Fund-a-mentally, it’s Schulte – a tip-top destination for anyone interested in investment management work.
If it’s funds you’re looking for, then consider Schulte Roth & Zabel. The firm was pitched by our interviewees as “the best one-stop shop for hedge funds, trust funds, private equity funds or any type of fund for that matter!” Giving weight to such claims, Schulte is top-ranked in Chambers USA for its hedge and investment funds work nationwide. “We are extremely well positioned in a very challenging economic environment,” says co-managing partner David Efron. “What we’ve found is that many of our private capital clients do well in volatile markets, and for those that run into difficulties we’re working with them too. So, for example, during the financial crisis of 2008 our private capital clients were very active, and similarly, in today's financial markets, many of our private capital clients are taking advantage of opportunities that are being presented.”
"A leader in this space!”
“Schulte leapt out at me because everyone had good things to say about it,” recalled one of our sources when explaining why they joined the firm. “The firm also came across as a leader in this space!” In addition to the firm’s reputation for work, several sources mentioned the culture: “The people are great, friendly and incredibly helpful. It’s very easy to get along with all attorneys.” Schulte’s HQ is in New York, but the firm also has offices in DC and London – a close-knit scale that many of our interviewees appreciated, as it allowed them access to hands-on, specialized work and ensured they didn’t remain anonymous in the broader firm.
Strategy & Future
Moving forward, co-managing partners Marc Elovitz and David Efron are optimistic. Schulte’s focus will very much remain on private capital, as Elovitz explains: “When you think about focusing on a particular area and not being a general-purpose law firm, you’re doing that to be the best. We don’t want to be the fifth best in a small city. We’re in the financial hub of both the US and the UK and in the regulatory hub of the US in DC.” Efron adds that “we don’t have aspirations to grow simply for the sake of growing. Instead, our growth will be methodical and conducted alongside our strategic focus on private capital. We are, and will continue to be, opportunistic. If there are synergistic opportunities, we will pursue them. Last year, we added eight lateral partners across key practice areas and promoted seven partners this year.”
Most juniors on our list were in Schulte’s transactional investment management practice – which is the firm’s biggest department and housed over a third of the juniors on our list – followed by litigation (which held around a quarter). If the Big Apple doesn’t appeal, SRZ may not be for you, as the vast majority of the juniors on our list were based here, with just one in the firm’s DC office. Both investment management and litigation have their own assigning partners to divvy up the work between associates. It’s all pretty clear-cut, according to our interviewees: “We reach out and update them on our availability, and they assign work off that.” Can juniors still solicit their own matters? “Yes, absolutely, but everything must be cleared through the assigning partner. If a partner reaches out to you, you reach out to the assigning partner to let them know.” However, the formality of this process varies by practice group.
“...they let you get involved pretty quickly.”
Over in investment management, juniors work on “whatever our clients need, whether it’s fund formation, launches, updates, or dissolution support – we’re here!” Matters with hedge and private equity funds were reportedly the most common according to our sources. An interviewee explained that in this department “you’re assigned by client rather than by project,” which means juniors get to know clients well. For fund launches, “you get to assist on the standard documents, like the offering memorandum, articles of association, and subscription agreements – that group of docs takes up about 80% of the time, especially for juniors.” Fortunately, “Schulte has templates, which are filled out with notes gathered over time by people here.” Each template’s cumulative knowledge includes guidance on “how to tailor the document for each type of fund.” Alongside comprehensive template documents, “there’s lots of training initially,” which provides associates with insight into “what funds there are, the structures, and how it all works.” After that training, “they let you get involved pretty quickly. Sometimes it’s a little scary how much you’re doing!” In addition to early drafting responsibilities, “you’re in charge of project management, which involves creating andupdating deal checklists.”
“...juniors are just as much the face of the firm.”
Investment management sources also revealed that there’s a lot of client interaction, as the firm “preaches that the juniors are just as much the face of the firm. Even if you don’t know the answer to a client question there and then, you let them know you’ll get back to them.” After the launch of a fund, juniors told us there’s “ongoing work related to compliance and tax, for example. On the day-to-day, there are a lot of emails and organizational components to take care of, as well as drafting and revising certain docs.” There’s also a lot of coordination between departments at Schulte: “We’re the biggest group and we do such a wide variety of things, so there’s a need to run things between the specialist groups like tax and other subgroups to check various parts of our docs.”
Hedge funds clients: Anchorage Capital Group, Cerberus Capital Management, Greenland Capital Management. Alongside more traditional funds, the firm represents blockchain and digital currency fund Pantera Capital, which it recently advised on the launch of a new fund.
Schulte’s litigation matters “mostly emerge out of funds work.” But there’s more to the department than that, and we heard about “the firm’s robust white-collar department,” as well as “complex cases, which covers the likes of breach of contract and defamation matters.” Other sources, meanwhile, mentioned shareholder activist cases and trusts and estates work: “That involves wealthy individuals in matters where there are contested wills or an attempt to remove a trustee.” As with their transactional counterparts, junior litigators felt they “got to do more than expected – you hear horror stories about doing doc review, but as a second-year you’re doing a lot less of that kind of stuff.” Instead, sources spoke about doing “research, drafting briefs, conducting presentations, and attending client interviews and meetings,” while a lucky few had the chance to “sit in on oral arguments and second-chair depositions.”
Litigation clients: The Children’s Investment Master Fund, Empery Asset Management, SpeedCast International. Represented Industrial and Commercial Bank of China Financial Services (ICBCFS) in a $45 million claim brought against it by SureFire, which accused ICBCFS of aiding and abetting a Ponzi scheme run by Brenda Smith, a prominent investment professional.
Hours & Compensation
Billable hours: 2,000 target
Associates can count up to 250 non-billable hours – consisting of 200 for pro bono, writing, marketing and recruiting activities, and 50 for DE&I activities – towards their annual billing target. Sources agreed that they could reach the target if they wanted to go for it: “There’s no shortage of work, and it’s up to you to push back or to take stuff on.” As you may already know, billables and actual hours are often different and sources told us that to “bill around 40 hours, you might be looking at working 60 actual hours as junior.” That sounds like a lot, we suggested. “Yes, it is a lot!” a source exclaimed, “and I’m not going to lie about that.”
“I feel that the salary is strong and that I don’t need to be making more.”
Interviewees also told us that their hours could fluctuate: “I’ve learnt to have a life in the moments when I can have a life,” one sage source philosophized. But, said juniors, “one group implemented a new assignment system that is aimed at making sure we’re not overworked,” so there was hope for a better work-life balance in the future. And the pay? “I feel that the salary is strong and that I don’t need to be making more,” a source confirmed, echoing the thoughts of others. “I’m comfortable and happy, but just wish the hours could be lower at times!”
The firm has a reputation for devoting time to pro bono and a recent headline-hitting case involved representing survivors of the Tulsa Race Massacre that occurred in 1921. We asked co-managing partner Marc Elovitz for an update: “We had a huge victory. The defendants thought there was no basis in the law for our claims and we could not go to trial, but the court ruled in our favor. When the more than 100-year-old survivors heard they would be able to seek justice it was absolutely transfixing. We’re moving ahead with tremendous resources to seek redress for the outrageous harms that were suffered.”
“...it’s endless in terms of what you can do.”
“Pro bono is important to Schulte, and you can tell that it is the moment you walk through the door,” we heard. “It’s treated like actual billable work.” Juniors told us that “everyone is given a matter or two when they come in, and it’s endless in terms of what you can do.” Interviewees explained that there’s a “lot of abortion-related pro bono at the moment,” alongside work with Human Rights First and landlord/tenant matters. For those worried about straying over the 200-hour billable cap on pro bono, “you can ask for waivers to do more credited hours,” sources reassured us.
Pro bono hours
- For all (US) attorneys: 24,648
- Average per (US) attorney: 70
Culture & Career Development
Does Schulte put the fun into funds? Juniors explained that with “different people being at varying stages of life – some with kids, some outside the city, some in it –” the social experience at the firm boiled down to individual interests. This individualism was part of the culture, we heard. “Schulte’s not looking for a specific type of person,” mused one, “and I feel I can be myself. I don’t have to put on some fake persona, irrespective of whether I’m having a bad day or a good day.” But, sources said, “you’re going to be working with these people a lot,” and juniors thought that as a smaller firm “there’s a bigger emphasis on culture fit, so Schulte prioritizes people with friendly personalities.” This approach seems to be working. The word ‘friendly’ was in the center of our word cloud across our survey and among our interviews. “I wanted to work with people who were kind and patient, and I’ve found that here,” concluded one associate.
“This is not a sink-or-swim environment.”
Another pro: “There are absolutely no yellers or mean people at the firm, which makes work significantly less stressful.” We were relieved to hear that! “This is not a sink-or-swim environment,” sources added. “You’re given a chance to get client contact, but not hung out to dry.” On the formal side of mentoring, “I have an associate and a partner mentor,” one junior explained, before underlining that “the partner that’s assigned to an associate is sometimes really senior.” For some, this worked out well: “My lead mentor is on a couple of my cases, and I’ve been able to work with him a lot,” boasted one. Another was a little more hesitant: “I don’t feel as comfortable bothering them!” The consensus was that “you tend to build connections with people you’re working consistently with.” Given Schulte’s culture, support was said to be baked into the firm, with one interviewee happily reporting: “When you’re a junior and don’t know anything, people make time during their day to go through the absolute basics and that has really helped!”
Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
Sources felt that diversity was an area that could be improved at the firm. However, “while some firms say they’re trying, Schulte really is.” How so? “Our first-year class is way more diverse than the previous class. They’re actively trying to recruit.” The results from our survey supported this; respondents felt the firm was performing above the market for its efforts to recruit diverse associates and provide inclusivity training. The issue – as it is across BigLaw – “is retention: if you don’t see people up the ladder who look like you, it’s harder to envisage a future for yourself in that environment.” In terms of gender, sources were encouraged that “the female partners are not treated differently, and I don’t see the current stats as a deterrent. It sucks to see fewer females, but the women partners are great role models.”
“...they realized I had a big life moment.”
Schulte did score highly on our survey for wellbeing, with an interviewee explaining that “the firm encourages us to take vacation and I’m able to set very firm boundaries. I’m taken off emails.” Another junior had taken leave and “everyone was pretty accommodating – I got no emails except supportive ones, and it was nice to see that even though I was new, they realized I had a big life moment.”
The first stage: recruitment on and off campus
Schulte’s summer program is designed for law students who have completed two years of law school. The firm conducts OCIs at more than 20 schools and several New York-based job fairs. Candidates simply sending a resume, transcript and cover letter to firstname.lastname@example.org are also welcome. Interviews are normally conducted with partners. Hiring sources at the firm inform us the OCIs are “designed to evaluate the candidate’s ability to communicate effectively and to make a preliminary assessment of the candidate’s potential to contribute to our firm’s success.” Candidates should be ready for questions about anything on their résumé, “including aspects of your college experience and your hobbies and interests.”
Top tips for this stage:
“It's so important to clearly convey your reasons for wanting to join our firm. Why us over one of our competitors? Even at this initial stage, we want to get a strong sense of your motivations.” – A second-year associate
“This is a great opportunity to let the interviewer know about any of our firm's on-campus programs or 1L receptions that you attended throughout the year.” – Hiring sources at the firm
Associates face interviews with two partners and a further two to three associates and may include a coffee or lunch meeting. The whole process takes up to three hours. As callbacks are a chance for deeper probing, interviewers “ask questions that allow the student to demonstrate their analytical and problem-solving skills,” according to hiring sources at the firm. Alongside this, interviewers also focus “on evaluating whether the candidate would succeed in our firm’s dynamic and entrepreneurial environment.” Sources told us that “it’s very much a friendly interview – they want to know if you are a friendly down-to-earth person as well as whether you can express yourself in a professional manner.”
Top tips for this stage:
“At this point they want to know if they will enjoy spending time with you for 12 to 15 hours a day!” – A third-year associate
“Most importantly, be yourself and be respectful of everyone you meet in the process.” – Hiring sources at the firm
Schulte’s ten-week summer program got a lot of praise from associates we spoke to. “It was a lot of fun!” chirped one. “There was one big event and one or two smaller events every week.” Previous events have included the musical Hamilton, a Beyoncé concert, and a Mets game from a “luxury box.” How fancy! Social events are dotted throughout to give participants a chance to unwind, alongside lunches and networking events organized by the firm’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion committee and affinity groups.
Still, there’s plenty of work to do. The program is held only in the New York office and summers choose two practice areas to focus on (they can still pick up assignments from elsewhere). A mock negotiation program is on offer to sharpen transactional skills, along with trial advocacy training and legal writing and business of law training programs. Sessions with different practice areas are also available to help summers get a better grasp of them. A junior associate mentor, a midlevel associate mentor, and a partner adviser are on standby to help summers navigate the program. The firm tells us almost all summers return as first-year associates, and are placed into practice groups by individual preference and the needs of the firm.
Notable summer events: Broadway shows including Hamilton, Beyoncé and Ariana Grande concerts, a Mets Game, The Magician at The NoMad, Shakespeare in the Park, and cookery classes.
Top tips for this stage:
“We offer summer associates opportunities to make substantive contributions to our work, and we expect our summer associates to demonstrate a professional commitment to their assignments over the course of the summer. They are part of our team in every sense.” – Hiring sources at the firm
Schulte Roth & Zabel LLP
919 Third Avenue,
Main areas of work
Schulte Roth & Zabel LLP (srz.com) is a full-service law firm with offices in New York, Washington, DC and London. As one of the leading law firms serving the financial services industry, the firm advises clients on investment management, corporate and transactional matters, and provides counsel on securities regulatory compliance, enforcement and investigative issues.
Cardozo, Columbia, Cornell, Duke, Emory, Fordham, George Washington, Georgetown, Harvard, Howard, Michigan, NYU, Penn, Rutgers, Texas, Tulane, UVA, Washington and Lee, William and Mary.
Recruitment outside OCIs: Harvard BLSA Career Fair, Lavender Law, Midwest-California-Georgia-Consortium, National Law School Consortium, NEBLSA Job Fair, resume collections from Brooklyn, Boston College, Berkeley NYLS, Syracuse, UCLA/USC New York Walk-Around, interview write-in candidates from many additional law schools.
Summer associate profile: SRZ seeks to hire candidates with outstanding academic and non-academic achievements, strong interpersonal skills and those who share our values in fostering a diverse and inclusive culture. SRZ recruits candidates who are enthusiastic, collaborative, entrepreneurial and eager to develop a deep understanding of our clients and their businesses.
Summer program components: Our summer associate program allows students to receive substantive assignments from practice groups of their choice during two assigning periods. Summer associates have interaction with our clients, attend meetings and depositions and work on complex projects. Training and feedback are emphasized through regular departmental training sessions, a writing seminar, a corporate negotiation workshop, a trial advocacy program, and a pro bono week. These experiences are all designed to allow students to explore various areas of interest, get immersed in the firm culture and gain first-hand knowledge of what they will see as a junior associate. In addition to our top-notch training programs and hands-on work experience, we offer fun and exciting social activities that allow summer associates to spend time with their associate and partner mentors, develop relationships with our attorneys and get to know everyone outside of the office.
Linkedin: Schulte Roth & Zabel LLP
This Firm's Rankings in
USA Guide, 2023
District of Columbia
- Litigation: White-Collar Crime & Government Investigations (Band 5)
- Bankruptcy/Restructuring: The Elite (Band 6)
- Corporate/M&A: Highly Regarded (Band 5)
- Corporate/M&A: Shareholder Activism (Band 1)
- Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation (Band 3)
- Litigation: General Commercial: Highly Regarded (Band 5)
- Real Estate: Mainly Corporate & Finance (Band 4)
- Tax (Band 3)
USA - Nationwide
- Bankruptcy/Restructuring: The Elite (Band 5)
- Capital Markets: Securitization: ABS (Band 3)
- Capital Markets: Securitization: CLOs (Band 2)
- Financial Services Regulation: Broker Dealer (Compliance & Enforcement) (Band 4)
- Hedge Funds (Band 1)
- Investment Funds: Regulatory & Compliance (Band 1)
- Private Equity: Fund Formation (Band 4)
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