Alston & Bird LLP - The Inside View

Life’s a peach at this Atlanta-founded juggernaut, which has joined the billion-dollar revenue club of firms and has an array of top-notch practices in areas like corporate, finance, and litigation at its disposal. 

Since flying its Southeastern nest in its home state of Georgia, Alston & Bird has spread its wings across the globe. “We trace our roots back to 1893 and started in Atlanta,” chairman Richard Hays tells us. “Fortunately, due to the growth of our clients, we’ve been able to develop over the years and open offices across the US, as well as in London, Brussels, and Beijing.” That growth culminated in a revenue milestone in 2021, when Alston & Bird joined the club of billion-dollar revenue-busting law firms. The firm is showing no signs of slowing down, as Hays notes that “we’ve had a number of laterals join us – both our headcount and finances have grown. We’ve had a lot of significant, billion-dollar deals and a number of wins in our litigation practice, like Redfin’s victory in a $66 million patent dispute.” 

“Alston is one of the top two firms in Atlanta.” 

Over half of the associates on our list were based in the Atlanta HQ, with the rest spread fairly evenly between the Charlotte, New York, and DC bases. “Alston is one of the top two firms in Atlanta,” commented one source, while another mentioned how they wanted to “be based in the Southeast of the country, plus Alston has a great reputation for in-office work and I really wanted to be on site and learning from mentors.” For those who had opted to be in New York, A&B offered “a BigLaw experience without you feeling like you’re being consumed by a corporation – the New York office has a smaller-firm feel with BigLaw clients and compensation.” 

A&B’s work in sectors like retail and food and beverages is lauded by Chambers USA, which also bestows plenty of nationwide kudos on areas like government contracts, capital markets, financial services regulation and international trade. A whole host of top-tier accolades decorate A&B’s work in Atlanta, including those for corporate, litigation, labor and employment, and healthcare expertise. In Charlotte, A&B is highly respected for its IP know-how, while in New York the firm’s white-collar litigation and tax capabilities come to the fore.  

Strategy & Future  

“2021 was a record-setting year for us,” says chairman Richard Hays, “but this year [2022] we’re ahead of that. We’ve diversified our practices as part of our strategy, and while we have a good level of work across all areas, we have been busier in our litigation and regulatory practices. M&A and corporate isn’t at the breakneck speed it was last year [2021], perhaps due to inflation and the uncertainty over interest rates – we are a professional services firm, and we reflect what’s going on in our clients’ businesses.”  

However, “we’re anticipating a strong 2023: my view is that once there is more certainty around some of the geopolitical and economic issues, we’re going to see a strong uptick in demand.” This forecast has resulted in “some pretty robust hiring – we've had around 50 attorneys join us in the past month and our summer program is the strongest it’s ever been.” Hays tells us that corporate, finance, litigation, and IP are core practices for A&B, but “real estate has been growing and we have a strong representation in the healthcare space. Plus, there’s been a lot of demand in the cyber privacy/data breach area – those matters have been increasing over the last seven years.” 

The Work  

A&B’s litigation and trial practice housed the most associates on our list, followed by the firm’s finance; IP litigation; corporate transactions and securities; and real estate groups. Work assignment methods did vary by practice group. An IP litigator told us that “assignment is very structured in that we get a weekly workload report that tells us how many hours we’ve billed, so if we need more we can fill out the form and someone will give us work. If you’ve got enough, you raise your flag and stop any incoming assignments.” In litigation, meanwhile, we heard that “it’s definitely free market and about the relationships you make – the advantage of that is that you have a lot more control over the work you do.” However, sources did flag that the litigation department has instated an assignment system for more junior associates: “The newer associates do have a rigid structure and their work is assigned intentionally to give them the experiences they’re looking for in their first year.” 

“...the partners here bring in a lot of work from across the country.” 

Litigation and trial practice interviewees noticed that offices had different specializations. In New York, for example, “there are three main categories of work spanning insurance litigation, general commercial cases, and white-collar investigations.” Across the Atlanta and Charlotte offices we heard that “our healthcare expertise is well respected – the partners here bring in a lot of work from across the country.” On investigations, interviewees had been “conducting witness interviews and drafting investigation reports – you do get involved in the big stuff.” Juniors did spend time on doc review and discovery tasks, but one was happy to tell us that they’d soon found themselves “leading a review team and drafting review protocols quickly – I was doing substantive work early on!” The level of responsibility given was above our interviewee’s expectations, as this source enthused: “There have been matters that I’ve been the only associate on, and it really feels like I have my arms around it – it’s my matter!”  

Litigation clients: Dell, Nokia, T-Mobile USA. Represented the latter in the aftermath of a data breach that resulted in over 40 class actions filed across the country. 

“...if you want to go to trial or do depositions, the firm will listen to you.” 

In IP litigation, “the majority of the work is litigious, but there is also a good mix of opinion work tied to patent prosecution matters, where we might be determining whether we want to use patents against other companies.” Sources had worked with clients including telecoms companies and LED light manufacturers and said that responsibilities were case-dependent: “I haven’t gone to trial yet, but there are some associates who are gearing up to do so. There’s been some doc review, but that’s insubstantial compared to the amount of drafting I’ve done, which has included different motions, complaints and depositions.” The good news is that “if you want to go to trial or do depositions, the firm will listen to you – you can get plugged in real fast.”  

IP clients: Universal Electronics Inc, AbleGamers, Represented Universal Electronics Inc during a six-patent lawsuit against Roku. 

The firm’s finance team has sub-teams that cater for lenders or borrowers, residential work, corporate trusts, repurchase transactions and commercial lending. Commercial lending is the biggest area in the Charlotte office, with the team covering “loan originations on the lender side for real estate acquisitions. We do a mix of commercial real estate, finance deals, and servicing work for banks and their trusts.” In the New York office, associates covered “repossession, asset-based lending, and distressed debt trading.” Meanwhile, over in the corporate trusts team, associates worked on a “whole lot of mortgage-backed securities, CLOs and CDOs, working for basically every major financial institution.” Juniors tend to work on many deals at once, with each lasting a couple of months. Typical tasks include running “large-scale due diligence projects and grinding through docs and pulling things out to answer the client questions.” On bigger deals, juniors input comments, review documents, and conduct phone calls. On smaller deals, juniors get to “run the deal basically from start to finish.” This includes juniors reviewing initial document drafts put together by paralegals, and “running calls, checklists, revisions to documents, and closings. They get you up to speed pretty quickly here, then partners check over everything.” 

Finance clients: Wells Fargo, Qatar Airways, J.P. Morgan. Represented The Home Depot during a $3 billion public bond offering. 

Hours & Compensation  

Billable hours: 2,000 target for bonus eligibility

The 2,000-hour billable target is “achievable, but a lot of work!” Up to 150 hours of pro bono and DE&I work can count toward the target, which unlocks bonus eligibility for those who reach it. Base salaries are lockstep and market, which was welcomed by this junior who told us that they “make the same as my friends in New York firms and the bonus is the same!” While billable hours provide the main gateway to getting a bonus, non-billable endeavors can also trigger the release of a separate bonus: “You can get an extraordinary bonus from recorded non-billable activities that have been spent on things like mentoring.” 

“No one is micromanaging you.” 

Most associates were working between 8am/9am and 5pm/6pm, taking a break for dinner and then sometimes logging back on for a couple of hours in the evening. Hours can be “all over the place, in that sometimes you’re billing 230 hours in a month and sometimes it’s more like 125. The average amount I’m working is around eight hours a day, but when it gets busy it goes up to ten. The summers are slower and then things pick up in the fall and winter,” a litigator informed us. Another explained that “all-nighters are sometimes a necessity” but uncommon, but overall sources liked the flexibility they had: “No one is micromanaging you – I can get a haircut in the middle of the day as long as I’m hitting my deadlines.” At the moment, the firm doesn't have a formal hybrid working policy, and while flexibility is a hallmark at A&B, there's still the expectation for associates to come into the office a reasonable number of times and attend events.

Pro Bono 

“The firm’s commitment to pro bono was the most attractive thing about Alston for me,” a source enthused. Associates can get staffed on matters by responding to “email blasts that detail things you might be interested in and can handle by yourself, or you might work closely with a senior attorney who will introduce you to a case.” We were told that there’s “a lot of immigration work, as well as compassionate release matters and Section 1983 claims under the Eighth Amendment that relate to cruel and unusual punishment of prisoners.” Some sources had also helped to write amicus briefs and had got involved with matters surrounding election protection rights. On criminal defense work, this source reflected that “it’s nice to represent someone who needs it, and the firm really focuses on getting clients exonerated and remunerated.” We also heard that the firm takes on quite a bit of pro bono work related to veterans, asylum, and domestic violence matters. Juniors had no qualms about taking on asmany matters as they wanted, even from early on: “The firm has allowed me to engage in several meaningful and substantial pro bono projects during my first year.”  

Pro bono hours 

  • For all (US) attorneys: 57,769
  • Average per (US) attorney: 70.2 

Career Development  

“I feel positive about it,” one source replied when we asked for their thoughts on career development. “The people I’m working for are setting me up for success. One partner is always putting me on client calls and pitching me in on big matters.” This interviewee was especially happy with the firm’s mentorship program (which sees juniors assigned an associate and a partner mentor): “Partners are really busy in BigLaw, but here you get those interactions with them. My associate mentor has been helping me to transition into the firm as well.” Support is provided beyond these frameworks though, with one junior registering how “surprised I was by how much the firm was investing in us, from encouraging us to attend business development meetings to bringing us down to Atlanta for retreats and getting us to update our website bios. It’s a level of emphasis that’s unusual in BigLaw.” The firm hosts an in-person orientation for all new associates and laterals each year, as well as an annual retreat for midlevel associates in Atlanta.

“ the Southeast everyone knows Alston & Bird’s name.” 

“I do see the pathway,” declared this interviewee on the topic of partnership. We heard that associates typically register their interest in pursuing partnership as their fifth year of practice begins, which kickstarts a “two-year period where they pay close attention to you and assess whether you’re partnership material.” To get to that level, “you need to go the extra mile, volunteer for greater responsibility and be hitting 2,000 hours a year,” a source recommended. For those who don’t wish to make the partnership ranks, there are plenty of benefits to honing a legal career at A&B: “The firm’s prestige helps with your future career – it provides a good platform and in the Southeast everyone knows Alston & Bird’s name.” 


“The Southern hospitality of the Atlanta culture trickles up to DC and New York, for sure,” said one Big Apple resident. “We love to socialize together, and it was hard to not connect throughout the pandemic, but we’re back now and seeing our friends – we have a social every Wednesday that is well attended and brings the crew together.” In Charlotte a source commented that “the first thing you notice is the quality facetime you get. The collaborative nature of the partners really comes through and they’re generous with their time to get you up to speed.” 

“Everyone is invited across the practice areas, and it provides a welcome change of pace.” 

One of the cultural highlights in the Atlanta HQ was a weekly firm dinner and happy hour every Thursday: “Everyone is invited across the practice areas, and it provides a chance to get to know people and a welcome change of pace. The college football season started a few weeks ago as well, so everyone wore their jerseys, and they brought in vendors to give us a free lunch.” The overall sense we got from associates was that A&B “doesn’t feel stuffy and it’s warmer than other firms out there. People respect your family life, and you don’t have to worry about getting slammed with too much work!”  This source explained that the warmer atmosphere is maintained by the firm doing things like “keeping a list of everyone’s birthday or upcoming life events like a marriage and celebrating them. The people here are friendly and want you to be happy!”  

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion  

Associates told us the firm is “trying really hard and they’ve made a visible effort to hire more women and people of color. They’ve also started to give credit for DE&I work that will be counted as part of our billable hours target.” Chairman Richard Hays was particularly proud of a recent initiative, the Practice Group Diversity Partner program: “We identified an influential leader within each practice area who will focus on the development and success of our diverse attorneys.” Hays went on to tell us that “more than half of the attorneys we recently promoted to partnership/counsel were either women or diverse attorneys.”

The New York office in particular received a shout out for its efforts: “The diversity here is better than it is at most surrounding firms. The people here make a real effort to ensure the whole spectrum of attorneys feels included – they celebrate the diversity among us.” 

Get Hired 

The first stage: recruitment on and off campus 

OCI applicants interviewed: undisclosed 

Interviewees outside OCI: undisclosed 

Alston & Bird recruits from nearly 40 law schools and job fairs each year. It also conducts resume collections at 25 schools nationwide. The firm takes a “one-firm approach” to law school recruitment, which Chief Legal Talent Partner, Liz Price, tells us means “that students may express an interest in any of our offices regardless of the office(s) represented by our interviewers.” At each school, the firm will interview between 18 and 40 candidates depending on the number of schedules for which they have registered. Interviews are conducted by teams of “enthusiastic” lawyers – usually one partner and one associate who are alumni of the school. 

Interviews focus on “three key factors – desired office location, disposition, and a genuine interest in our firm,” says Price. Interviewers also note that while they are interested in an interviewee’s practice area interest, they understand that not everyone knows exactly what they want to practice so early in their career. 

Top tips for this stage: 

“Make eye contact with your interviewers and be intentional about your responses. Relax and be yourself. We want to get to know you, not a fake version of you.” – Chief Legal Talent Partner, Liz Price 


Applicants invited to second stage interview: undisclosed 

Each office handles the callback process uniquely. Some offices conduct interviews over lunch or dinner, others may conduct them in pairs. Price tells us that “in each instance, however, candidates meet with a combination of partners and associates from various practice groups, levels of seniority, and committees.” All candidates see their schedules in advance of the interview. 

Price tells us that the callback isn’t “only for us to get to know the candidate, but also for the candidate to learn enough about us to decide whether to start their career with the firm.” For that reason, the firm ensures they interview candidates in a way that “encourages open dialogue and two-way conversations. To achieve this, we ask open-ended questions that allow candidates to provide us with examples of past experiences and achievements.” 

Top tips for this stage: 

“Being prepared, showing enthusiasm for the firm and being genuine are critically important to our lawyers.” – Chief Legal Talent Partner, Liz Price 

“When I interviewed here I got this feeling that everyone really cared about me and was actually nice. There were no fake interactions.” – a junior associate 

Summer program 

Historically, Alston & Bird has a nine-week summer program that’s designed to “allow students to maximize their exposure to our lawyers and our various practice areas,” Price explains. Some smaller offices hire summer associates to fill specific practice group needs, but all offices encourage “flexibility with work assignments with no formal rotation required.”  The firm also provides “a variety of training opportunities,” including a firmwide retreat in Atlanta, for “team building, hands-on training, presentations, and plenty of fun.” 

Almost all summer associates return to the firm as first-year associates, while some decide to pursue a judicial clerkship. During the summer, work is assigned “flexibly based on one’s interests, which allows our summer associates to explore a variety of practice groups during their time with us.” At the end of the program, summer associates flag their practice group preferences, and group-specific offers are subsequently determined with this information in mind. 

Top tips for this stage: 

“I always encourage our summer associates to take advantage of the many opportunities provided by the firm, whether it’s a project in an unfamiliar practice area, coffee with lawyers they haven’t met yet, the opportunity to attend a hearing, deposition, client meeting or negotiation, or a fun social activity.” – a junior associate 

“We want to hire people who are committed to maintaining our culture of collegiality, good humor, excellent legal skills, open communication and genuine respect for each other.” – Chief Legal Talent Partner, Liz Price 


Alston & Bird LLP

One Atlantic Center,
1201 West Peachtree Street,
GA 30309

Main areas of work
Alston & Bird provides a full range of services to domestic and international clients. Our core practice areas are intellectual property, complex litigation, corporate, and tax, with national industry focuses in health care, privacy and data security, financial services, and public policy, among others.

Firm profile
Founded in 1893, Alston & Bird is a leading national AmLaw 50 firm. Counseling clients from what was initially a local context quickly expanded to regional, then national levels and now spans a global economic environment. Alston & Bird has overlaid its broad range of legal skills and business knowledge with a commitment to innovation and technology. Alston & Bird has been ranked on Fortune magazine’s ‘100 Best Companies to Work For’ list for 24 consecutive years, an unprecedented accomplishment among law firms in the United States. The recognition speaks to the culture of the firm and the environment in which we practice law and provide service to clients. Alston & Bird has been consistently recognized by the BTI Consulting Group as a US law firm providing superior client service. Eight Alston & Bird attorneys have been named 2022 ‘Client Service All-Stars.’ Now in its 21st year of publication, the BTI Client Service All-Stars relies on in-depth interviews with approximately 350 corporate counsel at companies earning at least $700 million in annual revenue and spanning more than 15 industries.

Law Schools attending for OCIs in 2023:
American, Cardozo, Columbia, Cornell, Duke, Emory, Fordham, George Washington, Georgetown, Georgia, Georgia State, Harvard, Howard, Loyola – LA, Mercer, NCCU, NYU, North Carolina, SMU, Stanford, Texas, UC Berkeley, UC Law San Francisco, UC Irvine, UCLA, USC, Vanderbilt, Virginia, Wake Forest, Washington & Lee

Recruitment outside OCIs:
Bay Area Diversity Career Fair, Lavender Law, Loyola Patent Interview Program, NEBLSA Job Fair, PracticePro Diversity Job Fair, Sonoran Desert Consortium, Southeastern Intellectual Property Job Fair, Southeastern Minority Job Fair (SEMJF), Sunbelt Diversity Recruitment Program

Summer associate profile:
Our lawyers have diverse backgrounds as well as varied social, cultural, civic, and educational interests and our summer associates are no exception. We value hard work, scholastic excellence and strong interpersonal skills.

Summer program components:
Our summer program provides students with substantive work for real clients, hands-on training opportunities, lawyer pairings to help foster relationships, and a firm-wide retreat in Atlanta. Summer associates work closely with their mentors to identify projects from our database that will allow for an authentic experience based on their legal interests. In addition to formal training programs, we offer opportunities to attend depositions, client meetings, hearings, and other hands-on learning experiences. Associate contacts ensure that summer associates have plenty of fun social interactions with attorneys throughout the summer.

Social media:
Recruitment website:
Linkedin: alston-&-bird-llp
Twitter: @AlstonBirdLLP
Facebook: Alston-Bird-LLP

This Firm's Rankings in
USA Guide, 2023

Ranked Departments

    • Antitrust (Band 4)
    • Banking & Finance (Band 4)
    • Construction (Band 2)
    • Environment (Band 1)
    • Real Estate: Zoning/Land Use (Band 3)
    • Antitrust (Band 5)
    • Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation (Band 3)
    • Environment (Band 4)
    • Healthcare (Band 5)
    • Healthcare: Pharmaceutical/Medical Products Regulatory (Band 4)
    • Tax (Band 5)
    • Antitrust (Band 1)
    • Banking & Finance (Band 1)
    • Banking & Finance: Mainly Regulatory (Band 1)
    • Bankruptcy/Restructuring (Band 2)
    • Construction (Band 1)
    • Corporate/M&A (Band 1)
    • Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation (Band 1)
    • Energy & Natural Resources (Band 3)
    • Environment (Band 2)
    • Healthcare (Band 1)
    • Immigration (Band 3)
    • Insurance (Band 2)
    • Intellectual Property (Band 3)
    • Labor & Employment (Band 1)
    • Litigation: General Commercial (Band 1)
    • Litigation: Securities (Band 1)
    • Litigation: White-Collar Crime & Government Investigations (Band 1)
    • Real Estate (Band 1)
    • Tax (Band 1)
    • Litigation: General Commercial: Highly Regarded (Band 5)
    • Litigation: Securities (Band 5)
    • Litigation: White-Collar Crime & Government Investigations: Highly Regarded (Band 1)
    • Real Estate: Mainly Corporate & Finance (Band 5)
    • Tax (Band 5)
    • Tax: State & Local (Band 1)
    • Intellectual Property (Band 1)
    • Litigation: General Commercial (Band 3)
    • Real Estate: Finance (Band 2)
    • Tax (Band 1)
    • Corporate/M&A (Band 4)
    • Intellectual Property (Band 5)
    • Capital Markets: Securitization: ABS (Band 3)
    • Capital Markets: Securitization: RMBS (Band 2)
    • Capital Markets: Securitization: Trustee Counsel (Band 1)
    • Construction (Band 3)
    • Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation (Band 5)
    • Environment (Band 4)
    • ERISA Litigation (Band 4)
    • Financial Services Regulation: Consumer Finance (Compliance) (Band 3)
    • Financial Services Regulation: Consumer Finance (Enforcement & Investigations) (Band 2)
    • Financial Services Regulation: Consumer Finance (Litigation) (Band 2)
    • Financial Services Regulation: Financial Institutions M&A (Band 4)
    • Food & Beverages: Regulatory & Litigation (Band 2)
    • Government Contracts: Highly Regarded (Band 1)
    • Healthcare: The Elite (Band 4)
    • Intellectual Property (Band 4)
    • International Arbitration: Highly Regarded (Band 2)
    • International Trade: Customs (Band 4)
    • International Trade: Export Controls & Economic Sanctions: Highly Regarded (Band 1)
    • International Trade: Intellectual Property (Section 337) (Band 2)
    • Occupational Safety and Health (Band 3)
    • Oil & Gas Litigation (Band 2)
    • Privacy & Data Security: The Elite (Band 4)
    • Real Estate (Band 5)
    • REITs (Band 3)
    • Retail (Band 4)
    • Retail: Corporate & Transactional (Band 2)
    • Tax: Corporate & Finance (Band 5)

More from Alston & Bird:

WATCH: More about the firm's summer program

WATCH: More about the firm's hiring process