Good morning Baltimore! Maryland’s “less self-important” firm focuses on government, business, litigation and IP.
When asked why they chose to join Venable, one junior associate declared: “I knew that the path to partnership at Venable is a real thing. I was not looking for the most money and then transfer. I wanted to join for the long run.” This was a sentiment that several of our sources expressed, eschewing the bright lights of the big cities in favor of “the perfect mix of inspiring, down-to-earth and driven people.” Baltimore is known as Charm City, after all.
But make no mistake, this is a firm that competes with the crème de la crème of BigLaw. Venable works with the latest Fortune 500 companies, high net worth individuals and nonprofits: “We engrain our lawyers with a drive to use good judgment and to be reliable. We don’t treat our clients as commodities, we’re invested in their problems,” explains Ellen Berge, a partner in the firm’s DC office. A look at the Chambers USA rankings shows that this investment has paid off. The firm's DC office is highly ranked in real estate and IP, specifically in patent prosecution, trademark, copyright and trade secrets. Nationwide, its privacy and data security, product liability and mass torts practices continue to be highly regarded. With 13 offices across the US, Berge says that the firm is “present in major legal markets, where we aim to build full-service offices to scale, and this is shown by our entry in the Florida market."
Strategy and Future
"We had about 30 attorneys join us from a Miami-based law firm, Genovese Joblove & Battista. We see a lot of mega-mergers of law firms, but that isn't something that has interested us. Our approach to growth has been steady and deliberate. We want to focus on pursuing meaningful work for our clients, pursuing scale and seeking opportunities to improve the firm,” reveals Berge. Moving on to practice specifics, “we have four divisions: government, business, litigation and IP. We have several dozen practice groups under this,” she tells us. Even with these strong core practices, the firm is adapting its work to match technological advances. “Our privacy, data security and cybersecurity practices are growing rapidly to meet client demands.”
Work allocation varies by group. In corporate, for example, “we have a weekly call on Monday where the head of the corporate group in New York checks who needs work and who doesn’t,” explained an associate when considering work allocation. However, the work relationships that associates create are the main sources of work. “I work on three or four different matters with different partners who keep coming back to me.” One of the perks of working with the same partners is that associates “know what the partners like and dislike. Even though I don’t get to work with everyone, I don’t feel like I have missed out on too much.” The firm clarified that associates are not formally aligned with partners.
In the business practice group, associates work with “equity funds, developers, real estate companies and wealthy individuals doing their own development.” With a number of subgroups under this practice, associates can work on matters in transactional tax, commercial real estate, corporate/M&A and real estate finance. Associates can expect to conduct doc review, general fact development and assist with drafting letters and correspondence. Juniors also conduct “due diligence, take part in the negotiation of ancillary documents and draft leases while orchestrating the moving parts and the mechanics of the deal.” A pleased associate highlighted that they’ve been able “to be put up for projects that are more involved, dynamic and with more client contact.” Another source agreed: “When you do a good job, you get more opportunities. It’s a great feeling!”
Business clients: Redwood Capital Investments, Enterprise Security Solutions, ClassPass. Represented 1-800-Flowers in the acquisition of all the assets of Alice’s Table, a Boston-based, female-led company.
From white-collar defense to commercial litigation and mass torts, there is a wide array of work in the litigation practice. Pharmaceutical groups are common clients in the product liability subgroup: “We do a lot of motions practice and medical records review to understand medical histories,” an associate revealed. Junior associates also conduct research, work on first drafts of motions to dismiss and take part in deposition prep. “I have been given opportunities to turn my research into writing. I have also been placed in a managerial position over staff attorneys for doc review. I monitor deadlines, let everyone know what’s coming up and what we need to do,” an associate described.
Litigation clients: Brooklyn Public Library, Marriott International, Archdiocese of New York. Represented Morgan Stanley in RMBS-related litigation.
In the government practice, associates work on “litigation around government contract awards and explore contract performance issues and bid protests.” The practice also does compliance consulting specifically in the area of federal grants requirements. “We write white papers and make spreadsheets and decision trees that outline compliance obligations for the clients and their grant officers.” Junior associate tasks can depend on the size of the teams. “If there is a partner, a counsel and an associate on the team, the work involves doc review for background facts to make claims or arguments.” Our source specified that “the partner or counsel will take the higher-level work and we will take the discrete segment of the substantive work product.”
Government clients: National Aquarium, Crowley Maritime, Agile Defense. Defended the Department of the Air Force’s $83 million award to Leidos for engineering and integrating the Medusa system.
An associate in the Baltimore office explained that “being in a city that isn’t New York or DC allows for a better quality of life without stressful commutes - this elevates the atmosphere.” Our sources indicated that the firm tries to create a community and supportive environment. “I can ask my workmates to pick up the slack when I cannot,” an associate said. Other cultural factors that associates in the Baltimore office appreciate include “the managing partner knowing the names of all associates, and being paid the New York salary. This helps us feel as valued as the New York and DC associates."
“It’s nice to have scheduled time to take things easy.”
As Berge notes, “we know that associates are still seeking some flexibility and cherishing the time back in our offices, so we organize group lunches and other human touch points.” From cocktail hours to firm-sponsored luncheons, there is no shortage of social events. An associate described an event where “the firm set up a putting green in a restaurant overlooking the Baltimore harbor.” An insider based in New York was relieved to find that “when growing the firm through acquisitions, Venable does a good job at making sure everyone keeps the culture going.” Another New Yorker explained that Venable is “less self-important than other firms. We had a Halloween lunch with a costume contest. It’s nice to have scheduled time to take things easy.” To join up the culture across offices, the firm runs an associate book club.
Hours and Compensation
Billable hours: 1,900 requirement (1,950 for bonus)
With 87 percent of our survey associates saying that the workload and hours are reasonable, a pleased associate highlighted that “I don’t know many associates who are extremely overwhelmed.” Most of our sources told us that they work an average of nine to ten hours. “I am at the office for about ten hours for a strong billable day. Then I go home and relax with my son and wife.” For one associate, “the busy times are not frequent. This year has been slower but it’s true across all corporate groups.” Associates also indicated that working extremely late hours is not part of Venable’s culture. “When I leave at 6pm, I’m usually one of the last people to leave. When partners pass by your office, they ask when you’re going out and about to start having fun.”
When it comes to compensation, associates mentioned that it is “slightly below market. The trade-off is I feel like I don’t have to work too - it’s worth it to have the weekends to myself!” It should be noted the firm follows the $205,000 scale. One of our sources considered compensation with respect to the long-term. “If you are working somewhere where you get all this money, but partnership is unattainable, then it’s not worth it." However, some of the associates we talked to felt that there should be more clarity when it comes to bonuses. “The bonuses are discretionary. I don’t know what goes into the bonus processes,” an associate confessed.
Similar to most law firms, “as people get more experience and prove themselves, they get more responsibility.” This comes with mentorship from partners and senior associates. “We have women attorney mentorship programs, which are a good opportunity for cross-practice-group mentorship.” In terms of formal training, associates highlighted that the firm offers a great online library for resources on topics such as writing, building a business, M&A or the lifecycle of a deal. Informally, “senior associates take time at the beginning to teach you so you can do it yourself.”
“It blows my mind how invested partners are in developing me.”
“After the fourth or sixth year, there is an official meeting with a partner and a member of the career development team to discuss career goals,” we heard. This team works with associates to help them “acquire the types of skills we should have mastered at every level in the firm,” an associate emphasized. An enthusiastic junior told us: “It blows my mind how invested partners are in developing me. I get invitations to meet really big clients and the facetime has been great.”
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
In 2022, Venable achieved the Mansfield 5.0 certification. “We have a chief diversity and inclusion officer and several affinity groups to support these efforts,” Berge highlights. These include Venable success Network for African Americans, Women Attorneys at Venable (WAVE), LGBTQ+, VAMOS for LatinX associates and Asian Pacific Excellence (APEX). As an associate explains, “the WAVE events allow us to talk about how things are different for us. We also have associate book club meetings that the D&I team encourage us to join, and a 1l program that’s only for minorities.”
Insiders described these initiatives as a chance for the firm to “catch up. The firm’s been behind in its DE&I efforts, but is making a concerted effort now.” Another insider added: “The firm has done a great job making DE&I a priority. But it's not just about having programming related to DE&I. More can be done, like having more Asian partners and promoting people that have children to partnership.” The firm conducts “regular educational programming on topics such as the impacts of racism and discrimination. This week, we had a panel on black resistance in America and the moderator was a Venable associate,” Berge notes. One associate called this a “powerful speaker series. We have things like that throughout the year for all communities.”
Venable’s pro bono matters include “immigration causes, re-entry assistance, wrongful conviction work and tenant advocacy projects.” There is no limit to how many hours of pro bono associates can do, but only 50 count as billable. “If associates don’t hit the billable hour requirement but had lots of pro bono, it would wave favorably for them.” Our sources highlighted that pro bono is highly encouraged. “The people in my group were excited when I got experience in front a judge through pro bono.” One associate recalled working on a “special juvenile petition for two children seeking asylum.” Juniors were pleased that they've had a great amount of autonomy over the projects they have taken on. “While partners do play a role in high-level review, I have picked the projects and charted the direction on each myself.”
Pro bono hours
- For all (US) attorneys: 29,736
The first stage: recruitment on and off campus
OCI applicants interviewed: 871
Hiring partner Ellen Berge tells us: “While there is an emphasis on recruiting from local schools in each of our markets, we make a conscientious effort to review write-in candidates and candidates coming through resume drops in real-time.” She adds: “Typically, we like for students to be in the top of the class, but we’re not restricted to recruiting from the T14. Most of our entry-level class is filled by former summer associates, but we do go to the market for clerks on occasion.”
Associates revealed: “Particularly in Baltimore the number one thing we’re looking for is a commitment to the region. We want to make sure people won’t leave after a couple of years.” Berge adds: “During OCI, we’re looking for folks who are comfortable, poised, and able to articulate their interest in the firm and in BigLaw generally. It is important that candidates demonstrate a good academic record, but also be well-rounded and focused.”
Top tips for this stage:
"It sounds obvious, but be ready to explain your path to law school, prior work experience, extracurricular involvement, and interest in the firm." —hiring partner Ellen Berge.
Berge explains: “We have two options for callback interviews. The first is an interview event where candidates individually meet with four attorneys and one member of the recruiting team in our office. Events generally conclude with either a luncheon reception or a cocktail reception. These events allow students to meet more attorneys at the firm, observe how our attorneys interact with one another, and get to know potential summer classmates and peers.” The second option is a traditional interview, structured the same way, but without the social gathering afterwards.
When it comes to the interview questions themselves Berge tells us: “At this stage they tend to be more open-ended and may focus on a candidate’s particular practice group interests and assessing whether they’re the type of candidate who will thrive in Venable’s environment. For example, candidates may be asked to describe an instance where they had competing deliverable deadlines or a time when they disagreed with a peer on the approach to a group project and how they navigated that collaboration.” Associates said: “It’s important to be upfront about which practice areas you’re interested in so that you can meet individuals and get a feel for the team. When I know people are interested in certain areas I’ll channel them towards the right people in happy hours and so on.”
Top tips for this stage:
"Do your homework. Research the firm’s practice areas and be able to articulate why you are interested in Venable specifically and why you’re interested in the market in which you’re interviewing (if it’s not obvious from your resume). Be genuine, candid, and don’t hesitate to ask questions." —hiring partner Ellen Berge.
Anticipated summers 2022: 55
“Our program is designed to give summer associates a realistic depiction of what everyday life is like as a junior associate. In each of our offices, summer associates are given the opportunity to work on assignments across practice groups,” Berge summarizes. “Summer associates receive real work assignments on behalf of real clients — the same type of assignments our junior associates receive throughout the year.” She adds: “Building professional relationships is another essential part of the summer associate program. Informal dinners, happy hours, and lunches are some of the best ways for the summer associates to get to know our attorneys.”
Top tips for this stage:
"Ten weeks goes by quickly, so take every opportunity to get to know your peers and attorneys! Even if you have a particular practice group focus, we encourage summers to try a little bit of everything. Taking work from different groups not only gives summers a wider social network when they return to the firm as first years, but gives the Hiring Committee a full portfolio on which the summer can be evaluated." —hiring partner Ellen Berge.
“When I was a student – and this goes for all law firms – I didn’t realize that they keep track of who attends open-house events or the hospitality suite or table at an OCI event. Soft networking all counts and firms do take note.” – a second year associate.
600 Massachusetts Avenue,
Main areas of work
Our clients rely on Venable’s proven capabilities in all areas of corporate and business law, complex litigation, intellectual property, and regulatory and government affairs.
With over 800 attorneys in nine offices across the country, we are strategically positioned to advance our clients’ business objectives in the United States and abroad. Clients choose Venable for the skill, dedication, creativity, and superior service that our legal and professional staff provide. Attracting and retaining the best talent isn’t just essential to the successes of our clients and our firm—it’s central to elevating the legal profession through continuous learning, improvement, and innovation.
American University, Washington College of Law; Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law; Columbia University School of Law; Cornell Law School, Duke University School of Law; Fordham University School of Law; George Mason University School of Law; George Washington University Law School; Georgetown University Law Center; Harvard Law School; Howard Law School, Loyola Law School, Los Angeles; New York University School of Law; New York Law School, Stanford Law School; T. C. Williams School of Law at the University of Richmond; University of Southern California, Gould School of Law; University of Baltimore School of Law; UC at Berkeley, Boalt Hall School of Law; UC Hastings College of the Law; UC Irvine School of Law; UC Los Angeles School of Law; University of Maryland School of Law; University of Michigan—Ann Arbor Law School; University of Pennsylvania Law School; University of San Francisco; University of Virginia School of Law; Vanderbilt Law School, Villanova University School of Law; William & Mary, Marshall-Wythe School of Law. We will also attend the Southeastern Minority Job Fair, Mid-Atlantic BLSA, Western Region BLSA Job Fair, Northeastern BLSA Job Fair, and Lavender Law Job Fair.
Summer associate profile:
Successful candidates display high academic achievement in their law school and undergraduate education. We look for motivated candidates who combine intellectual ability with enthusiasm and a collaborative approach. In addition, we give careful attention to all aspects of a candidate’s experience and abilities and like to see the following: participation in extracurricular activities highlighting leadership skills, commitment, and time management; excellent written and oral communication skills; ability to work well with others and independently; Law Journal and Moot Court participation preferred; prior work experience is a plus.
Summer program components:
Summer associates are assigned to active matters in all areas of corporate and business law, complex litigation, intellectual property, and regulatory and government affairs. At the beginning of our program, we bring the entire summer class together for a robust orientation in our Washington, D.C. office. In addition to providing the opportunity to network with peers, the orientation kickoff allows summer associates to build relationships with firm leadership and to learn about our culture and values. We firmly believe that a talented and diverse legal team delivers the best results for our clients, and we are committed to inclusion, openness, and support for all employees. To meet these standards, we welcome summer associates from all backgrounds.
Leadership Council on Legal Divesity Scholarship Program:
Venable’s 2022 1L LCLD Scholars Program, available in our Washington, Baltimore, New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles offices, offers diverse law students who will have completed their first year of law school by May 2022 the opportunity to spend a summer working side-by-side with attorneys from LCLD Member Organizations. In certain offices, our 1L LCLD scholars split their time between Venable and a corporate client. Scholars are included in the same project pool as our 2L summer associates and participate in an assortment of professional development and social programming. Applications can be submitted through: www.venable.com/careers
This Firm's Rankings in
USA Guide, 2023
District of Columbia
- Environment (Band 4)
- Intellectual Property: Patent Prosecution (Band 2)
- Intellectual Property: Trademark, Copyright & Trade Secrets (Band 2)
- Real Estate (Band 2)
- Technology & Outsourcing (Band 3)
- Bankruptcy Litigation (Band 1)
- Construction (Band 1)
- Bankruptcy/Restructuring (Band 3)
- Corporate/M&A (Band 1)
- Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation (Band 1)
- Labor & Employment (Band 2)
- Litigation: General Commercial (Band 2)
- Real Estate (Band 2)
- Construction (Band 3)
- Intellectual Property: Patent (Band 4)
- Litigation: General Commercial: Highly Regarded (Band 5)
USA - Nationwide
- Advertising: Litigation (Band 3)
- Advertising: Transactional & Regulatory (Band 3)
- Construction (Band 4)
- Energy: Oil & Gas (Regulatory & Litigation) (Band 3)
- Food & Beverages: Regulatory & Litigation (Band 3)
- Franchising (Band 3)
- Government Contracts: The Elite (Band 4)
- Leisure & Hospitality (Band 4)
- Life Sciences (Band 5)
- Political Law (Band 4)
- Privacy & Data Security: The Elite (Band 2)
- Product Liability & Mass Torts: The Elite (Band 4)
- REITs: Maryland Counsel (Band 1)
- Transportation: Shipping/Maritime: Regulatory (Band 2)
- Litigation: General Commercial (Band 3)