A&O Shearman - The Inside View

We’ve determined that newly merged A&O Shearman will be A-Okay, with a strong focus on energy, tech, finance, and life sciences.

Watch out: there’s a new kid on the block – except not really. Rather, it’s more like introducing your hometown best friends to your college best friends, and then they become best friends – you’re combining the best of both worlds! That’s exactly what newly merged A&O Shearman is doing. Unless you’ve been actively dodging any legal news from the past year, you’ve probably heard about A&O Shearman, but here’s some context for those who aren’t in the know: New York’s very own Shearman & Sterling and UK’s Allen & Overy joined forces at the beginning of May 2024, creating one of the biggest group of lawyers in the world. If you’re keeping score, the firm now has around 4,000 lawyers, including 800 partners, across nearly 50 offices. A&O Shearman is the third-largest integrated law firm in the world by gross revenues – approximately $3.5 billion – putting it in the elite leagues on that front too.

Strategy & Future

Sounds like big news? It is. Transatlantic mergers are no small feat; jumping across the (very large) pond to find a firm that feels like the right fit is no easy task. So, like us, you might be wondering, where do you start? Firstly, it’s important to understand what qualities make for a successful merger, and A&O Shearman’s US co-managing partner Dave Lewis helpfully outlines this for us: “For a firm to be providing clients with exceptional service, the whole firm needs to be engaged and working together to successfully implement our strategies and continuously improve the way we do things.” Speaking about what sets this merger apart from others that have come before them, Lewis emphasizes that “what differentiates us is the quality of our people and how engaged they are. The work to fully integrate our teams and businesses continues, and is being incredibly well-managed, but this is all about making sure our people are demonstrating the benefit of this combination to our clients.” US co-managing partner Doreen Lilienfeld echoes this sentiment: “We brought these firms together because we believe in the power of this transformative combination and the opportunities it presents for both Allen & Overy and Shearman & Sterling.” These opportunities include the ability to capitalize on global macro trends, like energy transition, technology, and private capital, as well as the more noticeable benefit of working across US law, English law, and the laws of some of the world’s biggest international markets.

"...anticipate client needs, rise to any challenge, and take a proactive stance as their strategic partner."

Naturally, with its now expanded international reach, A&O Shearman is looking to conquer more cross-border work with its dual citizenship. In Chambers Global, the firm now racks up just shy of 300 ranked departments, with particular transactional strength in banking & finance, capital markets, and corporate/M&A across Europe. In the US, the firm excels in areas like energy, projects, and securities: litigation. Moving forward, A&O Shearman is looking to focus on six key industry sectors: energy & infrastructure, established industries, financial institutions, life sciences, private capital/private equity, and technology. Of this, Lewis is happy to tell us that “by bringing together these two businesses, we have created a new industry leader with a forward-looking approach to delivering excellence and innovation.” Indeed, this merger has transformed their offering to clients, and A&O Shearman has huge strength in the US, UK, and markets all across the globe. Now, aiming to be “pre-eminent in all our markets,” A&O Shearman has created a “one-stop shop firm” through which clients can solve their legal needs and “joined forces to create the law firm of the future, one where we anticipate client needs, rise to any challenge, and take a proactive stance as their strategic partner,” Lilienfeld enthuses, going on to address the ways in which the firm can grow its footprint even further beyond this. “We listened to our clients and their requests for the highest quality advice to help them address their needs and to do so in a globally integrated and consistent manner,” Lilienfeld states, adding: “We also want to recognize that our people are an essential part of this journey. We are shaping a new culture, one that joins the values, vision, and commitment to excellence of two industry leaders.”

Inside the Firm

The culture is set to be a big driver of change at A&O Shearman. So much so that when we asked about the vibe the firm is looking to establish, we heard about a wide range of wellbeing apps and benefits, local wellbeing plans in every office, and 40+ leaders across the firm trained in mental health. Clearly, personal wellness is a huge point of emphasis for the firm, but that’s not all. With AI being front of mind for most firms, working at one with a commitment to training its associates on these tools and integrating them into daily life is becoming increasingly pertinent. Generative AI tools are already currently being used by two-thirds of all the firm’s lawyers in their day-to-day practice. The goal is to also integrate programs like ContractMatrix, which reviews, drafts, and manages contracts, as well as Harvey, which is essentially ChatGPT specifically for lawyers.

A huge part of any firm’s culture is pro bono, and we were told that this will be no different at A&O Shearman. Lilienfeld touches on some of the focuses the firm plans to have: “our lawyers will campaign for the protection of fundamental rights, fight for access to justice, create innovative social finance solutions, support forcibly displaced people, and work on projects to sustain and protect our natural environment.” With cross-disciplinary and multijurisdictional work on offer, there’s likely to be something on offer for everyone, so take your pick!

A&O Shearman expects its people to be in the office around 60% of the time – about three days a week – which is in line with what we generally see across the market. Speaking of the office, everybody in the Big Apple is moving over to the newly refurbished Shearman legacy office. And take our word for it: we’ve seen it, and it’s impressive. Not only is there a full (and free!) barista counter – serving some of the best matcha lattes we’ve ever tasted, might we add – in their café. The gourmet $8 steaks aren’t a bad deal either…

And for the Suits fans, the associate offices are made of glass, just like the ones at Pearson Hardman (or Pearson Specter Litt depending on where you are in the timeline), and associates are free to decorate them however they please! The conference rooms are enormous too, so big, in fact, that there are microphones in the ceiling to transmit sound from one end to another. You can also run laps around some of the tables (yes, we only know this because we tried). Sometimes though, it’s about the little things; there are plenty of more thoughtful finishing touches around the office, such as walls full of artwork by artists from every country represented at the firm.

"...we hope and expect that A&O Shearman ultimately becomes a leader in promoting representation across the legal field..."

Diversity, equity, and inclusion is at the heart of A&O Shearman’s ambitions. Lilienfeld attests to this, saying: “Fitting with our position as a truly global law firm, we hope and expect that A&O Shearman ultimately becomes a leader in promoting representation across the legal field in the very near future.” To do so, the firm participates in numerous programs designed to support the advancement of under-represented groups in the legal industry. This includes the Smart Start work experience scheme, which supports students from low socioeconomic backgrounds, and the Black Aspiring Solicitors Scheme (BASS), which pairs aspiring solicitors from Black/mixed Black heritage backgrounds for a two-month mentorship with one of the firm’s attorneys.

Hiring Processes

Listen up, aspiring associates! A&O Shearman gave us some insight into how you can join its associate ranks. This summer, the firm will be running an integrated summer program with a hybrid rotational and open market system in New York, to honor its commitment to its legacy Shearman and A&O 2024 juniors. But come 2025, after reviewing the feedback from the 2024 summer, the firm will likely implement a rotational system that also includes a centralized assignment database. Summers can be mentored by both associate and partner mentors and develop a better understanding of specific practices, while still allowing for some flexibility to work with various lawyers across practices.

It sounds like there will be a lot of training too, so associates will have the opportunity to gain a wide variety of knowledge about different sectors. For instance, legal technical skills and business development training from experts and academics, practice and sector group universities for juniors, and programming specifically for women and diverse lawyers is all on the agenda. This could come in the form of multi-day intensive courses for newbies, lectures, and special courses in areas like the art of communication legal writing, law firm economics, and more.

Don’t forget your passports, either – we heard that internationally, some of the 2024 summer associates will be split between New York/London, New York/Tokyo, and the Bay Area/Tokyo. Those preferring to stay stateside will still have plenty of cross-office options within the US, as summers will be split between New York/DC and Texas/New York. The firm also plans to expand the international opportunities for summers in the future, so watch this space!

"Your career will be shaped by the relationships you build throughout law school and beyond."

So, if all of this sounds like it’s right up your alley, you’re in luck; we asked the firm’s US co-managing partners if they had any advice for aspiring A&O Shearman lawyers. Lilienfeld recommends “choosing an area of law that interests you and that you are eager to learn more about. The more you enjoy what you do, the more success you will see throughout your career. Practice integrity in your work as well as your relationships, and the profession will reward you.” Lewis encourages law students wanting to join the firm to “ask questions and be curious. Communicate with your colleagues, clients, and mentors. Your career will be shaped by the relationships you build throughout law school and beyond.”

Stay tuned for our upcoming Associate feature with A&O Shearman, where we catch up with juniors at the firm to get the lowdown on life at the newly merged firm...

Get Hired

Coming soon...

A&O Shearman

1221 Avenue of the Americas,
New York,
NY 10020
Website www.aoshearman.com

Main areas of work
Corporate and M&A, Disputes, Finance, Capital Markets, Advisory and Regulatory, and Innovation

Firm profile
A&O Shearman is the result of combining two of the world’s most prestigious law firms into a single industry-leading firm, preeminent in all legal markets throughout the globe. Our 4,000 lawyers collaborate across 47 offices in 29 countries on six continents. We are equally fluent in English law, U.S. law and the laws of the world’s most dynamic markets.

Our global reach, diversity of practice groups and people, caliber of clients, commitment to innovation and uniquely people-centered culture afford our people opportunities not available at any other firm.

Law Schools attending for OCIs in 2024:

OCI Schools:
• American University
 • Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law
• Columbia University Law School
• Duke University School of Law
• Fordham University School of Law
• Georgetown University Law Center
• Harvard Law School
• Howard University School of Law
• New York Law School
• New York University School of Law
• Northwestern University School of Law
• Osgoode Hall Law School
• Southern Methodist University
• Southern University Law Center
• St. John's University School of Law
• Stanford Law School
• Texas Southern University Thurgood Marshall School of Law
• UCLA School of Law
• University of California, Berkeley School of Law
• University of California, Berkeley School of Law
• University of California, Davis
• University of Houston Law Center
• University of Michigan Law School
• University of Pennsylvania Law School
• University of Southern California Gould School of Law
• University of Texas School of Law
• University of Toronto Faculty of Law
• University of Virginia School of Law
• Yale Law School

Career Fair Schools 

• Boston College
• Boston University
• Cornell • Emory
• George Washington University
• Iowa
• Loyola
• Minnesota
• Tulane
• University of Texas New York Job Fair
• Vanderbilt
• Wisconsin
• Washington
• Washington & Lee
• William & Mary

Resume Collects 

• Resume Collects
• Brooklyn
• Chicago
• Hofstra
• Texas A&M
• U Washington
• UC Hastings
• UC Irvine

Summer associate profile:
We seek candidates who are unafraid to go beyond their comfort zone and want to work at the forefront of their profession. Candidates should be ready to embrace change, have a talent for problem solving, and strive to develop broad commercial awareness.

Summer program components:
Our summer program for 1L and 2L law students allows summer associates to work on real, cutting-edge work across various substantive areas, alongside a diverse group of partners and associates. Each summer associate will be paired with a senior and associate mentor, who will help integrate summer associates to the firm both substantively and socially. Summer associates will work in practice groups in which they have expressed interest during the interview and onboarding processes. Some may prefer to work in transactional groups, while others are focused on disputes. Some are undecided and will gain exposure to both types of work. Others may choose to preference a smaller, focused group versus a larger group. The best part is that you decide – and that each summer associate’s path and preferences are unique and individualized.

Summer Associates are provided meaningful formal training through A&O Shearman’s Summer Associate University (SAU) training program. Topics include: Writing, Negotiations, Professionalism, Research, DEI, Wellness, and more. Beyond this formal training program, summer associates gain tremendous practical experience and on-the-job training through our mentoring system and by working alongside our lawyers, who are experts in their field.

During the course of the program, summer associates can expect to regularly receive real-time feedback from the lawyers with whom they are working and collaborating. In addition, summer associates will receive two formal reviews with a member of our Recruiting Committee, one at the mid-summer point and the other at end-summer. This feedback will help you to accelerate your growth and fine tune your skills early in your career.

In addition to lunches, dinners, and practice group events, there will be many opportunities for summer associates to meet and get to know attorneys throughout the firm. We recognize these opportunities as one of the most essential elements of your summer associate experience. We will host engaging and interactive social activities once a week that are designed to encourage summer associates and attorneys to get to know each other on an informal basis, and help you integrate into the firm. Popular events that are regularly included in our event “rotation” in various offices include:

• Battle of the Bites (cooking competition!)
• Converse Shoe Customization
• Baseball Game
• Axe Throwing
• Sailboat Cruise
• Brigadeiros Making
• Concerts
• Volunteer/Community Art Programs

Social media:
Recruitment website: https://www.aoshearman.com/en/careers/united-states/students-and-graduates
Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/showcase/aoshearman-us-and-americas/
Interactive Summer Program Brochure: https://view.ceros.com/allen-overy/ao-shearman-recruiting-brochure/p/1

This Firm's Rankings in
USA Guide, 2023

Ranked Departments

    • Technology: Transactions (Band 4)
    • Corporate/M&A: The Elite (Band 4)
    • Antitrust (Band 5)
    • Litigation: General Commercial: Highly Regarded (Band 2)
    • Litigation: White-Collar Crime & Government Investigations (Band 5)
    • Tax (Band 5)
    • Antitrust (Band 5)
    • Banking & Finance (Band 4)
    • Bankruptcy/Restructuring: The Elite (Band 6)
    • Corporate/M&A: The Elite (Band 4)
    • Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation (Band 2)
    • Environment: Mainly Transactional (Band 1)
    • Litigation: General Commercial: Highly Regarded (Band 3)
    • Litigation: Securities (Band 2)
    • Litigation: White-Collar Crime & Government Investigations: The Elite (Band 3)
    • Real Estate: Mainly Corporate & Finance (Band 4)
    • Real Estate: Mainly Dirt (Band 5)
    • Bankruptcy/Restructuring (Band 5)
    • Corporate/M&A: The Elite (Band 4)
    • Litigation: Securities (Band 2)
    • Technology: Corporate & Commercial (Band 1)
    • Corporate/M&A (Band 2)
    • Banking & Finance (Band 4)
    • Capital Markets: Equity: Manager Counsel (Band 3)
    • Capital Markets: High-Yield Debt (Band 4)
    • Capital Markets: Investment Grade Debt: Issuer Counsel (Band 3)
    • Capital Markets: Investment Grade Debt: Manager Counsel (Band 3)
    • Capital Markets: Securitization: ABS (Band 3)
    • Capital Markets: Securitization: CLOs (Band 2)
    • Corporate Crime & Investigations: Highly Regarded (Band 1)
    • Corporate/M&A: The Elite (Band 4)
    • Derivatives (Band 2)
    • Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation (Band 4)
    • Energy Transition (Band 2)
    • Energy: Oil & Gas (Transactional) (Band 3)
    • Environment: Mainly Transactional (Band 2)
    • FCPA (Band 5)
    • Financial Services Regulation: Banking (Compliance) (Band 4)
    • Financial Services Regulation: Broker Dealer (Compliance & Enforcement) (Band 4)
    • International Arbitration: Highly Regarded (Band 2)
    • Mining & Metals (Band 1)
    • Projects: Agency Financing (Band 1)
    • Projects: Mining & Metals (Band 1)
    • Projects: Power & Renewables: Transactional (Band 2)
    • Projects: PPP (Band 2)
    • Projects: Renewables & Alternative Energy (Band 2)
    • Securities: Litigation (Band 2)
    • Tax: Corporate & Finance (Band 5)