Proskauer Rose LLP - The Inside View

Setting the Rose gold standard in labor and employment, sports, media and other areas of law, Proskauer’s carefully cultivated practices are growing nicely.

Ketchup, BBQ, marinara, sweet chili… culture? Not the sauce we’d want on a burger, but it tastes great at a law firm according to Proskauer Rose chairman Steven Ellis. “Our culture is our special sauce,” he declares. What’s the recipe? Junior associates picked out the ingredients: “Quirkiness, being humble, not mistreating other people, and talent.” You’ll see plenty of the last according to Chambers USA, which hands Proskauer a delicious array of rankings. It’s one of only three firms to get top billing nationwide for both labor and employment and sports work; other top rankings include employee benefits, healthcare, labor and employment in its native New York, banking and private equity for its Boston base, and insurance dispute resolution over in Chicago.

“Our culture is our special sauce.”

“Our practice diversification has served us extremely well.” Ellis tells us the Proskauer Rose blossomed despite 2020’s global setbacks, with the firm's industry units (sports, healthcare, life sciences and gaming) coming together “across geography and practices in ways that were new and positive.” The New York office houses most juniors, with Boston, New Orleans and Los Angeles the largest other recruiters. As well as helping bring sports back safely, Proskauer has tackled social upheaval with their ‘Collaboration for Change’ initiative, “protecting voter rights and combating racial injustice.” Coupled with a COVID-19 taskforce, the firm’s new initiatives have helped to “feed and fuel that special sauce,” according to Ellis. Sounds delicious!

Proskauer was a consistently strong performer across all our 2021 research: the firm made the US top 25 for Associate Satisfaction.>

The Work  



Corporate is the most common destination for Proskauer newbies, followed by litigation. Labor and employment, tax and real estate also regularly take juniors. Every group has a workflow coordinator to ensure even distribution of opportunities. “This doesn’t mean all your work is coordinated through them, but it’s useful to have the backup and not a total free-market system,” juniors clarified.

“On the phone with the client sometimes even more than I’d like!”

Proskauer’s corporate practice encompasses asset management, bankruptcy, M&A, fundraising and debt work. Though corporate juniors used to have a group assignment system that varies by office, from 2020 all offices hire straight into practice groups. Summers can sample as many subgroups as they’d like, to find which they’d prefer to end up in: “The firm tries its best to match you up. I’d say the vast majority get one of their top two choices.”New York does more public company M&A and multibillion-dollar deals, while Boston tends to handle smaller, midmarket private M&A plus debt and funds work. Public filings are a staple in capital markets, while the registered funds team grapples with regulator work and investment management. Our junior associate sources oversaw maintenance of public filings and conducted internal and external compliance research. On lower-value transactions, juniors can “run with it – I’m doing everything. I’ve turned drafts of purchase agreements and been on the phone with the client, sometimes even more than I’d like!” Other tasks include document review, compiling signature pages and managing term sheets.

Corporate clients: Bed Bath & Beyond, British Telecom, Grifols. Represented Discovery in its acquisition of Latin American Golf, a 24-hour golf channel, from Simple Networks and Inversiones Bahia.

Attorneys are mainly defending employers in labor and employment, litigating administrative agencies and other cases in court. New Orleans is an anomaly as the team there acts predominantly on ERISA (Employee Retirement Income Security Act) litigation and transactional matters. Juniors elsewhere also worked on litigation prevention work such as policy review and internal investigations on issues including sexual harassment and discrimination charges: “We go in as a true neutral and interview to find out the truth of what’s happened.” Our interviewees spent their time on research and employee interviews – “you get to meet so many kinds of people.” On lower-stakes cases, juniors may find themselves attending and second-chairing depositions, as well as getting to draft portions of motions. Several enjoyed being able to have a say in “reaching conclusions. Sometimes older or male partners don’t read the gravity of a particular statement or situation in the same way as the interviewee meant it; juniors can really sway them on reaching a different conclusion based on what we’ve seen.”

Labor clients: National Hockey League, Hermès, Pay Equity Matters. Defended the NFL in a lawsuit filed by a voiceover artist alleging discrimination, emotional distress and assault.

Media and entertainment, antitrust, IP, white-collar, commercial disputes, product liability… the litigation department handles all this and more. Juniors get to work as generalists: “I work with multiple offices on different kinds of work,” one said. “That’s how I like it!” Working across sub-teams means “you get to work on the same case from different angles over the years.” Proskauer’s work for celebrity clients is largely litigation-based, but we rarely speak to juniors who are massively involved in it – so don’t let that be your primary motivation for joining the firm.

“You get to work on the same case from different angles.”

White-collar cases consist of internal investigations, responding to subpoenas from the government and intervening when it needs to know about a specific employee. Proskauer’s team handles appellate-level work, First Circuit court appeals, and “a lot of bankruptcy issues including representing the financial oversight board for Puerto Rico.” Sources described this as “a niche area – you’ve got to be pretty nerdy to read all those briefs!” Nerdy reading aside, juniors were able to try their hand at drafting parts of briefs, which involves “a lot of research and document review. Doing the grunt work is a great way to get to the core of the issue.” The drafting doesn’t stop there: “In first year I got to draft an entire motion front to back,” a source said. “Most of what I wrote ended up in the final product – it was such a confidence booster!”

Litigation clients: Live Nation, T-Mobile, Ellen DeGeneres. Acting for Johnson & Johnson in various product liability claims alleging links between its talcum powder products and cancer.

Career Development



Of the 50 or so newcomers that join Proskauer each year, only a few will end up gunning for a partnership spot. “Around the sixth-year mark is when the firm has ‘the talk’ about which direction they see you going in,” we heard. Interviewees were well aware of and unfazed by this – “people make their own decisions, it’s no big deal.” It’s common for ex-Rosers to go in-house to clients, and litigators are often attracted to government roles across the nation. That doesn’t mean the firm isn’t prepping its junior for longevity: “We have endless training sessions!” Juniors told us partners are “very nurturing of us – they’ll throw anything they think you can handle at you.”

“Around the sixth-year mark is when the firm has ‘the talk’.”

Working from home as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown has improved development opportunities for juniors in smaller offices. “The barriers of cross-office working have gone away,” one told us. “Nobody’s down the hall from anyone any more! It’s really beneficial for my career to be staffed in all offices on a good variety of work.” We hope this can continue into 2021 and beyond…

Hours & Compensation



Billable hours: no requirement 

Interviewees told us that COVID-19 had a big impact on their summer – “there were months where I billed maybe 40 to 50 hours.” Juniors weren’t just sitting twiddling their thumbs, but filled their time with heart-warming pro bono and brain-boosting training. It helped that “there’s no hours requirement, even for bonuses. I’m so thankful for not having to worry about that.” Interviewees suggested the average hours seem to be similar across Proskauer’s offices, though “there is a bit more of a facetime requirement in New York.” Before home working was widespread, associates in smaller offices tended to “work through dinnertime, then go home and do another couple of hours at night.”

“There’s no hours requirement, even for bonuses. I’m so thankful for not having to worry about that.”

Don’t think low hours are the norm in the Proskauer associate experience. “I billed nearly 300 hours this month,” one told us in winter. “I’ve billed 14 hours a day all week.” Our interviewees were definitely making up for lost time, but not with crazy consequences – corporate associates especially felt “the issue isn’t the total, it’s the distribution!” Most told us their annual hours are due to come in around 1,850. “It might go up next year as long as COVID goes away.”

Pro Bono



The firm has a full-time pro bono team which offers “an endless list of opportunities for you – and if you don’t see something you want to do, you can bring in something new.” We heard the firm “definitely doesn’t shy away from political-ish pro bono matters” such as immigration work, expunging criminal records, trans rights, gun safety, freedom of speech and other human rights issues. “One thing that’s been a surprise is the ability to work on social justice issues while working as a BigLaw corporate attorney,” a source noted.

“It’s incumbent on us as leaders to be part of the conversation and a part of the solution.”

As long as you’re not turning down client work, you can take on as much pro bono as you like,” we heard. Chairman Steven Ellis tells us Proskauer is proud of its pro bono commitment as “it’s incumbent on us as leaders in the world to be part of the conversation and part of the solution. The legal industry has embraced the idea that we have a much bigger role than just in our legal world. I applaud that. I’m an optimist, I don’t think that’s going away.”

Pro bono hours

  • For all (US) attorneys: 61,653
  • Average per (US) attorney: 83

Diversity & Inclusion 



In that spirit, “diversity and inclusion are definitely on the firm’s radar.” Associates were split in their opinion of the firm’s approach to D&I – “though Proskauer keeps getting ranked highly on external lists, it’s not exactly perfect.” The firm does have a team dedicated to “trying to get all associates involved. They took us out to lunch to get to know us and the type of people we are and let us know about their activities and the type of work they do.” Proskauer also offers training on diversity issues and “makes educational resources available.”

Affinity groups maintain a large presence in New York and Boston, though smaller offices “wish there was more of an effort to reach out throughout the nation.” As well as acting as a “business resource” to help with staffing, affinity groups run networking events and conferences throughout the year “to help build key connections.” They also serve as a portal to find relevant pro bono work and “advocate to firm leadership on various issues affecting diverse attorneys.”

Culture



Associates described Proskauer as “a fun place to meet people. I have genuine friends here.” Though most found their crowd, we heard from some that “there’s not a ton of camaraderie among the associates as a general pool. We’re very siloed in our practice groups.” Interviewees said this is on the firm’s radar: “We want morale to be better and to have a more cohesive group.” They described the general working culture as “very laid back, people are respectful of your time. I’m trusted to do work however and wherever I want.”

“It makes a huge difference – they treat you as an actual human.”

Steven Ellis is the first Proskauer chairman in history that hails from outside New York, and associates in his native Boston loved to see it. “It lets us know that we’re not in some dinky satellite office. We matter!” Bostonians and others from smaller offices gave an account similar to that of peers at other firms: “We’ve maintained a small-firm culture, you’re not some nameless faceless cog in this massive machine.” New Yorkers countered that colleagues “know who we are and care about us. We’re not in some massive operation where you’re just a number.” One reckoned they know “8090% of the practice group nationally on a personal level.” Leaving the competitive friendliness between offices aside, juniors told us “people at the firm take time to know you and make a connection. Partners will chat with you before you get to work – they treat you as an actual human, which makes a huge difference.”

Strategy & Future



“We had a very strong year despite what was sprung on the world in March,” Steven Ellis reiterates. “It’s an exciting time for us right now.” The firm has expanded its asset management, investment funds, private equity and M&A reach with a dozen lateral hires all in.“That energetic, entrepreneurial, collaborative energy is going to grow our asset management, credit, investment funds, trials, and M&A practices.” Looking to 2021, Ellis predicts “more of the same, but bigger and better!” Stay tuned…

Get Hired



The first stage: recruitment on and off campus

OCI applicants interviewed: undisclosed

Interviewees outside OCI: undisclosed

Proskauer Rose traditionally recruits from a wide range of OCIs and job fair, though write-in applications from outside the net are also accepted. While the firm does recruit from a wide range of schools, Proskauer’s hiring committee chair, Michael Mervis notes that “most of our summer class is drawn from schools that are ranked in the US News top 20.”

According to Mervis the firm interviews between 20 and 100 students per school, where interviews are “usually conducted by partners on the hiring committee and, whenever possible, alumni of the law school.” Mervis says interviewees should expect “questions that go beyond the resume. Our goal is to determine whether the person has characteristics and traits that have proven to be successful at the firm.”

Top tips for this stage:

“Let your personality show. On-campus interviews tend to be only 20 minutes long, so candidates who do well are those who convey a sense of who they are and why they are considering joining Proskauer.” – Michael Mervis, hiring committee chair.

Callbacks

Applicants invited to second stage interview: undisclosed

If you make it back through to the callback phase, expect to do “a deeper dive into what was initially discussed at OCI,” Mervis says. Interviews are conducted by a combination of members of the hiring committee, partners, associates, and a member of the recruitment department. Mervis says that if a candidate “has expressed an interest in a specific department or practice area, we try and gauge the depth of her or his interest and learn about experiences she or he have had that might be helpful to the practice.”

Top tips for this stage:

“We recommend using the same approach for callbacks as we do for OCI interviews. Candidates should make sure they have done research on the firm and are prepared with thoughtful questions.” – Michael Mervis.

Summer program

Offers: undisclosed

Acceptances: 51 anticipated

Proskauer’s summer associates can “work in a number of departments and gain exposure through assignments, workshops and shadowing without the constraint of a formal rotation process,” Mervis says. Work is distributed either by the legal recruiting department or by one of Proskauer’s work coordinators.

Top tips for this stage:

“Treat the program like a real job (because it is). Be enthusiastic, on time and participate in the various aspects of the program. While the work is important, so are the other components. Participate in social events, be a good firm citizen and take every opportunity to get to know your colleagues.” – Michael Mervis.

And finally…

Mervis says “don’t wait until July/August to start getting to know firms. Your research should start in the spring semester of your 1L year. At the beginning of your job search, determine what firm characteristics are most important to you (e.g., practice, location, prestige, culture) and keep that in mind throughout the process, which we fully understand can be hectic and stressful.”

Interview with Proskauer's chairman Steve Ellis



Chambers Associate: This is your first year as chair of the firm. How did you navigate 2020 for the firm?

Steve Ellis: Following our chair emeritus Joe Leccese means I have big shoes to fill! He was a great firm leader for nine years and we’re continuing on the trajectory he set out. We had a very strong year despite what was sprung on the world in March. It’s an exciting time for us right now. We’ve had several lateral hires and we are still growing – although not growth for growth’s sake, but growth within our core strategy. Looking at where we’ve expanded this year falls down the fairway for our asset management strategy with a number of private investment, private equity and M&A lawyers brought on. We’re not just looking to get bigger, we’re growing where our strengths already lie. Helping bring sports back to people is also something we’re particularly proud of this year.

CA: What’s it been like starting your tenure as chair during the rollercoaster that is 2020?

SE: When I took this role, I thought we’d go through some kind of economic distress during my tenure, with economists predicting recession. But I could not have predicted this! Going into this tough time, our strengths were always going to serve us well. Our practice diversification has served us extremely well. Our large restructuring practice has been dealing with Puerto Rico’s historic restructuring matter. We’re top of our class in many areas and having all those different pieces have served us well.

Our industry units were accelerated this year. Sports, healthcare, life sciences and gaming all really came together across geography and practices in ways that were new and positive. We’ve also taken a new approach to our internal communication, holding regular town halls for everybody. Having 1,500 lawyers and professionals on a web call is phenomenal. We had never gathered in that size before. Of course, we have always celebrated together, it’s part of our special sauce, but never at that scale.

CA: How has the firm responded to the events of 2020?

SE: With the social upheaval in 2020, we’ve spent a lot of time on what we’ve called Collaborate for Change, including protecting voter rights and combating racial injustice. Also really important to us as a firm was our Covid taskforce response which included 150 lawyers across all practices. Our culture is our special sauce, we have a vibrant, inclusive culture. These initiatives – Collaborate for Change, tackling racial injustice, and our Covid taskforce, help feed and fuel that special sauce. There were lots of glue-building events that happened in 2020.

CA: Where do you anticipate the firm growing in 2021?

SE: I’m excited for our continued trajectory. I’m expecting more of the same – our core strategy is to continue to invest in the areas where we are best in class. That energetic, entrepreneurial, collaborative energy is going to grow our asset management, credit, investment funds, trials, and M&A practices. More of the same but bigger and better!

CA: What do you think is the responsibility of the legal industry in the face of problems highlighted in 2020?

SE: This hits a hot point that I’m passionate about. I’ve said this often – in BigLaw, we’re leaders not only of the legal industry but we’re also leaders in the community. And that comes with a big responsibility. It’s incumbent on us as leaders in the world to be part of the conversation and part of the solution. The legal industry has embraced the idea that we have a much bigger role than just in our legal world. I applaud that. I’m an optimist, I don’t think that’s going away. Our Collaborate for Change initiative – it’s not only important what we do today, it’s the fact that a year from now, and on and on, we will still have that constant commitment. I’m hopeful that’s where the industry is going.

CA: What’s the ethos behind Proskauer’s commitment to pro bono?

SE: Our lawyers want to get more out of their career – the days of coming to work, billing and going home, that’s not what elite talent wants. They want to be part of the community, volunteer, do pro bono, in addition to the challenging client work. It makes careers and lives richer – I think that’s the right thing. We talk about Proskauer For Good – that’s the robust platform of pro bono and volunteering we’re building with our local communities, to give richness to our careers beyond billing the hours.

 

Proskauer Rose LLP

Eleven Times Square,
(Eighth Avenue & 41st Street),
New York,
NY 10036-8299
Website www.proskauer.com

  • Head Office: New York, NY
  • Number of domestic offices: 7
  • Number of international offices: 5
  • Worldwide revenue: $990,000,000 
  • Partners (US): 223
  • Associates (US): 389
  • Contacts  
  • Main recruitment contact: Rachel L Kleiner
  • Hiring partner: Michael T Mervis
  • Diversity officer: Peter Wilson, Jr.
  • Recruitment details 
  • Entry-level associates starting in 2021: 62
  • Clerking policy: Yes
  •  Summers joining/anticipated 2021: 1Ls: 8, 2Ls: 47, SEOs: 2
  • Summers joining/anticipated 2021 split by office: Boston: 12, Chicago: 2, LA: 10, New Orleans: 1, New York: 30
  • Summer salary 2021: 1Ls: $3,654/week (except Boca Raton and New Orleans)
  • 2Ls: $3,654/week (except Boca Raton and New Orleans)
  • Split summers offered? Case by case
  • Can summers spend time in an overseas office? No

Main areas of work



 Private equity; corporate finance and securities; mergers and acquisitions; capital markets; litigation, trials and dispute resolution; white collar defense and investigations; intellectual property; labor and employment; employee benefits and executive compensation; real estate; privacy and cybersecurity; bankruptcy and restructuring; and wealth management. The firm also has significant industry-focused experience across many fields, including asset management; health care; financial institutions; technology, media and telecommunications; private equity real estate; life sciences; sports; and media and entertainment.

Firm profile



 We are 725+ lawyers serving clients from 12 offices located in the leading financial and business centers in North and South America, Europe and Asia. The world’s leading organizations, companies and corporations choose us to be their representatives in their most critical situations. We work with alternative capital providers, major sports leagues, Fortune 500 companies, entertainment industry legends, many of the world’s most successful asset managers and other industry-redefining companies.

Recruitment



Law schools attending for OCIs in 2021:
Boston College, Boston University, Brooklyn, Cardozo, Columbia, Cornell, DePaul, Duke, Emory, Fordham, George Washington University, Georgetown, Harvard, Hofstra, Howard, Indiana University (Maurer), Louisiana State, Loyola - Chicago, Loyola - New Orleans, New York University, Northwestern, Notre Dame, Stanford, Suffolk, Tulane, University of California (Berkeley, Los Angeles), University of Chicago, University of Connecticut, University of Iowa, University of Michigan, University of Minnesota, University of Pennsylvania, University of Southern California, University of Texas, University of Virginia, University of Wisconsin, Vanderbilt, Washington University in St Louis, Yale.
If we do not visit your law school, or you are unable to participate in one of the many career fairs in which we participate, please submit your cover letter, resume and transcript directly to the recruiting mailbox of the office in which you are interested.

Summer associate profile:
We look for well-rounded students who have demonstrated academic excellence, leadership, community service, intellectual curiosity, maturity and strong motivation to succeed. Our environment is challenging, rewarding, entrepreneurial and inclusive. Associates receive early exposure to high levels of responsibility, so the people who thrive here are those who can engage with clients, have a sense of humor, and some worldliness.

Summer program components: Our summer program is designed to replicate, as closely as possible, the experience of being a lawyer at Proskauer. You will work on challenging matters alongside some of the top lawyers in the field while building relationships with your colleagues. You might find yourself attending a deposition, courtroom argument or administrative hearing. Or being at the table in a labor arbitration. You might help in the formation of companies or be part of a team handling a merger or acquisition. Every day of your time with us represents part of your training – as you work with experienced professionals on client matters and gain their real-time feedback and direction. You will also have the chance to up your game in key areas through partner-led, interactive training workshops throughout your summer. You will have many opportunities to join in social, cultural and recreational activities to get better acquainted with your fellow summers and lawyers at Proskauer.

Social media



Recruitment website: www.proskauer.com/careers/
Twitter: @proskauer
Facebook: proskauerlife
Instagram: @proskauer_rose
Linkedin: proskauer-rose-llp

This Firm's Rankings in
USA Guide, 2021

Ranked Departments

    • Banking & Finance (Band 3)
    • Labor & Employment (Band 3)
    • Life Sciences (Band 4)
    • Litigation: General Commercial: The Elite (Band 4)
    • Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation (Band 2)
    • Tax (Band 4)
    • Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation (Band 3)
    • Bankruptcy/Restructuring (Band 3)
    • Insurance: Dispute Resolution: Policyholder (Band 2)
    • Labor & Employment: The Elite (Band 5)
    • Labor & Employment (Band 3)
    • Banking & Finance (Band 1)
    • Intellectual Property (Band 3)
    • Labor & Employment (Band 1)
    • Private Equity: Fund Formation (Band 1)
    • Real Estate (Band 4)
    • Tax (Band 2)
    • Immigration (Band 1)
    • Bankruptcy/Restructuring: The Elite (Band 3)
    • Corporate/M&A: Highly Regarded (Band 3)
    • Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation (Band 1)
    • Environment: Mainly Transactional (Band 3)
    • Healthcare (Band 1)
    • Insurance: Dispute Resolution: Policyholder (Band 2)
    • Labor & Employment: The Elite (Band 1)
    • Litigation: General Commercial: Highly Regarded (Band 1)
    • Litigation: White-Collar Crime & Government Investigations: The Elite (Band 4)
    • Media & Entertainment: Corporate (Band 3)
    • Media & Entertainment: Litigation (Band 3)
    • Outsourcing (Band 3)
    • Real Estate: Mainly Corporate & Finance (Band 3)
    • Real Estate: Mainly Dirt (Band 3)
    • Tax (Band 3)
    • Technology (Band 3)
    • Advertising: Litigation (Band 2)
    • Banking & Finance (Band 4)
    • Bankruptcy/Restructuring: The Elite (Band 3)
    • Corporate/M&A: Highly Regarded (Band 3)
    • Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation (Band 1)
    • ERISA Litigation (Band 2)
    • Healthcare: Highly Regarded (Band 1)
    • Hedge Funds (Band 4)
    • Insurance: Dispute Resolution: Policyholder (Band 4)
    • Labor & Employment (Band 1)
    • Leisure & Hospitality (Band 4)
    • Private Equity: Fund Formation (Band 2)
    • Real Estate (Band 4)
    • Registered Funds (Band 3)
    • REITs (Band 4)
    • Sports Law (Band 1)
    • Tax: Corporate & Finance (Band 5)