the same page with the new system.” The backbone of the new Pathways program is bringing structure to everyday feedback, so it's “less partner-heavy” and more informal. Denver was the trial office for the scheme – guinea pigs there “liked that it's more organic” andgave the new feedback model top marks.
Diversity initiatives include affinity groups for African Americans, Latin Americans, women and LGBT lawyers: a new scheme called Pride+ was launched in 2017 to provide more help for LGBT attorneys throughout their careers. Some fretted that “Hogan doesn't feel particularly diverse, and race-wise it definitely comes up short,” but acknowledged “they're trying really hard and moving in the right direction.” Every year or two the firm hosts its 'Pathways to Success' conference: the firm's African American lawyers congregate in the capital, where they meet diverse law students and offer advice on their career paths.
Nationwide, female associates highlighted success in the promotion of “strong female leadership” – for example, the head of the DC regulatory group Alice Valder Curran and co-head of appellate Cate Stetson. Sources also enthused about “the huge women's initiative that holds meetings on a regular basis, as well as larger events two or three times a year.” HL is aiming to have 30% of its firm-wide partnership made up of women by 2022. In the US, that figure currently already stands at 30%!
Culture & Offices
Despite one source describing their colleagues as an “eccentric family,” others made it clear that HL's attorneys are rather more functional than the Simpsons or the Griffins: “The leadership has very intentionally developed a culture that's high-performing but humane, and I have so many friends I spend time with outside work.” Another declared that “there are lots of people here I could talk to about different non-work topics,” and associates universally appreciated that while “BigLaw is very intense, Hogan is very good at making life a bit more convenient.” Given the firm's broad reach, it's no surprise that different offices have unique characters. Sometimes this is reflected in the choice of clothing: in Silicon Valley, for example, you'll find “shorts and flip flops,” while in Denver “the partners wear cowboy boots – that's just part of living here!”
Denver's attorneys walked their boots over to new premises in 2016. The new office “has glass doors, which produced a very mixed reception initially but everyone's embraced it now.” The LA and Silicon Valley bases are similarly new and hip, with the latter dating back to 2013, while team New York is “in the process of moving to a new space near Grand Central; we'll be there by January 1, 2019. The current office is a bit too small but the firm is building out as we grow. It has more of a 24/7 feel, with people coming in later and working later.” In DC, associates “sit in beautifully remodeled offices. The redesigned floors give every attorney the exact same-sized room and nobody has a corner office – they're now collaborative spaces.” Most offices have a pet name for their common areas: in DC it's 'The Hive', while in Denver it's 'The Junction' and in Baltimore it's 'The Nest'.
“There are lots of people here I could talk to about different non-work topics.”
Each office also organizes its own events. DC's rooftop deck is particularly popular and plays host to associate happy hours on Friday nights. Overall “there's a good amount of socializing, particularly during the summer when the firm sponsors events,” but juniors also dug into their own pockets for “frequent lunches with colleagues.” Being in a smaller office “can limit the social side, but it depends on what you're looking for. I didn't sign up to go out drinking every night.” With a few exceptions, sources concurred that “people are good friends here and we're a much more social firm than others.” They also felt that the sheer size of the firm ensures there's something of a partner/associate hierarchy, but “relationships vary depending on who you're working with.” One summarized it like this: “I feel very comfortable knocking on a partner's door, but only after checking with their assistant that they're free!”
Strategy & Future
There's been some degree of upheaval at HL lately – in the US, the firm reduced its business services ranks, with around 40 members of staff accepting an offer of voluntary retirement. However, associates felt that “there's a lot of transparency” when it comes to where Hogan is headed. One associate committee member told us: “The firm is very forward-thinking and wants to make sure it's leading and innovating within the market.” DC managing partner Eve Howard tells us "being fit for the future is in our minds equal parts strategy and culture: one without the other ultimately fails. We look at our culture in five different ways – being ambitious, committed, supportive, innovative and responsible – and there's a real focus from the leadership in making sure these attributes are consistent throughout our firm." The approach is clearly paying off – in 2018, HL broke the $2 billion revenue mark for the first time.
More on the Pathways program from DC managing partner Eve Howard
Hogan Lovells has now fully rolled out its 'Pathways' associate feedback program. Eve Howard describes the new system as "an innovative program that revolutionizes our approach to associate professional development. We recognized that our historical approach to giving performance feedback wasn’t working, so we created a process that empowers associates to continuously seek out – and provide – feedback. Instead of being evaluated only once annually, they now have a means for getting timely, specific input as frequently as they want to help them develop the skills they need to learn and grow.”
Howard points out: "Nobody is more invested in an associate’s development path than they are, so it makes sense to charge them with owning the process. They’ll solicit input throughout the Pathways year, gathering at least three pieces of feedback each Pathways term. They'll have a development guide who'll help them understand the feedback they receive and come up with actionable development steps, but the onus is on the associate to go out and get it. At the end of the Pathways year, associates will meet with their partner leader to discuss annual trends and their career path, whether inside or outside the firm. One of the ideas behind Pathways is to help associates think about where they want to take their career and all the possible paths that exist. It's a pretty innovative program that’s been well received.”
Hogan Lovells recruits from close to 40 law schools each year. Some offices 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.
Associates who'd conducted OCIs revealed: “I wasn't given a list of questions to ask, but we want to make sure candidates will present well to clients. I tend to ask about things on their resume and their long and short-term goals, as well as challenges they've faced in the past year.” Be prepared to give examples to demonstrate your qualities, as “people here want to hear about innovation and initiative. I'll ask candidates what the most spontaneous thing they've ever done is.” Recruiters are particularly on the lookout for evidence of leadership skills and self-motivation. Beyond that, “personality is the biggest subjective factor – a lot of interviews tend to focus on the person rather than the firm itself, and we tend to attract a lot of interesting people.” What qualifies as interesting? “A lot of my colleagues play instruments, for example, and they all have various other interests beyond law.”
Practice area experience is invaluable, as this junior explained: “A lot of people here have some kind of past link to the area they work in. They might have paralegaled in that area, or worked as a healthcare or technology consultant, for example.” Another added: “There's no preference for really extensive work experience, but there is one for demonstrating the ability to take on responsibility through some kind of work experience.” When it comes to interviews, “be prepared – it really looks bad when we ask a candidate why they're interested in Hogan Lovells and they can't give a good answer.” Moreover, being proactive “gets you a long way. If you write an email to your interviewer letting them know you really enjoyed talking, that's one more way to make sure you're on their mind.”
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 resumes, how involved they have been in their activities, and how engaged they are in their various communities.”
OCI applicants interviewed: 1,704
Interviewees outside OCI: 27
Applicants invited to 2nd stage interview: 347
Notable summer events: U.S. Summer Associate Conference in Washington, D.C., dinners in the homes of HL partners, parties at notable local venues, concerts, theatre performances, MLB baseball games, cooking classes
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 and 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 teamwork 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 US 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.
Notable pro bono opportunities:
- Individual lawyers may propose potential pro bono matters. We ask all lawyers to complete a survey about their pro bono interests so that the Pro Bono practice group can solicit appropriate volunteers as matters arise. Pro bono opportunities are also generated at the office and practice group level.
- Fulltime Pro Bono Senior Associate positions in the DC and NY offices for 18-month terms; in the DC office, junior associates may serve 4-month fulltime pro bono rotations.
- Through our Empowering Girls and Women Initiative, Hogan Lovells tackles gender-based violence, promotes girls’ education, and supports women in business. One such initiative is Hogan Lovells’ partnership with Barefoot College and the Government of India to train 400 women in rural parts of the world to become solar engineers, and bring light to 20,000 homes. When we stand up for the rights of girls and women, we create a better future for all of us.
555 Thirteenth Street, NW,
- Head Office (US): Washington, DC
- Number of domestic offices: 14
- Number of international offices: 36
- Worldwide revenue: $2.036 billion
- Partners (US): 400
- Associates (US): 525
- Main recruitment contact: Irena McGrath, Chief
- Recruitment Officer - Americas (firstname.lastname@example.org)
- Hiring partner: Timothy A Lloyd, Esq.
- Diversity officer: Leslie Richards-Yellen Director of Inclusion - Americas
- Recruitment details
- Entry-level associates starting in 2018: 82
- Clerking policy: Yes
- Summers joining/anticipated 2018: 102 1Ls: 17, 2Ls: 85, SEO: 2
- Summers joining/anticipated 2018 split by office: Baltimore: 4, Boston: 3, Denve:r 6, Houston: 6, Los Angeles: 5, Miami: 2, Minneapolis: 1, NY: 14, Northern Virginia: 3, Philadelphia: 3, San Francisco: 5, Silicon Valley: 1, Washington: 49
- Summer salary 2018: 1Ls: $3,500 per week (in most offices) 2Ls: $3,500 per week (in most offices)
- Split summers offered? Case by Case
- Can summers spend time in an overseas office? Case by Case
Main areas of work
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 associate profile:
Hogan Lovells’ summer program is very competitive, and we select our participants each year from among many highly qualified candidates. We seek candidates whose records demonstrate outstanding academic performance, and excellent written and oral communication skills. We also look for other indicators of likely success at Hogan Lovells, such as demonstrated leadership skills, strong motivation, good judgment, the ability to work well with others, and an interest in community involvement.
Summer associate components:
With guidance from lawyer coordinators and 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. 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 conference 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 and inclusion. Through group dinners and team building exercises, US Summer Associates get to know their colleagues from other offices and make life long connections.
This Firm's Rankings in
Chambers USA Guide 2017
- Litigation: General Commercial (Band 5)
- Corporate/M&A (Band 1)
- Intellectual Property (Band 3)
- Litigation: General Commercial Recognised Practitioner
- Litigation: White-Collar Crime & Government Investigations (Band 2)
- Natural Resources & Environment (Band 2)
District of Columbia
- Antitrust (Band 3)
- Corporate/M&A & Private Equity (Band 1)
- Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation (Band 3)
- Environment (Band 2)
- Healthcare (Band 1)
- Healthcare: Pharmaceutical/Medical Products Regulatory (Band 1)
- Immigration (Band 4)
- Labor & Employment Recognised Practitioner
- Litigation: General Commercial (Band 3)
- Litigation: White-Collar Crime & Government Investigations (Band 2)
- Real Estate (Band 3)
- Tax Recognised Practitioner
- Telecom, Broadcast & Satellite (Band 2)
- Corporate/M&A & Private Equity (Band 5)
- Healthcare (Band 3)
- Latin American Investment (Band 1)
- Litigation: General Commercial (Band 2)
- Corporate/M&A (Band 1)
- Litigation: General Commercial (Band 1)
- Corporate/M&A: Highly Regarded (Band 4)
- Healthcare (Band 3)
- Insurance: Dispute Resolution: Insurer (Band 4)
- Insurance: Transactional & Regulatory (Band 3)
- Litigation: General Commercial: Highly Regarded (Band 3)
- Media & Entertainment: Corporate (Band 3)
- Corporate/M&A (Band 2)
- Corporate/M&A (Band 2)
USA - Nationwide
- Antitrust (Band 4)
- Appellate Law (Band 2)
- Capital Markets: Derivatives Recognised Practitioner
- Corporate Crime & Investigations (Band 4)
- Corporate/M&A: Highly Regarded (Band 1)
- Energy: Nuclear (Regulatory & Litigation) (Band 3)
- Energy: Oil & Gas (Regulatory & Litigation) (Band 3)
- Environment (Band 3)
- FCPA Recognised Practitioner
- Food & Beverages: Regulatory & Litigation (Band 1)
- Government: Government Contracts (Band 2)
- Government: Government Relations (Band 2)
- Healthcare (Band 2)
- International Arbitration (Band 4)
- International Trade: CFIUS Experts Recognised Practitioner
- International Trade: Export Controls & Economic Sanctions (Band 2)
- International Trade: Trade Remedies & Trade Policy (Band 1)
- Investment Funds: Private Equity: Fund Formation Recognised Practitioner
- Leisure & Hospitality (Band 3)
- Life Sciences (Band 2)
- Privacy & Data Security (Band 1)
- Privacy & Data Security: Healthcare Spotlight Table
- REITs (Band 1)
- Securities: Regulation (Band 4)
- Transportation: Aviation: Regulatory (Band 1)
- Transportation: Road (Carriage/Commercial) (Band 1)
- Litigation: General Commercial (Band 2)