Proskauer Rose LLP - The Inside View

Talents both mainstream and niche meet at this glitzy New Yorker, which has more A-listers on its books than an Oscars invite list.

IF firms could call upon their clients to help throw a party, Proskauer's would arguably be the best. Food would be supplied by the award-winning Blue Hill Farm restaurant, while live music would be performed by U2, Lady Gaga and Ariana Grande. The venue? MoMA would work well, as would the Lincoln Center. Some Major League Baseball clubs would help the party go with a swing, and enter some NFL and NBA teams, and you have something akin to a high net worth Woodstock.

This rather glamorous client roster has been acquired thanks to Proskauer's sterling reputation for labor & employment, sports, and media & entertainment work – all of these practices are awarded high marks in Chambers USA. “A handful of firms are known for their strength in these practices but none of them have the clients we do,” one thrilled associate declared.And while it's clear that Proskauer has “strength in a lot of niche practice groups,” juniors were also eager to get across that “our firm is definitely a full-service one,” with many other talents besides.These include Proskauer's work for investment funds, as well as its expertise in the capital markets, corporate/M&A, healthcare, insurance, and general commercial litigation spaces. All in all, Proskauer has earned over 60 Chambers USA rankings between its eight offices nationwide.

Strategy & Future



Chairman Joseph Leccese tells us: “2017 was a solid year for us: our bankruptcy team has been particularly busy, as we're representing the Financial and Oversight Management Board in connection with Puerto Rico's restructuring. In the transactional area our fund formation, private credit and M&A practices have continued to be very strong.”

“We want to continue to be at the cutting edge of all the major issues that affect employers.”

Going into 2018 Proskauer is focused on “trying to serve asset managers in every respect,” Leccese adds. “We brought in a large lateral group from Stroock that specializes in large mutual funds, which has really rounded out our asset management offering and provided us with an enormous amount of additional regulatory expertise.” The emphasis in litigation is on “continuing to develop star trial lawyers, while in labor & employment we want to continue to be at the cutting edge of all the major issues that affect employers.

The Work



Proskauer's corporate department took on the majority of juniors (almost 60% of those on our list). The litigation and labor & employment groups took on a significant chunk of the remaining associates, while a few joined areas like tax, real estate, private client and healthcare. Most juniors in the larger corporate, litigation and labor groups begin life as generalists, but in “a recent change in approach the firm is requiring corporate juniors to join a designated subgroup after one year instead of two.” Legal directorsare present in each groupto get juniors ramped up when they first start and to serve as a safety net “if you get stuck.” On the whole a more entrepreneurial approach is encouraged, andmost juniors appreciated the opportunity to “shape your path within certain parameters and foster relationships with partners who want to invest in you.”

Subgroups in corporate include private investment funds; private credit;  private equity and M&A; capital markets; TMT; and restructuring & bankruptcy. The department is especially recognized in Chambers USA for its midmarket work in industries such as real estate, healthcare, finance and sports. On the capital markets side, our sources found themselves “commenting on prospectuses, coordinating opinions, making sure filings comply with securities laws and reviewing credit facilities.” Others had been able to work on deals “where it's just me, a partner and senior counsel, which allowed me to manage the process and complete first drafts of terms in agreements.”

Labor & employment is “a huge practice area: the majority of associates do employment work, while some exclusively focus on labor matters – some do a bit of both.” The employment side is mostly contentious in nature, and spans class actions, wage and hour disputes, harassment claims, trade secrets cases and more. There's also some advisory work for employers like “large telecom businesses, banks and major league sports teams.” On single-plaintiff cases “you can do everything, including fact-gathering, conducting interviews and drafting motions to dismiss – the partner would work with me and deliver feedback.” Sources felt they played an integral role: “As a junior you're the one who's closest to the facts, so even when a partner takes the first cut at something they'll ask for your opinion.” Labor-oriented work – which involves managing the relationships between unions and companies – was deemed by some to provide “more hands-on opportunities, especially with regard to hearings and second-chairing depositions.”

Litigation covers “general commercial, antitrust, contract, IP and white-collar disputes.” Interviewees here weren't “stuck doing doc review all day,” and when it came to motions “you're more or less in charge of the minor ones, but can still have a crack at drafting the bigger ones too.” Often “there's one person between you and the partner, especially in the IP/entertainment practice where they like to keep things lean. On the more partner-heavy cases you can do most of the research.”

Culture & Offices



Just over half of the juniors on our list were based in Proskauer's New York HQ. Boston and LA claimed around a fifth each, while the rest of our sample were spread thinly between the firm's Newark, Chicago, New Orleans, DC and Boca Raton offices. New York “is the firm's flagship office, so it's bigger, pristine and can feel a bit more intimidating compared to other Proskauer offices (Boston is more relaxed, for example), but going by New York standards it's still pretty casual.” The building itself was “built within the last ten years and is beautiful; we're right off of Times Square, which is perfect for transportation links, and the offices get lots of light thanks to floor-to-ceiling glass.” Juniors here share offices for the first two years before earning their own. “The firm is flexible about allowing associates to work in different offices,” said Newark juniors, who journeyed across the Hudson to work in the New York mothership from time to time. Further connections are fostered via Proskauer's videophone system, which enables frequent cross-staffing on matters: “It's very much a seamless system, and I feel just as integrated with teams in the other offices as I do with those in my own.”

“To fit in here it's imperative to have a sense of humor and to be able to roll with the punches.”

So what are the unifying cultural traits across Proskauer's various bases? “The people here are the type you'd want to grab a beer with,” juniors suggested, adding: “Other firms are too OCD about things and want to harp on about details to the nth degree. The result is that people become bland, dry and lose their energy.” They therefore agreed that Proskauer's more “laid back and casual” stance produced “a sense of ease between associates and partners,” and plenty of room for personalities to shine: “Everyone has one! They try to avoid people who can't hold a conversation. People here have diverse interests, which means you can have thoughtful conversations on topics outside of the law and develop relationships that are not based solely on work.” Hiring partner Michael Mervis adds: “A sense of humor is important. We are not looking for students who are accomplished but can't find the humor in things; we are a very team-oriented place.” 

Training & Development



The 'Proskauer Institute' brings together all new associates in New York for a week of introductory training. “It's a crash course that covers a lot of business training, and they bring in people from Columbia University to host sessions. It can feel a bit like that training is occurring in a vacuum, as during the first week you don't really know how to apply it and might forget points – something like it later on or a refresher would be beneficial.” 

After this initial blast, first-years attend mandatory monthly trainings within their practice groups. “There's a core curriculum program where seniors present to us on tangible topics and issues, like what to do when you receive a complaint.” Some of our sources found these sessions too general: “They're for everyone in corporate, so there could be sessions on securities law and you can't do anything with that info as you're not focusing on that area.” However, associates agreed that “informal, on-the-job training is effective, and the associates and partners do take the time to explain things to you.” Labor & employment juniors were also happy to attend “weekly meetings to discuss the latest developments in our group, how they are affecting our client population and our long-term strategy for dealing with them.” Departmental-specific sessions continue beyond the first year, and the firm also provides every associate with an annual budget which they can spend on external programs and Bar Association activities.

Pro Bono



“This is our 143rd year as a firm and we have a strong legacy of pro bono work that goes back generations,” chairman JosephLeccese tells us, pointing to the success full-time pro bono partner Bill Silverman has had “marshaling enthusiasm in our ranks and securing access to the best cases.” These efforts have not gone unnoticed by our sources, who told us that they “love that Proskauer is passionate and committed to pro bono work. You can be riding the train in the morning, read about some horrendous decision our president has made and you can be sure that within an hour of getting to work, there will be an email saying something like 'Proskauer is teaming up with X to stand against Y' – it's very reactive to current needs.”

There's no official limit to how many hours associates can commit to pro bono and every hour counts as billable. As a result, our interviewees had devoted time to advising human trafficking clinics, working on veteran assistance projects, facilitating Uvisas and representing those who've suffered domestic violence.

“It's very reactive to current needs."

Pro bono hours

  • For all US attorneys: 46,755
  • Average per US attorney:  56.3

Hours & Compensation



There are no official billing requirements at Proskauer, but informal targets “vary by practice group,” juniors told us. In labor & employment, for example, “there's an unspoken expectation that you'll reach 2,000 hours; they generally track what the rest of the group is doing and if you ask the partner what the average is they'll tell you.” Over in corporate and litigation juniors felt that billing 1,800 hours would stand them in good stead. While most juniors were grateful “not to face the intensity of having to hit an exact number,” those in corporate (“where work-flow is more subject to peaks and troughs”) admitted that “there is some anxiety about working out how low your hours can go before you end up not receiving a bonus.” All bonuses are merit-based, however, and interviewees highlighted that the amount isn't significantly altered by the number of hours billed: “Here you can bill 1,700 or 2,500 hours and you'll still get a similar bonus.”

“Over the last five years the firm has done a lot to incentivize women to stay.”

Across the practice groups, the average working day lasted between 9/9.30am to 7/8pm. Of course, those hours are extended during busy times: “You're at a BigLaw firm so people will expect you to put in some pretty serious hours at some points.” For litigators this meant working until 8.30pm and “much later than that at times – sometimes for half the month, sometimes for all of it!” Those in labor & employment were consistently busy, but found they didn't have to work “under any unnecessary circumstances” and received plenty of advance warning when required to work additional hours (“if you tell me on a Tuesday that I'll have to work Saturday then I'm fine with it!”).

Diversity



“Over the last five years the firm has done a lot to incentivize women to stay,” our female sources informed us.Two programs in particular were highlighted: “There's a women's sponsorship program for fourth and fifth-year associates, which pairs up a number of women each year with senior partners, in order to equip them with the tools needed to succeed at a senior level. They also launched a parental leave program which enables primary caregivers to take paid leave for up to six months, and then for the following six months work 75% of your hours for 100% compensation.” These efforts were well received by female interviewees, with one telling us that “the firm is responsive to our concerns – I feel comfortable enough to raise my observations with the male partners I work with.”

Get Hired



Hiring partner Michael Mervis emphasizes that Proskauer is “open to students from any school across the country (including those we don't visit on campus) providing that they're interesting, have academic accomplishments, and look like they might be a good fit. Although we focus our recruiting efforts on the ‘top’ law schools in terms of academic rankings, our summer associates have also included students from a number of  schools outside of the ‘top 30’.  The law school a student attends is just one piece of our evaluative process.”  Casting a wider recruitment net was appreciated by the firm's juniors, who noted that “the firm doesn't have an elitist stance on academic pedigree.”

All of our sources placed a great emphasis on 'fit,' and the firm's interview process is designed to ascertain a candidate's suitability in that regard. “There's no standard line of questioning, but at the same time we don't opt for free-flowing 'tell me about yourself' interviews either,” Mervis tells us. “Our questions are intended to draw out what makes candidates tick and how they will fit within our culture. A sense of humor is important. We are not looking for students who are accomplished but can't find the humor in things; we are a very team-oriented place.” Those lucky enough to get a call back face a series of four 30-minute interviews – two of which typically take place with members of the firm’s hiring committee. “We also like candidates to meet with at least one junior associate and one partner to introduce them to the whole spectrum here,” Mervis adds.

When it comes to the summer program, Proskauer has two goals in mind, Mervis tells us: “The first is to make sure that everyone we hire is capable and a good fit. Secondly, the goal is for students to find out which practice area is right for them. We always ask students before the program which practice areas they are interested in. Saying something very specific is a valid answer, as is a more general one like 'I’m really not sure.'" Mervis assures that “we also ask for their preferences multiple times over the summer to cater for those who may change their minds.” Summers can also look forward to a “robust calendar of social events. “What makes us somewhat unique,” Mervis says, "is that our social events tend to focus on our clients.”  Events in the past have seen summers attend the Tony Awards (presented by firm client The Broadway League), the college draft for the NBA (another longtime firm client)  and a tour of the Hudson Yards redevelopment project in Manhattan (in which firm clients are active).

Proskauer's "phenomenal" offices



“It's phenomenal,” gushed one. “It's beautiful,” sang others. You'd think they were talking about a divine vision of some sort but they actually had in mind Proskauer's New York office.

First stop, the cafeteria. “I eat better here than I do at home. We have so many options from salads to pizza. People complain about sitting at their desks all day and getting fat but there's a ton of vegetable options to choose from.” The prices are also pretty handy too. “We're right by Times Square so outside the office your only choices go from street food to very fancy.”

Being in Times Square was associates' only bugbear. They may be sat “right by the Port Authority so it's an easy commute if you live in New Jersey,” but “no New Yorker likes Times Square; it's obnoxious,” one source complained. “The tourists are annoying,” scowled another.

But why leave the safety of the firm when you have your own subsidized coffee bar complete with fresh smoothies, frozen yogurt and a Starbucks barista? One junior told us: “We'll host the Women's Alliance meetings there and the barista makes us all lattes.”

Juniors in New York can gleefully share their admiration of the HQ with their office-mate. Everyone starts off sharing and typically gets their own place come the third year. Newbies are put up with someone from the same year and, usually, the same practice group. “Sharing makes the day go faster. You're with someone who can answer all your silly questions and it makes the day more social.” Of course, you never have to leave the office for social events either, as the firm also boasts its own glamorous wine bar, which hosts cocktail hours and receptions.

Chairman Joe Leccese is keen to point out that the firm “understands that the office space is important to how people feel about their work experience.” So London and DC both moved to new premises not long ago, while Paris and Boston have been refreshed. Boston may now be “nice and modern, but we sadly don't have a wine bar,” one Massachusetts-based associate sighed.

Juniors in Boston have historically been able to have their own office, but one source noted: “We've expanded pretty rapidly – more so than expected,” and wondered whether new associates would soon have to bunk up. Over in LA they get their own digs straight away and can also make use of the firm's courtyard space to grab lunch and soak up the sun.

More about the 'Proskauer Institute'



Proskauer newbies kick life off at the 'Proskauer Institute' going over “the basics and logistics.” Once they're settled into associate life, transactional first-years must attend a monthly 'corporate basics' session (second-year attendance is optional). These lunchtime sessions “review different topics such as stock purchase agreements or due diligence.” Or they may “give overviews of other practices in the corporate department. They might explain how finance works into your deal or cover antitrust or IP.”

Litigators and labor associates attend similar sessions targeted at core competencies within their respective practice areas. But if it's hands-on training in a no-risk environment you want, then the firm's deposition and trial advocacy workshops in New York are the place to look. Both labor and litigation juniors can sign up and the firm's happy to fly its rookies in from across the States. “They're really pushing for everyone to try and attend. The partners are very supportive so if you need to go they allow you to take time off," one source explained.

The “super helpful” deposition workshops involves practicing depositions and then being critiqued by attorneys, but it was the longer trial advocacy workshops which really got associates' hearts pumping. “It was one of the scariest things I've ever done,” admitted one interviewee. “They brought in a ton of partners from across the country” to help juniors prepare opening and closing statements, and direct examinations. After presenting these, associates are given on-the-spot feedback. But juniors can't start relaxing once that part's over. The whole presentation is taped so participants sit down with a partner and watch it back. “It's not the most fun to watch yourself speaking for ten to 15 minutes on camera but they tell you what was good and what you should think about working on.”

“We're spending a lot of time on talent and professional development for our associates,” chairman Joe Leccese tells us. “We've poured an enormous amount of resources and commitment into training and support programs, ranging from the 'Proskauer Institute' to outside financial training.” The firm also sees training and support as a means to coax more of its attorneys into staying and developing long-term with the firm. Leccese says: “Our program for fourth-year and above female associates has been a tremendous success. We've doubled the size of the program after just one year. We're providing diverse associates with a similar scheme in their first three years. Each program has its own curriculum with business development and public speaking training.”

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: 8
  • Number of international offices: 5
  • Worldwide revenue: $890,300,000
  • Partners (US): 235
  • Associates (US): 386
  • Contacts  
  • Main recruitment contact: Caroline K Menes
  • Hiring partner: Michael T Mervis
  • Diversity officer: Peter Wilson, Jr.
  • Recruitment details  
  • Entry-level associates starting in 2018: 74
  • Clerking policy: Yes
  • Summers joining/anticipated 2018:
  • 1Ls: 6, 2Ls: 55, SEOs: 2
  • Summers joining/anticipated 2018 split by office: Boston: 14, Chicago: 2, LA: 9, New Orleans: 3, New York: 29 (not including 2 SEOs), Newark: 3 Washington DC: 1
  • Summer salary 2018:
  • 1Ls: $3,462/week (except Boca Raton, New Orleans and Newark)
  • 2Ls: $3,462/week (except Boca Raton, New Orleans and Newark)
  • 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 13 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 2018:
Boston College, Boston University, Columbia, Cornell, Duke, Emory, Fordham, George Washington University, Georgetown, Harvard, Howard, New York University, Northwestern, Notre Dame, Rutgers, Stanford, Suffolk, Tulane, University of California (Berkeley, Los Angeles), University of Chicago, University of Connecticut, University of Illinois, University of Michigan, University of Pennsylvania, University of Southern California, University of Texas, University of Virginia, 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. In recent years our summer associates have joined in a an array of activities including Major League Baseball games, mixology events, the Tony Awards, scavenger hunts, private movie screenings and community service team projects, to name a few.

Social media



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

This Firm's Rankings in
Chambers USA Guide 2017

Ranked Departments

    • Banking & Finance (Band 3)
    • Capital Markets: Debt & Equity (Band 4)
    • Corporate/M&A: Private Equity (Band 2)
    • Labor & Employment (Band 3)
    • Tax (Band 3)
    • Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation (Band 3)
    • Labor & Employment (Band 3)
    • Labor & Employment Recognised Practitioner
    • Bankruptcy/Restructuring (Band 2)
    • Healthcare (Band 3)
    • Insurance: Dispute Resolution: Policyholder (Band 1)
    • Labor & Employment (Band 5)
    • Labor & Employment (Band 2)
    • Banking & Finance (Band 1)
    • Intellectual Property (Band 2)
    • Labor & Employment (Band 3)
    • Litigation: General Commercial Recognised Practitioner
    • Private Equity: Fund Formation (Band 1)
    • Tax (Band 2)
    • Labor & Employment (Band 2)
    • Bankruptcy/Restructuring (Band 4)
    • Corporate/M&A: Highly Regarded (Band 2)
    • Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation (Band 1)
    • Healthcare (Band 1)
    • Immigration (Band 2)
    • Insurance: Dispute Resolution: Policyholder (Band 2)
    • Labor & Employment (Band 1)
    • Latin American Investment (Band 4)
    • Litigation: General Commercial: Highly Regarded (Band 2)
    • Litigation: White-Collar Crime & Government Investigations (Band 4)
    • Media & Entertainment: Corporate (Band 3)
    • Media & Entertainment: Litigation (Band 3)
    • Real Estate: Mainly Corporate & Finance (Band 3)
    • Real Estate: Mainly Dirt (Band 3)
    • Tax (Band 3)
    • Technology & Outsourcing (Band 3)
    • Corporate/M&A (Band 3)
    • Advertising: Litigation (Band 1)
    • Banking & Finance (Band 4)
    • Bankruptcy/Restructuring (Band 3)
    • Capital Markets: Debt & Equity (Band 4)
    • Capital Markets: High-Yield Products (Band 4)
    • Corporate/M&A: Highly Regarded (Band 2)
    • Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation (Band 2)
    • ERISA Litigation (Band 1)
    • Healthcare (Band 4)
    • Immigration (Band 3)
    • Insurance: Dispute Resolution: Policyholder (Band 3)
    • Investment Funds: Hedge Funds (Band 4)
    • Investment Funds: Private Equity: Fund Formation (Band 3)
    • Investment Funds: Registered Funds (Band 3)
    • Investment Funds: Venture Capital: Fund Formation (Band 2)
    • Labor & Employment (Band 1)
    • Leisure & Hospitality (Band 4)
    • Private Equity: Buyouts (Band 5)
    • Real Estate (Band 4)
    • REITs (Band 4)
    • Sports Law (Band 1)
    • Tax: Corporate & Finance (Band 5)