Reed Smith LLP - The Inside View

Reed 'em and weep: With hand that includes top nationwide rankings on both the transactional and litigious side of the coin, Reed Smith has long been “one of the biggest players.”

“Reed Smith has a stellar reputation” one associate enthused, “its reputation in the Pittsburgh market was the most important thing for me, and I knew that Reed Smith was one of the biggest players here.” The firm’s reach extends way beyond Pittsburgh however, with a whopping 18 offices US-wide (and a further 13 overseas). Unsurprisingly, the thread that united our interviewees was a desire “to be able to hop on multi-national and transatlantic deals, and expand my knowledge of the UK, Europe and Asia markets whilst being based in the US.”

“Its reputation in the Pittsburgh market was the most important thing for me, and I knew that Reed Smith was one of the biggest players here.”

Most of the associates on our list called either the Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, or Chicago office home, the rest were spread across the remainder. Regardless of which office associates were based at, Reed Smith’s industry expertise is substantial. The firm’s Chambers USA nationwide rankings touch on everything from cannabis law, energy and healthcare to privacy & data security, insurance, transportation, and advertising. There’s also top marks for the firm’s international trade and bankruptcy practices in particular.

Strategy & Future

From our interviews it was clear that associates had a good grasp of the firm’s strategy over the next twelve months, with the emphasis on “continuing to focus on its outward-facing elements such as client development, and the resources we can offer clients.” This was also on top of an ever-expanding geographic reach too. As one source put it: “The firm is going to continue to elevate itself across its practice areas.” Speaking of elevation, in 2024 the firm advanced its 35 associates to counsel and promoted 27 lawyers to partner across insurance, corporate, IP, finance, energy, real estate, commercial disputes, tax, regulatory enforcement, transport, labor & employment, and life sciences.

The Work

“…by being consistent in establishing good connections, I’ve now got work flowing to me.”

The associates on our list could be found somewhat evenly split between the litigation and business & finance departments. When it came to work assignment, juniors described a free-market system where associates “have to be proactive in reaching out to senior associates and partners.” Newbies can understandably expect a ramp-up period, but in the end “by being consistent in establishing good connections, I’ve now got work flowing to me,” one told us. A workload tracker is in place for associates to report back, and partners can use it to keep an eye on and distribute work, but the emphasis is very much on creating your own networks.

The litigation practice encompasses the likes of commercial disputes, global regulatory enforcement, insurance, labor & employment, life sciences, IP, and records & e-discovery. So, it’s no wonder that one insider quipped that the department is “a jack of all trades!” Depending on the group, clients can range from big banks and fortune 500 companies to those pharma clients and high-net-worth individual taxpayers. We were told that “matters can range in size; some are small whilst others are substantive, involving numerous parties or plaintiffs, and lots of money.” Junior associates should ready themselves to be working on case management, research, doc review, drafting briefs and helping to prepare depositions (and possibly even attending trial). Sources did highlight that this of course depends on the size of the matter and team: “On some matters I just do doc review, while on others I get to do a lot more.”

Litigation clients: Volvo Car USA, Carnegie Mellon University, Popular Beer Company. Obtained the dismissal of a lawsuit filed against Lemieux Group, former owner and operator of the Pittsburgh Penguins Hockey Club in matter valued at $160 million.

“Being asked to sit in on a pitch with a client was really satisfying...”

Over in the business & finance practice, you’ll find the corporate, finance, state tax, and real estate. “Clients are everything you can think of, both public and private,” one junior explained, “startups of various sizes, oil & gas, janitorial, tech, healthcare and medicine, retail, sports teams even horse veterinaries!” A corporate interviewee recalled working on “lots of private and public M&A, both on the buy and sell side and their financing, as well as a smaller number of venture capital financing matters.” Juniors should be prepared to roll up their sleeves when it comes to conducting research, due diligence, reviewing data, preparing memos and drafting documents. But opportunities for the good stuff will come knocking: “Being asked to sit in on a pitch with a client was really satisfying, having previously worked on a really complex transaction for them prior.”

Business & finance clients: The Backstone Group, Infinite Assets, Pondera Holdings. Advised the Drexel Hamilton Infrastructure Partners Fund in all aspects of its investment in the Uinta Basin Terminal in a matter valued at $2.3 billion.

Career Development

“…the firm is going to give you every opportunity to exceed their expectations!”

“There is no better way to advance your career than to have the opportunity to work on matters with experienced colleagues, it has been a great learning experience” one associate enthused. So, what’s the secret for getting to jump on those all-important learning experiences? “The firm appreciates you taking the initiative,” one associate explained, “if you ask, ‘what can I work on?’ the firm is going to give you every opportunity to exceed their expectations!” Every associate is paired with either a senior associate or partner mentor in their practice group. Sources informed us that that the Global Associate Buddy Program is relaunching - another networking opportunity “for associates who are interested. Really it is someone else you can talk to in confidence about your experience and career development.”

We heard that individual development is something of a focus at Reed Smith: “The firm is making strides, with formal training being a point of emphasis” one told us. As far as this more formal training goes, fresh faced juniors will participate in the ‘Reed Smith Associate Advantage’ program over the course of their first three years. Interviewees mentioned partaking in a mixture of tasks, as one junior outlined: “Last year I was selected to attend a one-week clinic, it was a good opportunity to meet people in different practices doing transactional work, and learning from a simulated negotiation was great hands-on experience.” Associates also have access to an online library full of resources “about how to navigate your career, best practices, and practice specific webinars and courses.”

Reed Smith is recognized as The Elite for retention in our 2024 survey.


The general consensus around the working culture at Reed Smith was about as positive as it gets. To mention just a few of the words that came up in our survey: “Collaborative, inclusive, hardworking, progressive, and filled with intellectual people.” As is often the case however, success does come with increased demands: “As salaries increased dramatically to nearly the Cravath scale (which is a positive) the expectation of hours has definitely increased.”

“…elsewhere, you might not know where you stand, but here, they are transparent about telling you where to improve.”

Of course, with so many offices across the US, there was plenty to each office’s individual character and culture. At the Pittsburgh office, we heard, “most people are born and raised here. It’s unique in that sense. I would say it is familial, and close-knit.” Over in Chicago, for instance, “the office culture is phenomenal, which is why I come in a lot” one associate told us, “elsewhere, you might not know where you stand, but here, they are transparent about telling you where to improve.” And, if that wasn’t enough: “Every couple of months we’re given a budget up of to $1000, as they want us to spend time together outside the office.” In New York too, a source explained that associates enjoy “holiday parties and celebrations for occasions such as St. Patrick’s Day and March Madness.” On top of which we heard there is “weekly popcorn in the office to encourage people to mingle and hang out.” Of course, this all runs alongside the firm’s networking, client events, and lunch socials.

Hours & Compensation

Billable hours: 2,000 target

While we heard that hours do “ebb and flow,” most associates bill 8 hours on an average per day and anywhere from 10 –12 hours during busy periods. Associates have two bonuses available to aim for, one of which is guaranteed upon hitting the billable target, and the other a discretionary bonus. Associates also have up to 140 hours of non-billable credit to take advantage of, inclusive of pro bono, innovation projects, development, and DEI. One source added, “if you the reach the target of 2,000 billables without 140 non-billable credits, at that point you have unlimited non billable credit towards the bonus.”

Our sources were quick to point out that Reed Smith operates on a tiered salary system. By achieving the billable target, associates are placed on a tier ‘A’ salary which is close to market, and those who don’t get placed on ‘B’ - a lesser amount for the following year. That said, insiders reassured that either way juniors still get to advance onto the next class year! As of last year, the firm introduced a three-day in office work policy. When discussing the flexible working policy, one told us that “I think it is one of the better aspects of our culture that we’ve got a pretty flexible environment when it comes to remote work.”

Pro Bono

“I feel super comfortable taking on pro bono! It is encouraged and there is never a lack of it” one associate praised. We also heard that the firm involves its summer associates on pro bono matters. Additionally, “the firm is always encouraging people that if they have an idea for a pro bono case to run it by them, and their pretty receptive to it.” Interviewees spoke of a wide range of opportunities to get involved in ranging from corporate matters such as company formation and trademarks, working with artists and theatres with IP issues, housing, immigration and asylum, family, LBGT and abortion rights related matters. As one junior put it: “The superstar folks here are intentional about doing pro bono and so I’ve been able to work with some cool folks outside of my typical practice.”

Associates at Reed Smith mentioned the likes of Cancer Bridges, Wills for Heroes, the Riverside Foundation, Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund (TLDEF) and the Innocence Project as previous examples. One that sources were keen to highlight was the Richard Glossip case: “We did an independent investigation and interviewed witnesses from over 20 years ago, and we concluded he was innocent. This has gone to the US Supreme Court, and we’ll have arguments later this year!”

Pro bono hours

  • For all US attorneys: 47,654
  • Average per US attorney: 47

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

“I was pleasantly surprised how diverse the firm is throughout the associate and partnership ranks” a junior commented, adding “although there is still work to be done.” It was mentioned that the firm has intentional hiring practices for lawyers from diverse backgrounds. Law students have access to the Reed Smith/Citizens Financial Group 1L Fellowship Program, 1L LCLD Scholars Program, and the Reed Smith 1L Dinisa Hardley Folmar Fellowship. Moreover, the firm has gone onto achieve Mansfield Certified Plus status for the sixth year in a row.

Sources also described the firm’s affinity groups as active. The firm's got eleven groups including the Multicultural Network, the Jewish Inclusion Committee, the Muslim Inclusion Committee, and the Mental Health Task Force. The Women’s Initiative Network also known as ‘WINRS’ (which we must add is very fitting!) is part of the “ample opportunities to seek advice as a woman. The DEI inclusion groups are opportunities for women and minorities to advance their career and get rewarded for working in those spaces!” An insider recalled their reason for joining Reed Smith besides “the work, salary and bonus potential, was that the firm is a lot more diverse than my last with a lot more female partners.”

Reed Smith is recognized as The Elite for DEI in our 2024 survey.

Get Hired

The first stage: recruitment on and off campus  

OCI applicants interviewed:  710 

Interviewees outside OCI:  121 (screenings)  

Reed Smith visits just under 50 law schools for OCIs and collects resumés from 45 law schools. Alongside this, the firm visits the following job fairs: The Lavender Law Career Fair, the CCBA Chicago Minority Job Fair, the Philadelphia Area Diversity Job Fair, the Northeast Black Law Students Association Job Fair, the Patent Law Fair, and the Bay Area Diversity Career Fair. The firm usually interviews 10-20 students per campus or job fair schedule.   

During the academic year, Reed Smith often sends active alumni or members of the hiring committee to a number of law schools around the country. Reed Smith also has an active network of 3L students who speak to younger classmates about their experience at Reed Smith. The firm tells us: “We look for individuals who have shown a focus on academic achievement, who have diverse backgrounds and varied experiences so showing that you’ve participated in law reviews and moot courts won’t hurt! In addition to being impressive on paper, we’re looking for students whose communication skills and emotional intelligence make them memorable standouts after a long day of multiple screening interviews.” One source remembered: “We would veer away from formulaic questions into a nice fluid conversation.”   

Top tips for this stage:   

“I found it helpful to have taken opportunities to intern as much as possible. It meant I had a few stories in my back pocket that were good examples of my legal skills, but also light-hearted.” A second-year junior associate.   

“Be interesting and interested. Enthusiasm for the Reed Smith opportunity can help students stand out from the pool of academically-qualified candidates. Demonstrate your research on the firm’s offerings, and show your interest in being a part of what we do here in a socially savvy manner.” – Reed Smith.   


Applicants invited to second stage interview: 266 

Callback interviews vary between Reed Smith’s offices.  In Chicago, for example, “you can expect to meet with 4 attorneys in pairs and wrap up time by having an informal coffee with two junior Associates.”   

Over in New York, students attended callback evenings where they met with four attorneys “in a round-robin-interview format and then attended small group breakout sessions where they had an opportunity to connect with additional Reed Smith attorneys.” At this stage, the firm’s ‘must haves’ in a candidate are “strength of character, outstanding personal skills, demonstrated leadership and teamwork, a hunger for self-development, intellectual curiosity and a good sense of humor.”   

Top tips for this stage:   

“Find ways to connect with your interviewers. It comes down to being memorable as an intelligent, socially adept, hard-working person with a desire to work hard and learn new things. Share narratives about your background and experience that illustrates these characteristics and skills.” – Reed Smith.   

I wish somebody had told me: 'Don't be nervous about the interview – you earned it!’ Instead of coming in nervous, come in proud that you got an interview at a firm like this. It will change anybody’s outlook.” –A second-year associate.   

Summer program  

Offers: 71 

2L Acceptances:  36 (from Callbacks) -  8 (returning SAs)  

Reed Smith's summer program runs for ten weeks, between May and July. Before joining, summers are surveyed on their interests so attorneys can aim to have suitable projects lined up throughout the program. Work is assigned though an online portal, with recruiting managers and assignment coordinators on hand to help Summer Associates navigate the process. The firm tells us that the idea is for summers “to ‘sample from the work buffet, trying their hand at a variety of legal work across many client teams.”   

The firm’s Summer Associate Academy provides students with an array of training sessions on topics like diversity and inclusion, writing and research, and timekeeping. There’s also a Q&A with the global managing partner. Some offices also host additional training – a mediation simulation and M&A case study are the most popular every year. All offices also ensure summers have a dedicated writing coach to help tighten up their drafting. Social events vary by office.  Most summers are given offers and most accept them.   

Notable summer events: Local sporting events, concerts, cooking classes, paint nights, trivia night   

Top tips for this stage:   

“Find the balance between professionalism and casualness to build a terrific reputation and strong relationships. Demonstrate intellectual curiosity; ask colleagues what they’re working on, and show enthusiasm for practice, people and activities that are of interest to you.”  – A junior associate.   

And finally...   

The firm has some final words of wisdom: “Have a strong sense of what drives you – promotion and advancement, challenging work, giving back, financial reward, purpose, professional connections, strong support systems – and ask questions during the recruitment process to determine if a firm truly offers what you need to be successful and engaged.”  



Reed Smith LLP

Reed Smith Centre,
225 Fifth Avenue ,
PA 15222

Main areas of work

 Reed Smith adopts a sector-focused approach and operates across five key industries. They are entertainment and media, energy and natural resources, financial services, life sciences and healthcare, and transportation. Working as a global team, our lawyers advise clients on domestic and international litigation and disputes matters, deliver regulatory counsel, and execute the full range of strategic domestic and cross-border transactions. We focus on future outcomes, where our clients and their businesses want to go and the issues that they might face – helping our clients manage not just the now but the next as well.

We drive progress for*:

• 64 of the world’s 100 largest companies
• All of the top 10 banks in the US, UK and the EU
• 4 of the top 5 life sciences and healthcare companies
• 6 of the top 10 transportation industry companies
• 9 of the top 10 commercial and savings banks
• 3 of the top 10 chemical industry companies

*2023 Fortune Global 500 

Firm profile

 Reed Smith is a dynamic international law firm dedicated to helping clients move their businesses forward. With an inclusive culture and innovative mindset, we deliver smarter, more creative legal services that drive better outcomes for our clients. Our deep industry knowledge, long-standing relationships and collaborative structure make us the go-to partner for complex disputes, transactions and regulatory matters.

Our team of 3,000 people, including 1,600 lawyers, operate across more than 30 offices in the United States, Europe, the Middle East and Asia to drive progress for our clients, for ourselves and for our communities.  


Law schools attending for OCIs in 2024:
We visit numerous local and national schools for On-Campus Interviews. A full list of schools and OCI events can be found on our website:

Recruitment outside OCIs:
We participate in resume collections at a number of schools and connect with potential candidates through diversity events, employer receptions and through 1L fellowships like LCLD and client partnerships. 

Summer associate profile:
We look for summer associates who have a combination of top academics, practical experience, and superior analytical and writing skills. As a firm that has achieved Mansfield Plus status from Diversity Lab every year since the launch of the Mansfield Rule in 2017, we seek candidates who prioritize inclusiveness and contribute to the diversity of thought and experience that benefit clients.

Summer program components:
We offer law students first-rate work in a challenging and busy atmosphere where their contributions count from day one. Summer associates will become immersed in law firm life by completing assignments relating to actual client situations. Each assignment presents a fresh opportunity for summer associates to hone their research, writing, judgment, communication and analytical skills.

‘Careers’ is our competency-based career development program with a focus on role-specific professional training and development, including mentoring, and more developmentally oriented assessments tailored to the needs of associates. We offer our summer associates numerous chances to participate in both formal and informal training programs, such as: managing partner’s forum, mediation and mergers and acquisitions clinics, law firm economics, and legal writing. Summer associates also have numerous opportunities to participate in pro bono and community service projects and become acquainted with our Women’s Initiative Network and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committees.

Please visit for more information about each of these initiatives.

Social media

Recruitment website:
Twitter: @reedsmithllp
Facebook: Reed-Smith-LLP
LinkedIn: reed-smith-llp

This Firm's Rankings in
USA Guide, 2023

Ranked Departments

    • Healthcare (Band 4)
    • Insurance: Policyholder (Band 2)
    • Labor & Employment: The Elite (Band 4)
    • Life Sciences (Band 4)
    • Litigation: Appellate (Band 2)
    • Litigation: General Commercial: Highly Regarded (Band 2)
    • Media & Entertainment: Transactional (Band 4)
    • Bankruptcy/Restructuring (Band 4)
    • Healthcare (Band 2)
    • Healthcare: Pharmaceutical/Medical Products Regulatory (Band 4)
    • Insurance: Dispute Resolution (Band 2)
    • Litigation: General Commercial: Highly Regarded (Band 2)
    • Banking & Finance (Band 4)
    • Corporate/M&A & Private Equity (Band 4)
    • Healthcare: Pharmaceutical/Medical Products Regulatory (Band 1)
    • Insurance: Dispute Resolution: Policyholder (Band 1)
    • Litigation: General Commercial (Band 3)
    • Banking & Finance (Band 2)
    • Corporate/M&A (Band 2)
    • Corporate/M&A: Highly Regarded (Band 5)
    • Insurance: Dispute Resolution: Policyholder (Band 3)
    • Antitrust (Band 2)
    • Energy & Natural Resources (Band 1)
    • Environment (Band 4)
    • Healthcare (Band 1)
    • Insurance (Band 1)
    • Labor & Employment (Band 3)
    • Tax (Band 3)
    • Banking & Finance (Band 2)
    • Bankruptcy/Restructuring (Band 1)
    • Litigation: General Commercial (Band 3)
    • Bankruptcy/Restructuring (Band 1)
    • Corporate/M&A & Private Equity (Band 1)
    • Litigation: General Commercial (Band 1)
    • Real Estate (Band 2)
    • Bankruptcy/Restructuring (Band 3)
    • Construction (Band 3)
    • Environment (Band 4)
    • Healthcare (Band 4)
    • Insurance (Band 1)
    • Labor & Employment (Band 4)
    • Technology: Outsourcing (Band 3)
    • Litigation: General Commercial (Band 5)
    • Advertising: Transactional & Regulatory (Band 3)
    • Bankruptcy/Restructuring: Highly Regarded (Band 1)
    • Cannabis Law (Band 3)
    • Corporate/M&A: Highly Regarded (Band 4)
    • Derivatives (Band 4)
    • E-Discovery & Information Governance (Band 3)
    • Energy: Oil & Gas (Regulatory & Litigation) (Band 5)
    • Energy: Oil & Gas (Transactional) (Band 4)
    • Healthcare: The Elite (Band 3)
    • Insurance: Dispute Resolution: Policyholder (Band 2)
    • International Arbitration: The Elite (Band 3)
    • International Trade: Export Controls & Economic Sanctions: Highly Regarded (Band 1)
    • Labor & Employment (Band 4)
    • Privacy & Data Security: Highly Regarded (Band 2)
    • Product Liability & Mass Torts: The Elite (Band 2)
    • Transportation: Aviation: Litigation (Band 3)
    • Transportation: Shipping/Maritime: Finance (Band 3)
    • Labor & Employment (Band 3)
    • Real Estate (Band 2)

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