Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP - The Inside View

Philly-born firm seeks “down to earth” legal minds who share a passion for “excellence, drive and humility.” Swipe right to find out more.

IT'S been a busy few years for Morgan Lewis. In the wake of its mega-merger with Bingham McCutchen in 2014, the firm has been on a spree of lateral hiring from the likes of Baker McKenzie, Sidley Austin, and McDermott. “The firm has achieved a lot of growth under Jami McKeon's leadership and we're still continuing down that path,” one junior reckoned. McKeon, the firm's chair, received extensive praise from interviewees and has recently been elected to serve a second five-year term (starting in October 2019). She told us about the firm's plans for the future: “We’re pretty happy with our footprint. That's not to say we won’t establish one or two new offices in the future, but we don't have a strategy or plan to randomly expand into five new countries or open five more offices in the US. Our focus is on where our clients want us to be and where we can find the most elite talent.” Morgan Lewis currently has 30 offices across the world, with 17 in the US alone.

“The firm has achieved a lot of growth under Jami McKeon's leadership.”

When choosing the firm, juniors admitted that “a big thing was the prestige and the firm's name recognition.” Morgan Lewis's expertise is thoroughly recognized in Chambers USA with multiple rankings, most impressively for corporate/M&A, employee benefits, ERISA litigation, investment funds, labor & employment, retail, and tax. “The kind of work coming in was important to me,” one source told us. “Since joining I have had a lot of work, and it's exactly the kind of work I want to do.” One interviewee recalled being “nervous to join a law firm, but I didn't expect to work with such nice people! It has exceeded my expectations.”

The Work



The largest clusters of juniors can be found in New York, DC and Philadelphia, followed closely by Boston and San Francisco. Smaller numbers are dotted across Chicago, LA, Silicon Valley, Miami, Dallas, Hartford, Houston, Orange County, Pittsburgh, and Princeton. Juniors are mainly to be found in corporate, litigation, and labor & employment, with investment management and IP having the next highest numbers of juniors. Smaller groups include antitrust, energy, finance, and structured transactions. The majority of juniors receive work through assigning partners, who “divvy out work based on capacity.” Some smaller offices share the same assigning partners, meaning juniors often “work on matters all over the country.”

“Doing the initial draft of the stock purchase agreement.”

Juniors in corporate felt they'd had “really broad exposure to everything” – M&A, capital markets, private equity and some other finance work. “Right now I'm working with a startup client, taking them from formation through to seed round funding,” one source shared. “It's just me and a partner working on that.” Such finance work for tech startups is most common in San Francisco and other California offices, while those on the East Coast said they'd worked mostly with Fortune 500 companies on “both the buyer and seller sides of M&A deals.” First-years often start with tasks such as signature packets and due diligence, but juniors swiftly progress onto “doing the initial draft of the stock purchase agreement and other financing documents.” Sources also reported having “a lot of direct client contact” and some admitted: “It can be scary at first, but overall it's been a good thing.” One interviewee concluded: “I always feel like I have to opportunity to learn something new and take on something challenging.”

Corporate clients: Oracle, Apollo Global Management and Iron Mountain. Recently represented Dr Pepper Snapple Group on its merger with Keurig Green Mountain.

“Run a single-plaintiff matter yourself with some advice from the partner.” 

Labor & employment interviewees told us they'd gotten to work on discrimination cases, wage and hour cases, restrictive covenant matters, and whistle-blower matters among other things. Attorneys act for both plaintiffs and defendants, and clients include “large financial services firms, retailers, e-commerce companies, and single plaintiffs.” A Philly source added: “We also counsel clients with one-off questions. And we prepare handbooks, write employment policies, and help with workplace culture assessments which is something many clients have been interested in in view of the MeToo movement.” In terms of tasks, juniors had been “impressed at the amount of substantive experience I've gained.” Many reported starting with “the nuts and bolts of drafting written discovery and reviewing document production,” then getting the chance to “be involved in more substantive motion writing, such as motions to dismiss and motions for summary judgment.” Another highlighted that juniors can also sometimes “run a single-plaintiff matter yourself with some advice from a partner.”

Litigators usually stay generalists until at least their third year – their work can include securities, antitrust, white-collar, and general commercial matters. “Some cases are just me and a partner and I'm able to participate in witness interviews and actually draft documents,” one source said, “then on other cases I'm on a team of ten associates mostly doing doc review and legal research.” Some interviewees had also been able to second-chair depositions and were “pleasantly surprised with how much client contact I've had.” Litigators can be found across most of the firm's offices, but DC sources reckoned “the litigation group here is probably the largest after Philadelphia.”

Litigation clients: Toyota, Hewlett-Packard and SoCal Gas. Recently represented Cigna in a class action case alleging that Cigna made false representations to members about the scope of its provider network.

Career Development



Reflecting on the different types of matter they get to work on, one junior said: “The firm actively tries to get juniors to spend time with senior associates and partners to give them more opportunities to ask questions and get advice.” On top of this, juniors praised the “regular training sessions, both on substantive legal matters and on navigating how to become a better associate.” That said, some felt the annual review process could be improved: “It was a short written statement summarizing that it had been a good year for me, but it didn't provide as much feedback as I was hoping for.” The firm told us that it is currently working on a continuous feedback model in light of comments from associates on the current process. Happily though, sources did reckon that “if you ever have a question, partners encourage you to come in and talk to them.”

“Partnership isn't impossible.”

Morgan Lewis made up a substantial number of partners in 2018 (32 globally), and most juniors felt there was a clear path of progression through the firm. “Partnership isn't impossible,” sources agreed, though while one reported positively that “the firm is vocal about what they're going to look for as you come up through the ranks,” another felt that “it's hard to know exactly what you should be doing. Maybe it will become more transparent going forward.” If juniors want to leave the firm for any reason, interviewees were pleased to report Morgan Lewis “has huge name recognition which will be helpful. It's not only that we're in the news handling big matters, but we just have a certain likability. That will serve me well if I decide to move on and go elsewhere.”

Culture



Likability,” you say – what's that all about? “There's not a 'me' mentality here,” one source shared. “Collaboration is really huge.” Another told us: “We're a group of great lawyers, but also just good people. I can't tell you how many offers I had to help me with stuff when I started!” This theme was consistent across all offices, from Philly to New York to San Francisco – and everywhere in between. “Even between associates and partners, there's a pretty relaxed atmosphere,” we heard. However, this is still BigLaw so there are long hours, but juniors found that “even if I'm stuck at the office late at night, I don't mind because I enjoy working with the people here!”

“There's still a lot of work and elite clients, but people take care of each other.”

Juniors also told us that “there's a strong emphasis on having a one-firm culture. Just because you're sitting in San Francisco, doesn't mean you can't work on something out of DC or New York, for example.” Interviewees noted that because of the 2014 merger with Boston-based Bingham McCutchen, some offices were more “ex-Bingham folk heavy, while some have always been Morgan Lewis offices.” But interviewees felt that “the firm has put a ton of effort into bridging any cultural gaps.” Others highlighted that due to the firm being headquartered and founded in Philadelphia, it “isn't a pretentious New York firm with crazy hours. There's still a lot of work and elite clients, but people take care of each other. The firm hasn't lost sight of that.”

Hours & Compensation



When it comes to the working day “people can make their own schedule” – some interviewees were self-described 'morning people' and got to the office between 8am and 8:30am, while others aimed for 9:30am or 10am starts and finished slightly later. “I'm usually done by 7pm,” one of the latter types said. “If it's a busy period I'm in later, but nothing too unreasonable, maybe 10 or 11pm.” We heard from a lot of interviewees that it's quite common to “leave at 6:30pm, go home, eat dinner, log on at home, and do a couple of hours more work.”

“Leave at 6:30pm, go home, eat dinner, log on at home, and do a couple of hours more work.”

For the last couple of years, the target has been 1,900 hours,” one junior said. “That's considered being in good standing with the firm.” Some were a bit unsure if this was the case, adding that “they've never said that this is, without doubt, the annual target.” The firm told us it doesn't have an official billing requirement, but if associates want to secure a bonus then they'll have to make sure they are 'fully utilized' as per the expectations set out by individual practice groups. Across the board juniors told us: “We are very busy, so practice group targets are more than achievable.” Plus, every pro bono hour associates do can be counted toward the bonus target. 

Pro Bono



Attorneys have to bill at least 20 hours of pro bono a year in order to be bonus-eligible. “Most people go well over that,” one source told us. “I've heard of people doing over 200 hours, and it's never been an issue.” Opportunities include landlord/tenant disputes, various pro bono clinics, corporate work for nonprofits, and immigration matters – “we had attorneys flying across the country to work with asylum applicants when the Trump administration was messing with the immigration policy.” As part of this juniors were recently “offered training on how to help individuals during credible fear interviewing as part of their asylum application.”

Pro bono hours

  • For all US attorneys: 111,810
  • Average per US attorney: 67

Diversity & Inclusion



We've got a way to go, but I do think we're one of the more inclusive firms,” one junior said. “I've been amazed by the number of women in leadership positions – it was one of the reasons I joined.” Interviewees credited firm chair Jami McKeon with “making diversity and inclusion part of every conversation at the firm – not just isolated on its own. It seems to be a key priority for leadership.” The women's group, ML Women, is headed by Joanne Soslow. 

Close to one in four partners are women – pretty typical for a firm like this – but juniors noted: “There's not as much racial diversity at the partnership level,” while adding that “the firm is trying.” Affinity groups include African American, Asian American, Hispanic, LGBTQ, returning to work, and veterans networks – each of which holds regular events. Juniors also highlighted a diversity fellowship that was created to address recruiting diverse law students. We also heard that the firm recently provided implicit bias training. 

Strategy & Future



By all accounts, I heard 2018 was a record year for the firm,” one source shared. One interviewee reckoned: “There's definitely a sense that we want to continue progressing – we're not just content with where we are.” Firm chair Jami McKeon tells us: "We've grown a lot, but we've never grown for the sake of growing. We really focus on building strength by attracting groups of elite talent that fit with what our clients need and also have synergies with existing Morgan Lewis teams. For example, we recognized that our platform needed to be stronger and deeper in Asia because we know that the world is moving east. We had significant opportunities for growth in that area before we decided to bring on the talent that we did, but we waited for the right teams."

Get Hired



The first stage: recruitment on and off campus

OCI applicants interviewed: 1,521

Interviewees outside OCI: 50

Morgan Lewis takes part in on-campus interviews at around 44 law schools and 15 regional job fairs across the country. Hiring partner Christina Melendi explains: “We have developed relationships with certain law schools that we have identified as having both an abundant alumni presence, as well as representing exceptional and diverse students.”

The interviews on campus are usually conducted by a partner and an associate team, and collectively they represent the various offices and practice groups.  “We like our potential recruits to see the relationship dynamic between our partners and associates, one that we feel is both instructive and collegiate.” Questions are aimed at “identifying behaviors that align with the culture and values of Morgan Lewis. We are looking for students who exemplify client service, on-the-spot problem-solving, collaboration, and a commitment to diversity and inclusion.”

Top tips for this stage:

“Be yourself! We understand that interviews are stressful, and love to see candidates’ personalities shine though – it is the best way to develop an organic connection during the on-campus interview process.”hiring partner Christina Melendi.

Callbacks

Applicants invited to second stage interview: 719

Successful candidates can expect to spend between two and three hours at the firm, meeting with a combination of partners, associates and hiring committee members. “If a student has expressed specific interests prior to their visit, we aim to select interviewers who can speak to that interest or practice.” At this point, the questions focus on behaviorial interview questions based around core competencies used in annual associate evaluations: “This allows us to evaluate future performance at the firm, while giving the students insight into what makes a successful Morgan Lewis associate,” Melendi explains. Interviewers also tend to ask about a students’ connection to the location they interview for, in order to find a good match geographically. Extracurricular, community or volunteer activities may also come up to help demonstrate “what is driving them to achieve” and “what have been their greatest accomplishments and challenges,” adds Melendi.

Top tips for this stage:

“I am always impressed when a candidate has connected with our associates or past summer associates ahead of the callback. This shows that the candidate is proactive and enthusiastic about the firm. Students who demonstrate ownership of their careers, the ability to build relationships on campus and in the community, as well as excellence in client service typically stand out among their peers.”hiring partner Christina Melendi.

Summer program

Offers: 268

Acceptances: 85

Morgan Lewis’ summer program runs for ten weeks and kicks off with a firmwide multiday gathering of summer associates, hiring partners, firm leaders and select associates. It involves “on-your-feet learning, including working with real clients on pro bono projects.” Back in their home offices, the summer program continues with the firm’s ‘Summer Academy’ in which summers receive training in legal writing, client service and presentation skills. Summers are “exposed to a variety of practice areas, including areas in which they expressed interest, and have the opportunity to collaborate with partners in advising clients,” Melendi summarizes. Summers also have the option to spend up to four weeks in-house at a community service organization.

Top tips for this stage:

“The relationships built by being present are the best way to get to know the firm and to the let the firm get to know you! In every interaction, show enthusiasm for the work and appreciation for the time the lawyers spend training you.”hiring partner, Christina Melendi.

Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP

1701 Market Street,
Philadelphia,
PA 19103-2921
Website www.morganlewis.com

  • Head Office: Philadelphia, PA
  • Number of domestic offices: 17
  • Number of international offices: 14
  • Partners (US): 640
  • Associates (US): 783
  • Contacts 
  • Main recruitment contact: Noelani Walser (noelani.walser@morganlewis.com)
  • Hiring partner: Christina Edling Melendi
  • Diversity officer: MaLora McCullough
  • Recruitment details 
  • Entry-level associates starting in 2019: 76
  • Clerking policy: Yes
  • Summers joining/anticipated 2019: 1Ls: 12, 2Ls: 85
  • Summers joining/anticipated 2018 split by office: Boston: 8; Chicago: 5; Houston: 2; Hartford: 1; Los Angeles: 6; New York: 24; Orange County: 3; Philadelphia: 14; San Francisco: 10; Silicon Valley: 7; Washington, DC: 17
  • Summer salary 2019: 1Ls: $3,650/week
  • 2Ls: $3,650/week
  • Split summers offered? Case by case
  • Can summers spend time in an overseas office? No

Main areas of work



 At Morgan Lewis, we provide a dynamic range of services that fall into four broad categories: Corporate, Finance & Investment Management; Intellectual Property; Labor, Employment & Benefits; and Litigation, Regulation & Investigations. Our global team of lawyers and other specialists support clients across a range of industries, including energy, banking, investment funds, insurance, healthcare, life sciences, retail and ecommerce, sports, technology, and transportation.

Firm profile



 Morgan Lewis is recognized for exceptional client service, legal innovation, and commitment to its communities. Our global depth reaches across North America, Asia, Europe, and the Middle East with the collaboration of more than 2,200 lawyers and specialists, who provide elite legal services across industry sectors for multinational corporations and startups. A commitment to diversity and inclusion is one of our core values; it influences how we service clients, collaborate with colleagues, and recruit prospective lawyers. We are also committed to serving our communities through our innovative, award-winning pro bono practice, where we provide more than 137,000 hours annually, and achieved 100% participation in 2018. Additionally, the firm launched a well-being program in 2019 with the appointment of a Chief Engagement Officer and the hiring of a Director of Employee Well-being. 

Recruitment



 Law Schools attending for OCIs in 2019:
Alabama, American, BC, Berkeley, BU, Catholic, Cardozo, Chicago, Columbia, Cornell, Davis, Duke, Fordham, GW, Georgetown, Harvard, Hastings, Houston, Howard, Illinois, Indiana, Irvine, Loyola — Chicago, Michigan, New England, NYU, Northeastern, Northwestern, Pennsylvania, Rutgers, Santa Clara, Stanford, Temple, Texas, Tulane, UCLA, USC, USF, UVA, Villanova, and Yale

Recruitment outside OCIs:
The firm participates in a number of diversity and practice-related job fairs.

Summer associate profile:
Highly motivated individuals from diverse backgrounds who have a record of outstanding academic achievement; superior writing and analytical skills; a commitment to client service; initiative; and an ability to succeed in a challenging, collaborative workplace.

Summer program components:
Our program provides insight into Morgan Lewis, its practices, and culture through professional and social experiences. The summer program kicks off by bringing summer associates from all offices together with firm leaders, partners, and associates. Summer associates have the unique opportunity to tailor their experiences with the option of either spending the entire summer at the firm, or spending a portion of the summer working onsite with a public interest organization. While at the firm, summer associates work on matters typically assigned to firstyear associates and participate in a generous mix of training opportunities to hone skills, such as legal writing and presentation style. After joining the firm full time, associates are offered Student Loan Repayment services, an innovative Remote Working Program, and a Ramp– Up Program that includes a reduced hours expectation for associates returning from an approved extended leave of absence.

Social media



Recruitment website:www.morganlewis.com
Linkedin:Morgan Lewis
Twitter:@MorganLewisLaw@mlrecruit
Facebook:Morgan Lewis
Instagram: @mlrecruit

This Firm's Rankings in
USA Guide, 2019

Ranked Departments

    • Antitrust (Band 4)
    • Banking & Finance (Band 4)
    • Corporate/M&A: Private Equity Recognised Practitioner
    • Environment (Band 1)
    • Insurance: Policyholder (Band 2)
    • Intellectual Property (Band 4)
    • Labor & Employment (Band 2)
    • Life Sciences (Band 4)
    • Litigation: General Commercial (Band 4)
    • Litigation: Securities (Band 3)
    • Antitrust (Band 5)
    • Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation (Band 2)
    • Environment (Band 4)
    • Healthcare (Band 3)
    • Healthcare: Pharmaceutical/Medical Products Regulatory (Band 3)
    • Immigration (Band 1)
    • Insurance: Policyholder (Band 3)
    • Labor & Employment (Band 1)
    • Real Estate (Band 3)
    • Tax (Band 1)
    • Telecom, Broadcast & Satellite (Band 3)
    • Labor & Employment (Band 2)
    • Litigation: General Commercial (Band 4)
    • Labor & Employment (Band 2)
    • Labor & Employment: Employee Benefits & Compensation (Band 1)
    • Antitrust (Band 1)
    • Banking & Finance (Band 2)
    • Bankruptcy/Restructuring (Band 2)
    • Corporate/M&A (Band 3)
    • Hedge & Mutual Funds (Band 1)
    • Insurance (Band 3)
    • Intellectual Property Recognised Practitioner
    • Litigation: General Commercial (Band 2)
    • Tax (Band 2)
    • Corporate/M&A (Band 1)
    • Environment (Band 3)
    • Labor & Employment (Band 1)
    • Antitrust (Band 4)
    • Corporate/M&A: Highly Regarded (Band 2)
    • Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation (Band 3)
    • Labor & Employment (Band 2)
    • Media & Entertainment: Corporate (Band 3)
    • Technology & Outsourcing (Band 4)
    • Tax (Band 3)
    • Antitrust (Band 3)
    • Environment (Band 4)
    • Labor & Employment (Band 1)
    • Real Estate (Band 3)
    • Tax (Band 1)
    • Corporate/M&A & Private Equity (Band 1)
    • Litigation: General Commercial (Band 1)
    • Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation (Band 2)
    • Healthcare (Band 2)
    • Intellectual Property (Band 4)
    • Labor & Employment (Band 1)
    • Litigation: General Commercial (Band 4)
    • Capital Markets: Securitisation (Band 1)
    • Corporate/M&A: Highly Regarded (Band 1)
    • Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation (Band 1)
    • Energy: Electricity (Regulatory & Litigation) (Band 2)
    • Energy: Electricity (Transactional) (Band 4)
    • Energy: Nuclear (Regulatory & Litigation) (Band 1)
    • Energy: Oil & Gas (Regulatory & Litigation) (Band 4)
    • Environment (Band 2)
    • ERISA Litigation (Band 1)
    • Financial Services Regulation: Broker Dealer (Compliance & Enforcement) (Band 2)
    • Healthcare (Band 5)
    • Immigration (Band 2)
    • Insurance: Dispute Resolution: Policyholder (Band 3)
    • Investment Funds: Hedge Funds (Band 3)
    • Investment Funds: Investor Representation (Band 1)
    • Investment Funds: Registered Funds (Band 2)
    • Labor & Employment (Band 1)
    • Life Sciences (Band 3)
    • Outsourcing (Band 2)
    • Product Liability & Mass Torts (Band 4)
    • Projects: Power (Band 2)
    • Projects: Power & Renewables: Transactional (Band 1)
    • Projects: Renewables & Alternative Energy (Band 3)
    • Retail (Band 1)
    • Retail: Corporate & Transactional (Band 2)
    • Securities: Regulation (Band 4)
    • Startups & Emerging Companies (Band 4)
    • Tax: Controversy (Band 1)
    • Tax: Corporate & Finance (Band 3)