“Embrace change,” Nixon's MP exhorts. Like its new website, Nixon Peabody's future looks bright.
ALTHOUGH Nixon Peabody can trace its history back over a century, it is actually less than 20 years old. Confused? Well, back in 1999 a firm in New York state with the word 'Nixon' in its name merged with a Boston firm called Peabody & Brown. Further mergers since then have seen Nixon Peabody grow to today's 650 lawyers in 16 offices worldwide. The most recent combination was in 2015 with Chicago's Ungaretti & Harris. Nixon's CEO and managing partner Andrew Glincher tells us: “We have a solid platform of offices with a strong, cohesive culture. We continue our tradition of building office space that reflects our view of the future workplace.” He emphasizes that “above all, we need to embrace change.”
There's a definite buzz around the firm right now, which not long ago underwent a snazzy re-brand complete with dazzling new website (you might need to wear sunglasses when you look at it). Around the same time, some offices moved to shiny new digs (see the Offices section below for more info). Glincher highlights some of Nixon's global activities. “As part of our global strategy, we expanded our presence in Asia in 2016 by opening a representative office in Singapore. Singapore is an important gateway for our Asian clients investing and doing business in the US.” Back home, Glincher continues that the firm is “pursuing growth of our major metro offices and deepening our talent in major practice groups. We are currently focused on expanding our offerings in New York, California, Chicago, Washington, DC, and Boston based on client demand.” Furthermore, “we have also made diversity a top priority,” and to that end Nixon recently hired a full time diversity and inclusion manager and instituted new training.
“I've never heard of anyone not getting their first choice.”
Summer associates are taken at seven offices (Boston, Rochester, Chicago, Long Island, NYC, Rochester and San Fran). They rank three practices by preference, “I've never heard of anyone not getting their first choice.” Most juniors end up in one of the firm's corporate or litigation teams, while others go to groups including healthcare, labor & employment, and real estate. However, some go into the “business department pool,” which is a generalist group that usually houses associates who have preferenced oversubscribed groups. While they waited for a specific spot to open up, juniors took on broad transactional work. “In the beginning I didn't like it as I felt I was just doing work for the sake of it. It doesn't let you create relationships from day one which is what you need to do.”
Work assignment was simpler. “It's heavily based on relationships, but there's a coordinator to help if you're slow.” While most were happy, others warned that “you have to be proactive. If you're unmotivated it's easy not to make your hours.” On the flipside, others discouraged taking on too much. “It's tough in the first year to say 'no' to work. The biggest lie you tell as a junior is: 'Yes, I'd love to help with that!'”
“If you can't handle responsibility, this might not be the place for you.”
Transactional newbies had “mostly done M&A work, private equity securitization for public and private companies, done all the client calls, drafted ancillary documents and contracts, plus there's some due diligence.” Rookies interact with clients by themselves. “I was told at law school that I wouldn't speak to clients until the third year – that's not the case here.” In healthcare, insiders told us that they'd “worked a lot on the regulatory side, researching into abuse concerns, payment and HIPAA issues.” Litigators had “conducted witness interviews and depositions.” Others described “class actions with over 300 parties and I'm managing the deposition schedules and working on discovery disputes.” One interviewee joked that “up until last month, I'd made it through two years without having to do doc review. But I suppose it's good I've done it now because it would be embarrassing as a fourth-year if I didn't know how to do it.” Regardless of practice area, all associates stated that “if you can't handle responsibility, this might not be the place for you.”
Training & Development
Orientation for new attorneys in Boston “is fantastic. The first two days are specifically firm orientation and then they break us up into either transactional or litigation groups. There's a transactional crash course and I still look at that material to help my work today.” However, most early training comes through non-compulsory programs and conferences. “There's lots of different training on witness interviews and depositions.” Mentors also play a role in development. Newbies get assigned an associate mentor straight away and then “after a year you choose a partner mentor who you think you can jive with. There's room for improvement because some are more hands on than others.”
Associates have two six-monthly reviews in their first year, then an annual review after that. “You do a self evaluation and then ask the partners and seniors you've worked with most to review you.” Two partners take the reviewee through the comments. “It's never a surprise: you know where you stand before you have the sit-down.”
“It's a great chance, especially if you're a litigator, to get into a courtroom.”
Up to 60 pro bono hours can count toward the 1,850 billable requirement. Insiders felt that “it's an excellent opportunity to work on assignments that you wouldn't be responsible for in your billables for a number of years.” Newbies get to cut their teeth on whatever takes their fancy. Matters had included “helping female immigrants who had been the victims of domestic violence find pathways to citizenship.” The general consensus was that “it's a great chance, especially if you're a litigator, to get into a courtroom.”
Pro bono hours
- For all US attorneys: 33,754
- Average per US attorney: 47
Hours & Compensation
As well as the 1,850 requirement (and 1,900 target to be bonus-eligible), there's an additional 400-hour requirement for personal development, which covers everything from keeping up with legal news to getting involved with the local community. The 400 hours are officially mandatory. “It's more important for fourth or fifth-years to help them develop client skills. It's more of an aspirational goal for the rest of us and there are no repercussions if we don't hit it.”
“I don't hate my life here!”
Speaking of bonuses, the firm not only has a discretionary model, but an hourly one too. “Every 50 hours you go above 1,900 you get a certain percentage above the base rate, until you get to 2,400 hours which gives you 15%.” Unlike its peers, Nixon P. didn't increase the salary with the market. “It's because we raised in 2014 to $160,000.” But there weren't complaints. “I think we're paid really well for what we do and I don't hate my life here!” To meet these targets, most insiders clock in around 9am and out by 6.30ish.
“We joke that NP stands for 'Nice People', but I really agree with it. It's not as cutthroat as other places and people don't dread coming in,” juniors told us. A few felt that “because there have been so many mergers, each office has its own flavor. But the firm's atmosphere overall is one where everyone is interested in helping you out.” Others explained further: “You never look at the person next to you and think they're my competition. They tell us that we can all succeed and make partner if we want to, we just have to work hard.”
“We joke that NP stands for 'Nice People', but I really agree with it.”
Like at most firms, summer brings the most social events. Everything from “wine tasting in Napa” to “casino nights” and “outings at the Boston aquarium” are on offer. While most offices have quarterly happy hours, social events aren't hugely frequent. However, sources weren’t complaining: “It's not the type of firm where everyone is single and works hard and goes out every night. Most people have families, so they go home.”
“Boston and New York are really like the two headquarters.” However, Bostonians were quick to stress that “it's not like we're the Boston lot and everyone comes to us. Each office has its own identity and they're not satellites.” In DC, “we recently moved to an up-and-coming area and there’s glass everywhere. It's really cool because it's pushed all the other offices to change.” Following suit, LA moved in April 2016. “Our office was essentially built from scratch, so we don't have a typical law office look. There’s lots of color and a roof terrace where we can eat lunch and have happy hours. Plus everyone has their own office.”
“Bigger than some apartments, with views over the Bay.”
New Yorkers are the next to get the upgrade: “We're transitioning to new offices in 2017.” San Franciscans joked that their individual offices “are bigger than some apartments, with views over the Bay.” They added for good measure that “yes, Boston is the home base, but we've never been left out. We're definitely not the awkward stepchild.” Ironically, the only one out of the loop in terms of upgrades is Boston, but insiders revealed that “we're working toward a renovation, so hopefully we might be next!”
“Every firm has a problem with this and we're no different. Ethnicity and female to male ratios in the partnership is a problem, but at least the firm recognizes it,” said juniors. In an effort to address this, professional personnel partner Stacie Collier tells us about the firm's recruiting drive: “We work with a number of law schools in our efforts to recruit diverse candidates. We participate in a number of law school programs, organize our own programs, and participate in well-known diversity career fairs such as Lavender Law, which targets LGBT law students. We recently created an internship with Howard University Law School in which we invite diverse students to work in one of our practice groups for a semester to give them insight into the firm.”
“It's not going to change overnight, but that doesn't mean we're not welcoming.”
Associates could reel off a list of the usual affinity groups, but the most visible was the women's initiative. Across different offices, the group hosts “quarterly lunches where female rainmakers come in and talk about their experiences.” On top of this, there are “mentoring circles made up of partners and juniors in different practice groups, so that you can get advice and interact with women that you might not have met before.” However, when it came to racial diversity, insiders commented that “in my office I can name the attorneys of color on one hand.” Yet sources were quick to add that “it's not going to change overnight, but that doesn't mean we're not welcoming.”
Strategy & Get Hired
Stacie Collier's predecessor, John Snellings (now serving as of counsel) tells us what NP wants in new recruits: “In addition to academic excellence, we are also looking for candidates with practical experience.” He goes on to describe the importance of cultural fit too: “We’re also looking for law students who are a good fit with our firm culture. We are team-orientated and want to work with people who are entrepreneurial and creative.”
Looking to the future, Andrew Glincher tells us about the firm's growth. "Our future growth is tied directly to our client focus and prioritizing their needs for services. We have expanded globally through opening a representative office in Singapore and creating associations with other international law firms. In doing so, we have cultivated good working relationships with these firms and many mutual clients."
Interview with CEO and managing partner Andrew Glincher
Chambers Associate: What have been the highlights at the firm over the last 12 months?
Andrew I. Glincher: Every day we help our clients achieve success. Whether it’s a significant transaction, a successful litigation strategy or advising on a regulatory issue related to anticipated governmental changes, our forward-thinking approach makes a difference.
As our clients grow, so do our client teams. In 2016, we worked on large scale U.S. real estate investment and development projects for our client China Oceanwide in New York, California and Hawaii. In the M&A space, we worked with Constellation Brands on several transactions in 2016 including portfolios of premium wine brands; the operations and a portfolio of distinctive, award-winning and high-end American straight whiskeys; and a brewery operation in Mexico. Dozens of attorneys from across our firm worked on these deals.
As part of our global strategy, we expanded our presence in Asia in 2016 by opening a representative office in Singapore. Singapore is an important gateway for our Asian clients investing and doing business in the U.S.
We have also made diversity a top priority. In 2016, all firm attorneys participated in mandatory, unconscious bias training, focused on ways we can interrupt and move beyond the social and cultural biases that impact how we perceive and interact with people who are different from us.
We have a solid platform of offices with a strong, cohesive culture. We continue our tradition of building office space that reflects our view of the future workplace. Our Los Angeles office (which opened in 2016) features a large outdoor terrace with comfortable workstations and wireless technology that invite our attorneys and staff to collaborate. We earned more accolades for our industry-leading Washington DC one-size offices, which received the highest level of LEED certification (LEED platinum). And this summer, we will open a new NYC office space that builds upon what we love about our DC and LA office spaces.
CA: What is your long-term vision for the firm?
AIG: We’re playing to our strengths by investing in practices and geographies where we see the most client demand and opportunity. We are focusing on work where we can best serve our clients and add the most value. This focus has resulted in us pursuing growth of our major metro offices and deepening our talent in major practice groups. We are currently focused on expanding our offerings in New York, California, Chicago, Washington, D.C. , and Boston based on client demand.
From a people perspective, collaboration is such a key part of our culture and vital to the success of our firm. This year, we will invite all attorneys and senior staff to our annual meeting. This is our second time doing so. We are focused on the future and have a committee of attorneys and staff from all levels who are a part of our NP2020 committee, a group focused on attracting and retaining top talent, enhancing our market reputation, and tapping our collective intelligence to best serve our clients.
CA: Are there any plans for further international expansion?AIG: Our future growth is tied directly to our client focus and prioritizing their needs for services. We have expanded globally through opening a representative office in Singapore and creating associations with other international law firms. In doing so, we have cultivated good working relationships with these firms and many mutual clients. Of course, we are always opportunistic when looking at ways we can better serve our clients. For example, we have a small presence in London. I can see that expanding if client demand increases in the UK.
CA: How will the legal industry be affected under the new administration?
AIG: The new administration presents a number of interesting challenges and opportunities. While we can see that there is disruption in the market place, disruption is not necessarily a bad thing for lawyers because again it presents new ways to provide value for our clients. We are constantly thinking about what is important to our clients now and next so we can foresee obstacles and opportunities in their space and smooth the way. Above all, we need to embrace change.
CA: Finally, what advice would you give to our student readers?
AIG: I have three children who have recently entered the workforce. I tell each of them to focus on working in industries they are passionate about. Everyone worries about paying the bills or paying off student loans, but you should find what you want to do and the people you want to work with. Each law firm is different. Are you joining a firm just to make money and move on, or do you actually see yourself having a future there? People who know what they are passionate about at a younger age are happier and generally more successful, because they have that perseverance to stick with it to achieve their goals.
Interview with hiring bigwigs Stacie Collier and John Snellings
In 2017, Nixon Peabody appointed Stacie Collier to the role of professional personnel partner. She succeeded John Snellings who retired in Spring 2017 after more than 30 years with the firm.
Chambers Associate: What is the scope of your recruiting drive?
Stacie Collier: Our summer associate program lays the foundation for a successful career at Nixon Peabody. In a typical year, we offer 24 law students the opportunity to participate in our summer associate program. Our program is firm wide and students have a chance to work in one of our many offices nationwide. While we target law schools in the same cities where we have offices, we also consider law students from other geographies. For example, we have a great relationship with the law schools at the University of Virginia and the University of Michigan among others. Our recruiting team collectively discusses every student so we have a very well-rounded view of the candidate pool.
CA: How do you encourage diversity in your recruiting efforts?
SC: Attracting and retaining a diverse group of colleagues is a top priority. Designed as our own spin on the NFL’s “Rooney Rule”, we’re implementing a new initiative to increase our recruitment of diverse lateral associates. The goal is to recruit the best talent available from a broad range of backgrounds as we continue working towards becoming an even more diverse and inclusive firm. This new initiative will require that at least 20% of candidates interviewed for an open lateral associate position are diverse.
We work with a number of law schools in our efforts to recruit diverse candidates. We participate in a number of law school programs, organize our own programs, and participate in well-known diversity career fairs such as Lavender Law which targets LGBT law students. We recently created an internship with Howard University Law School in which we invite diverse students to work in one of our practice groups for a semester to give them insight into the firm.
CA: What do you look for in a candidate?
John Snellings: In addition to academic excellence, we are also looking for candidates with practical experience. We’re also looking for law students who are a good fit with our firm culture. We are team orientated and want to work with people who are entrepreneurial and creative.
During the interview process, it is important to emphasize the difference between being confident about what you've done and bragging about it. During the interview process, we have reviewed your resume and know what you've done academically, so it's really important to learn the interview skill of talking about your experiences without forcing it. There's also an advantage to learning what you can about the firm and the interviewers.
There's also a certain amount of poise an individual needs to have. There was a time where law schools, during the recession, used to coach everyone into saying 'I'm interested in everything because I just want a job.' We haven't completely recovered from the recession in terms of numbers, but it would be better to articulate the type of law you want to go into. If you are interested in litigation, highlight the classes you’ve taken or the moot court you were in. If you are interested in pursuing corporate law, take transactional classes and tell us about your experience and what you’ve learned. Articulate why you want a law firm career and what practice you are most interested in pursuing. We try our best to match the business needs of the firm to the people we have. Therefore, it is important to think about what you want to practice in so you can have a better summer experience and excel.
CA: Can you briefly outline what's on offer in the summer program?
SC: During our eight-week program, we strive to provide our summer associates with a diverse range of work assignments and introduce them to as many practice areas as possible. Our summer associates have the opportunity to take assignments from any practice group and any attorney. Summer associates can expect to assist our attorneys in working with clients and may have the opportunity to attend a variety of professional activities, such as closings, seminars, depositions, mediations, and court hearings.
In addition to being exposed to a wide range of practice areas, our summer associates take part in billable client work and pro bono projects. We bring summer associates together weekly to learn about firm wide diversity and pro bono efforts, firm business and operations, and these weekly meetings allow our summers to get to know our practice group leaders.
The emphasis of our summer program is to give law students a realistic view of life as an associate at Nixon Peabody. Our summer associates receive training in practice skills, ranging from goal setting and building personal networks to time management and legal writing. Every summer associate is paired with a partner and a peer mentor, who is either a first or second-year associate. We do this to ensure each summer associate gets access to a wide variety of attorney experience levels.
We’re engaging our summer associates to participate in an exercise called “Imagination Summer,” to develop entrepreneurial approaches to serving clients. Our associates present ideas for new products or services that can advance our clients’ businesses. Maybe there’s a new way to tackle a client need that nobody has thought of? We want to create an environment that encourages vetting new ideas.
Feedback is a critical component of our summer associate program too. Both partners and associates participate in the evaluation process for summer associates. We provide a formal review process at the mid-point of the program to give summer associates guidance on how to make even more of their experience, and of course we re-evaluate them at the completion of the program.
CA: Finally, John, you are retiring this year. Looking back at your time at the firm, what would be your final words of wisdom for our readers?
JS: I've practiced at this firm for more than 30 years and I've been a partner here for 20. I've been the hiring partner in charge of the care and intellectual feeding of associates since 1999. My greatest satisfaction is seeing entry-level associates succeed on the path to partnership.
A law degree gives you everything you need to think, analyze and process any information you're presented with. It's important for law students to get more practical experience and a good understanding of how business works. Doing so will enhance a legal career.
More on getting hired
The eight-week summer program attempts to give summers a taster of what it would be like as a fully-fledged Nixon Peabody attorney. Professional personnel partner Stacie Collier tells us what's in store. “Summer associates can expect to assist our attorneys in working with clients and may have the opportunity to attend a variety of professional activities, such as closings, seminars, depositions, mediations, and court hearings.” If that takes your fancy, what can you do to wow them in the interview and get your foot in the door?
“Try and learn as much as you can about the firm from the website before the interview,” advised insiders. Stacie Collier's predecessor, John Snellings (currently serving as of counsel after his retirement) tells us that there's “an advantage to learning what you can about the firm and the interviewers.” However, there's also an art to interview technique. While it's all well and good to let the interviewers know how prepared you are and what snazzy experience you've got – don't overdo it. Snellings continues, “during the interview process, it is important to emphasize the difference between being confident about what you've done and bragging about it. During the interview process, we have reviewed your resume and know what you've done academically, so it's really important to learn the interview skill of talking about your experiences without forcing it.”
On a more practical level, previous work experiences hold a lot of currency at the firm. “I did internships and externships. Get work experiences and life experiences because not many people come here straight after their JD.” Snellings echoed this, “a law degree gives you everything you need to think, analyze and process any information you're presented with. It's important for law students to get more practical experience and a good understanding of how business works. Doing so will enhance a legal career. ”
Another top tip that juniors let us in on, was “make sure you know what you want to do, don't just get drawn in by it being a large firm with prestige. Really think about it before any interview you go to.” John Snellings also advocates thinking about what you want to do and what area you want to practice in. “There was a time where law schools, during the recession, used to coach everyone into saying 'I'm interested in everything because I just want a job.' We haven't completely recovered from the recession in terms of numbers, but it would be better to articulate the type of law you want to go into.” He advises readers to make their preferences known early on. “If you are interested in litigation, highlight the classes you’ve taken or the moot court you were in. If you are interested in pursuing corporate law, take transactional classes and tell us about your experience and what you’ve learned. Articulate why you want a law firm career and what practice you are most interested in pursuing.”
Nixon Peabody LLP
100 Summer Street,
- Head Office: Boston, MA
- Number of domestic offices: 12
- Number of international offices: 4
- Partners (US): 325
- Associates (US): 224
- Summer Salary 2017
- 1Ls: $3,080/week
- 2Ls: $3,080/week
- Post 3Ls: N/A
- 1Ls hired? Yes
- Split summers offered? No
- Can summers spend time in overseas office? No
- Summers 2017:Offers/acceptances 2016: 18 17 offers, 15 acceptances
Main areas of work
Business and finance; litigation and dispute resolution; real estate; intellectual property; private equity and investment funds; M&A; securities, public finance; tax; labor and employment; tax credit finance and syndication; affordable housing; government investigations and white collar defense; estate, trust and financial planning; health services; life sciences; energy; food and beverages; gaming and government relations.
We see the law as a tool to help shape our clients’ futures. Our focus is on knowing what is important to our clients now and next so we can foresee obstacles and opportunities in their space and smooth their way. We ensure they are equipped with winning legal strategies as they navigate the exciting and challenging times we live in. The qualities that drive Nixon Peabody are extreme understanding of our clients and their industries, a future-leaning orientation, and a culture that taps collective intelligence to create value for clients. We provide counsel on the full range of corporate transactions, disputes and regulatory challenges.
• Number of 1st year associates: 20
• Number of 2nd year associates: 27
• Associate salaries: 1st year: $160,000 in metro market offices
• 2nd year: $165,000
• Clerking policy: Yes
Law Schools attending for OCIs in 2016:
Nixon Peabody recruits from top tier law schools throughout the US including UC Berkeley, Cornell, Harvard, University of Michigan, Northwestern, NYU, UCLA and Columbia. In 2017, we expect to conduct interviews at various leading national and regional law schools.
Summer associate profile:
We seek candidates with excellent academic credentials, solid research and writing skills, demonstrated leadership ability and sound judgment. We value innovation and collaborative work styles. Prior work experience and diversified outside activities are a plus.
Summer program components:
Our summer program lays the foundation for your career at Nixon Peabody. The program is intended to introduce you to as many opportunities as possible. We believe the more you learn over the summer, the better career choices you will make. You will be exposed to a range of practice areas and take part in billable client work and pro bono projects. In addition to exploring the practice of law, we also encourage our summer associates to get to know the Nixon Peabody attorneys in the cities in which we work. We provide formal and informal mentorship, various group training sessions and substantive feedback through our evaluation process.