Ropes & Gray LLP - The Inside View

Boston-based Ropes & Gray prides itself on offering BigLaw work without the BigLaw burnout. 

“THE last year has been very successful for Ropes & Gray, following a strong 2014,” managing partner David Chapin tells us. However, Chapin is not focused on short term success but on the firm's long-term goals for 2020. “Whether it's in five, ten or 20 years, there will be a number of firms – most think no more than 30 to 50 – that will be truly global and considered elite. Our goal is to be one of those firms.” Chapin continues: “In 2015, for the first time in a while we did not open a new office. It is not that we have taken that option off the table, it is just that we are focused on building our current platform." The firm's US offices are in Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, Silicon Valley, DC, and New York. Overseas branches are in Hong Kong, Shanghai, Seoul, Tokyo and London. 

The firm's strong reputation in the USA – especially in Boston – merits Chambers USA rankings in areas including corporate/M&A, private equity, tax, litigation, banking & finance, and IP. Along with the high profile work, associates also spoke highly of Ropes & Gray's “family-oriented” culture and humane working hours: "Everyone talks about the great work/life balance." For our full interview with David Chapin, visit our website.

The Work

For junior associates, work assignment is well regulated: “There is an associate development manager (ADM) and they are intended to be the clearing house for work when you're a junior," one explained. "A lot of your early work comes through them.” The ADM system was popular: “One of the best things about the ADM is being able to tell them you've got too much on your plate. Declining work isn't a big deal and nobody will think any less of you.” Nevertheless, “if you want to introduce yourself to a partner and express an interest in a field or topic, it's definitely encouraged.” Most junior associates are in the litigation, tax & benefits, and corporate groups. Corporate has subgroups including IP transactions, investment management, and private equity, and people tend to specialize in one by their third year. A handful of new associates join the labor & employment or restructuring practices. 

"Right now I'm carving up a merger agreement.”

In corporate, associates often work with private equity firms. “I mostly do private equity transactions and lots of leveraged buyouts, but also drafting for M&A work,” said one. Junior work involves a “fair amount of diligence reporting and organization of consent documents.” Luckily, responsibility comes quickly in the department: “After a year and a half you're treated like a mid-level associate,” another explained. “I mean this in the sense that you're working on a lot of agreements – I've worked on ancillary documents, LLC agreements and main purchase orders. Right now I'm carving up a merger agreement."

Corporate associates in Silicon Valley often work with IP matters as “it's the nature of the work out here.” Junior day-to-day work might involve commercial agreements, due diligence, purchase agreements, IP licensing agreements, M&A and risk analysis. Sources here also reported pleasing levels of responsibility early on: “I've always found the amount of substantive work phenomenal and at times slightly unbelievable,” one associate enthused 

Associates in litigation told us “you're a free agent for the first couple of years. You work in general litigation, which is work in business and securities, and government enforcement.” These two practices make up the largest chunk of the litigation department, but associates tell us “there's also the opportunity to work in labor & employment and antitrust” in the third year. “You get a good experience of the basics in your first year. That's great because work like that helps you keep your hours balanced.”

Day-to-day nitty gritty includes “drafting responses, researching contractual issues and preparing interviews for witnesses in governmental investigations.” A New Yorker recalled working in “FCPA [Foreign Corrupt Practices Act] investigations, international investigations and traditional business disputes like class actions.” Most litigators agreed that “there is definitely the opportunity to do as much as you're willing to do. It's a steep learning curve, but the amount of support you get is great.” Happily, if things go belly up, “there's not the idea that 'it's all on me' if stuff goes wrong. People always pitch in.” Read our expanded web feature on Ropes for feedback on the tax department.


“All our staffing and hiring is based around our one-firm philosophy,” explains hiring partner Richard Batchelder. “We do encourage mobility for associates by offering the flexibility to get to know our offices.” Associates agreed with this, with one Bostonian telling us: "If you're at Ropes, you're going to end up working with everyone.” West Coast associates felt equally close to the other offices. “The best thing about our offices is the effort Ropes puts into pairing you up with other offices. I've worked in the San Francisco office and try to work there a couple of times a year,” said a Silicon Valley associate.

"If you've got binoculars you can probably watch the game!”

The firm's HQ takes up nearly 20 floors of the “coolest building in Boston,” the Prudential Tower. “The office is gorgeous and it's comfortable to work in.” Glass walls offer unique views of Boston, from the “sailboats on the Charles River” to the bright lights of Fenway Park in the evening. “If you've got binoculars you can probably watch the game!” Associates in Boston share an office with a fellow junior before being promoted to their own office in their second year.

“I think most firms in New York look pretty similar,” divulged one associate. “You've got a few nice offices (like ours) and then a big group at the bottom of the pile with really terrible offices – so we're pretty lucky! We're in the Rockefeller complex which is great and very convenient. The firm could have moved to a cheaper space but they value this location.” Some associates found they were still sharing an office after their first year. “You're supposed to get a new office in the second year. That's not happened for me yet but I can hear banging everyday – I'm hoping this means progress for the new office.” In summer 2015, Ropes announced plans to take over the entire 34th floor too.

The Culture & Get Hired

When we quizzed associates about Ropes' culture, buzzwords like “supportive,” “friendly” and “professional” repeatedly cropped up. At each office, we got the impression that associates were comfortable with their colleagues, partners included: “I feel comfortable talking to partners about totally random stuff like Broadway plays!” Show tunes aside, associates found partners to be “very open and helpful. They want to know all the associates and they make a point to treat first-years like people rather than somebody who just does doc reviews and research.” Broadly speaking, “you're expected to run with tasks without having to have your hand held.”

"There isn't any room for intense law school types." 

So who doesn't fit in here? “People who are extremely intense aren't the kind of people who will wind up at Ropes,” one associate mused. Nor rude people: “There isn't any room for intense law school types – don't get me wrong, people here are hard-workers but there is nobody with super-intensity that leads to a competitive environment.”

Ropes makes “an effort to provide opportunities for the those people who want the work social experience.” For example, the Boston tax department puts on “regular cocktail hours.” However, events are few and far between as “people here work late and they want to go home see their family.” That is not to say the firm never puts on events: “We had our 150th anniversary so we had a big family picnic celebration in Central Park and each regional office did its own event.” Each office puts on its own holiday party, with one New Yorker remembering Christmas “with a ton of booze and dancing – all that jazz!”

Hours & Compensation

Boston associates believed that the 1,900 billable hours target was “very achievable,” while associates in the Big Apple believed it to be “on the low end of targets for New York firms.” A corporate associate told us: “It's like any corporate department in that there are peaks and valleys. If you're in the middle of a deal that's close to the end you're working 14 maybe 15 hours a day. On the flipside, when something closes it can be hard to make your average hours.” If work is on the slow side and associates are “25 or 50 hours off target, it's not a big deal.” However, “there's the possibility that you'll have your bonus reduced.” Average office hours were around 8.30am to 7pm but “associates with kids are encouraged to go home at night and spend time with their family. That's really important to me.” One associate reflected: “BigLaw can destroy your social life! At Ropes as long as you're getting your work done, nobody cares where you're getting it done.” 

Diversity and Pro Bono

With 11 African American students, 13 openly gay students and a class where 56% are female, the 2016 summer program is one of Rope's most diverse yet. “Don't regard diversity as something you can have happen by just putting a program in place. You have to live it everyday,” explains managing partner David Chapin. "Ropes has long been recognized as a place that's a tolerant and embracing work environment for those of different backgrounds. Honestly, I don't take too much comfort from this as the industry record is so poor. The fact that we're slightly more successful than other firms is a little comforting, but the entire industry could be doing better." Associates agreed with their boss: "There is still some way to go in terms of recruiting and retaining minorities,” one admitted.

"Slightly more successful than other firms."

Several associates we spoke to were either members of the Women's Forum or involved in external bodies like the Asian American Bar. The firm has also made strides to improve diversity in its recruitment process and recently introduced the Trimmier Scholarship. The fellowship (named after Roscoe Trimmier, the firm's first African American partner), awards $25,000 to five diverse second-year law students. Recipients are also awarded a paid summer position with the firm after their second year.

Pro bono hours 

  • For all attorneys across the US offices: 98,174 
  • Average per US attorney: 96

Ropes' interest in promoting diversity can also be seen in its pro bono work for the LGBT community. Partner Doug Hallward-Driemeier and a team of DC litigators hit the headlines in 2015 for successfully arguing for same sex marriage before the Supreme Court. Associates also mentioned working on pro bono cases for gay asylum seekers from countries with poor human rights records. Other work on offer includes “getting legal status for trafficking victims who don't speak English, licensing agreements, research for nonprofit organizations” and a number of “legal guardianship cases for the grandparents of orphans.”

Training & Development

Ropes offers standard orientation programs for first-years, and throughout the year juniors are encouraged to attend “training events that are focused on improving your writing and research skills.” As one junior said: “There are always great programs put on by the partners and senior associates about specific areas and cases. You get CLE credit for attending them, so it's all super convenient.”

"Home grown US transfers." 

A program unique to Ropes is its Go Program which hiring partner Richard Batchelder tells us "stands for 'global opportunity." He outlines the program as "a few different components, from secondments at clients, to fellowships where each year we select a few associates to work in an office of their choice for 18 months." One component is the Go First program which is "geared for new associates who may want to start in one our offices with the idea that after a few years they would be able to transfer to another office permanently. So that's one of the ways we populate our offices in Asia for example – with home grown US transfers who express an interest in a move before they start."

Strategy & Future

Ropes holds annual state of the firm meetings to keep its associates in the loop. “Every year they talk about growth in each office,” said one informed litigator. “It's clear providing a full range of services to clients is important – that's the firm's long-term goal.” However, “there isn't one magic formula,” according to MP David Chapin. “We need partners to be constantly thinking about ways that we can better connect our offices and clients. We need people to be thinking of Ropes & Gray as a global enterprise. We're looking to attract the clients that all large firms want.”

More on the tax practice


Associates in the tax department reckoned “75%” of their work came in “general investment fund formations and M&A for private equity transactions.” We were told that the remaining 25% was a mish-mash of research projects and trust work. Work in this department tends to “come from the rest of the firm” particularly from clients from the corporate department. “It's mostly private equity firms buying and selling,” a Boston-based associate said. “I've done funds work for large institutional clients, small Asia-based clients and M&A work in healthcare and pharmaceutical brands.” It's not all corporate work for associates here, one mysteriously telling us: “I've done litigation for some rich folks, but I'm not naming names.”

Typical junior work consists of “reviewing partnership agreements, merger agreements, marking up said agreements and flagging up any issues.” M&A work was described by one as the most interesting part of practice but the one with the “least predictable hours.” One associate told us: “I like doing M&A work but I'm happy it's a smaller part of the practice!” When things get frantic associates may find themselves doing “a few weeks worth of work” in just a few days. However, these hectic periods are few and far between. “The firm is all about balancing how interesting the work in your diary is,” one associate told us. Associates here are also given the opportunity to work directly with partners with some taking “primary responsibility” for all their work. Assignment in this department is less regimented than corporate or litigation with many associates take on their own projects via partners and clients.

Most tax associates are in Boston. However, many have also “physically worked in New York, DC and San Francisco.” Other associates also said they'd worked with associates in “Chicago, London and Boston” as tax is a universal issue for any jurisdiction.

Interview with managing partner David Chapin


Chambers Associate: How would you summarize the last year for Ropes & Gray? Have there been any particular highlights that stand out for you?

David Chapin: The last year has been very successful for Ropes & Gray, following a strong 2014. In 2015, for the first time in a while we did not open a new office. It is not that we have taken that option off the table, it is just that we are focused on building our current platform. We've added strong new talent at the partner and associate level to our existing offices and that's a definite highlight for me. We've also just finished a yearlong strategic planning process designed to set us up for 2020. It's exciting to see elements already being put into play. The punch line to the strategy is: we want to be regarded as one of the preeminent global law firms. It is exciting to see partners so engaged and buying in to the strategic goals.

CA: It was recently announced that one element of the 2020 strategy is strengthening the links between the firm's offices. How are you planning to do this?

DC: There isn't one magic formula. It's about connecting the different practices geographically and building them strategically. There is no substitute for partners getting on airplanes and getting to know partners in other offices. We have a firm wide partner retreat next Spring which is a great opportunity for partners across the world to get together. On the associate level, we have opportunities through our Global Opportunities program to enable mobility between offices in order to help our associates build a broader perspective. It's all just a case of small steps to get to the bigger process.

CA: What new strategic initiatives have you launched as MP in the past year?

DC: We have several, but I’ll highlight two: One is keenly focused on the sovereign investor community and large nationalized pension funds. The firm is making great strides to get into that market. It's a cross practice effort. We've got people with skills in transactional, tax and international finance all working together. Privacy and data security is another practice that we've had a presence but mostly focused on credit card breach cases that were very much in vogue in the US. This year we've added two partners, one in the US and one in London to broaden the practice group.

CA: What’s your long-term vision for Ropes & Gray? Where do you see the firm in perhaps five or ten years' time?

DC: Being a preeminent global firm is, of course, the goal. I continue to be of the view that there will be segmentation in the legal market. Whether it's in five, ten or 20 years, there will be a number of firms – most think no more than 30 to 50 – that will be truly global and considered elite. Our goal is to be one of those firms. It's mostly about building on our leading practices and developing areas adjacent to those practices. I don't see the firm setting up new practice areas for the sake of having a stake in an area as a strategic priority. For example, Ropes has never had a practice in project finance in the way that Milbank or other firms do – I don't think that's important for us. We don't need to be jumping on practices because other firms have them.

CA: What are your plans for the Asian offices? Are there any plans for a Singapore office?

DC: We've not only sent associates to Asia under the various GO programs, but we've also had a number of partners relocate there. We've also had a number of associates go to those offices temporarily and permanently. The Hong Kong office continues to grow. We've got seventy or so lawyers there now. Our footprint in Asia is one we are very happy with; that said, we are continuing to take a hard look at Singapore. It's an interesting market – but perhaps not yet ripe for a Ropes & Gray office.

CA: Ropes is proud of retention rates but there has been a spate of lateral partner hires. What's the advantage of hiring laterally?

DC: We are continuing to promote people and help them grow within the firm but we have also done a number of lateral partner hires. In the last year, we've hired 24 or so lateral partners across the firm. I think we put a lot more effort into the lateral process than other firms. We spend a lot of time with potential candidates and we have them meet people across the firm. We need to asses not just their practice expertise but also their cultural fit. I'd say we're more successful with our lateral hires than other firms and that's based on conversations with other managing partners. Of course, we have happy associates and that helps!

CA: Could you explain what the firm's philosophy of 'collaboration and collegiality' is?

DC: Collaboration and collegiality are two of our core values. It's the culture of team work, collegiality and a mutual respect. We work very hard on making sure people live up to those values. For instance, one of my partners in Tokyo sent an email at 5.15am asking for help with a question, and he emailed me again at 5.45am to tell me he'd gotten dozens of responses and didn't need any more help. That kind of story is part and parcel of working at Ropes. Partners here are supportive of each other. They'll drop everything to help someone out!

CA: What makes Ropes unique or differentiates you from your competitors?

DC: Well I'd hesitate to say that we're 'unique' because there are lots of firms out there that do what we do. It would be beyond my hubris to say that we're better than all our competitors. However, one thing that differentiates us from others is our leverage numbers. If you look at our leverage, the ratio is lower than our rivals and this has an impact. At Ropes, associates get to work with partners and clients get to work with partners. There is a certain type of client who really appreciates that.

CA: What measures does the firm take to make sure attorneys stay as long as possible?

DC: We've worked hard on retention both formally and informally. Our internal training programs help associates realize that even if they don't see their long-term career here, the longer you stay the more qualified you'll be. I think our centralized assigning system also helps. It spreads work evenly and it avoids people getting unfairly clobbered or left out. The GO programs are also well received, people can have assignments to different offices, but you only get to do that when you're a bit more senior.

CA: Can you talk a little bit, in as concrete terms as possible, about what, if anything, is being done at the firm to ensure that diversity is at the top of the agenda? What was the thinking behind the Trimmier Scholarship?

DC:We have programs in place but frankly, I don't regard diversity as something you can have happen by just putting a program in place. You have to live it everyday. I just delivered a message to associates about how we can discuss equality. This one was on gender inequality in the workplace, but we've also spoken about racial diversity and sexual preferences. The Trimmier Scholarship is one of our new programs. Roscoe Trimmier was a wonderful litigation partner and our first African American partner who passed away in July this year. We were looking for a way to truly honour his memory and legacy at Ropes and the scholarship is a wonderful way to do that. It provides scholarship money to law school students who are historically under-represented in the legal profession. We want to help these students get where they want to be. Ropes has long been recognized as a place that's a tolerant and embracing work environment for those of different backgrounds. Honestly, I don't take too much comfort from this as the industry record is so poor. The fact that we're slightly more successful than other firms is a little comforting, but the entire industry could be doing better.

CA: Is there any way in which you would like to see Ropes improve?

DC: I think we can do a better job – we're taking steps to fix this – at behaving like a global law firm. We need partners to be constantly thinking about ways that we can better connect our offices and clients. We need people to be thinking of Ropes & Gray as a global enterprise. We're looking to attract the clients that all large firms want. We want clients involved in global businesses. Whether it is pharma companies, asset management companies or energy companies, we need to be nimble and ask if they're playing in a market that we can lend our skills to.

Interview with hiring partner Richard Batchelder


Chambers Associate: What's the scope of your recruiting drive?

Richard Batchelder: We have 11 different offices, but we focus our recruiting efforts on our six US offices each summer. Every year we bring in a number of summer associates to spend time in one or more of the six offices. Our target this year was around 140 – 145, which was the same target we had last summer.

CA: How do you pre-screen applicants? Is there a GPA requirement?

RB: There isn't a GPA requirement; however, we look for talented students and they'll typically have a strong academic background. For example, Harvard is one of our top feeder schools, and we have hired Harvard students from the very top of the class as well as students with more modest grades. It really depends on the person. Whether the candidate is a good fit based on their 1L grades plays a small part in our hiring process. Personality, drive and what we call culture and collegiality play a role.

Culture and collegiality is a whole separate criterion for us, as maintaining the culture of the firm is very important. What we mean by culture is we are looking for people who value team work, collaboration, collegiality, diversity and want to be at the firm for a long time. Those are the hallmarks. All of these things play a role when we're interviewing candidates because we're looking for people who share those values and have evidence in their backgrounds of working in teams and working collaboratively. We also want to see if we can project them as good colleagues going forward and whether we can see them being good with clients. It's an intangible thing that we look closely for in the hiring process.

CA: Do you prefer candidates with prior work experience?

RB: I'm not sure how much of a preference it is but about three-quarters of the candidates have taken time off between college and law school, usually an average of two years. I wouldn't call it a preference necessarily but it is something that's common among our applicant pool. Time off isn't spent just working in a law-related field – for example, we had a woman in our summer program last year who had worked as the conductor for the national tour of the musical Wicked. That's a great example of the kind experience that's on the surface is completely unrelated to the practice of law, but when you add in working collaboratively, handling stress, and deadline pressure, you can see that it's good experience for the practice of law. We've had people who have worked for Goldman Sachs, the NSA, veterans, Teach For America alums, and so forth. These experiences are all valuable to working in law.

CA: How many students do you see on each campus? How many (or what percent) get called in for a second interview?

RB: First we decide the number of students we want to callback and then we determine how many we want to call back from each law school we visit. Harvard, Columbia, NYU, Georgetown, and Boston University are historically strong schools for us, but we recruit all over the country. After the OCIs go on campus, we have a callback meeting to discuss their recommendations and extend callback invitations.

CA: What makes somebody stand out during interviews?

RB: Well the first thing they can do is be themselves and to project confidence. I want people who can give me a sense of who they are and what they want to accomplish. We're looking for people who want to be long term contributors and who will work well with clients and colleagues.

CA: What can law students do to make themselves better candidates for Ropes & Gray?

RB: Doing your homework on the firm is helpful – make sure you understand our practice areas and which practice areas interest you the most. Also, project a desire to practice at Ropes & Gray and convince us that you want to work here for a long time. Our training program is unbelievably strong and so we want to invest our time and energies in lawyers who are interested in staying at the firm more than just a couple of years, which makes us different from a lot of our peer firms. Displaying that drive will make you stand out as opposed to somebody who is only looking to stay a few years.

CA: How do you ensure the firm's hiring strategy is as inclusive as it can be?

RB: We've had terrific success in hiring a diverse class at Ropes & Gray. Each of the last two years, approximately 30% of our summer hires are students of color. In 2016, we will have 11 African Americans and five Hispanics in our summer program. We will also have 14 openly gay students in the program, and more than half of the summers are women. These numbers only tell part of the story. What is most important is the opportunities for attorneys of color at Ropes, and the value all lawyers at Ropes place on having a diverse and inclusive work force. We're looking for people who value diversity not whether they're minority or majority, gay or straight, male or female. We have diversity outreach teams at several of our largest feeder schools and we've been honoured by several publications in the US for our diversity efforts.

This year we introduced something very new. Sadly, our first African American partner, Roscoe Trimmier, passed away very suddenly at 71 this past summer. To honour his achievements, we established the first ever Ropes & Gray Roscoe Trimmier Jr. Scholarship. This is a $25,000 per person scholarship that we awarded to five diverse students. The recipients this year are from Columbia, NYU, Cornell, UNC, and Boston College. It's one of the largest scholarships of its kind in the US. Roscoe was a close friend and a mentor to me so I'm very pleased that we're honouring his memory. CA: What the main things students should know you're looking out for? RB: The main thing we try to do is to get to

CA: What the main things students should know you're looking out for?

RB: The main thing we try to do is to get to know candidates beyond the superficiality of a resume. For example, we don't ask substantive questions about a candidate’s knowledge of the law. We are trying to make a projection about a candidate’s future trajectory. I always tell students that a resume is 100% about the past. We are not giving offers to those who have the best past; we are giving offers to those with the brightest future. We’ll look at what is in their resume, their background and their personality that gives us the confidence that the candidate has not peaked or reached a plateau. We want candidates on the ascendency.

If, on the other hand, we get the sense that their best days may be behind them in terms of achievement and so forth, we're unlikely to get that excited about their candidacy. Sometimes we see candidates who haven't done as well as they would have liked academically, but there is something about them that makes us think they would be real contributors. We have students from a variety of backgrounds, including several who are the first in their family to go to college or professional school. Ropes & Gray is a pure meritocracy, and we are looking for candidates who are ready to excel at the highest levels of the profession.

CA: Are there any reoccuring interview no-nos you'd like to warn candidates about?

RB: I don't know if I have any reoccurring stories of people saying problematic things, but one thing students need to avoid is not being 100% conversant about everything on their resume. I guess the closest thing to a horror story would be people who list certain interests on their resume but when questioned about them don't know a single thing about them! If you've done a thesis in college that may have been written seven or eight years ago, be prepared to answer questions about what you wrote. It becomes pretty clear to us when a candidate is embellishing what they've done over the summer or in college – that's not good at all. It's much better to be understated than gild the lily.

CA: How is many summers do you traditionally take on?

RB: Each year our expectation is to give 100% of our summer associates an offer, which we have done for many years. For the past few years, we have had over 90% of our summers accept their offers, with some years nearly 100% acceptance. We do a lot of great activities on the social side but our surveys say that the most important thing to summers by far is the ability to get meaningful work and see what it's like to be an associate at Ropes. I think it's safe to say they like what they see. Finding a firm that is the right firm for them is really important, and choosing a firm is one the most important decisions they will ever make. I've been here 25 years which is a long time, but I am proof that if you make the right decision, you will never have second thoughts!

CA: How can someone stand out as a summer associate?

RB: Over the course of the summer, it is always good to work hard and show your passion for the practice of law. On the social side, go out of your way to meet as many people as you can and develop relationships that you will have when you return to the firm upon graduation.

CA: What do you think distinguishes Ropes from its peers?

RB: I think we're very well positioned for success in the 21st century. We have a great client list, we're extremely busy and that means we're able to provide meaningful work for young attorneys early on in their career. When you couple that with our fantastic training program, the sky is the limit in how you can grow your skills as a lawyer. On top of that Ropes is a great place to work and you can see that throughout our offices. As firm wide hiring partner, I see the same level of enthusiasm and excitement in every office. The DC office, for example, recently moved into new space, and is led by Doug Hallward-Driemeier, who argued the case for marriage equality in the Supreme Court last term.

We do what we call one-firm staffing, so when a new matter comes in it's not sent to a particular office. You'll often see people in different offices working on the same matter which allows people to work between offices. From a client standpoint, it allows us to put the best people on the matter without regard to location.

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

RB: Anywhere from a quarter to a third of our litigation associates have done clerkships. We currently have an associate who is clerking for the Chief Justice of the United States and her replacement next year is also a Ropes & Gray associate. We also have back-to-back clerks for another Supreme Court justice. I think having four Ropes & Gray associates in two years clerking on the highest court in the country says something about the quality of our associates and our reputation as a firm.

CA: What is the firm’s approach to lateral hiring?

RB: We have a very successful lateral hiring program that complements our entry-level hiring. With a growing international practice, we are always on the lookout for top talent who can add value to our firm. We have the same high standard for lateral associates as we do for entry-level, and we have been very pleased to welcome talented associates from other firms who want to be part of what we have to offer here at Ropes & Gray.

CA: What does the firm offer that is unique?

RB: This year we're celebrating the 150th anniversary of the firm. Our slogan for the year is Bright Past, Brilliant Future, and I think that really encapsulates our pride in the past and optimism for the future. Our lawyers practice at the highest levels of the profession but do so in a collaborative and collegial way that is distinctly Ropes & Gray.

CA: Lots of the associates we spoke to had worked at several offices. Why does the firm encourage people to move between offices so regularly? Do you use the GO Program as a way to encourage movement between offices?

RB: As I've said we want people who will stay for the long term, and we also staff all of our matters across offices. That means that we value associates who get to know lawyers in other offices, and we are flexible when an associate needs to move from one office to another for a personal reason. We see a real value in having a one-firm philosophy, and that extends to providing opportunities to partners and associates to work in more than one of our offices.

The GO Program stands for 'global opportunity.' It has a few different components, from secondments at clients, to fellowships where each year we select a few associates to work in an office of their choice for 18 months. We have a Chicago associate who's currently in the London office – I'm actually working with her on a matter right now. There's also Go First geared for new associates who may want to start in one our offices with the idea that after a few years they would be able to transfer to another office permanently. So that's one of the ways we populate our offices in Asia for example – with home grown US transfers who express an interest in a move before they start.

Ropes & Gray LLP

Prudential Tower ,
800 Boylston Street,
MA 02199-3600

  • Head Office: Boston, MA 
  • Number of domestic offices: 6
  • Number of international offices: 5
  • Partners (US): 257
  • Associates (US): 728
  • Summer Salary 2016  
  • 1Ls: N/A
  • 2Ls: $3,100/week
  • 1Ls hired? N/A
  • Split summers offered? Yes
  • Can summers spend time in overseas office? Yes
  • Summers 2016: 144
  • Offers/acceptances 2015: 140 offers, 128 acceptances 

Main areas of work
From the boardroom to the courtroom, Ropes & Gray represents the world’s leading companies on their most critical matters. On corporate transactional issues, the firm has been recognized as having top-ranked practices in private equity, M&A, finance, investment management, bankruptcy, healthcare, life sciences and intellectual property, among others. The firm also has been cited for its litigation experience and successful track record, including antitrust, appellate, complex business litigation, securities litigation and regulation, government enforcement and white collar criminal defense, IP litigation and privacy and data security.

Firm profile
Ropes & Gray, an international law firm with more than 1,000 attorneys and professionals in 11 offices in the United States, Europe and Asia, provides comprehensive legal services to leading businesses and individuals around the world. Clients benefit from the firm’s unwavering standards of integrity, service and responsiveness. The firm is ideally positioned to address its clients’ most pressing legal and business issues. In 2015, 1,400 lawyers, paralegals and other Ropes & Gray professionals worldwide logged 114,000 hours toward assisting our pro bono clients. In the US alone, over 740 of our attorneys dedicated 20 or more hours to pro bono legal service.

Recruitment details
• Number of 1st year associates: 102
• Number of 2nd year associates: 107
• Associate salaries: 1st year: $180,000
• 2nd year: $190,000
• Clerking policy: Yes

Law Schools attending for OCIs in 2016:
American, Berkeley, Boston College, Boston University, Brooklyn, Chicago, Columbia, Cornell, Duke, Fordham, George Washington, Georgetown, Harvard, Howard, Illinois, Michigan, North Carolina, Northeastern, Northwestern, Notre Dame, NYU, Penn, Santa Clara, Stanford, Suffolk, Texas, UC Davis, UC Hastings, UCLA, USC, UVA, Washington University in St Louis, Yale

Summer details
Summer associate profile:
Ropes & Gray chooses summer associates based on academic performance, personal skills, motivation, work and leadership experience, practice area interests and the ability to work well in a highly collaborative environment.

Summer program components:
Our goal is to provide summer associates with a realistic sense of what it is like to work at the firm by having them work on actual client matters and by giving them opportunities to get to know our attorneys through a variety of social events, activities and lunches. Our attorneys provide meaningful and timely feedback on work assignments and offer additional perspective through an end-of-summer formal review. Summer associates also benefit from our highly regarded training program, which provides both practice-specific and general soft-skills training designed to support summer associates’ professional growth and development.