With the twin-turbo power of two legacies under its hood, A&P is driving forward with a practice that’s full of life.
MERGERS always come with challenges – ask any married couple going – but the union between DC outfit Arnold & Porter and New York stalwart Kaye Scholer has certainly proven fruitful a few years down the line. “Upper management has consistently presented data that the merger has gone well,” a junior insider revealed. “A big part of that is likely due to a good cultural fit between the legacy firms.” A&P scored highly in our data survey for associate happiness, support and camaraderie; interviewees described the firm as a “healthy place to work. The partners make associate quality of life a priority.”
Financial performance is, of course, another priority: A&P’s track record post-merger has been impressive, with revenue growing consistently (although there was a slight dip for the 2019 financial year). The firm doesn’t lean too heavily on any one practice for its income and scores 20 nationwide Chambers USA rankings for government contracts, antitrust, environment, IP, life sciences, product liability, and mass torts work. Legacy A&P’s birthplace DC is still the largest office and scores its own commendations for environment, healthcare, IP, and real estate.
Strategy & Future
The firm’s connections in the capital have served it very well recently – global law and public policy practice head John Bellinger took the job of representing US diplomat Bill Taylor during impeachment proceedings brought against President Trump. In 2019, A&P welcomed Allon Kedem, former assistant to the US solicitor general at the DOJ, to help grow its appellate and Supreme Court practices. Don’t expect the firm’s future to pivot solely around DC: a source suggested: “We’re likely to see a more DC/New York hybrid HQ firm” as the last of the merger machinery clicks into place. Chairman Richard Alexander has previously confirmed to us that Arnold & Porter won’t “drive toward new practice areas that aren’t already part of the firm’s DNA.” Instead, expect a continued push in the firm’s core practice areas: antitrust, financial services regulatory, life sciences, real estate finance, government contracts and international arbitration.
“The partners make associate quality of life a priority.”
Just over a third of juniors were based in New York; a third were in DC; and the rest split between Chicago, Denver, Los Angeles, Houston and other offices. “A&P tends to be a practice group-focused firm rather than office-focused,” so associates frequently work with colleagues from across the US. Some in the high-headcount DC office found things “a little bit solitary – a lot of internal communication is done by phone or email.” Smaller offices come with “more of a family atmosphere,” according to sources in Houston.
General litigation is the most common destination for new arrivals. Securities, white-collar, product liability, government contracts, employment disputes and more all fall in here: “There’s a bunch of subgroups, but most associates work on some products related-cases,” interviewees explained. “That said, there’s no strict rule about what you can or can’t work on.” Junior litigators spend their first three years as generalist practitioners after which “you can pick a specialty.” Many of the second and third years we spoke to acted for pharmaceutical and medical device companies, “with matters ranging from traditional products cases on failure to warn, to consumer protection class actions. Product liability has been a mainstay of our litigation practice for decades.”
“I can say for certain that through first year I got more experience as a litigator than anyone in my law school class.”
Whether they were helping to write motions for summary judgment, preparing partners for taking and defending depositions, or enjoying extensive involvement in discovery stages, our litigation sources were all happy with their experiences so far. “I can say for certain that through first year I got more experience as a litigator than anyone in my law school class,” one of them said. “There were times when I worked a lot of hours especially right before trial, but it was so exciting I didn’t notice.” Another was shocked to find themselves taking their first deposition “having barely started second year.” It’s worth noting that smaller offices like Denver often work for local clients.
Litigation clients: Endo Pharmaceuticals, Pfizer, JPMorgan Chase. Defended Samsung in consumer class action litigation following the recall of Galaxy Note7 phones due to lithium ion battery issues.
A&P’s transactional wing acquired new depths after the combination with Kaye Scholer: M&A continues to be the bedrock of the practice, and the firm represents buyers and sellers in the mid-market with matters typically ranging from $100 million to $2 billion. Juniors in the investment management subgroup were mostly structuring and maintaining investment funds. “The San Francisco office handles more real estate and private equity funds,” an insider said. “The East Coast and New York does more hedge fund work.” A&P’s broad-brush strength in life sciences means there’s “lots of crossover” with practices like IP and litigation, acting for institutional biotech and pharma clients. Corporate juniors spent most of their time “drafting the documents a fund needs to legally operate and give out to investors,” while dealing with ancillary issues like “transferring investors’ interests after a fund has launched or providing regulatory guidance for the restructuring of legacy funds.”
Corporate clients: DC Capital, American Securities, First Republic. Advised Flushing Financial’s holding company during its $111.6 million acquisition of Empire Bancorp.
A rising star at A&P is the environment practice, which has climbed up the Chambers USA rankings nationwide. The work covers contentious regulatory and litigation cases; “compared to the East Coast, California is a different beast” because of the sheer range of environmental laws in effect there. A&P provides advice on RCRA (monitoring solid and hazardous waste), Proposition 65 (requiring businesses to list warnings for chemical exposure which could cause cancer or birth defects), and energy and environmental issues before the California State Legislature. Leanly staffed teams in the department make for elevated responsibility: “I’ve sat across from general counsel for some large companies, but I have never felt at a disadvantage,” a San Francisco source shared. “That’s reflective of the firm’s trust in associates.” Drafting sections of federal briefs and working on a first name basis with clients and opposing counsel, associates were left “dumbfounded by the range of experience – I feel like I’m a real lawyer!” Associates in New York get to practice with the stars: Michael Gerrard, a Columbia professor, climate change law expert and A&P attorney, coedited the impressive Legal Pathways to Deep Decarbonization in the United States.
Environment clients: Growth Energy, Bayer CropScience, Honeywell. Represented BP on dozens of claims linked to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
“Arnold & Porter takes on more important pro bono cases than I can keep up with,” one source laughed. “It’s hard to hyperbolize the firm’s commitment to pro bono.” Plenty of our junior interviewees did just that: “It was a huge draw. Every firm talks about pro bono, but I came away from my interview at A&P believing it was truly important.” We spoke to associates who celebrated their involvement in an amicus brief against President Trump’s ‘Muslim and refugee ban’ as well as work on behalf of parents and children separated at the US border. They were also keen to mention Arnold & Porter’s Supreme Court victory, with ACLU, after the US government’s attempt to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census.
“…the firm backs up its talk when it comes to pro bono.”
Even in transactional practices, associates found it easy to take on pro bono through “a great pipeline of work; partners really respect the time you spend on it. Arnold & Porter backs up its talk with action when it comes to pro bono.” The firm encourages each attorney to devote at least 15% of their time to pro bono and allows associates to bill at least 200 hours toward the billing target.
Pro bono hours
- For all US attorneys: 107,865
- Average per US attorney: 115
Hours & Compensation
Billable hours: 2,000 target
With 200 of those hours coming from pro bono, business development, training or 'firm service,’ sources were confident enough to say that reaching the goal isn’t too strenuous. Doing so earns a full market bonus, and “the firm is also notorious for having discretionary bonuses for billing hours above that target.” Perhaps that’s an incentive to counterbalance A&P’s hour logging system, which left a lot to be desired on the part of our interviewees. “It’s the last thing you want to be dealing with at the end of the day,” one grumbled. “You should be able to bill just for doing your billing!” Associates are at least well compensated for their troubles: all the firm’s offices pay the same New York market starting salary.
“The hellish periods are few and far between.”
In San Francisco, “there are no official remote working policies and it tends to be quite partner-specific,” whereas in DC we heard that working from home was not part of the lawyerly routine. Litigators found their schedules more predictable than the “volatile” lives of transactional attorneys, but across the board we heard “the hellish periods are few and far between.”
Following a “bunch of training” in the early going and “a ton of CLE opportunities advertised,” juniors were relieved to find that A&P doesn’t frontload its program. “I’m coming into my third year now and I’m doing specific deposition training as well as writing training group sessions.” Others highlighted three full-time career development consultants who provide associates with advice on long-term planning, whether that’s within the firm or not. There were mixed reports on day-to-day feedback from partners: “Some people aren’t as transparent as others, but overall there’s a fair amount.” Sources welcomed the recent introduction of mid-year evaluations as well as post-merger changes to the associate promotion ladder. There’s now a formalized ‘senior associate’ position, and associates (year six and above) “get a ranking to explain where you stand among peers" at the end of the sixth year. That might sound frighteningly competitive, but associates considered the process largely procedural and many are promoted after going through the process.
With the firm’s merger now firmly in the history books, culture clash was nowhere to be found during our interviews and we couldn’t see the join. In New York (former home to Kaye Scholer), sources said: “There’s still a very New York feel. There’s a work hard, play hard atmosphere here.” Every Thursday and Friday the firm utilizes its internal bar spaces for attorneys to gather, socialize and “break down barriers” – many fondly referred to ‘Garden Room socials.’ These were less popular in some smaller offices: “The firm made a big move to run socials everywhere but were unsuccessful in San Francisco, maybe due to its smaller size.” Socializing in the bigger offices tended to be practice group-specific, and a junior “was surprised by the lack of socials in DC. Many of us have families and live in the suburbs, so they’d rather go home.”
“I think the word ‘reasonable’ is most apt to describe A&P.”
“We still have retreats and parties, they are just calmer” than at some more gregarious firms, another source assured us. “A&P makes time for fun, but the excitement of working here comes from the types of cases and work you get.” Work hard, play hard indeed. Juniors across the firm “appreciate the laid-back atmosphere,” with one summarizing: “I think the word ‘reasonable’ is most apt to describe A&P.”
Diversity & Inclusion
If A&P has put as much effort into its diversity program as naming its affinity groups – VALOR (Veterans and Affiliates Leadership Organization), ACCORD (Attorney Community Championing Our Racial Diversity), and WISE (Women's Initiative for Success and Empowerment), it can only have been a success. “Overall the firm takes the initiative to be inclusive,” interviewees said. “There’s been a conscious effort during recruiting and we have programs hosted by various affinity groups on social issues, which make the office feel more inclusive.” Inclusivity training sessions scored less positive feedback, but juniors were happy with the firm’s recruitment efforts, mentoring, promotion opportunities and diverse staffing overall. “I’ve been told that diversity is a consideration for promotion prospects,” one noted.
The first stage: recruitment on and off campus
OCI applicants interviewed: 2,372
Interviewees outside OCI: 55
'Geographic diversity' is one of A&P'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 A&P people are glad to hear you're interested in it.”
Applicants invited to second stage interview: 496
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 A&P 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 A&P'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.”
“In the past we've had candidates express an interest in an area that makes it clear Arnold & Porter isn't for them, so consider carefully what the firm does.”
A&P 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.
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:
“Associates get a lunch budget during the summer, so introduce yourself to everyone around the office and get to know as many people as possible over lunch!”
“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&P 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,
- Number of domestic offices: 10
- Number of international offices: 5
- Worldwide revenue: $961.2 million
- Partners (US): 284
- Associates (US): 472 (includes 41 staff attorneys)
- Main recruitment contact:Attorney Recruiting Hiring partners: Ellen Fleishhacker, Darren Skinner
- Diversity officer: Anand Agneshwar, Diversity & Inclusion Committee Chair; Brenda Carr, Director of Diversity & Inclusion
- Recruitment details
- Entry-level associates starting in 2020: Anticipated 66 (includes 10 clerks)
- Clerking policy: Yes
- Summers joining/anticipated 2020: 1Ls: 7, 2Ls: 63
- Summers joining/anticipated 2020 split by office: Washington DC: 23, New York: 25, San Francisco/Silicon Valley: 9, Los Angeles: 5, Denver: 3, Chicago: 3, Houston: 2
- Summer salary 2020: 1Ls: $3,655/week
- 2Ls: $3,655/week
- Split summers offered? Case by case
- Can summers spend time in overseas office? No
Main areas of work
Our 1,000+ attorneys in 15 offices practice across more than 30 areas, including antitrust, corporate and finance, intellectual property, life sciences and healthcare regulatory, litigation, real estate, and tax, provide clients a multi-disciplinary approach to their most complex legal issues.
Arnold & Porter is recognized for its regulatory experience, sophisticated litigation and transactional practitioners, and leading multidisciplinary practices. We are the firm of choice for 133 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 2020: 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. www.arnoldporter.com/en/careers/law-students-trainee-solicitors/careers-recruitingevents
Recruitment outside OCIs: Please visit our website for interviewing and application options outside of OCIs. www.arnoldporter.com/en/careers/law-students-trainee-solicitors/careers-recruitingevents
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 first-hand 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 seek to match assignments to the interests each summer associate has identified, including pro bono work. 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 events designed to appeal to a broad range of interests.
Recruitment website: www.arnoldporter.com/en/careers
Linkedin: Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer LLP
This Firm's Rankings in
USA Guide, 2020
- Environment (Band 3)
- IT & Outsourcing: Outsourcing (Band 2)
- Life Sciences (Band 4)
- Litigation: Appellate (Band 2)
- Litigation: General Commercial (Band 3)
District of Columbia
- 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 3)
- Intellectual Property: Litigation (Band 4)
- Intellectual Property: Patent Prosecution (Band 2)
- Intellectual Property: Trademark, Copyright & Trade Secrets (Band 2)
- Litigation: General Commercial (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 4)
- Litigation: General Commercial (Band 4)
- Antitrust (Band 4)
- Corporate/M&A: Highly Regarded (Band 4)
- Intellectual Property: Patent (Band 4)
- Litigation: General Commercial: Highly Regarded (Band 3)
- Litigation: White-Collar Crime & Government Investigations (Band 4)
- Real Estate: Mainly Corporate & Finance (Band 4)
USA - Nationwide
- Antitrust (Band 2)
- Appellate Law (Band 4)
- Capital Markets: Securitisation (Band 4)
- Corporate Crime & Investigations (Band 4)
- Environment (Band 2)
- Financial Services Regulation: Banking (Compliance) (Band 4)
- Financial Services Regulation: Banking (Enforcement & Investigations) (Band 3)
- Food & Beverages: Regulatory & Litigation (Band 3)
- Government Contracts (Band 1)
- Government Relations (Band 3)
- Intellectual Property (Band 4)
- Intellectual Property: Trademark, Copyright & Trade Secrets (Band 2)
- International Arbitration (Band 2)
- International Trade: Export Controls & Economic Sanctions (Band 3)
- International Trade: Trade Remedies & Trade Policy (Band 3)
- Leisure & Hospitality (Band 4)
- Life Sciences (Band 2)
- Privacy & Data Security (Band 4)
- Product Liability & Mass Torts (Band 1)
- Securities: Regulation (Band 4)