Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP - The Inside View

Don't make the mistake of forgetting the comma in Paul, Weiss – attention to detail is as important as "intelligence, poise and presentation skills." 

FROM assisting with the NFL in its investigation into the infamous Deflategate scandal to working on US v Windsor at the Supreme Court which legalized gay marriage, Paul, Weiss is the place to be for litigators who want to work on headline-grabbing cases. “I knew that I wanted to be a litigator in New York," one associate told us, "and everyone at law school told me 'go to Paul, Weiss: they're the best', so why would I want to go anywhere else?” The firm boasts big name lawyers in its ranks, including legendary litigator Ted Wells; former head of the US attorney's criminal division in Manhattan, Lorin Reisner; and of more recent fame Roberta Kaplan, who led the marriage equality case.

It was a stellar 2015 for Paul, Weiss – it closed more multi-billion dollar cases than in any other year in its history. In lititgation, managing partner Brad Karp highlights the firm “won approximately a dozen trials and arbitrations” and successfully ended the Southern District United States Attorney's “multi-year winning streak” with the successful “reversal on appeal of the insider trading convictions of Chiasson and Newman,” two hedge fund managers.

As well as litigation, Paul, Weiss has racked up multiple Chambers USA rankings in areas including corporate/M&A, capital markets, bankruptcy/restructuring, media & entertainment, IP, and financial services regulation. Brad Karp tells us that the “M&A and private equity practices have been going like gangbusters for several years.” To aid growth “the firm has deepened our talent base and expanded our relationships with our core institutional anchor clients.” Helped by the lateral hires, Paul, Weiss is “focused on those practice areas and offices where we are market leaders; we do not try to be all things to all clients in all geographies,” according to Karp. For the full interview, read our Bonus Features online. 

The Work

Although litigation is the firm's largest practice, many juniors join the corporate group and rotate through subgroups before specializing in their third year. A handful of juniors join the smaller practices of tax, real estate, personal representation, employee benefits, and bankruptcy. Assignment is a “true hybrid system.” New starters are given “a caseload database that you fill in with your responsibilities and interests each month.” An assigning partner then uses this to allocate junior work. After a few months associates can “be proactive and seek out work or particular people.” However, “I don't think there is the true anxiety of a free market because of the assigning partner," said one junior. "I'm never worried that I won't have work to do.”

“I like that Paul, Weiss sees itself as a firm of litigation generalists,” enthused one newbie. “You never have to pick a specific group to devote your time to.” Fellow litigators agreed: “Paul, Weiss thinks that if you're a true litigator it can throw any problem at you.” A wide range of litigation matters is up for grabs – juniors work on anything including “IP, antitrust, securities, mass tort, white-collar, and FCPA [Foreign Corruption Practices Act].” Over in the much smaller DC office, associates have the opportunity to sink their teeth into meaty matters such as “assisting and analyzing financial documents, drafting interview outlines, prepping partners for witness interviews, presentations to the government and assisting companies with compliance programs.” Associates were pleased with the “tremendous amount of responsibility and client contact the firm offers.”

"I'm never worried that I won't have work to do.”

Corporate juniors are unassigned until their third year when they specialize in one of the subgroups, which include securities, M&A, finance, funds and IP. Some unassigned juniors had done “a lot of structured finance and leverage deals.” While “there is certainly some very simple junior work in corporate, Paul, Weiss gives you as much as it thinks you can handle,” one busy associate told usAnother shared: “I recently worked on a credit agreement involving a large public company's debt. That's a great example of high-level work between a partner and myself. The partner told me what to look through, what to focus on, and how to tackle all the options.” But responsibility in corporate is something of a mixed bag, and “if you're the only the junior on a smaller matter then you'll be given more responsibility.” Some saw this as a double-edged sword: “Sometimes it feels like too much responsibility. You're getting the opportunity to impress clients and people you work with. It's great, but there are always high risks attached.”

Training & Development

As only “a small percentage of associates actually become partners,” many associates will have thoughts at the back of their minds about future careers in government or in-house. Partners are aware of this and “will help you get experience. They're pretty good at letting you start to shape your career as you go along.” However, we were told it's “very rare to see people go from Paul, Weiss to another BigLaw firm.”

“Barrage of formal training."

In their first week, juniors can expect a “barrage of formal training" in “everything from tech, substantive law, how to delegate work and how to manage time effectively.” Informal training programs run throughout the year, giving associates an introduction into the firm's different practices. Midlevel associates are also invited to “a conference in New York where you meet other associates for a retraining session.”


Friendships that associates have made during the summer program have endured. One associate even revealed that “I recently went to my third Paul, Weiss wedding!" A litigation associate was more than happy to tell us about a firm that's "a place of quirky individuals" which allows "me to be myself and not check my personality at the door." Another added: "There is no cookie cutter Paul, Weiss associate." Associates here do crack the occasional joke at the expense of BigLaw culture. “Most firms act like they're doing God's work and it's exhausting," one corporate lawyer quipped. "Here, we're working for the man but we acknowledge it. We even joke about it!"

“The Met Ball with lawyers."

Good working relationships lead to active social lives and "there is always somebody organizing things" in the New York office. "We have a regular sushi Thursday in corporate and there are people who are constantly organizing karaoke nights,” a junior relished. “You wouldn't expect it's the nerdiest guys who get totally drunk!" There's also a weekly cocktail party on Fridays. The firm's social pièce de résistance is its annual summer event, a sort of “Met Ball with lawyers" at MoMA. "The coolest part is having the run of the museum," a previous attendee gushed. "It's just you and The Starry Night."

Hours & Compensation

There's no billing target at Paul, Weiss but associates assured us that "as long as you're not actively avoiding work you'll hit a decent amount of hours." Associates were keen to stress: "We work a lot here. I don't think that's a surprise, and no one deceived me on that front." The average 2,000 hours were generally seen as "tolerable and sustainable," although not unusual “are stretches where I've stayed past midnight several nights in a row." For others, late nights are "few and far between." Juniors tend to start work at 9am and leave any time between 7.30pm and 10pm.

"We work a lot here. I don't think that's a surprise."

The definite con of the hours system is the effect it has on the firm's (market-rate) bonus system. “It can seem unfair if you've been the person who went to trial three times and your bonus is the same as somebody with a lighter year," an associate grumbled. However, a very notable pro is the firm's generous flex time, officially called the 'alternative work program'. "I take a pay cut and commit to 75% or 80% of the average billing hours," one mother told us. "If you do end up working more at the end of the year they'll reimburse you for that amount. It works great for me because it enables me to tell people that I need to go home at a certain time." Employees on reduced hours are provided with a “home office," and an "extra laptop and a printer.” As we went to press, Paul, Weiss was among the elite few who matched Cravath's first year pay rise to $180,000. Second years now take home $190,000 too. That Paul, Weiss was one of the first four firms to commit hints at how serious they are about getting the best talent.


"Paul, Weiss may have eight offices but the vast majority of the people are in the New York office. Other offices service main New York clients operating elsewhere in the world,” a corporate associate explained. “Paul, Weiss is very New York centric. A few people go to work in London or Asia but they're mostly here.” The New York mothership is currently going through renovations and associates worried that “we're growing faster than we are in floorspace.” As a result, waiting time for solo offices has increased, though the firm is buying up more space in the building. “It's supposed to be that you share an office for the first year, then you get your own internal office without a window. The year after that you get an office with a window,” one associate told us. Juniors appreciated the firm's art collection dotted around the place: “I just go up and have a look at the art. It's pretty neat to go up there and see Annie Leibovitz.”

“I just go up and have a look at the art."

DC associates – several of whom had worked in New York – disagreed with the idea that working in New York was the be all and end all. “When I moved to DC my cases didn't change. I remained on the same teams, just in a different office. None of my responsibilities changed.” On the whole, associates who'd worked in both offices could see the pros and cons of each office. “In New York it's a typical BigLaw firm, there's lots of hustle and bustle and you meet a lot of people. In New York it's about the exposure the comes with the big office environment.” However, “the DC office is great because it's attached to the New York office but it's a close knit environment – you won't get lost in the crowd here.”


Paul, Weiss has a history of promoting diversity in its offices. In 1927, the firm was one of the first to allow Jews to practice with Gentiles; in 1949, it hired an African American associate, Harvard grad and ex-SCOTUS clerk William T. Coleman, at a time when few if any did; and in the early 1950s Carolyn Agger joined to become the first female partner at a major law firm. Juniors were quick to assure us that the firm stills strives to promote diversity in its offices:  “We speak about diversity a lot during the recruiting process,” one associate revealed. “We're also expanding the schools we're looking at – it's easy for firms to look at the same six schools over and over again.” There are affinity groups for LGBT, ethnically diverse, female attorneys, and new parents. “Do I think diversity is perfect here? Absolutely not!” But most associates felt that “in terms of sheer numbers, it's obvious BigLaw in general has a long way to go.”

Pro Bono

“High schools in underprivileged areas put on mock trials."

Pro bono hours are counted like any other hours and associates insisted that the number of hours they put in was never questioned. “I'm not as involved as I'd like to be. If anything, I'm not being chased up as much as I should be.” Litigation rookies can take on “criminal tasks like robberies, drug conspiracy allegations, landlord disputes and unemployment benefit appeals.” Corporate attorneys can “help transgender people change their names, work on Iraqi refugee programs and working in family law clinics,” among other things. Other associates were “involved in a street law program with Georgetown,” which sees “high schools in underprivileged areas put on mock trials. Every week we choose a time to go to the school and teach students about the trial process.”

Pro bono hours: 

  • For all attorneys across all US offices: 55,151 
  • Average per US attorney: 63 

Get Hired

“This a place of self starters,” an associate warned. “People who are just book smart but nothing else would have a hard time here.” Hiring partner Bob Zochowski sheds some light on the interview: "In general, we try to talk about legal issues to get a sense of somebody's intelligence, poise and presentation skills. We try to imagine that they're a junior associate who is explaining something they've just researched for us." However, he issues a word of caution for interviewees: “At the end of the interview, we always ask whether you've got questions for us and not being able to ask anything says a lot about the candidate." 

"A place of self starters.”

Strategy & Future 

“It's more of the same for us," hiring partner Bob Zochowski says of the firm's hiring plans. "We're a steady state firm through good and bad. We didn't lay anyone off during the recession and we also didn't reduce our intake."  Although it weathered the 2008 recession, there are fresh challenges for the firm in the shape of a tough litigation market. However, managing partner Brad Karp is confident and tells us that “the widely reported 'slow down' hasn't affected us. We're certainly aware of the current market dynamics, but we’ve been fortunate in that our litigation and white-collar practices have never been more active.” He continues: "Our goal is to ensure that our brand remains pre-eminent in the litigation and white-collar areas. ”

More on media & entertainment

Paul, Weiss' highly lauded media & entertainment practice is the perfect place for attorneys with a vested interest in securities and movie studios or corporate transactions and celebrities. The practice has been recognized for its excellence in a crowded market by Chambers US on numerous occasions for work in media & entertainment: corporate and media & entertainment: telelvision. Certain cases and partners have also been recognized by The American Lawyer– corporate partner Bob Schumer recognized as Dealmaker of the Week in 2014 for his work for Time Warner Cable in its $45.2 billion stock transaction and sale to Comcast.

As home to one of the US' top litigation teams the practice has provided services to the stars for the past eighty years showing no signs of stopping in the 21st century. In the past year alone, its lawyers have overseen billion dollar telecommunications mergers, disputes over royalty payments and strictly confidential IP claims for best-selling authors. A glittering client list includes Broadway legends Patti Lupone and composer Stephen Sondheim and Hollywood heavyweights Spike Lee, Marvel Films, Sony Pictures, LucasFilms and Dreamworks.

Work can be found in the frequent litigation cases the department takes on. The firm is currently representing the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) in ongoing landmark trial regarding license fees for the use of its music via the music streaming service Pandora. There is also litigious work in IP with regarding product infringement and distribution. The firm recently won a restraining order for Ina Garten – the host of The Barefoot Contessa – against a frozen food distributor in a case of product infringement.

However, it's not all defending starlets against the tabloids as a lot of the practice's work comes through finance, acquisitions and transactional agreements. For example, the firm was involved in the issuance of $550 million in securitized notes – backed by revenue from the Miramax film library – as part of the first film deal since the financial crisis. More recently, attorneys oversaw a successful securitization deal for over $3billion on behalf of Marvel Studios, The Weinstein Company, Universal Studios and Dreamworks.

Interview with managing partner Brad Karp

Chambers Associate: What have been the firm's highlights over the past year?

Brad Karp: There have been several. We won approximately a dozen trials and arbitrations and secured the two most important white-collar decisions in recent years. In the first, we secured the reversal on appeal of the insider trading convictions of Chiasson and Newman, which ended the Southern District United States Attorney's multi-year winning streak. In the second, we secured the reversal on appeal of a district judge ruling that required corporations to acknowledge wrongdoing as a condition of consensually revolving a regulatory matter and established that corporations are free to settle with federal regulators without admitting liability. On the transactional side, we closed more multi-billion dollar deals over the past year than in any year in the firm’s history. We represented Time Warner Cable in its deal with Comcast, which was one of the world's largest and most high-profile deals this past year.

CA: What's the general strategy for 2016 and beyond?

BK: Our strategy remains the same: represent the most important clients in the world on their most important matters and consistently meet our client’s goals.  To do so requires that we have the best lawyers in the world who are focused on meeting our clients’ legal and business needs. We are focused on those practice areas and offices where we are market leaders; we do not try to be all things to all clients in all geographies.

CA: How has Paul, Weiss been affected by the tough litigation market right now?

BK: We're certainly aware of the current market dynamics, but we’ve been fortunate in that our litigation and white-collar practices have never been more active. We're continuing to be retained every day on interesting matters for existing and new clients. The widely reported 'slow down' hasn't affected us, fortunately. Our goal is to ensure that our brand remains pre-eminent in the litigation and white-collar areas.

CA: What ambitions do you have for the firm's growing corporate practice? Are you hoping it'll match litigation?

BK: Our M&A and private equity practices have been going like gangbusters for several years. We've deepened our talent base and expanded our relationships with our core institutional anchor clients. We've added a few key strategic laterals in our corporate practice – this year, for example, we added Taurie Zeitzer from Kirkland.

CA: Are there any other practices you'd like to see grow or develop?

BK: We will continue to invest wisely in litigation, white collar/regulatory and in our transactional practices.

CA: Associates have been very honest about their future at the firm or elsewhere. Does the firm encourage an openness regarding associate ambitions and career development?

BK: Yes we do, in a variety of ways. We spend an enormous amount of time focused on associate training and associate professional development. We make a very large investment every time we hire a new associate. We want our very best associates to stay at the firm and, hopefully, become partners. That said, we're realistic and we understand that a number of law school graduates join our firm to get first-class training and experience, with the clear intention of moving to an in-house role, joining the government, transitioning into business, the public sector or academia. I believe that our experience is consistent with that of other elite New York law firms in this regard. The reality is that many of the associates who leave go on to do extraordinary things. In fact, the three current female Justices of the U.S. Supreme Court were all former Paul Weiss summer associates.

CA: What is the firm doing to improve and maintain a diverse workplace?

BK: Diversity is, and always has been, one of our top priorities and we’re proud of the fact that we're consistently ranked as one of the most diverse law firms in the world. Diversity is part of our culture and a part of our DNA. We have a significant number of diverse partners who care passionately about the issue, and, as the firm chair, I too care passionately about maintaining a diverse workplace. I also recognize that no matter how many strides we have taken and how much progress we have made, we can, and must, do better. We recruit the most talented, diverse students into our summer program and we have developed a very strong mentoring program to ensure that our most talented diverse lawyers thrive at the firm. It doesn’t hurt that Ted Wells, who (in my opinion) is the best trial lawyer in the United States as was co-chair of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, is a partner at Paul Weiss and cares intensely about diversity and that Jeh Johnson, a former partner of the firm, recently was named the Secretary of Homeland Security in the Obama Administration.

CA: If you could split the firm's practices into a pie chart which three would be the biggest?

BK: The two biggest practices are clearly litigation/white collar regulatory defense and transactional, which includes public M&A, private equity, fund formation, financing, securities, ERISA and tax. Our restructuring practice is our third largest practice area.

CA: Why should our readers apply to Paul, Weiss over anywhere else?

BK: You should apply to Paul, Weiss because we're a great law firm that represents the highest-profile clients around the world on their most significant matters. We’re fortunate to have extraordinarily smart lawyers at the firm and a culture that is refreshingly old fashioned.We emphasize collegiality, cooperation, collaboration, professionalism, respect and egalitarianism and we have a core commitment to pro bono, diversity and public service – attributes that rarely are associated with Big Law. We have fun working here and, from top to bottom, we pride ourselves on practicing law the right way. I feel so blessed to work here and to lead this firm.

CA: What sort of person thrives at Paul, Weiss?

BK: Someone who is very smart, hard-working, collaborative, collegial and fun. A good sense of humor doesn’t hurt. We look for lawyers who take the law very seriously, but take life a lot less seriously.

CA: What's the firm's motto?

BK: Professionalism and excellence in the practice of the law.

CA: What's been your proudest moment as managing partner?

BK: Probably the day that the U.S. Supreme Court decided the Edith Windsor case, which established a constitutional right to same-sex marriage. That was a wonderful pro bono matter that the firm took on. There are very few matters that can have a profound impact on social justice. The Windsor case was one of them. And it’s serendipitous that the decision came down 60 years after the U.S. Supreme Court decided Brown v. The Board of Education, which declared school segregation unconstitutional and which was also handled by Paul Weiss, working with Thurgood Marshall. There’s a deep sense of satisfaction to lead a law firm that has had such a salutary impact on crucial issues of social justice over the past century.

CA: Any advice or words of wisdom for our student readers as they try to enter the legal profession?

BK: The law remains a truly wonderful profession where you have so many different and extraordinary opportunities to apply your skills. Whether you choose to practice law in a private law firm, in government, or in a corporation, whether you choose to teach law in a law school or move to public service, or whether you take your legal skills into corporate America or politics, the possibilities are endless. A law degree is a wonderful thing. If you work hard, treat people with respect and keep your mind open at all times, I’m confident that you will encounter opportunities that you never imagined possible. I would do it all over again.

Interview with hiring partner Bob Zochowski

Chambers Associate: How do you pre-screen bidders?

Bob Zochowski: We follow the common practice in the US which means our screenings are dictated by the schools. The top law schools don't allow us to pre-screen at all, so there is a bidding process run by the schools for the number of interviews that a firm provides. At schools where we can pre-screen the primary focus is on a student’s academic records. We place priority on their law school records, but we do take college grades into account.

CA: Which campuses does the firm typically visit and does the number of students you see vary?

BZ: We go to about 36 law schools and job fairs every year. In the Northeast, we go on campus to Harvard, Yale, Columbia, NYU, New York, Penn, Cornell and Georgetown. We also look at Chicago, Northwestern, Stanford and have participated in job fairs at Washington University and the University of Texas. In New York we'll go on campus to Brooklyn, Fordham and a handful of others. We have also interviewed at Howard University – which is historically African American – for many years. The number of students we see varies because of class sizes– for instance, Harvard and Georgetown are large schools so we'll see more people. Another thing to take into account is the interest in working in DC and whether students want to live on the East Coast. There is less interest in firms based on the East Coast in places like Stanford or Chicago as opposed to somewhere like Yale or NYU. 

CA: How many (or what percent) get called in for a second interview?

BZ: Overall we see 1,200 to 1,300 students on campus and then about half of those people are invited back to the office for interviews.

CA: Roughly how many associates do you take on each year?

BW: Our summer program has roughly 95-100. It'll be on the higher side in 2016 (100).

CA: What are your entry-level recruiting plans for the next year or two? More of the same?

BW: It's more of the same for us; we're a steady state firm through good and bad. We didn't lay anyone off during the recession and we also didn't reduce our intake. For the 2015 summer class we actually had an uptick in how many people accepted our offers, and we're probably going to stay around that number. Recruiting is not a precise exercise, and there are a lot of variables that affect the final number of hires in any year.

CA: What does the firm do to encourage diversity in recruiting? Are there any specific programs in place?

BZ: The firm does a number of things to encourage diversity in our recruiting. I already mentioned our strong presence at Howard University; we also participate in a program known as SEO or Sponsors for Educational Opportunity. SEO is a program for diverse students who have been admitted to law school. We invite them to intern with us the summer before school starts and keep in touch once they are on campus. We're very active on campuses in that we sponsor many diverse student organizations. We contribute financially and by participating in on-campus opportunities, our lawyers get to interact with students and get the Paul, Weiss name out there. Diversity is a key goal in our recruiting process; I know that's a broad word but it's integral to our hiring process and our success as a firm.

CA: Who conducts OCI and callback interviews?

BZ: Our OCIs are predominantly conducted by partners – I'd say about 90% of interviewers are either partners or counsel. The OCIs are something we take very seriously, and I think it's important to put our best foot forward. We know it's important for students to meet partners, but it's equally important for our partners to see who is being recruited by the firm. For callbacks, it's generally a series of four interviews, and at least two of them will be partners. This takes up a substantial amount of time for our partners. It's a big commitment on their part, and they take it very seriously.

CA: What questions do you ask during OCIs and callback interviews? Could you give us an example of a good answer?

BZ: I think there are a couple of types of questions we will always ask. In general, we try to talk about legal issues to get a sense of somebody's intelligence, poise and presentation skills. We try to imagine that they're a junior associate who is explaining something they've just researched for us. So a lot of the time you'll get a question about a legal issue that you researched or worked on, but it's not structured as a test. It's more about discussing legal issues in an eloquent manner. Then it's about getting to know the candidate because that is important. In terms of a good answer? I think most people do something over their first summer after law school and if you did that's good. If you've worked for a judge then tell me about one of the judges you worked for, and give me a brief discussion about an interesting case you worked on. Then I'll ask you about why the case was interesting, and the response should show that you understood the issues of the case and both sides of the issue. I want to stress that this isn't just about giving an academic answer but also the ability to discuss something and have an opinion about what the right answer should be. That shows the clear ability to articulate on the issue. We'll also ask open-ended questions about activities in college or a thesis topic. It's important to always be prepared to talk about everything they list on their resume.

CA: Is prior work experience in a legal or non-legal setting something the firm prizes?

BZ: On a slim margin work experience is looked on favorably; but it's not a requirement. Paul, Weiss associates can go from undergraduate straight to law school because our focus is on academic achievements much more than prior job experience. Quite frankly, there isn't a lot of prior job experience that's particularly relevant. You can't be a lawyer without a license!

CA: Could you give me an example of a red flag or interview no-no?

BZ: It's not so much of a red flag but from our perspective the interview is about getting to know each other so questions about things like your salary aren't appropriate in the screening or callback interviews. That information is generally available online. Another thing that doesn't look great is when you don't have anything to say for yourself. At the end of the interview, we always ask whether you've got questions for us and not being able to ask anything says a lot about the candidate. It may be because you're tired or just don't have an interest in the firm, but whatever the reason, it doesn't look good. Candidates should treat the questions as an opportunity to learn about what people at the firm do and the day-to-day work done by junior lawyers.

CA: What are you looking for in a candidate? And what type of person thrives at the firm?

BZ: We want people who are interested and serious about being lawyers and people who are invested in their career. This is a great opportunity to learn from experienced practitioners at the top of their game. Beyond that, we're very interested in the different things people can bring to the table. Bringing in candidates with differences in their background are fundamental to our recruiting process. Whether it's geographic, economic, racial or gender identity or sexual orientation, each of these differences are what's unique about that candidate. Having a diverse firm is important professionally, and I also think it makes us an interesting place to work.

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

BZ: I think they should try to familiarize themselves with law firms as much as possible. If they can, they should go to their school's placement office – most of them will do a fantastic job of getting information and opportunities for students. If you're looking at big law firms, be aware that the experience will be very different to what you see in popular culture. Looking at publications like Chambers Associate is certainly helpful, and also take a look at the firm's website. Make sure you read legal blogs with a discriminating eye as some of those blogs are pretty inaccurate. Talk to students a year or two ahead of you and find out what their experiences were like. Again, take this with a grain of salt as everyone is different. To do well you have to use your critical thinking skills to determine why you think the firm you're looking at is a good place to be. Again, start with your school's career services office as they'll be able to help guide you to law firms that fit your academic profile and practice interests.

CA: Can you very briefly outline your summer program?

BZ: During the summer program we'll ask you for your work preferences (litigation, corporate, bankruptcy, real estate and tax, employee benefits and personal representation) which you then list from one to seven. Most people will spend time working through matters coming through their first and second choices. For example, you're putting litigation first and corporate second, we'd match you up with a litigation partner mentor and an associate mentor who'll assign your first assignment. Beyond that, there is an assigning system, where partners request associates and then the assigning associate matches you to a case. People tend to do ten to 14 assignments over the course of 12 weeks. We always try to keep assignments short enough so that associates can see many substantive assignments throughout the course of a summer. If you express a preference for different work, somebody in the recruiting department will contact you midway through the summer. It's an open-ended system so that once you're here you can see what people are doing and work out what you're interested in. The summer associate program is designed to give you an insight to help you determine what areas you want to go into. There are social events that are designed to allow summer associates to meet people they may not necessarily get to interact with which also generates lots of assignments because you're talking to different people. It's designed to be as open and flexible as possible.

CA: What is the firm’s approach to judicial clerking – do many people do it?

BZ: The firm is very supportive of people who have clerked as it's a traditional route for people who are interested in litigation. Some people do it right after law school and some go to clerk after being at Paul, Weiss for a year or two.

CA: There have been several lateral partner hires recently. What's the firm's approach to this? Are there many associate laterals, if so, why?

BZ: Our approach to laterals is to be selective on who we hire. We seek out laterals who will fill specific needs or when we want to take advantage of a unique opportunity that has come our way. The key in all cases is the idea that they fit well into our practice and culture. By and large that's our philosophy on lateral partners and associates. With respect to lateral partners, there are no major gaps in practice areas, and there isn't anything specific we’re looking to expand into. However, sometimes opportunities present themselves to us that makes sense for a specific client or practice area. With respect to lateral associates, we regularly hire great attorneys who started their career elsewhere and see Paul, Weiss as a place where they can build on their prior experience and expand their practice and skills.

CA: What does the firm offer that is unique?

BZ: I think that Paul, Weiss has an outstanding reputation as a place to learn and to be a lawyer, and that's first and foremost what's important about us. We work on challenging matters and clients will always turn to us for high-value litigation, transactions, tax and bankruptcy cases across the board. Our reputation for hard work, challenging cases, grounded advice and the reputation of excellence also attracts clients to Paul, Weiss. Culturally, we are a fairly New York-centric firm. About 80% of our lawyers are here but we think of our other offices as entirely integrated into New York. If you're working in DC, you'll frequently work on matters in other offices. A lot of other firms have satellite offices that are just standalone. For us, it's like having the same offices, just 3,000 miles away!

CA: Which firms do you see as your main competitors?

BZ: A general list would probably include Cravath, Sullivan & Cromwell, Davis Polk, and Simpson Thacher.

Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP

1285 Avenue of the Americas,
New York,
NY 10019-6064

  • Head Office: New York, NY 
  • Number of domestic offices: 3
  • Number of international offices: 5
  • Worldwide revenue: $1,109,547,000
  • Partners (US): 139
  • Associates (US): 560
  • Summer Salary 2016  
  • 1Ls: $3,100/week
  • 2Ls: $3,100/week
  • Post 3Ls: $3,100/week
  • 1Ls hired? Yes
  • Split summers offered? Yes
  • Can summers spend time in overseas office? Yes
  • Summers 2016: 140
  • Offers/acceptances 2015: 149 offers, 124 acceptances

Main areas of work
Paul, Weiss is widely recognized as having leading litigation and corporate capabilities, and the firm has developed equally strong practices in the areas of bankruptcy and corporate reorganization, employee benefits and executive compensation, intellectual property, personal representation, real estate and tax law.

Firm profile
Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP is a firm of more than 900 lawyers, with diverse backgrounds, personalities, ideas and interests, who collaborate with clients to help them conquer their most critical legal challenges and business goals. Our long-standing clients include many of the largest publicly and privately held corporations and financial institutions in the United States and throughout the world. We have an unwavering dedication to representing those in need through our pro bono efforts, and have long been a leader in promoting diversity within our firm and the legal profession.

Recruitment details
• Number of 1st year associates: 120
• Number of 2nd year associates: 92
• Associate salaries: 1st year: $180,000
• 2nd year: $190,000
• Clerking policy: Yes

Law Schools attending for OCIs in 2016:
BC/BU NY Job Fair, Berkeley, Brooklyn, Cardozo, Chicago, Columbia, Cornell NYC Job Fair, Duke, Fordham, Georgetown, George Washington, Harvard, Howard, Lavender Law Career Fair, McGill, Michigan, Northwestern, NYU, Patent Job Fair at Loyola, Penn, Stanford, Texas Job Fair, Toronto, Virginia, Washington University, Yale

Summer details
Summer associate profile:
You should have a strong academic record and life experience and initiative and commitment to excellence in the practice of law.

Summer program components:
The summer associate program at Paul, Weiss is more than just legal training. It’s your introduction to the rich variety and depth of life in one of New York’s most unique law firms. You’ll have the opportunity to shape your summer experience at Paul, Weiss. Choose one department to call your home, or select a variety of work from a number of different practice areas. You’ll be matched with a team of lawyers including associates, counsel and partners. Your summer team will help you make connections with other lawyers at the firm and make informed decisions about the work you choose. In addition to your team, you’ll be paired with a partner and an associate who will provide guidance and advice about your summer work. You’ll receive training in both substantive areas of law and practical legal skills in a mix of highly interactive small group trainings, individual skills development workshops and more traditional classroom style presentations.