Squire Patton Boggs - The Inside View

Global expansion continues apace at this Midwest-founded go-getter.

ONLY a couple of years after the 2014 merger which created Squire Patton Boggs, this global firm announced a combination with Carroll, Burdick & McDonough. This California-based litigation and product risk management-focused firm may have only had 50 attorneys but its German regulatory practice proved a major attraction to SPB, and it brings additional offices in LA and Hong Kong.

This latest development is on a much smaller scale than the previous mega-union: Squire Patton Boggs emerged when Midwestern stalwarts Squire Sanders and public policy pros Patton Boggs interlocked in 2014. The merger gave the already established global network of Squire Sanders a boost to its Middle Eastern presence and, closer to home, considerably bolstered Squire's hold in Texas. Since this merger, the firm's been keen to strengthen and expand its international reach, so the addition of Carroll Burdick fits right in with this strategy. The firm has 30 overseas offices in total, spanning the UK, mainland Europe, Asia (including Australia) and the Middle East.

Squire Patton Boggs has 17 offices in the US. Most of the firm's attorneys are based in Washington, DC and Ohio (particularly the Cleveland office), but you'll also find lawyers in Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, New Jersey, New York, Texas and Virginia.

The Work

At the time of our calls, litigation had the greatest concentration of juniors with the rest spread across practices including corporate, public policy, IP, and environment. Litigators are encouraged to “cast your net broadly” and catch projects in areas such as fraud, class action disputes, breaches of contract and general commercial litigation. Corporate juniors are likewise invited to dabble; securities and public and private M&A were just some of the areas our sources had seen. Public policy juniors are attached to subgroups including: healthcare; financial services & tax; international; and transportation, infrastructure & local governments. In all these groups, associates can expect to spend plenty of time on Capitol Hill.

Whichever practice group they slot into, “it doesn't feel very hierarchical,” one typical source reckoned. “Once you show the partners what you're capable of, you're given a lot more responsibility. No one has ever looked at me and said, 'You're a second-year, this is what they do.' If you're capable of handling it, they give you the task.”

“There is more synergy because of the combination.”

Work is allocated to juniors on an informal basis. “I usually don't have to seek it out as we're busy enough that partners often give you a call to chat about new projects.” To find yourself on the deals which interest you most, one junior recommended “indicating to a senior associate that you're keen to try out a matter they're working on and they may suggest you to a partner in future.” Some groups, such as corporate and private investment funds, require rookies to provide a weekly summary on their availability.

Now that a couple of years have passed since the merger which formed Squire Patton Boggs came about, we asked juniors if the union had influenced the kind of work they were seeing. “One of the interesting things about the merger was that there wasn't a lot of overlap,” one junior explained. “We were very complementary in terms of strong groups and not a lot of merging took place within them. I've not had the chance to work outside of my legacy firm.” Others had seen an increase in opportunities; one junior attributed to the merger “some very interesting matters I wouldn't have had access to without Patton Boggs” coming on board. Others still reckoned “there is more synergy because of the combination. I think it has gone really well; we can handle matters we wouldn't have been able to do before and we're able to better cross-sell on matters.”


Around a third of SPB's rookies were housed in Washington, DC. The rest were thinly strewn across Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Dallas, Denver, Miami, Northern Virginia, Phoenix and West Palm Beach. Juniors attached to practices with sizable teams in multiple offices, like corporate and litigation, often find themselves working with colleagues across the States, or beyond. “I work with a ton of Squire lawyers across the globe,” one litigator elaborated. “If people need a US associate they reach out to a designated attorney who finds one of us to assist.”

“I work with a ton of Squire lawyers across the globe.” 

The firm's Washington, DC base is its largest in the US (Cleveland's not too far behind). DC is home to the firm's public policy and government relations group – it was this team's stellar reputation at Patton Boggs which caught the eye of Squire Sanders pre-merger, and the group is still pulling in top-tier Chambers USA rankings. DC's also one of the few offices to house both legacy Squire Sanders and Patton Boggs attorneys after Squire nudged its way into PB's offices in the Foggy Bottom district.


The DC office may have borne the brunt of upheaval surrounding the merger but now things have settled, the firm's focusing on encouraging integration between the two legacies. Although the two cultures were reportedly very similar, "I think it has presented challenges,” one legacy Patton Boggs source pondered. “They're working to make it more cohesive between the two. I work with Squire's people in my team on projects and we're all in it together. Everyone gets along.” One way the firm's looking at “blending the culture” is by “increasing its efforts on the social front” with monthly happy hours leading the way.

“People have gotten really into it.” 

The cafeteria also sounds like it's, inadvertently, doing its bit to encourage increased cohesiveness. “It's so cheesy but it runs a number of raffles,” giving away things like pies in winter or gardening kits in spring. “People have really gotten into it,” we heard, with winners reportedly receiving “loads of emails from the rest of us congratulating them on their pie; it's a megafirm but this office feels small. It's super-collaborative.”

Sources reckoned SPB's chain of Midwestern offices have given many of the firm's bases a “very Midwestern feel. People are sincerely friendly and down to earth. It doesn't feel stuffy, competitive or cut-throat.” But bear in mind that this is a very global firm these days, with lawyers regularly working with colleagues in various offices. High expectations on associates are tempered by colleagues who “aren't stress-inducing.”

Training & Development

Sources informed us that most training at SPB tends to be “on the job by learning as you go.” Transactional attorneys recalled “webinars or seminars once in a while.” Litigators jetted off to Cleveland to take part in a deposition workshop hosted by the National Institute for Trial Advocacy (NITA). In 2015, the firm launched Squire Patton Boggs University (SPBU), building on a similar predecessor program. All new associates are flown to DC for a few days to attend “a variety of workshops and sessions on things like how to work well within the firm and the kind of practices we have.”

“Up to you to seek out the level of training you want.” 

Most interviewees were fairly happy with the emphasis on hands-on training over structured sessions. “It's really up to you to seek out the level of training you want,” one litigator advised, though we did hear the public policy group is “working to get training institutionalized again following the merger.” That said, the firm already offers standard BigLaw training opportunities through the Practising Law Institute (PLI), plus writing and public speaking coaching.

Pro Bono

Pro bono is another area where juniors are prompted to follow their own approach. Coordinators “circulate set pieces or more institutional pro bono matters,” but “you're encouraged to seek out what you're interested in rather than just what the firm provides. It means pro bono is very individualized.” So juniors can handle “anything so long as it goes through the formal conflict check; it could be a family law matter, wills and divorces or helping an individual with bankruptcy or foreclosure. The firm supports you on whatever you want to do.”

“Pro bono is very individualized.” 

Recently the firm filed a lawsuit against the St. Louis County police department on behalf of four journalists arrested while covering the Ferguson, Missouri protests. The suit was filed by Squire Patton Boggs' Public Service Initiative, which in February 2016 also helped secure the release of Louisiana prisoner Albert Fox, who spent 43 years in solitary confinement after being convicted of murdering a prison guard. Juniors can credit up to 100 hours of pro bono toward their billable target.

Pro bono hours 

  • For all attorneys across all US offices: 31,357 
  • Average per US attorney: 45 

Hours & Compensation

Newbies are eased into the firm with a billing target of 1,900 hours, increasing to 1,950 from the second-year onward. “The targets are achievable, there is no question about that,” sources reckoned. Ten to 11 hour stints in the office plus a little extra billing from home after dinner seemed to be the norm among our sources. “Face time is not important; if you do good work and you're responsible and responsive, everyone's happy.” Interviews reckoned the firm is “pretty good at respecting vacations so long as you inform people in advance and plan around them. I can't think of anyone I know who's had to cancel one. That's a good sign!” But don't count on being left entirely alone, as some sources had still taken the time to check and answer emails when on vacation.

“They're achievable, there is no question about that.” 

After the merger, Patton Boggs' lockstep bonus model was displaced by Squire Sanders' merit-based system, which takes into account billable hours, pro bono, firm citizenship and business development. “That made me very happy; I work hard and I'm pleased with the compensation,” one ex-Patton Boggs associate highlighted. “One of the great things about this firm,” another added, “is that you reap what you sow.”


“I think it's hard to tell where we fall with regards to diversity,” one associate told us. Actually, with 22% female partners and 19% diverse associates, the firm's stats are fairly average for BigLaw. Another elaborated: “It could be more diverse but I know they're trying to improve things.” Gender was the one area juniors felt was “fairly diverse. There used to be a time when meetings were made up of all male partners and all female associates but now I'm working with a number of female partners.” The Women's Enterprise Group encompasses a number of committees, including those dedicated to business development, mentoring and a balanced hours policy.

“They've made great efforts on that front.” 

The firm's commitment to LGBT associates also got a mention –“they've made great efforts on that front” – but we heard that “ethnic diversity is lacking.” While sources knew various affinity and outreach groups exist – such as African-American/Black and Asian/Pacific Islanders groups – many were less sure of the initiatives or events they ran.

Get Hired

Aspiring SPB associates need to get those typing muscles flexing because “there is a heavy focus on writing skills; the recruiting committee spends a lot of time of reviewing and reading samples,” sources stressed. Juniors also felt the firm was keen to see a commitment to the local region they're applying to: “We want to recruit people who will be here for the long haul and not those who are looking to try it out and then leave.”

“A heavy focus on writing skills.”

Is there a typical attorney? “I wouldn't say we necessarily look for people who are outgoing, but we like those who are sociable and personable.” But don't confuse that with being overly relaxed: “People in the past have made the mistake of being too casual during interviews. Come in with professionalism.”

Strategy & Future

The impact from the Squire Sanders/Patton Boggs merger is still being felt, juniors reckoned: “Even though it's two years on, we're still capitalizing on the synergies it has brought us.” This means “becoming more global every day.” Interviews reckoned SPB's sights were set firmly on “expanding its international reach. We're gauging how we can leverage our platform to obtain more international work.” Hence the merger with Carroll, Burdick & McDonough, which has a large presence in Germany and an office near Stuttgart, adding a third base to SPB's German network.

We check in with global managing partner Steve Mahon

Chambers Associate: Talk us through the reasons behind the firm’s recent merger with Carroll, Burdick & McDonough.

Steve Mahon: We approach combination opportunities from a couple of perspectives. First and most importantly, we need to have a sense of cultural fit. We look for people who are as global and geographically diverse as we are, collegial and collaborative. We were in discussions with Carroll Burdick for some time and over a period of acclimation we definitely achieved a joint sense of cultural fit.

From a practice and industry group and geographic perspective Carroll, Burdick was a perfect match for us. The world today is increasingly regulated and our global compliance and product safety offering is a critical part of our strategy going forward. Carroll, Burdick had the best in class product risk practice, particularly in the automotive industry and we now represent many of the world’s largest automotive manufacturers in our global compliance, product liability and class action groups.

Thirdly, it’s pretty rare to find a San Francisco boutique in which the majority of the work is for clients outside of the US. As a global firm, we found Carroll, Burdick hugely attractive; they augment our Northern California presence, bolster our San Francisco offering and add a Los Angeles office but they also add to our practice in Germany and Asia. We were already in Berlin and Frankfurt and Carroll, Burdick has brought us an office in Böblingen near Stuttgart in the industrial powerhouse region Baden-Württemberg. In addition to providing an attractive automotive client base throughout Germany they brought on a number of practices which further augment our German practice and a key group in Hong Kong which bolsters our Asia practices by supplementing our offices in Hong Kong, Shanghai and Beijing.

CA: What practices have been hot this year?

SM: More than any other practice area, our global compliance and investigatory practice has been on a spectacular growth curve. This is hardly a surprise; if you look back to our combination with Patton Boggs, we knew that if we combined Squire Sanders’ global platform with Patton Boggs’ best in class investigations practice we would have all the elements to underpin a pre-eminent global compliance practice.

Our International Dispute Resolution practice continues to grow at a rate which outstrips the general growth of the legal market. We’ve particularly seen this happen throughout Europe where the key disputes – including treaty disputes involving sovereigns, not just commercial disputes – tend to be solved through arbitration. Our big case litigation practice, which has been in transition for the last decade, is now poised for fairly dramatic growth.

Our transactional practices are growing nicely and we’re focusing on combining our cross border platform with industry expertise like energy, financial institutions, healthcare and chemicals.

CA: Are there any regions that have been particularly active?

SM: We’ve had good growth throughout the platform, particularly in the US, the Middle East and Central Europe but we try to look at our firm as one firm rather than singling out individual regions. We find the best resources throughout our footprint to find the best footprint for the client rather than geographically siloing ourselves.

CA: How much cross office or cross region work are you seeing?

SM: A tremendous amount, particularly in global compliance. Regulatory regimes are being exported to the world from the US, the EU or other regulated pockets. When that happens there is an opportunity to bring our global expertise to bear upon compliance projects that really span an organisation's geographic footprint. We’ve seen a tremendous amount of cross office and cross region support for those projects.

CA: We noticed there have been a large number of lateral hires this year, could you talk us through a couple of those?

SM: We’ve had some great additions in the past year. To name just a few, most recently we brought Alicia J. Batts into our Washington, DC office as a partner in competition and antitrust. We’re very excited that she will become an integral part of our global competition practice. We’ve also added Amanda Banton to our restructuring and insolvency group in Sydney, Australia and Luka Misetic into our International Dispute Resolution (IDR) group in New York. Luka is a tremendous addition with a particular emphasis on representing sovereigns in Central Europe and fits nicely into our sovereign IDR practice across Europe.

CA: What’s the firm’s strategy over the next few years?

SM: We will continue to look at ways to fill out our global footprint. You will see us continuing to augment our global compliance and investigations, international disputes and cross border transactional practices. Our platform can support even greater growth at the firm but we won’t grow for growth’s sake.

CA: What are the biggest challenges affecting global law firms at the moment?

SM: Differentiation is really the key to success in this environment. The overall market for global legal services is relatively static. There has been some growth over the last couple of years but in order to grow and support our clients the key is effective client service in areas where their needs are most acute. We need to differentiate on an industry and practice basis and be in sync with the needs and concerns of our clients.

History of mergers, acquisitions and affiliations

Squire Patton Boggs sits at the bottom of a rather large family tree made up of mergers, acquisitions and affiliations which, all combined, have welcomed a grand total of seven law firms into the fold. The most recent two legacy firms began 72 years apart: Squire, Sanders & Dempsey hatched back in 1890 while Patton Boggs sprung into life barely 53 years ago in 1962.

Squire Sanders set about branching out from its Ohio beginnings in 1974, opening an office in Brussels, and then focusing on growing its US presence with the birth of hubs in Columbus, Miami, Phoenix and New York between 1974 and 1982. In 1990 the firm set its sights on international expansion, rapidly launching offices in Prague in 1990, Budapest and Bratislava in 1991, London and Kiev in 1992, Moscow in 1995 and Hong Kong in 1998.

Despite this seemingly insatiable surge in locations, the desire for global growth remained on the cards and in 2000 Squire Sanders got its first taste for mergers by acquiring Graham & Jones, along with G&J's offices in California, Tokyo and Beijing. Five years and three more office openings later – Tampa, Northern Virgina, and Shanghai – Squire Sanders gobbled up Steel Hector and Davis. The new addition brought further capabilities in West Palm Beach and Dominican Republic, with an outpost in Santa Domingo. Warsaw and Frankfurt soon became home to Squire Sanders in the following years and in 2006 the firm entered an affiliation with El-Khoury and Partners, who operate in Saudi Arabia, Lebanon and Kuwait.

A merger with UK firm Hammonds in 2011 created another considerable boost to the attorney roster. Hammonds – previously known as Hammond Suddards Edge after merging with UK firm Edge Ellison in 2000 – bolstered Squire Sanders presence in the UK, while also giving it camps in Madrid, Berlin, Paris and Munich. But the firm's international ambition wasn't yet sated: 2012 saw the launch of five new bases in Asia Pacific. The firm further strengthened its foothold in Ukraine in 2013 by establishing an affiliation with native firm Salkom LLC, before merging with Patton Boggs in 2014.

Squire Sanders may have had a head start on its younger other half but Patton Boggs also sought an international reach: its base in Doha was launched in 2003, followed by Abu Dhabi and Dubai in 2008 and an affiliation with Riyadh based Khalid Al-Thebity further increased its Middle Eastern presence. With the formation of Squire Patton Boggs and both firms already linked to Saudi Arabia through affiliations, Squire Patton Boggs jettisoned El-Khoury and Partners. The most recent merger with Carroll, Burdick & McDonough adds two further international bases in Hong Kong and Germany.

Squire Patton Boggs

4900 Key Tower,
127 Public Square,
OH 44114
Website www.squirepattonboggs.com

  • Founding Office: Cleveland, OH
  • Number of domestic offices: 16
  • Number of international offices: 30
  • Worldwide revenue: $929,100,000
  • Partners (US): 272
  • Associates (US): 232
  • Other Attorneys (US): 167
  • Summer Salary 2016 
  • 1Ls hired? Yes
  • Split summers offered? Case by case
  • Can summers spend time in overseas office? Yes
  • Summers 2016: 30
  • Offers/acceptances 2015:
  • 1Ls 4 offers, 3 acceptances
  • 2Ls 14 offers, 9 acceptances, 1 judicial clerkship

Main areas of work
Aerospace, defense and government services; aviation; brands and consumer products; business immigration; chemicals; communications; competition – antitrust; construction and engineering; corporate; data privacy and cybersecurity; energy and natural resources; environmental, safety and health; financial services; government investigations and white collar; healthcare; hospitality and leisure; industrial products; infrastructure; intellectual property and technology; international dispute resolution; international trade; labor and employment; Latin America; life sciences; litigation; media and advertising; pensions; private investment funds; public and infrastructure finance; public policy; real estate; restructuring and insolvency; retail; sovereign and institutional investors; sports and entertainment; tax credit finance and community development; tax strategy and benefits; transportation, shipping and logistics.

Firm profile
Squire Patton Boggs offers the opportunity to join one of the strongest, most geographically diverse law firms in the world. With 45 offices in 21 countries, our global legal practice is in the markets where our clients do business. We have a team of more than 1,500 lawyers. Our client base spans every type of business, both private and public. We advise a diverse mix of clients, from Fortune 100 and FTSE 100 corporations to emerging companies and from individuals to local and national governments.

Recruitment details
• Number of 1st year associates: 11
• Number of 2nd year associates: 21
• Clerking policy: Yes

Law Schools attending for OCIs in 2016:
American, Case, Cleveland – Marshall, CUA, George Mason, Georgetown, GW Law, Harvard, Howard, Maryland, Michigan, Ohio State, UNC, UVA

Summer details
Summer associate profile:
Squire Patton Boggs is looking for summer associates with outstanding academic credentials, excellent communication skills, common sense, creativity, a strong work ethic and an ability to cultivate long term relationships with our clients and colleagues.

Summer program components:
A range of valuable experiences is structured around our three global messages:
Commercial: You will be given the opportunity to work side by side with our partners, attending depositions, hearings, deal negotiations and trials. In addition, you will cover legal writing and research, public speaking, negotiation and advocacy techniques.
Connected: You will be encouraged to attend practice group meetings and associate training programs to build your network of contacts within the business.
Committed: To get real value out of your program you will enjoy a collegial atmosphere with the support of a mentor for the duration of your summer with us.