Holland & Knight LLP - The Inside View

With Florida roots that go back a century, Holland & Knight has “a strong reputation” in the area, and expertise that it employs across the US and further afield.

Florida may not conjure the same intense images as those that come to mind when thinking about the New York and California legal market, but it is in fact the fourth-largest economy in the US and has a population that is growing at a significant rate. As such, Miami-based Holland & Knight is perfectly situated to take advantage of this growth, all while enjoying the advantages of the wider Sunshine State. The full-service firm can trace its roots in Florida back over 100 years and it is also a big name in BigLaw more generally, ranking in the top 40 of the AmLaw 100, with an annual turnover that requires three commas when you write it down. And with 24 offices around the US and another three overseas in BogotáLondon and Mexico City, H&K shares a bit of Miami sun across the country and further afield.  

The firm’s nationwide and full-service approach leads to an eclectic group of accolades. Nationwide, Chambers USA ranks the firm top for its aviation and road transportation work, while in its home state of Florida, the firm sits top for corporate/M&A and private equity, banking & finance, tax, and appellate litigation. Elsewhere the firm leads the way in California for real estate zoning and land use, and Native American law, while construction in Massachusetts and real estate in DC also get top billing, respectively. In total, the firm amasses rankings in 13 different states in a diverse range of practice areas (see the rankings tab for the full breakdown).  

This diversity of practices was a key factor that attracted folks to the firm. The fact that “in Florida, H&K is a premier firm,” that it “values work/life balance,” and it gives its associates early responsibility were a few other factors that persuaded juniors to join. It’s worth noting that less than a third of those surveyed had joined the firm through the summer program, with most joining either as first-years outside of the summer program, from a clerkship, or lateraling in. The cohort of 60 juniors on our list were dotted around 16 locations, with Miami and Boston taking the most with 11 each. New York and DC were the next biggest with seven and six respectively, with smaller numbers dotted across AtlantaCharlotteChicagoDallasFort LauderdaleJacksonvilleOrlandoPhiladelphiaSan FranciscoTallahasseeTampa and Tysons

Strategy & Future 

H&K nearly doubled its revenue in the eleven years after the 2008 recession, having exceeded the billion-dollar mark in 2019. Sources said that there’s been “steady growth and expansion,” even during the COVID-19 pandemic, in which the firm still managed to open a new office in Orange County. Our sources indicated that the firm is in a strong position, recalling that “with COVID, there was some initial concerns for the legal field in general, and the firm did a good job to scale back.” Sources explained that while compensation had initially been “held back, we got it all back, and the firm did really well last year.” 

The Work  

The largest cluster of juniors took to the firm’s corporate practice, closely followed by its litigation practice. Real estate also took a strong handful, while smaller numbers were dotted across groups including asset finance, financial services, intellectual property, public policy and regulation, and private wealth services. Both corporate and litigation sources explained “there’s no work coordinator,” and found either “you reach out, or a partner reaches out to you” for work assignments. As such, some sources felt the firm should implement “a more thoughtful distribution of workload between associates.”  

“I’m the point person for a lot of clients and I’ve only been doing this for a year and half.” 

The firm’s blanket litigation group covers general disputes, along with IP, labor and employment, government contracts, and a growing white-collar group, among others. The firm handles virtually everything for large and midsized clients in the financial services, healthcare, hospitality, media and transportation sectors among others. Our litigation sources were happy with their role, emphasizing that “you’re working on real matters from when they hire you.” Interviewees spoke of “filing motions, responding to depositions, doing doc review, as well as doing research and one-off assignments.” However, sources also flagged that “H&K is leanly staffed,” and as a result, litigators rated their stress levels slightly higher than average. In spite of this, our research indicated that those surveyed still felt the hours were reasonable and the workload was manageable. 

Litigation clients: Netflix, BNP Paribas, Pacific Western Bank. The firm represented Mauro Libi and several of his companies in the US and Central and South America in a dispute brought by an aspiring political figure in Venezuela. 

Various groups fall under the wider transactional umbrella, including asset finance, corporate, financial services, private wealth services, syndication, and mid-Atlantic transactions. Generally, interviewees felt they were given a fair bit of responsibility, with one highlighting “I’m the point person for a lot of clients and I’ve only been doing this for a year and half. It’s intimidating, but the partners trust me.” The firm does a lot of finance-related work: real estate juniors, for example, engaged in “real estate financing on both borrower and lending side, though typically representing lenders.” In terms of responsibility, sources said “we get a pretty good exposure to different types of tasks,” from “doc review, diligence, managing check lists, and tracking items to drafting ancillaries.” Sources were also pleased to receive a good level of client and partner contact. The vast majority of transactional folks were happy in their role and indicated that the hours and workload were reasonable; however, the majority also reported experiencing quite high levels of stress. Some felt maybe “increased staffing” and a “more formalized work assignment process” would help with this.  

“H&K is notoriously opaque about how compensation is doled out.” 

Transactional clients: American Water Works; Arlington Capital Partners; Hometown Food Company. The firm represented King Street Real Estate in its acquisition of Shelborne South Beach Hotel for $120 million, as part of a joint venture with Westdale Properties and Cedar Capital Partners. 

Hours & Compensation 

Billable hours:  1,900 target

Having talked about work, let’s talk about life and the advertised balance between them. While, as mentioned previously, most folks were happy with the hours, it’s worth noting that across departments both the average and median were 50 hours a week – pretty standard for BigLaw. The average for litigation crept a bit higher at 54 hours a week, with transactional associates clocking closer to 49 hours a week. Perhaps the best summation is: “If you’re an attorney, the work/life balance is almost nonexistent. Here you get some work/life balance. I wouldn’t say it’s robust, but it’s the best you can get being an attorney.”  

“It can sound kind of cult-y, but I assure you it’s not. We’re all friends.” 

On the compensation side, “H&K is notoriously opaque about how compensation is doled out.” This was a common comment across interviewees, who reiterated that “there’s not much transparency on that.” When it comes to bonuses, the firm explained that amounts are determined in a holistic way, which means that each individual's performance is evaluated and can lead to market (and above) bonuses being awarded. In other words, you get paid if the firm gets paid. In addition, third-years also had a few questions about salary allocation. While salaries are in lockstep until second year, after that it’s not quite so clear-cut, leading one third-year to admit “I don’t know my compensation yet, and I don’t know what normal is. I wish there was more transparency.” That said, other more chilled-out associates said they had “no complaints [on compensation]. We make enough – it’s a matter of perspective.”  The firm told us that beyond the second year, base salaries are allocated within a range system for each year group.


“The culture is what I expected – it’s cordial and friendly. Great camaraderie. People help each other. We bounce ideas off each other. And all of that has continued through COVID.” Sources said that they enjoyed good relationships with colleagues outside of work, too. “It can sound kind of cult-y,” mused one, “but I assure you it’s not. We’re all friends.” Sources liked that “people are respectful of their time,” that the “partners are reasonable,” and that “any demands that are unfortunate tend to come from clients; nothing seems arbitrary.”  

Some felt the culture differed slightly depending on which office they were based in: we heard that in some offices, it’s “not as social as other firms,” but such sources noted they “really like that its more family-orientated. It’s cordial in the office and then you can go back to your family and your own groups.” That said, sources flagged that “there is an occasional happy hour,” and in Miami, interviewees added “we used to have associate happy hours and lunches every month.” 

“People weren’t judging my background. That resonated with me.” 

When recalling their experience interviewing at other firms, one source explained that while these firms had looked down on their less-than-glamorous previous work experience, “people at H&K were quick to recognize the value of my previous work. I liked that. People weren’t judging my background – that resonated with me.” Sources linked this to the egalitarian nature of the firm: “There’s no difference depending on whether you’re a secretary, a partner or an associate.” Alongside fostering a culture of “treating everyone with dignity and respect,” sources added that “people are always looking out for you and try to make sure you’re out of harm’s way.”  

Diversity & Inclusion  

As with the culture, our sources were positive about the firm’s approach to D&I. “The firm takes it seriously,” we heard. “The diversity committee is very active and they’re doing great work.” One junior recalled that “before COVID, instead of holding our holiday party at a swanky hotel, we held it at a battered women’s shelter. The firm paid to use the space [and made a donation] and the money went to the shelter.” This left sources with the positive impression that “the committee thinks outside the box in terms of how they can assist the broader community.” Sources also praised that “you have to do implicit bias training for conducting interviews.” The firm is recognized by a number of organizations for its diversity and has received Mansfield Rule certification for the third year running (having signed up to participate in Mansfield 4.0, too). Of course, sources were aware that “H&K isn’t an exception” when it comes to the industry’s wider diversity issues. “Like other large firms, if you look at equity and non-equity partners there aren’t as many as there could and should be.”   

Career Development 

A (roughly) 2:1 ratio of partners to associates was encouraging for those who were looking to stay at the firm, H&K scored very well in our retention survey. The firm assigns formal mentors (typically a partner or senior associate) to all associates, and for some, “the mentor has been really active,” with this source adding that their “informal mentorship is also going really well. All the partners are very approachable.” Others reckoned “it’s more of a self-starter environment. Someone very introverted might struggle. I sought out my assigned mentor – if I hadn’t done that I don’t know if he would have reached out.”  

In terms of career progression, most expressed a desire to stay at the firm long-term, and felt that eventually making partner would be achievable. Interviewees noted that the firm employs two “career coaches to help if you want to make partner.”   

Pro Bono 

“It’s strongly encouraged to do 50 pro bono hours a year, which you can bill, and you can get credit up to 100 if you request it,” we heard. But sources warned that if you go over 100 hours, “you can get the credit only after you reach your billable target.” Sources said “you can do whatever you want. There are a lot of opportunities.” In particular, one transactional source liked that they could do “litigation work, which I wouldn’t have been able to otherwise.” In 2019, the firm partnered with a legal tech platform called ‘Paladin’, which matches lawyers with pro bono opportunities that are a good fit for their skills and interests.  

Pro bono hours 

  • For all (US) attorneys: 71,195
  • Average per (US) attorney: 59


Get Hired

The first stage: recruitment on and off campus

OCI applicants interviewed: undisclosed

Interviewees outside OCI: undisclosed

At more than 40 schools across the country (plus some job fairs and resume drops), Holland & Knight conducts interviews with 18 to 20 students in a visit. Hiring committee members from each office visit campuses, alongside alumni of the school.

The questioning at this stage focuses on “a candidate’s intellectual, interpersonal and motivational qualities and prior relevant experience, if any,” says professional growth & development partner Deborah Bernard. Advance research of the firm’s practice areas and the interviewer’s background (if you know who will be assessing you) are essential.

Top tips for this stage:

"Be prepared, on time and familiar with the firm's practice areas. If you know the names of your interviewers, research their backgrounds. Above all, be yourself and ask thoughtful questions." –professional growth & development partner Deborah Bernard


Applicants invited to second stage: undisclosed

As a means of getting to know Holland & Knight, applicants meet with four to six associates and partners during the callback phase. Their questions zero in on finding summer associates with “the skills, work ethic and work style needed to succeed at Holland & Knight.” Those skills include independent thinking, self-confidence, interfacing with clients and working as part of a team.

Interviewers will assess each candidate’s writing sample and could discuss anything on their resume. Also important – get to your interview on time!

Top tips for this stage:

"Everything on a resume is up for discussion. Review your writing sample and be prepared to speak about it. Reflect on what you're looking for in a firm in terms of practice area, culture, training and associate support, and focus on those firms that meet your criteria and resonate with you." – professional growth & development partner Deborah Bernard

“The firm is definitely looking for someone who will be proactive when they get here and not just wait for their marching orders.”

Summer program

Offers: undisclosed

Acceptances: undisclosed

Work for clients from traditional and emerging industries, as well as pro bono, is up for grabs during the summer program; feedback comes after each assignment as well as from mid and end-of-summer reviews. There’s also a Summer Associate Training Program (SATP) that gets everybody clued up with practice-specific and soft skills training.

“Be authentic and work hard,” the firm advises. “Understand that every email and written communication is another example of your writing sample.”

Notable summer events: cooking classes, kayak outings, dinners at partners’ homes, sporting events and restaurant dinners

Top tips for this stage:

“Do as much as you can experience-wise. You want to turn out good work product, but I think sitting in on client calls and following people to court and doing the shadowing that you won't get the opportunity to do while working here full-time is invaluable.”

"Take ownership of your work and be your own feedback manager." professional growth & development partner Deborah Bernard

And finally...

Each associate’s practice area preferences – along with business need – are taken into account when H&K makes offers.


Holland & Knight LLP

701 Brickell Avenue,,
Suite 3300,,
FL 33131
Website www.hklaw.com

  • Number of domestic offices: 24
  • Number of international offices: 3
  • Worldwide revenue: $1.044 billion
  • Partners (US): 760
  • Associates (US): 362
  • Contacts 
  • Main recruitment contact: Carrie Weintraub, Chief Professional Development & Human Resources Officer (carrie.weintraub@hklaw.com)
  • Hiring partner: Deborah E Barnard
  • Diversity officer: Tiffani G Lee
  • Recruitment details 
  • Entry-level associates starting in 2021: 60
  • Clerking policy: No
  • Summers joining/anticipated 2021: 1Ls: 9, 2Ls: 53
  • Summers joining/anticipated 2021 split by office: California: 5, Colorado: 1, District of Columbia: 4, Florida: 15, Georgia: 1, Illinois: 4, Massachusetts: 7, New York: 4, Pennsylvania: 2, Texas: 8, Virginia: 2
  • Summer salary 2021: 1Ls: $3,400/weekly salary 2Ls: $3,400/weekly salary
  • Split summers offered? Case by case
  • Can summers spend time in an overseas office? No

Main areas of work
Holland & Knight advises clients in a range of practice areas, including complex commercial litigation, corporate law, intellectual property, private wealth services, mergers and acquisitions, real estate and zoning law, and public policy and regulatory matters. Attorneys work collaboratively across practices and teams, drawing upon their legal and industry knowledge.

Firm profile
Holland & Knight is a global firm with more than 1400 lawyers and other professionals in 27 offices in the US and internationally. Interdisciplinary practice groups and industry-based teams provide clients with access to attorneys throughout the firm, regardless of location. Every day, clients call on Holland & Knight to understand their issues, advocate on their behalf and create solutions to accelerate their position.

Law Schools attending for OCIs in 2021:
American, Baylor, Berkeley, Boston College, Boston University, Brooklyn, Columbia, Duke, Emory, Florida State, Fordham, George Washington, Georgetown, Harvard, Howard, Loyola of Los Angeles, New York University, Notre Dame, Northwestern, SMU, Stanford, Temple, UC Hastings, UCLA, University of Chicago, University of Florida, University of Houston, University of Miami, University of Michigan, University of Pennsylvania, University of Texas, University of Virginia, USC, Villanova, William & Mary and others.

Recruitment outside OCIs:
Our broad reach includes participation in regional and diversity focused job fairs, including, the Bay Area Diversity Career Fair, Boston Lawyers Group Boston Diversity Job Fair, Cornell Law School New York City Job Fair, Southeastern Minority Job Fair, University of Connecticut Boston Off-Campus Interview Program and the University of Pennsylvania Miami Regional Interview Program. We also actively seek to connect and partner with law schools across the country to continue to strengthen, support, and diversify our pipeline. Past partnerships include coffee chats with student organizations, professional development conferences, mock interview programs, practice area expos and other pathway to success programs. Holland & Knight has also exclusively hosted presentations on topics ranging from demystifying big law to panels geared towards diverse and veteran law students on gaining further insight into the legal profession.

Summer associate profile:
The summer program is an integral part of Holland & Knight’s hiring effort, as we hire the majority of our junior associates directly from our summer program. Holland & Knight seeks students of substance from diverse backgrounds with superior academics, leadership skills and involvement in extracurricular activities. We look for candidates who have the desire and ethical foundation to make significant contributions as lawyers to the firm, the profession and in the community. We have been very successful in hiring students who meet these criteria, and our firm as a whole reflects these values.

Summer program components:
Our summer program provides a real-world law firm experience, with opportunities to learn how to practice law by working with experienced lawyers on complex matters for sophisticated clients; attend client meetings, depositions, hearings, trials, closings and other external events; build relationships with our attorneys through work assignments, our mentoring program, practice group meetings and events throughout the summer; work with your peers in the office and throughout the firm; meet our top leaders and learn about the history and future of the firm; improve your substantive and practical legal skills through customized training programs; and connect with associate and partner mentors who help you navigate your summer associate experience and begin your career with us.

Social media:
Recruitment website: www.hklaw.com
Linkedin: holland-&-knight-llp
Twitter: @Holland_Knight
Facebook: HollandKnightLLP

This Firm's Rankings in
USA Guide, 2021

Ranked Departments

    • Environment (Band 3)
    • Real Estate: Zoning/Land Use (Band 1)
    • Real Estate (Band 4)
    • Corporate/M&A (Band 2)
    • Construction (Band 2)
    • Environment (Band 4)
    • Real Estate (Band 1)
    • Banking & Finance (Band 1)
    • Construction (Band 3)
    • Energy & Natural Resources (Band 1)
    • Environment (Band 2)
    • Healthcare (Band 2)
    • Litigation: Appellate (Band 1)
    • Litigation: General Commercial: The Elite (Band 1)
    • Litigation: White-Collar Crime & Government Investigations (Band 2)
    • Tax (Band 1)
    • Bankruptcy/Restructuring (Band 4)
    • Corporate/M&A & Private Equity (Band 1)
    • Real Estate (Band 1)
    • Corporate/M&A & Private Equity (Band 2)
    • Real Estate (Band 2)
    • Real Estate: Zoning/Land Use (Band 1)
    • Banking & Finance (Band 3)
    • Labor & Employment (Band 5)
    • Litigation: General Commercial (Band 3)
    • Media & Entertainment: Transactional (Band 2)
    • Bankruptcy/Restructuring (Band 3)
    • Construction (Band 1)
    • Energy & Natural Resources (Band 1)
    • Healthcare (Band 3)
    • Labor & Employment (Band 4)
    • Litigation: General Commercial (Band 3)
    • Real Estate (Band 4)
    • Construction (Band 3)
    • Labor & Employment: Highly Regarded (Band 1)
    • Real Estate: Zoning/Land Use (Band 2)
    • Banking & Finance (Band 4)
    • Real Estate: Finance (Band 3)
    • Litigation: General Commercial (Band 3)
    • Labor & Employment (Band 4)
    • Corporate/M&A & Private Equity (Band 4)
    • Litigation: General Commercial (Band 4)
    • Antitrust (Band 3)
    • Banking & Finance (Band 3)
    • Bankruptcy/Restructuring (Band 3)
    • Corporate/M&A: The Elite (Band 4)
    • Energy: State Regulatory & Litigation (Electricity) (Band 1)
    • Environment (Band 3)
    • Healthcare (Band 3)
    • Intellectual Property (Band 3)
    • Labor & Employment (Band 4)
    • Real Estate (Band 1)
    • Tax (Band 2)
    • Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation (Band 2)
    • Litigation: General Commercial (Band 3)
    • Banking & Finance (Band 5)
    • Construction (Band 3)
    • Energy: Electricity (Transactional) (Band 4)
    • Energy: Oil & Gas (Transactional) (Band 3)
    • Environment (Band 4)
    • Food & Beverages: Alcohol (Band 2)
    • Government Contracts: The Elite (Band 4)
    • Government Relations (Band 2)
    • Healthcare: Highly Regarded (Band 1)
    • Leisure & Hospitality (Band 3)
    • Native American Law (Band 2)
    • Oil & Gas Litigation (Band 2)
    • Political Law (Band 4)
    • Privacy & Data Security: Highly Regarded (Band 1)
    • Real Estate (Band 5)
    • Retail (Band 3)
    • Transportation: Aviation: Finance (Band 2)
    • Transportation: Aviation: Litigation (Band 2)
    • Transportation: Aviation: Regulatory (Band 1)
    • Transportation: Road (Carriage/Logistics) (Band 1)
    • Transportation: Shipping/Maritime: Finance (Band 3)
    • Transportation: Shipping/Maritime: Litigation (New York) (Band 2)
    • Corporate/M&A (Band 2)
    • Real Estate (Band 2)