Proskauer Rose LLP - The Inside View

Proskauer regularly hits the headlines for representing celebs and sports teams, but this is only a small part of the work on offer.

WHAT unites Madonna, Lady Gaga, the New York City Ballet and impressively coiffed 80s pop duo Hall & Oates, apart from a certain familiarity with leotards? Proskauer Rose, of course. This 141-year-old New Yorker counsels them all, plus a whole host of other big-name clients from the arts and entertainment world. It's also known as a sports law champion, with major teams on the books and a rankings mantelpiece groaning under the weight of consecutive Band 1 trophies from Chambers USA.

Sports and showbiz work are a specialty within the firm's broader corporate and litigation practices. Actually, the firm was originally renowned for its labor & employment prowess and it retains a top-notch rep for this practice today, as a junior in the department was quick to point out: “Coming to Proskauer is a no-brainer if you want to do labor and employment work in Manhattan.” Aside from its Big Apple HQ, the 725-plus attorney firm has seven other US bases and overseas outposts in London, Paris, Hong Kong, Beijing and São Paulo. The London office in particular has grown a lot recently.

The Work 



Juniors can jump straight into the corporate, labor & employment, litigation, healthcare, real estate, tax, or private client services departments. Most newbies slot into the corporate group. Labor and litigation take in the next largest batches and a small handful are sprinkled among the remaining groups. Broadly speaking, those in litigation, labor and corporate begin life as generalists, and in each department a legal director coordinates work allocation. After a year or two, most juniors join a more focused practice area, although some like to keep things broad. Work assignment tends to be allocated on an informal basis, though you're still able to reach out to the director if things run quiet. A junior summarized: “The firm rewards entrepreneurial behavior.  If you're very proactive and like to network internally, or there's a partner whose style you'd like to emulate, then they encourage that. A lot of people here know what they want and will get out there and get it. That's not to say it's competitive, but Proskauer very much supports associates to steer their own careers.”

Corporate rookies could find themselves working on the usual milieu of M&A, private equity, capital markets and bankruptcy matters for clients like banks, private equity funds and companies in the healthcare, real estate, retail and leisure industries. “There's definitely a lot of grunt work stuff like diligence,” admitted an interviewee, “but it's not as concentrated as I assumed it was going to be. The work is more substantive than I thought it would be. I've had drafting experience, of board resolutions and other ancillary documents, and I coordinate the signature pages at the end of a deal.” As well as praising the drafting opportunities, another rookie mentioned that they'd “had good amount of client contact – I send docs directly to clients, get feedback and incorporate it.”

“The firm rewards entrepreneurial behavior.”

A litigator proclaimed: “I can't imagine having a broader range of work! I've worked on shareholder demands and derivative suits, some sports work relating to television contracts, trademark and copyright stuff,  insurance cases, general contract disputes, arbitrations, false advertising and a couple of entertainment matters.” Another junior told us that “since day one I've been on a dispute that's now going to summary judgment. Right now I'm helping experts to find materials – I'll be meeting with an accounting expert later today. Plus I'll be in client meetings later. I don't expect to say a ton, but I will be helping to prepare deposition outlines.” Research assignments, discovery requests and discovery responses are also typical tasks, along with drafting complaints and motions. “I've actually been quite happily impressed with the amount of responsibility given to me so early on. As a junior I thought I'd be staffed on doc reviews and diligence, and during my first week or so that was the case, but once I volunteered myself and stepped up, the substantive work came almost immediately. I've written briefs, gone to client pitches, communicated directly with clients, done everything short of arguing in court.”

The labor element of labor & employment work involves managing the relationship between labor unions and companies, and dealing with issues and litigation which may arise. Employment tends to cover things like writing employee handbooks, employee benefits, and handling discrimination cases. “I've drafted pleadings, briefs and motions, handled all of the discovery and led the discovery team. If you're somebody who can demonstrate ability and is prepared to hustle, then you'll get the more complicated assignments.”

Training & Development



Newcomers descend on the New York HQ for the 'Proskauer Institute', a week of initial training getting to know the firm's resources and systems” and socials. Practice-specific sessions, including 'Training the Street' financial classes, continue in the first year. “Almost every Friday for the first six months, they'd bring in pizza or lunch and attorneys from different practice groups give presentations on areas of practice, and we get CLE credit.”

Proskauer also recently introduced a 'Leadership Training' program to “give you strategies for dealing with certain situations, like when you make mistakes or become overloaded,” according to one interviewee. It's run by external consultants with input from partners about real life scenarios they have experienced which associates can learn from. After piloting this scheme, it's being rolled out to include summer associates too. “I thought it was very insightful,” mused another source. Rookies also get to do “a mini MBA” in the form of financial training sessions run in conjunction with Columbia Business School. A junior explained: “It's important as a lawyer to see balance sheets or income statements and not to be overwhelmed. A lot of people become lawyers because they're afraid of numbers and not good at math! So we had three days involving textbooks and lectures to make us comfortable with financial information.”

“A mini MBA.”

Sources were content with the support they received from seniors day-to-day.  “If I’m given an assignment I haven't done before, then someone will sit down and take me through the steps. People's phonelines are always open and they're happy to give me instruction.” Many of the juniors we spoke to had positive things to say about the firm's mentoring scheme. Newcomers are assigned an associate mentor “who's your sounding board. A lot of things are foreign, so you can ask all your questions.”  In the second year, juniors get a more senior mentor who “helps you put together career development plan, and introduces you to clients. They're like your older brother or sister in the firm.”

Hours & Compensation



There's no formal billing requirement at Proskauer, but do associates shoot for a certain number of hours? “I've heard the informal requirement is 2,000 hours,” a litigator told us, while “in corporate number to hit is 1,800, because corporate is a bit more erratic in terms of workflow.” These unofficial goals include things like pro bono, marketing, and other work for the firm. Bonuses are decided on a case-by-case basis, reflecting these things as well as the quality and quantity of billable work done. One associate revealed that “in some ways I'd prefer if there were a hard target, which would clear up some confusion about the hours target.” However, others weren't ruffled by this at all: “The firm understands that workflow is not under your control and that as a first-year you're not going to get so many hours. I don't feel pressure at this stage. As long as you're not turning down work, it's ok.”

“Everyone is given independence."

A pretty positive outlook on work/life balance was echoed among associates. “Partners and management embrace the idea of technology and remote access here. Everyone is given independence with regards to how they get their work done. You could leave at 6pm and log back on at home, or stay until 10pm in the office. If you have a dentist's appointment, you just go! You need to get the work done and keep the client happy – if those boxes are checked, then whatever!”

According to other associates, “they understand here that you're real human people. They don't want you to work weekends unless you absolutely have to. I'm always busy, I always have something to do, but there have not been many points at which I've felt overwhelmed. Some times I've been swamped, but they've never gone on for such a long time.” Another junior concurred that “my February was extremely busy, and I was working until 2am for some time, but luckily those oppressive times are not prolonged.” At Proskauer, “everyone is very respectful and mindful of your personal life, and I've never had an issue with taking time off. They care about your well-being, and your development, and want to make sure you're getting the most out of your experience.”

Pro Bono 



Proskauer places “a huge emphasis” on pro bono. Sources told us eagerly that the firm recently “welcomed a new pro bono partner and all newcomers are now assigned a pro bono matter.  It's important to get started on one immediately, to set the trajectory for career involvement.”  The pro bono partner was a new role in 2015 (previously there was a pro bono counsel) when Bill Silverman filled it from Greenberg Traurig. In 2016, he was joined by a senior associate from Hogan Lovells, Erin Meyer, as pro bono counsel.

"They're focusing on getting more corporate pro bono work. People often think of it as more litigation-focused.”

Whether litigator or deal-doer, “there's a lot of flexibility. They're focusing on getting more corporate pro bono work. People often think of it as more litigation-focused.” Every interviewee had taken on at least one project, including immigration and Uvisa issues, non-profit mergers and company dissolutions. “I'm working on an asylum case with a partner and senior associate, but they've given it to me to run almost entirely. I file papers with the court and talk with immigration services directly. It's a great way to cut your teeth and manage a case.” In one high profile case, Proskauer, New Jersey's ACLU and Disability Rights Advocates (DRA) are suing New Jersey's prison and education departments for failing to provide education to young prisoners with disabilities, including those in solitary confinement.

 Pro bono hours

  • For all US attorneys: 42,228
  • Average per US attorney: 59

Culture



Nearly every one of the juniors we spoke to praised “the people” of Proskauer. “There's a lot of camaraderie,” reported one.  “What I find very appealing about the workplace is that no one thinks too highly of themselves. It's a very egalitarian atmosphere.” A junior explained that “I'm easygoing generally and tend not to get stressed, so I wanted an environment that supports that. Here it's a laid back but serious environment. You have smart conversations about the law daily but can also talk about things that are completely not work-related.” Another source praised the firm's “no BS approach” to career paths. “They don't pretend that partnership is right for everybody. We're all figuring it out year by year and they're very transparent about offering pathways to clients. One of the first panels I went to as a summer was 'Life after Proskauer.' I was thinking, 'I just got here, now you're telling me how I can leave?!' Of the alumni who spoke, one had opened a restaurant, one founded an app, one went in-house. They recognize that alumni are just as important as associates and that they're part of the family.”

"Alumni are just as important."

A frenetic social calendar “is not a thing” here, although there is a big holiday party and lots of summer events, plus occasional happy hours. “Does the department go out for beers every week? No! Do I want that? No!” exclaimed an associate. “I want to live my life! You're not obligated to show up to mixers, there's no pressure, but if you've got buddies within the firm then you can go grab dinner or whatever.”

Offices



The New York office is definitely boast-worthy. “It's a game changer! People that come and see our offices fall in love with them! It's like something you'd see on a TV show or a movie, and think 'oh offices don't really look that nice!' We're spoiled to have such nice premises.” Plenty of glass means that “there's lots of sunlight coming in, and we're the only firm I can think of with its name on the building, which adds an extra sense of pride when you step into the office!” The office artwork (cataloged in a “coffee table book”) and the subsidized cafeteria also drew high praise. “Everyone eats lunch there. It's gorgeous, it looks like a restaurant that you'd go out to dinner at.” Among our sources, popular dishes include the sushi (there's a special Proskauer roll) and the grilled cheese.

Most juniors are in the New York office, and the next most are in Boston. LA takes on the next largest group and at the time of our calls there were also a few rookies spread across New Orleans, Chicago, Newark, DC, and Boca Raton. LA, New York, Washington, DC and Chicago offer a broad range of the firm's practices, while other offices have more specialized focuses.

Diversity



Proskauer has affinity groups for ethnic minority attorneys, religious observers, women, LGBT and flex-time lawyers. The Women's Alliance meets monthly. Proskauer's Silver Scholar Program offers summer associate places to diverse 1L or 2L students. Diverse associates are also matched up with someone from the Diverse Lawyer Mentoring Circle Program. “I've been part of recruitment cycles now, and I'm seeing more women and candidates of color. It's refreshing that the firm is open about its commitment to diversity and the fact that it doesn't have the numbers we'd like.” Proskauer recently launched a program, CaRe ('Caregiver Return'), that allows lawyers returning from primary caregiver leave to work a 75% schedule for up to six months to help them transition back to work.

Get Hired



"I can tell you that every person I speak to here, I wouldn't mind sitting back and having a drink with.”

“Proskauer realizes that just because you've got a 4.0 or 4.2 GPA that doesn't mean you're the best candidate. I can tell you that every person I speak to here, I wouldn't mind sitting back and having a drink with,” commented a junior. “People are well-rounded, enthusiastic and optimistic, collaborative and not afraid to roll up their sleeves. We're not looking for people who are elitist. It's all about attitude.”

Strategy & Future



Chairman Joe Leccese confirms that “we've had significant growth in the litigation practice over the past 12 months and we continue to develop our core competencies in M&A, finance and capital markets.” Looking overseas, he admits that “growth in Hong Kong has been slowed by some of the economic disruptions in the Asian markets” but “the London office continues to grow dramatically – it's one of our strategic areas of expansion. Much of our growth is in the areas of M&A, private investment funds, finance and private equity real estate.”

 

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'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 yoghurt 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.

 

 

Proskauer Rose LLP

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

  • HeadOffice:  New York, NY 
  • Number of domestic offices: 8
  • Number of international offices: 5
  • Worldwide revenue: $852,400,000
  • Partners (US): 217
  • Associates (US): 384
  • Summer Salary 2017 
  • 1Ls: $3,462/week (except Boca Raton, New Orleans and Newark)
  • 2Ls: $3,462/week (except Boca Raton, New Orleans and Newark)
  • Post 3Ls: $3,462/week
  • 1Ls hired? Yes
  • Split summers offered? Case by case 
  • Can summers spend time in overseas office? No
  • Summers 2017: 84
  • Offers/acceptances 2016: 63 offers, 55 acceptances, 3 public interest deferrals

Main areas of work
litigation, trials and dispute resolution; corporate defense and investigations; intellectual property; healthcare; labor and employment; employee benefits and executive compensation; real estate; technology, media and telecommunications; privacy and cybersecurity; bankruptcy and restructuring; insurance coverage and recovery; and wealth management. The firm also has significant industry-focused experience across many fields, including financial services, life sciences, sports, media and entertainment, and lodging and gaming.

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 which are changing how business is conducted today as well as tomorrow.

Recruitment details
• Number of 1st year associates: 57
• Number of 2nd year associates: 63
• Associate salaries: 1st year: $180,000 (except Boca Raton, New Orleans and Newark)
• 2nd year: $190,000 (except Boca Raton, New Orleans and Newark)
• Clerking policy: Yes

Law Schools attending for OCIs in 2017:
Boston College, Boston University, Columbia, Cornell, Duke, Emory, Fordham, George Washington University, Georgetown, Harvard, Howard, Northwestern, New York University, 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

Summer details
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.

Summer program components:
ing a lawyer at Proskauer. You will work on complex and challenging legal matters, learn from leaders in the field, and experience our unique culture. Our program features a systematic procedure for review and feedback on all assignments. We take every opportunity to show you first-hand why your work matters and how it will make a difference. You’ll also have the chance to up your game in key legal areas through partner-led, interactive training workshops throughout the summer. These workshops get into such areas as corporate negotiation, mergers & acquisitions, mediation and mock trials. Recent cultural and social activities that our summer associates have enjoyed include Major League Baseball games, the Tony Awards, scavenger hunts, cooking classes, private movie screenings and community service team projects, to name a few.