Arnold & Porter - The Inside View

Hailing from DC, this elite litigation outfit is a shoo-in for all things government.

Not many firms can claim to have played a pivotal role in the formation of the US justice system, even among the BigLaw breed. Arnold & Porter can proudly call itself one of the exceptions. The firm represented Clarence Earl Gideon in the landmark Gideon v Wainwright 1963 Supreme Court case that determined all states must provide attorneys to criminal defendants who cannot afford their own. As a result, 2,000 people were freed in Florida alone. The firm also obtained the first posthumous presidential pardon in US history on behalf of soldier Henry Ossian Flipper in 1999.

“Prestigious litigation practice.”

Today, the firm continues to work on high-profile cases. For example, it has recently represented Anne Sacoolas, the wife of a CIA agent who is accused of killing 19-year-old motorcyclist Harry Dunn, and who sought diplomatic immunity. Chambers USA awards the firm with eight litigation accolades, across California, Colorado, DC, Illinois and New York. No surprises then that A&P’s “prestigious litigation practice” was often cited as a reason for joining the firm by our interviewees. Many also highlighted career opportunities as a key draw, pointing out that “we have a great reputation for sending people to government.” Incidentally, A&P is recognized as a national leader by Chambers USA for its government-related work.

Back in 2017 the firm merged with New York-based outfit, Kate Scholer, helping to cement its position as a major international outfit with bases in London, Shanghai, Brussels, and Seoul. In the US, the firm has nine offices. Most of the associates on our list joined the DC HQ, while New York was the second most popular destination. The remainder were spread across San Francisco, LA, Denver, Chicago, Silicon Valley and Houston.

The Work

Newbies rank their top three practice areas before joining the firm and are sorted into a group once they arrive. Litigation was by far the most popular group, taking on just under 50 associates, followed by corporate and finance. Tax, real estate, government contracts, and national security all came in at third place. The remaining associates were distributed among the antitrust, IP, technology, environment, life sciences, financial services, and legislative groups.

"We deal with a lot of protests before the Government Accountability Office.”

Securities, white-collar, product liability, government contracts, and employment all fall under the general litigation banner. Newbies spend their formative years as generalists before choosing a specific group to join in year three, though we were told that many continue to work across multiple groups. One source told us: "Even though A&P assigns you to a practice group immediately upon joining the firm, I have not found this to be confining. The practice managers are extremely helpful and want to give you the work you are most interested in." On the product liability side, associates were kept busy with multi-district litigations: “They have a lot of moving parts like discovery, research and motions briefings,” one source in San Francisco relayed, adding that “I’ve also helped prepare maybe 15 depositions, one of which I took on my own.” Another added: "I love A&P's products liability group.  I've spent most of my first year here working on a major MDL, and it has provided me with some incredible opportunities I didn't expect to have so early in my career.  The group lets you take on responsibilities if you ask, such as being the sole attorney for the client to attend a deposition."

Litigation clients: Airbus, EY, Samsung. Represented General Electric in litigation arising after a tsunami struck Japan’s Fukushima-Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant.

Government contractswork is primarily handled by the DC office: “We deal with a lot of protests before the Government Accountability Office.” For the uninitiated, there is a large body of law that governs transactions between the federal government and its purchase of goods or services, which can involve anything from buying toilet paper to procuring sophisticated web systems: “If agencies don’t follow the regulations, we file lawsuits. I’ll review the documents, draft the preliminary protest, and help more senior associates piece together the written product.” There isn’t much client contact here due to the classified nature of materials. “I have to be prepared for anything to happen in the case at any given time,” one source shared, adding that “it’s a really exciting, specialized area of law which Arnold & Porter is the best at.”

Government contracts clients: Oracle America, SpaceX, Airbus. Represented HomeSafe Alliance, a move management provider to the US Armed Forces, in a protest against the Department of Defense’s $20 billion Global Household Goods contract with a US shipping line. 

M&A forms the bulk of Arnold’s corporate & finance practice. “The firm brings in a real mix of deals, but recently we’ve had a lot of transactions in the industrial sector,” one junior relayed. Irrespective of the nature of the deal, the rookie's role is usually the same: “Although I’ve done fairly standard first-year tasks, like due diligence, drafting the ancillaries, and pulling schedules together, I’ve also directly engaged with clients on conference calls, which my peers at other firms don’t seem to do.” As associates become more senior, they’ll lead negotiations with counterparties: “I’m the liaison between the client and the firm so they actually respect me, which is valuable.”

"It’s a newer area of law so it’s less organized, which means it’s a bit like herding cats, but it’s very interesting!”

Alongside its core practice groups, A&P also has expertise in more niche areas of law such as cannabis and wellness products. “Obviously it’s a newer area of law so it’s less organized, which means it’s a bit like herding cats, but it’s very interesting!” As different states begin to legalize cannabis for medicinal or recreational use, associates help clients with licensing matters. “We also help them acquire farms to grow the product, or retail space to sell the product.” We heard financing those transactions can be tricky: “You can’t structure them the same way you would something that is federally legal.” It’s a fast-paced practice, especially as the end of the year draws near: “Right now I’m slammed because everyone wants to close their deals by Christmas.”

Corporate clients: Novartis, American Securities, CBB Bancorp. Acted as co-counsel to Pfizer in its $6.7 billion acquisition of Arena Pharmaceuticals.

Hours & Compensation

Billable hours: 2,000 target 

Associates need to bill 2,000 hours to get a bonus, but can credit 200 hours of pro bono, business development, and participation in diversity and inclusion initiatives once they’ve put in 1,800 billable hours: “It makes the billing target more manageable and means you don’t feel like you’re wasting time by devoting time to non-billable work,” one source reflected.A&P didn't match the latest salary raise set by Cravath at the time of writing, but did dish out the same, special COVID-19 bonus as its peers.

Our survey results reveal that associates at A&P put in slightly less hours than the average junior associate in the US. In the new reality of remote working, many reported “working the same hours but spread over a longer period of time.” For one insider, this meant “taking a long break in the afternoon before logging on again after dinner.”

"Mentors are determined to avoid you burning out."

Naturally, our insiders reported on ebbs and flows depending on workloads: “If I’m on a deal I’ll be working around the clock, but if not I’ll have a pretty quiet week. That limbo period can be stressful.” New joiners warned: “It takes several months to ramp up when you first join the firm, but you also have to be careful not to make the classic first-year mistake of taking on too much.” However, sources were pleased to report that “people are cognizant of the hours you do, and mentors are determined to avoid you burning out - they look out for your wellbeing.”  Overall, our latest survey results show that over two thirds of respondents thought they had a good work/life balance, solidly above the market average.

Culture and Career Development

“My favorite thing about this firm is the mentorship program,” declared one insider. Each newbie is assigned a partner mentor and associate mentor. Since the pandemic struck, the firm has assigned an additional peer mentor: “It’s usually someone in the year above who’s there to show you the ropes, like how to send an email to partners or how to use firm resources. They have more time than more senior mentors, so you can build a good rapport with them.”

Associates were pleased to have found informal mentors, too: “I work with a senior associate who is based in a different office, but they’ve really taken an interest in my career development which has been great.” One particularly pleased source told us: “The vibe I got during OCIs stayed true; attorneys here are truly invested in helping associates grow.” All summers and associates are also given a budget (around $150 a month) to take mentors out for lunch, to encourage networking. “As a summer, I tried out just about every nice restaurant within a half mile of the firm,” one junior in New York enthused.Those who joined the firm remotely felt the firm “really knocked it out the park” in terms of integrating them: “There was always someone available to answer my questions and my colleagues often reached out to me. They were really kind and welcoming.”

It’s worth noting that A&P had asked attorneys to work in the office 50% of the time at the time of research. Although only a small number of our survey respondents intended to make partner at the firm - one source citing “the objectively small partner class” as a barrier - those who planned on leaving in a few years made it clear their issue was with the BigLaw lifestyle and not the firm. For one insider, A&P was “probably the most humane BigLaw firm in terms of hours and colleagues. I'm planning to stay until I can afford to work in a public interest field.” Associates can also make use the firm’s career counselors even after they’ve left the firm.

Pro Bono

Arnold and Porter ranks among the top firms in our guide for the average number of pro bono hours undertaken by its associates. Indeed, our insiders were adamant that “the firm’s commitment to pro bono is unparalleled, especially in DC. Leadership is really involved in this work, which trickles down to everyone else.” All attorneys are encouraged to do at least 20 hours of pro bono a year, which counts equally with billable hours, though some wished there wasn’t a 200-hour cap on crediting this work.

"My old firm didn’t do any pro bono so I’m grateful to have the opportunity here.”

“I’ve never felt any repercussions from doing this work,” one source told us, adding that “my old firm didn’t do any pro bono so I’m grateful to have the opportunity here.” The firm has a vast array of projects associates can help with, and often announces positive outcomes of these projects. A&P has relationships with Planned Parenthood, legal aid offices, schools, and environmental outfits. Our insiders had also worked with an entity in Kenya to protect local tribes and wildlife, as well as Afghan refugees on asylum cases.

Pro bono hours (2021)

  • For all US attorneys: 115,538
  • Average per US attorney: 133

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

A&P has an active network of affinity groups, including VALOR (Veterans and Affiliates Leadership Organization), WISE (Women's Initiative for Success and Empowerment), and ACCORD (Attorney Community Championing Our Racial Diversity). The latter holds firmwide, bi-weekly meetings plus localized meetings where partners and associates can chat in a more informal setting. In the past year, the firm also created a black caucus to analyze and improve the advancement of black people at the firm.

Read more about the role of affinity groups at A&P here.

That said, sources also clearly felt the firm could be doing more to diversify its senior ranks. One insider also felt initiatives “lacked visibility,” with one source reflecting that “it often feels they are paying lip service to the issue without follow-through.” Some were similarly skeptical about the firm’s mental health initiatives: “There’s lots of programming but some of the stuff is pretty lame, like being told we should smile every morning because it makes you feel better.” The firm does run daily mediation for attorneys who sign up. Others thought the firm’s culture was most indicative of its appreciation for wellbeing: “Senior attorneys are committed to making sure juniors are doing ok, which is way more useful than specific initiatives. The firm also allows people to take sabbatical, so they do put their money where their mouth is.” Moving forward, we were also told that the DC and NY offices have mental health advisers who are available in the office twice a month for in-person, phone, or zoom appointments.

Strategy & Future

It’s also worth noting that A&P received significantly higher scores for addressing climate change than the other firms in our guide, according to our associate survey. Associates also agreed that the firm is proactive in making clients aware of how to make changes to their business operations. The firm itself has made some changes internally. In the DC office, for example, the firm’s removed all disposable utensils.

Get Hired 

The first stage: recruitment on and off campus  

OCI applicants interviewed: 1,136  

Interviewees outside OCI: 76  

'Geographic diversity' is one of Arnold & Porter's primary aims when it puts together a summer class, so interviews take place across the country and write-ins are encouraged. Partners, counsel and senior associates alike conduct OCIs. School alumni are often picked for this, as are current and former members of the firm's recruitment committee.  

Beyond the usual academic criteria, applicants are also questioned on their commitment to the location they're interviewing for; how much research they've done into the firm's practice; and additional skills like languages or a technical education. Given the firm's DC roots, it's no surprise that a clerkship will stand you in good stead if you’re looking to join the litigation practice.  

Top tips for this stage:  

“I was asked about my first summer internship, and felt like I needed to speak substantively about the lessons I learned from it. They questioned me on why I chose to do it and the value it offered.”  

“A lot of firms don't want to hear you talk about pro bono in interviews, but at Arnold & Porter people are glad to hear you're interested in it.”  


Applicants invited to second stage interview: 457 

Alumni from the candidate's law school also hop on board come callback time, where those who've progressed to this stage meet between four and six attorneys for interviews. At least one of these will take place with a lawyer/lawyers working in the practice area that the applicant is interested in. More informal lunches or coffee meetings with other attorneys might be included if there's time.  

Potential summers get quizzed on why Arnold & Porter is the firm for them, and would do well to think up some thoughtful questions about their target practice area or the firm more generally ahead of time. Keep in mind the following things the firm is looking for: interest in Arnold & Porter's specific practice; realistic expectations about working at the firm; leadership potential; commitment to the firm's values; and general good manners and intelligence.  

Top tips for this stage:  

“People here aren't really arrogant or show offs. It's all about overall fit, so don't be afraid to show your personality: we're not looking for candidates who are bookish to the point they can't function in a team.”  -  a junior associate 

“We look for candidates who are interested in our work and core values, and are intellectually curious and collegial. We want to know why candidates are interested in Arnold & Porter, so be prepared to answer that question when you interview.”- Arnold & Porter 

Summer program  

Offers: 214  

Acceptances: 76 

Arnold & Porter prefers summers to spend at least the first eight weeks of the summer with them. That time will be filled with actual case work – the vast majority of summers will get to sample a variety of practice areas – as well as events like a two-day training forum and more fun stuff. Houston, for example, hosts a Bayou City Bike Tour so everyone can get to know the local area better; over in New York, events have ranged from taking in a Broadway Show to a baking class at Milk Bar. The firm adapted these events for the virtual summer program in 2020.  

Give your all when it comes to the work side of the summer: the firm is looking for content they can use to form part of real cases, and a strong work ethic is a prerequisite for coming on board. As in every summer program, it's also crucial to treat everybody at the firm with respect and professionalism. Don't panic, though – the vast majority of summers return to the firm as juniors, and if you've made it this far you've clearly got the skills to make the cut.  

Top tips for this stage:  

“If by the end of the summer you can find a niche you're interested in, make your mark there and when you come back work will be waiting for you. It's invaluable to come out of the summer with a sense of how your path will progress going forward.”-  a junior associate 

“Attorneys are genuinely interested in meeting summer associates. Take every opportunity to meet attorneys at the firm and don’t be afraid to reach out to someone directly. They want to get to know you and your interests and talk about their practice and the firm.”  - Arnold & Porter 

And finally...  

Arnold & Porter made it crystal clear to us that anything that shows commitment and makes you stand out from the crowd – even if it's totally unrelated to law – is worth talking about at interview.  

Arnold & Porter

601 Massachusetts Avenue, NW,
Washington, DC,

  • Number of domestic offices: 9
  • Number of international offices: 4
  • Worldwide revenue: $1,033,000,000
  • Partners (US): 302
  • Associates (US): 470
  • Contacts 
  • Main recruitment contact: Amanda Leslie, Firmwide Director of Attorney Recruiting
  • Hiring partners: Angela Vicari, Darren Skinner
  • Diversity officer: Anand Agneshwar, Diversity & Inclusion Committee Chair; Brenda Carr, Chief Officer of Diversity & Inclusion 
  • Recruitment details 
  • Entry-level associates starting in 2022: Anticipated 75 (includes 9 clerks) 
  • Clerking policy: Yes
  • Summers joining 2022: 1Ls: 7, 2Ls: 63 
  • Summers joining/anticipated 2022 split by office: Washington DC: 25, New York: 22, San Francisco/Silicon Valley: 7, Los Angeles: 5, Denver: 4, Chicago: 5, Houston: 2  
  • Summer salary 2022: 1Ls: $4,135 /week 2Ls: $4,135 /week 
  • Associate salaries: •1st year: $215,000 • 2nd year: $225,000  
  • Split summers offered? Case by case
  • Can summers spend time in overseas office? No

Main areas of work
Our nearly 1,000 attorneys in 13 offices practice across more than 30 areas, including antitrust, corporate and finance, intellectual property, life sciences and healthcare regulatory, litigation, real estate, and tax, providing clients a multi-disciplinary approach to their most complex legal issues.  

Firm profile
Arnold & Porter is recognized for its regulatory experience, sophisticated litigation and transactional practitioners, and leading multi-disciplinary practices. We are the firm of choice for 121 Fortune 250 companies. The firm’s core values of excellence in the practice of law, maintaining the highest standards of ethics and professionalism, respecting and promoting diversity and individuality among our colleagues, and maintaining a deep commitment to public service and pro bono work, keep us grounded, focused, and evolving to meet new opportunities and challenges.

Law Schools attending for OCIs in 2022:
Arnold & Porter interviews students from over 40 law schools across the country. Please visit our website for a complete list of job fairs and on campus interview programs.

Recruitment outside OCIs: Please visit our website for interviewing and application options outside of OCIs.

Summer associate profile: Our firm is a collection of independent, diverse personalities who share a common devotion to first-class legal work and client service. We seek candidates with outstanding academic and extracurricular achievements, relevant work experience, as well as strong interpersonal skills and references.

Summer program components: Our summer associates experience the firm’s strong commitment to excellence, diversity, pro bono work, and professional development, working side-by-side with our attorneys on actual client matters. We endeavor to match work assignments to each summer associate’s practice area and pro bono interests. . Our summer associates participate in the firm’s extensive training programs, including attending a retreat in one of the firm’s US offices. All summer associates have mentors and receive feedback on each assignment. Our summer program features a mix of social events and programming designed to appeal to a broad range of interests.

Social media
Recruitment website:
Instagram: arnoldandporter
LinkedIn: Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer LLP
Twitter: @arnoldporter
Facebook: Arnold-Porter-Kaye-Scholer-LLP

This Firm's Rankings in
USA Guide, 2022

Ranked Departments

    • Environment (Band 3)
    • Life Sciences (Band 4)
    • Litigation: Appellate (Band 2)
    • Technology: Outsourcing (Band 2)
    • Technology: Transactions (Band 4)
    • Corporate/M&A: Highly Regarded (Band 1)
    • Litigation: General Commercial (Band 1)
    • Antitrust (Band 2)
    • Bankruptcy/Restructuring (Band 1)
    • Corporate/M&A & Private Equity (Band 3)
    • Environment (Band 1)
    • Healthcare (Band 1)
    • Healthcare: Pharmaceutical/Medical Products Regulatory (Band 2)
    • Intellectual Property: Litigation (Band 3)
    • Intellectual Property: Patent Prosecution (Band 3)
    • Intellectual Property: Trademark, Copyright & Trade Secrets (Band 2)
    • Litigation: General Commercial: The Elite (Band 3)
    • Litigation: White-Collar Crime & Government Investigations (Band 2)
    • Real Estate (Band 1)
    • Tax (Band 4)
    • Telecom, Broadcast & Satellite (Band 3)
    • Bankruptcy/Restructuring (Band 3)
    • Litigation: General Commercial (Band 5)
    • Antitrust (Band 3)
    • Corporate/M&A: Highly Regarded (Band 4)
    • Environment (Band 3)
    • Intellectual Property: Patent (Band 5)
    • Intellectual Property: Trademark, Copyright & Trade Secrets (Band 4)
    • Litigation: General Commercial: Highly Regarded (Band 2)
    • Litigation: White-Collar Crime & Government Investigations: The Elite (Band 4)
    • Real Estate: Mainly Corporate & Finance (Band 4)
    • Advertising: Transactional & Regulatory (Band 4)
    • Antitrust (Band 2)
    • Appellate Law (Band 4)
    • Bankruptcy/Restructuring: Highly Regarded (Band 1)
    • Capital Markets: Securitization: ABS (Band 3)
    • Climate Change (Band 2)
    • Corporate Crime & Investigations: The Elite (Band 4)
    • Corporate/M&A: Highly Regarded (Band 5)
    • Environment (Band 2)
    • False Claims Act (Band 1)
    • Financial Services Regulation: Banking (Compliance) (Band 4)
    • Financial Services Regulation: Banking (Enforcement & Investigations) (Band 3)
    • Food & Beverages: Regulatory & Litigation (Band 3)
    • Government Contracts: The Elite (Band 1)
    • Government Relations: Federal (Band 2)
    • Healthcare: Highly Regarded (Band 1)
    • Intellectual Property (Band 4)
    • Intellectual Property: Trademark, Copyright & Trade Secrets (Band 2)
    • International Arbitration: The Elite (Band 2)
    • International Trade: Export Controls & Economic Sanctions: The Elite (Band 3)
    • International Trade: Trade Remedies & Trade Policy (Band 4)
    • Leisure & Hospitality (Band 4)
    • Life Sciences (Band 3)
    • Life Sciences: Regulatory/Compliance (Band 1)
    • Privacy & Data Security: Highly Regarded (Band 1)
    • Product Liability & Mass Torts: The Elite (Band 1)
    • Product Liability: Regulatory (Band 1)
    • Retail (Band 4)
    • Securities: Regulation: Enforcement (Band 4)
    • Sports Law (Band 4)