Jones Day - The Inside View

Despite being one of the legal industry's big fish, Jones Day associates say the firm is “not looking for sharks.”

AS one of BigLaw's most recognizable names, it's no surprise that associates were enchanted by Jones Day's “great reputation” and “sheer number of offices.” But one thing sources didn't wholly foresee was “how friendly everyone is.” Many highlighted that “Jones Day is able to pick associates that are personable, genuine, down-to-earth, and fun to be around.” They found the firm to be “truly international. Some firms call themselves international, but only hire those who have been through the US education system. Jones Day recognizes good schools abroad too.”

This global titan that originated in Cleveland a century and a quarter ago spans five continents in 19 countries, with a grand total of 44 locations. Chambers USA gives top notch kudos for the firm's antitrust, bankruptcy & restructuring, labor & employment, and retail practices nationwide, while countless practices score highly in lots of states (check out for the full breakdown). Sources also commented on JD's financial robustness, and one remembered “reading that Jones Day was one of the only firms that didn't let go of juniors during the 2008 financial crisis, which was comforting.”

The Work

First-years join the New Lawyers Group (NLG) when they start: “The idea behind it is to give associates the chance to try different areas before committing to one.” Sources felt this was “very appealingsome people come in with a strong idea of what they want to do, then go after that work. Other people have less of an idea, so can try out a few things.” The work assignment was generally free market, though fresh recruits had the safety net of a “weekly system where you record what you're working on, and how much availability you have.You can easily be forgotten if you don't show your face.” However, “you can go out and expand that pool of people you work for” and there are “a lot of opportunities,” but “you have to be a go-getter at all times.”

“You have to be a go-getter.”

Business & tort litigation had the largest chunk of juniors by a hefty margin. The practice covers a wide range of litigation matters including commercial, securities, product liability, and regulatory enforcement matters. Clients are often “huge Fortune 500 companies and banks.” Juniors noted doing “the ground work that's important, but non-intellectual – that's just the nature of being a junior associate.” They also experienced some pretty substantive tasks too. “There are three large silos of litigation for juniors: discovery and document management; legal briefing, writing, and research; and trial work.” Especially with smaller cases, these “usually require contact with opposing counsel, and negotiating the settlement.” A DC junior recalled that “one thing we all fear going into BigLaw and big cities is getting sent to the warehouse for months to sift through documents. I have pretty much avoided that and feel like I've been able to work on the more interesting, substantive stuff you imagine in law school as more lawyerly.”

Transactional practices like M&A and restructuring also take on many juniors. The M&A group deals with public and private transactions and corporate governance matters. Juniors reported being “in charge of a lot of diligence matters on a deal, which entails reviewing documents and providing summaries and analysis of documents.” Interviewees also mentioned “there's a lot of drafting with M&A.” This includes “not only deal documents, but also commercial contracts.” Juniors felt like they were “getting opportunities to grow as the firm gives us increasing responsibility as time goes on.” Restructuring folk also reported much writing and research, as well as communicating with various parties involved – “a lot of creditors and vendors” – and regular contact with bankruptcy courts. Older juniors felt they had “gotten a lot more experience than most third-years elsewhere. I think I'd be lying if I said it wasn't overwhelming at times, but people here have made it a lot easier than it could have been. If I have questions, they take the time to help. I don't feel like my questions are a burden to anyone.”

Labor & employment and IP were also popular with Jones Day juniors. The IP department is split into three sections: patent prosecution, patent litigation, and transactional. Associates usually “pick one, maybe two of those.In patent prosecution, you get in front of the client more quickly than with the other two.” Tasks across the board include drafting discovery responses, research, and diligence for M&A matters. Responsibility reportedly “varies wildly depending on the partner and how the case is staffed.” In labor & employment, juniors praised getting “great experience already” in the form of “appearing in court and drafting pleadings. In the first year I did some doc review, but I haven't done any since.” Juniors felt they were “definitely challenged, but also given a good amount of guidance.”

Training & Development

Newbies  from across the world are flown into DC to take part in the New Lawyer Academy. There is a series of presentations and workshops, with training on everything from writing to “how to work with a partner.” After this, there are CLE events as well as semi-regular lectures and meetings on new developments that may be relevant to each practice. For litigators, the firm partners with the National Institute for Trial Advocacy (NITA) for multi-day trainings. The group also hosts mock trials where associates are assigned litigation teams and argue a case in front of partners. Transactional recruits take part in an M&A bootcamp, which “takes you through an M&A deal from start to finish.” Some sources believed the firm is “trying to formalize some trainings, as previously you could only learn by doing it yourself.” Others admitted that learning by “just getting more work” was most effective, although the firm also used pro bono as a way to get live training.


The highest intake of juniors is in the New York, DC, and Cleveland offices, followed by Atlanta and Chicago. Other domestic offices that host juniors are Boston, Columbus, Dallas, Detroit, Houston, Irvine, LA, Miami, Minneapolis, New York, Pittsburgh, San Diego, San Francisco, and Silicon Valley.

The New York office recently moved downtown. Now settled, juniors in the new office considered it “spectacular”  and described the change as “a very positive move.” It has floor-to-ceiling windows and a view of the Statue of Liberty. The DC office is a unique combination of two very different buildings: one “older federal building that's very stately and faces the Capitol,” and a new building designed by Richard Rogers "made of glass and steel, with a very modern atrium.” The location was also praised – “most big law firms are over on the west side nearer to the White House. It's much more crowded there, with packed, narrow streets. Down here it's a lot quieter, with trees lining the street. It's generally a more pleasant place to be.”


“It's clear they're not just trying to burn you out or use you just to bill hours.”

If you've even just glanced at Jones Day's website, you won't be able to miss its 'One Firm Worldwide' slogan. Juniors themselves vouched for this: “Already in my first year and a half, I've worked with different partners and associates across several offices, including those abroad.” Others keenly highlighted the “team-oriented atmosphereit's not about doing everything possible to make sure you personally impress the partner; it's important that the team does well, and then that positive energy reflects on everyone.” One source emphasized they had “never felt like I had to watch my back in case someone was trying to take credit for my idea or anything.” Another reiterated this: “I really would say it's non-sharky.” Juniors also noticed that the firm “cares about its people – it's clear they're not just trying to burn you out or use you just to bill hours.” As for fellow associates, “they want to know you personally, not just as a colleague.”

Despite BigLaw's reputation, many felt that Jones Day was “less aggressive than I would have imagined. It's definitely less of a fancy Ivy League, stuffy firm compared to typical New York and DC top law firms.” Things are pretty active on the social side, and most of the offices have weekly happy hours, with the occasional firm-sponsored event. As at most firms, the social scene lights up most during the summer with “a lot of events during that period.”

Hours & Compensation

Most sources found Jones Day's 2,000 hours target to be achievable, and if associates don't reach it it's “not because they are lazy, but because there hasn't been enough work that year or in that group.” Interviewees' working hours varied considerably, and they felt the firm offers a degree of “flexibility, so long as you do the work you need to do.” For example, “if I need to go to the doctor, I will go, then connect after.” Another admitted: “I'd say that I have worked more weekends than I expected, but it's not always forced; it's just sometimes that has to happen in order to have a slightly less stressful week ahead.” Most agreed that for the majority of the time, working on the weekend was “a matter of choice.” The firm stresses that there is absolutely no facetime requirement.

Potential for “higher than lockstep.”

As for compensation, things are done slightly differently at Jones Day. There's no typical bonus structure, but it's explained to associates that “it's folded into the salary” and works as an “annual raise.” This “black box compensation” system met few complaints, although some wondered “how do you know if you're being undervalued if you don't know the baseline?” That said, others reckoned “our system allows for really strong outstanding associates to earn higher than lockstep would allow,” and overall most sources felt “very privileged for what we get paid.”

Pro Bono

“When I work with partners, they take pro bono matters just as seriously as billable matters.” Juniors across all offices emphasized the firm's commitment to pro bono, and highlighted that there's “no hard cut off” for pro bono hours, although it is understood that they shouldn't be the primary source of hours. Everyone was also “very excited about the firm's initiatives;” the firm has had significant involvement with the Unaccompanied Minors Project. The project aims to help mothers and young children who have crossed the border into the US gain refugee status and apply for citizenship. This year, juniors reported “a big push for veterans' rights” with VetLex. Other cases have included working on clemency cases, and various family law matters.

Pro bono hours

For all US attorneys: 108,334

Average per US attorney: not disclosed


Sources reckoned “diversity at the firm is increasing every year.” Gender diversity is a “bright spot,” most evident from females in leadership positions. “The firm does a very good job of recruiting and promoting women, and having women in all levels of leadership.” This is bolstered through the firm's participation in Women's International Networking (WIN), an organization active in women's leadership and diversity. Opinions were more divided when it came to racial diversity. Many believed “the firm is doing better with minority groups, but it can definitely continue to improve.” However, “those groups are relatively under-represented. It could be that it is a self-selecting profession.” Despite this, the firm is “definitely aware of diversity and committed to improving things.”

[Please note: our hard copy of the guide shows different figures for diversity. Please use this website for the most accurate picture.]

Strategy & Future

Many juniors thought that “Jones Day is one of the best firms to make partner. They give opportunities to people here from day one. If you do good work and you're here for a long time, then it's likely you'll be able to make partner.” That's not to say associates don't leave for one reason or another, but “it seems like a lot of partners here came up through the ranks.”As for Jones Day's future, Sharyl Reisman maintains that Jones Day will "continue to provide innovative and seamless client service.”


Get Hired

Juniors involved in the recruitment process explained that “we like to know that people are looking at us because of who we are, not just as another prestigious BigLaw firm.” By the time hopefuls are speaking to juniors, it's usually at the callback stage. As a result, many “operate on the assumption that everybody already selected for the interview is someone who is bright, smart, and has a great resumé. I'm really more interested in people's personalities.” Others explained they “try to get the candidate comfortable and see if they're friendly and communicative, like Jones Day people are.” 

Hiring partner Sharyl Reisman advises hopefuls to “take the time to get to know us.” She explains that “we have a unique structure and organization and programs that have been very deliberately planned and implemented to further our goals... If candidates don't know these things, they haven't taken the time to learn about us.” Other than prior research into the firm, Reisman confirms that “superior academic achievement is certainly a necessary part of any applicant's background, but that's only the starting point.” Beyond that, she wants to find out whether the candidate will “share our commitment to our clients and client service, the community, and demonstrate leadership and commitment to the profession.” She emphasizes Jones Day's “distinct set of principles and values” and underlines that “we're looking for candidates who understand these values and the way we practice, and want to be a part of that.”

Juniors also shared their words of wisdom for prospective junior associates. The most common advice was to “be yourself. If you are yourself, then both you and the firm can identify if it's a good match.” Others explained that “people assume all big law firms are the same with different old guys' names on them, but there are really important differences in firm cultures and the kinds of work that dominate certain places. Doing your research is therefore very important.”

[Please note: our hard copy of the guide shows different figures for diversity. Please use this website for the most accurate picture.]

Interview with Firmwide Hiring Partner Sharyl Reisman

How do you pre-screen those who have bid on the firm?

Some schools allow us to “pre-screen” on limited information, such as the resume and transcript. Superior academic achievement is certainly a necessary part of any applicant's background, but that's only the starting point. Given Jones Day's distinct set of principles and values that have served us, our clients and our communities well for the last 124 years.  We're looking for candidates who understand these values and the way we practice, and want to be a part of that. We're looking for those who have demonstrated leadership qualities. And, we're looking for students who really know about us and are not just looking to go into BigLaw. We do things differently – it works for us, it works for our clients, and we're looking for folks who understand that.

About how many students do you see at each campus or does it vary?

It does vary. We interview on campus at over 40 schools in the US, and participate in over 30 job fairs. We have 18 US offices, and hire for each one during the process. Having a wide net allows us to capture the top law students for each office.

What does the firm do to encourage diversity in recruiting?

Our partner in charge of diversity, inclusion and advancement is Yvette McGee Brown.  She and I work hand in hand throughout the year in recruiting and other initiatives. We have some initiatives particularly on the recruiting front to continue to bring more diversity to the Firm. 2016 was the first year we held a diversity conference for first year law students.  We brought approximately 40 students from law schools around the country to the New York office to meet and hear from various of our Firm leaders and to discuss networking and career development over the course of a day. We're doing that again this year for around 40 students from law schools around the country.  Our applications require a transcript and personal statement to assist us in identifying law students who are truly committed to diversity and interested in learning about and from our Jones Day community. We also partner with various affinity groups at law schools for social events, and practice and professional development panels and presentations.. Most importantly to us is really building relationships and creating a community at the Firm beyond diversity, but it certainly applies to diversity as well. We are all one community and we have to continually work on that. As lawyers, relationships and community are critical to what we do.

At the Firm, we have women and diverse leaders around the globe. We have women in leadership positions throughout the Firm.  This Firm is committed  to advancing women and diverse lawyers.  That's not just a one year snapshot, but year in and year out. Women partners make up about 30% of partners up from the ranks every year. If you look at our 18 US offices, almost 40% of the US offices are led by women.  One-third are led by diverse lawyers. It's not just talk – everyone has opportunities here. If you look around the globe, it's the same statistic. 18/44 partners in charge of offices are women. There are opportunities here, not barriers.

What questions do you ask during OCIs and callback interviews?

We don't have a prescribed set of questions that we ask. What we are trying to determine is along the lines of what I've already mentioned. An academic transcript speaks for itself – but the real question is who is that person; is she a leader; will she be a committed and passionate lawyer; and will she fit in here. Will that candidate share our commitment to our clients and client service, the community, and demonstrate leadership and commitment to the profession. Will they be committed to the Firm and its culture? A lot of my questions try to tease out these answers beyond what the person is saying. What is it about Jones Day that has attracted you? The answer is pretty revealing with respect to what the student has done to research the Firm. We have a unique structure and organization and programs that have been very deliberately planned and implemented to further our goals. Our NLG [New Lawyers Group] program is a good example– when students join the Firm, they join that group, not a specific area of practice. Our lawyers don't choose what practice they want to join for a year because we believe many students don't know what they want to do yet. We want them to be passionate about their practice, fit well with the people within that practice; they can figure these things out in that NLG year. So if candidates don't know these things that are unique to us, they haven't taken the time to learn about us.

What makes someone stand out at interview?

I think when students have really gone that extra mile to learn about us from the website, what we do, how we do it – including by reaching out to some of our lawyers or students who have summered with us – that shows real interest. Our lawyers are always willing to talk to students, from their own law school, or others. It helps students learn about the Firm a bit more. Students that have demonstrated that interest, taken the time to get to know us, they can express why they are a good fit – they are the best interviews. It makes for more interesting conversations. Then, there is  talking about the candidate’s experiences in life, that’s the interesting part and quite telling with respect to candidate’s goals and interests.  It's often very impressive.

What can students do now to increase their chances of impressing you in their applications and at interview?

I think the main thing would be taking the time to get to know us and thinking about what about  the student makes the student a good fit here. The website is a great place to start. We've put time and thought into making sure that recent cases and representations we've done are on the website so students can look and learn what we've been involved in. What we do on a daily basis is practice law, serve clients, and get involved in pro bono – those are things we're proud of. Our clients and pro bono are important, so students should take the time to learn about that and figure out if that's something they want for themselves. And, get involved and be passionate about all you do.

How's your summer program looking next year compared to previous years?

Roughly about the same. We're staying pretty steady in terms of numbers and the programs we're running. We're always focused on several things. One is having our summer associates get to know the Firm and their peers – networks and relationships are a keystone to the practice, and that begins in the summer program. We hold a national summer associate event in which we bring all the US summer associates to DC for two days. The goal is twofold: one is to get to know the Firm by bringing in various leaders to talk about the Firm, and the other is for summers to begin to network amongst themselves and build relationships early. The summer program provides training experience, so students can start figuring out where their strengths and passions lie, and whether they are a good fit for that practice. There is practical training on, for example, how to take a deposition, or how to prepare documents for transactions. It's a great place to start learning; it's a safe environment to make some initial mistakes and learn, and figure out what they enjoy doing. The mentoring program begins during the summer too, and that continues year on year to to support and assist  associates..

What is the firm's approach to judicial clerking – do many people do it?

We are extraordinarily supportive of judicial clerking. It is an incredible asset to our litigation practices – to our general and specialized litigators, as well as our Issues & Appeals lawyers. In recent years, we have had among the highest number of former US Supreme Court  clerks join us after their clerkships.  Over the last five Supreme Court terms, we hired 31 of the clerks coming off the Court. One of the greatest things is that in those 31, we have had representatives from every single Justice's chambers. Not only one specific one, but we're attracting recruits from every chamber. Over the last five years, these clerks have been joining Jones Day offices across the US, not just in DC. It's really been a great thing for our clients.

What is the firm's general strategy going forward?

We are 2,500 lawyers around the world, in 44 locations with 25 practices. Our general strategy is to ensure we continue to provide innovative and seamless client service. We've done that so successfully that our goal is to continue to provide that level of service – and to keep on improving it. We've received a number of awards and accolades for our practices, including being ranked Number One in the Acritas 2017 US Law Firm Brand Index, for which we've been Number Two in the past. That is the type of thing we want to ensure we keep scoring on. We are also repeatedly ranked Number One in client service by The BTI Consulting Group.  Completing a trifecta of number one rankings, the Firm also scored Number One in the BTI Brand Elite 2017.  Superior and supreme client service is our constant goal.  At bottom, we practice as One Firm Worldwide.  We're not a 'me' firm, but a 'we' firm.

Is there anything else you'd like to add about associate life?

One thing that is really important to us is pro bono work. It's important to us as a law firm, and it is also a great platform for associates to get involved and take leadership roles. It is also important to each of us as individuals to give back. We're privileged to be practicing law at this level, so it is important and our responsibility to give back. We're particularly active in Unaccompanied Minors crisis. We're in the middle of a major humanitarian crisis on the southern border of the US, with women and minors crossing the border to seek asylum. We've been at detention centers and immigration courts from the beginning of this crisis, and our commitment hasn't died down. We remain committed to that cause and take leadership roles in making sure those people have representation. The Managing Partner has made the Firm’s commitment and involvement a priority, , and many lawyers and staff participate. We've also started work on a Veterans Legal Services Initiative called VetLex.  VetLex is a system that links U.S. veterans and veteran-serving organizations with qualified pro bono or “low bono” lawyers – across town or across the country – who stand ready, willing and able to provide the specific legal services needed.  Jones Day partnered with the American Bar Association on this program. We feel strongly about supporting veterans in this way.

When you practice here, you work with the best and the brightest.  In the past year we tried an IP case that involved alleged patent infringement. We prevailed with the largest patent infringement verdict in U.S. history -- $2.54 billion in damages awarded to our client. We're very proud of the victory, and it's a phenomenal win for our client, but it also was a great demonstration as to how Jones Day does it. The case was tried by lawyers from our business & tort litigation and IP practices, with lawyers involved from Cleveland, DC, San Diego, and Chicago. When we talk about the way we serve clients, it is seamless across the globe and we bring in the best people for the job no matter where they are located. In that way we can truly deliver the best quality product to our clients. We also recently filed an amicus brief in the U.S. Court of Appeals, 9th Circuit on behalf of a number of constitutional scholars challenging Pres. Trumps’ travel ban executive order.

Our way of practicing with a level of honesty and integrity is unique. We feel passionate about each other, our clients, our communities and our representation. After being here for about 23 years, I can say it's a great place to practice law.

Jones Day and Detroit

In 2015, Jones Day opened up shop in the city of Detroit. What's so interesting about that, you ask? Just another location to add to this BigLaw firm's roster? But cast your minds back to 2013, and you may remember a small bankruptcy issue that affected Detroit. And by small, we mean huge. In fact, it was the largest municipal bankruptcy filing in US history by debt (a striking $18.5 billion). Not only did Jones Day provide counsel throughout the city's restructuring, but one of its own was appointed Emergency Manager of Detroit during this time. Kevyn Orr, having previously represented Chrysler in connection to its 2009 bankruptcy and restructuring, was listed by Chambers as among the top bankruptcy lawyers in Washington as of 2013 (and his email prefix spells out 'Korr' if that isn't proof enough of his impressiveness). In 2014, after a relatively speedy 16-month bankruptcy proceeding, the City was able to confirm a plan to exit bankruptcy. Orr rejoined the firm in 2015, the same year that Jones Day's Detroit office opened its doors, ready for business. The 14-attorney Detroit office, made up largely of Michigan expatriates, will continue the firm's representation of Metro Detroit clients and offer access to the full range of firm services, no doubt benefiting post-bankruptcy Detroit and greater-Michigan.


Jones Day

51 Louisiana Avenue, N.W.,
Washington, DC,

  • Number of domestic offices: 18
  • Number of international offices: 26
  • Partners (US): 954
  • Associates (US): 1381
  • Summer Salary 2017  
  • 1Ls / 2Ls / Post 3Ls:  $13,333/month: Cleveland, Columbus, Detroit, Miami, Minneapolis, Pittsburgh; $15,000/ month: Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Irvine, Los Angeles, New York, San Diego, San Francisco, Silicon Valley, Washington
  • 1Ls hired? Varies by office
  • Split summers offered? Varies by office
  • Can summers spend time in overseas office? Case by case
  • Summers 2017: 205
  • Offers/acceptances 2016: 123 offers, 105 acceptances (some offers still pending at time of publication)

Main areas of work |Jones Day’s practices cover the spectrum of transactional, litigation, regulatory and tax matters. Core practice areas: corporate/M&A, litigation/trial practice, government regulation, real estate, energy, healthcare, banking/finance, bankruptcy/restructuring, labor and employment, securities litigation, financial institutions, litigation/regulation, antitrust, tax and intellectual property.

Firm profile
The firm is a global legal institution based on a set of core principles and values – the most critical of which are integrity, dedication to the profession and a unity of purpose of and relentless focus on client service that transcends individual interests. Each lawyer is committed to the firm’s foundation principles and values, which have a social purpose and permanence and ensure the distinctive quality and value of the legal services they provide their clients. This is one important aspect of what makes Jones Day the client service organization that it is. They function seamlessly across the globe and are truly One Firm Worldwide.

Recruitment details
• Number of 1st year associates: 112 • Number of 2nd year associates: 119
• Associate salaries: 1st year: $160,000-180,000 ($180,000 in Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Irvine, Los Angeles, New York, San Diego, San Francisco, Silicon Valley, Washington; $160,000 in Atlanta, Cleveland, Columbus, Detroit, Miami, Minneapolis, Pittsburgh)
• 2nd year: Increase is merit based, not lock step
• Clerking policy: Yes

Law Schools attending for OCIs in 2017:
American, Benjamin N. Cardozo, Boston College, Boston University, Case Western, Chicago, Cleveland - Marshall, Columbia, Cornell, Dickinson, Duke, Emory, Florida, Fordham, George Washington, Georgetown, Georgia, Georgia State, Harvard, Houston, Howard, Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, New York University, Northwestern, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Pennsylvania, Pittsburgh, San Diego, SMU, Stanford, Texas, UC‐ Berkeley, UC‐Hastings, UC‐Irvine, UCLA, U Miami, USC, Vanderbilt, Virginia, Wisconsin, Yale

Summer details
Summer associate profile:

Jones Day lawyers share certain fundamental principles: exemplary integrity, a selfless dedication to the firm and its clients and a sense of responsibility and initiative that leads one to take ownership of assignments and to complete them at the highest level of quality legal service. Summer associates candidates are evaluated on their fit with this culture.

Summer program components:
Summer associates do real client work in their choice of practice areas. Mentors are assigned to provide one-on-one guidance. Each summer associate will have a formal, midsummer review. Jones Day’s dynamic culture and its global, multidisciplinary practice areas, provide the perfect training ground for summer associates and new lawyers.

[Please note: the hard copy of the guide shows different figures for diversity. Please use this website for the most accurate picture.]