If you’re wondering about antitrust and IP specialists with an M&A and litigious flavor, you’re Axinn the right questions.
Ultimately, it’s very simple: if you’re interested in antitrust law but would prefer not to get lost at a global behemoth, then Axinn may the answer. A small firm with four offices (New York, DC, San Francisco, and Hartford), and fewer than 100 lawyers in total, Axinn is an antitrust boutique that also specializes in IP and litigation. DC is its largest office and over half of the juniors on our list were based there, with just a handful located in New York, and a couple in San Francisco and Hartford.
“Axinn is the Navy Seals of ligation.”
Axinn may be small, but as want-to-be lawyers know, size and stature are not the same thing. Axinn is a mighty name in the antitrust space, acting for giant, global firms like Google, Dell, Stanley Black & Dekker and a host of life-sciences and pharma companies. The firm is recognized by Chambers USAin New York,DC, and nationwide for its competition work and for its litigation nous in Connecticut.
“Axinn is the Navy Seals of ligation,” stated one junior with confidence. While we can’t speak to that, we can say that the firm’s culture is one of “being proud of your work, but there’s no one-upping each other.” In other words, excellence without ego. “I think students are maybe missing out,” said one associate. “The firm is small, and some people aren’t as familiar with the firm, but I think I’ve had a better year than anyone I’ve talked to. We work with huge clients, the hours are good, and I feel valued. People shouldn’t overlook our firm just because of name recognition.” If that isn’t enough, other reasons juniors joined the firm included a desire to do antitrust (particularly from the firm’s DC office), while others were attracted to the firm’s “entrepreneurial spirit and the size of the firm.”
For those looking to join Axinn, you apply directly to “one of the legs” of the firm: antitrust, IP or litigation – it’s where you’ll summer and where you’ll join (although there are people who do crossover into a different practice). And while the firm does do all three, interviewees estimated “60-65% is antitrust, 20% is IP and the rest is litigation,” which was reflected in the firm’s list of second and third years. We heard that the work was completely cross office, with staffing incorporating all four of the firm’s offices. In antitrust, “there are two main partners in DC. They get a weekly availability report – how many hours we worked and what we anticipate – and they assign new work based on capacity.” Both the IP and litigation practices have similar work allocation set up to the model in antitrust.
As one of the go-to firms for antitrust matters, Axinn has been involved in several of the biggest cases in this sphere. The firm works on billion-dollar deals and specializes in M&A antitrust work, such as Dell’s $67 billion purchase of EMC, cartel work – both domestic and international – and litigation (not to be confused with its actual litigation department, which we will say more about later). Sources explained that “the split between M&A and litigation is informal. There are antitrust generalists and specialists.” Sources added “juniors are not expected to specialize and you’re encouraged to do it whatever way suits you,” so if you want to specialize, go right ahead, but there’s no expectation or requirement to do so. But sources added that “because work is assigned centrally there’s only so much say you have over your work.”
“I’m dealing one-on-one with general counsel at a big company.”
Given the firm’s size, it goes without saying that teams are leanly staffed, and sources felt there was a fair bit of responsibility as a result. “We do do things that a typical first year would do – edits and doc review etc. – but we also do stuff that more advanced associates would normally do.” Such as? “I’m dealing one-on-one with general counsel at a big company,” one highlighted. Another flagged “drafting answers to complaints, outlines, and a proposal case-management order.” Sources also mentioned “putting together advocacy decks, and doing deposition work such as witness preparation.”
Antitrust clients: Google, Thermo Fisher Scientific, and Tyson Foods. Represented cannabis company Columbia Care in its $240 million acquisition of Green Leaf Medical.
For every Google in antitrust, there’s a Johnson & Johnson or Samsung in IP. As with its antitrust practice, the firm’s IP team is a go-to for some of the world’s biggest companies. “The majority of the work is bio, pharma and life sciences patent litigation,” sources noted, but, as clients like Samsung suggest, the firm is “expanding into tech.” Matthew Becker, the firm’s managing partner, tells us that "we’ve made investments to grow and build out our IP capabilities on the tech side, which is already seeing a lot of success. We’re handing some very important cases for world-leading tech companies such as Samsung and Thales." With a litigious bent to the practice area, junior sources “did a combination of document review and discovery,” but also did a fair bit of “drafting – that was the case from the beginning.”
IP clients: Par Pharmaceutical, Samsung, and Novitium Pharma. The firm represented Samsung in a case in which it was accused of infringing on two patents assigned to the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.
But with both IP and antitrust doing so much litigation work, what exactly does the litigation department do? “Our litigation team is more commercial,” sources explained.For example, the team successfully represented Reed Smith in a case brought against it by rapper 50 Cent who alleged legal malpractice. But the team also defended pharmaceutical company, Alvogen, in an antitrust matter and regularly handles both antirust and patent cases, often in the millions of dollars. “There is overlap,” sources acknowledged. “The departments are technically separate, but the lines are blurry.” Both antitrust and IP sources acknowledged “a lot of the people we work with are in litigation. They do their own thing and do do non-antitrust litigation, but they do serve the antitrust or IP group, and vice versa.”
Litigation clients: Reed Smith, New York Community Bank, and Align Technology. Axinn represented Prophet and Poet in an Article 77 proceeding in the New York Supreme Court.
Hours & Compensation
At a small, boutique firm that represents the world’s biggest companies, there’s “high expectations, but good rewards.” What former means in terms of hours is around 50 hours a week, which is keeping with the 2,000 billable requirement for bonus (1,800 for good standing). No-one indicated undue pressure to work, in fact, we heard one associate had “been actively asked not to work too many hours,” while others flagged “very little weekend work.” Financially, the firm is “extremely competitive in terms of associate compensation,” says Becker, with the firm having upped its first year salary to the new £215,000 market rate set by Milbank back in early 2022.
Becker adds: "We think we have the finest group of associates that can be assembled, and we work extremely hard to train and develop that talent." Juniors told us it’s “standard to get one senior mentor, partner or of counsel and a junior mentor.” On top of that, there are “monthly meetings where we hear from a speaker,” alongside regular training sessions on, for example, “how to give a deposition.”
We heard Excel skills came in handy, so anyone looking to go the extra mile might want to brush up on these. “In antitrust, prices and things are very important,” one associate explained. ”A lot of it is getting large data sets and analyzing it for what we’re looking for. Knowledge of Excel is useful. It’s not required – there’s training for those who don’t know it – but it is useful.”
Strategy & Future
Becker is clear about where the firm's focus will be in the future: “Our growth has been driven by our strategy and what we see as being the right size to meet our clients’ needs. We are not a firm that wants to grow just for the sake of growth. We have no plans to become a huge general practice firm. Our growth is directly related to our model of being the best in our specific areas of focus: antitrust, IP and litigation."
If you work at Axinn, you are part of Axinn. “When you’re in a room full of lawyers more senior of you, you’re encouraged to speak up if you have a good idea.” Sources regularly highlighted how supportive the firm is, and found that “throughout the pandemic there were constant check-ins with mentors and a lot of feedback in real time, which is has been very useful.” From a professional standpoint, juniors described the culture asone where even juniors are “treated as people who are going to be there at the firm a long time.” That said, sources made sure to emphasize that “the firm encourages very high-qualify work product. We’re not about speed, we about being the best.”
“There’s been a lot of support, compassion, and empathy.”
The notion of “feeling valued” was a common sentiment among our interviewees. One source was pleased to report “I’ve been very, very happy with the culture here.It’s very tightknit. I know people in my office and the other offices.” To that point, the firm prides itself on being one firm across offices, with juniors adding “the firm is willing to place you in any of them.”
Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
Sources acknowledged that “antitrust really isn’t a diverse area.” One noticed “I went to a conference last month and you look around the room and it’s old white men. That’s a hurdle.” That said, in terms of gender, “it’s very strong. I feel we have a remarkable proportion of female partners and I haven’t seen that women are leaving the firm at a higher rate.” The firm’s diversity committee contains “around one third of the firm,” and includes both lawyers and non-lawyers. There’s also “a newly installed chief diversity officer.” Juniors were also impressed with the firm’s approach to mental health: “There’s been a lot of support, compassion, and empathy.” Some noted that “other aspects are less advanced, but it’s a huge priority for the firm right now.”
On the pro bono front, associates can count up to 100 hours towards the billable target. Sources explained that “you’re encouraged to do it, but there’s no pressure to take it on.” In terms of work, sources in the New York office mentioned “representing restaurant owners against landlords in Covid-related litigation,” while DC juniors mentioned work for the Washington Lawyers for the Arts non-profit. “Pro bono is pretty open. If you find something, then you can normally find someone to help you do it.”
Pro bono hours
- For all (US) attorneys: 5,395
- Average per (US) attorney: 60.6
The first stage: recruitment on and off campus
OCI applicants interviewed: Undisclosed
Interviewees outside OCI: Undisclosed
Axinn conducts OCI at 19 schools, attends five job fairs and participates in resume drops at several additional schools each season. At each location, interviewers meet with 15 to 25 students. The firm attends the following job fairs: MCCA Diversity Career Fair, NEBLSA, Bay Area Diversity, Lavender Law and the Loyola Patent Fair. Additionally, Axinn participates in Google’s Legal Summer Institute, a unique in-house and law firm experience where underrepresented 2L law school students are invited to spend the first week of the program at Google followed by a full summer internship with an outside counsel law firm.
Our interviews are conducted by partners or associates who are typically alumni of those schools. Hiring partners at the firm tell us interviewers look for “bright, motivated and team-oriented” individuals who have a demonstrated interest in the firm’s practice areas: IP, antitrust and litigation. Candidates will be asked behavioral-type questions, such as describing a situation where they proved to be a reliable teammate.
Top tips for this stage:
“Having a summer internship at the Federal Trade Commission, the Department of Justice, or the state equivalent of those goes a long way to demonstrating an interest in antitrust.” – a junior associate
“We look for someone who’s interested in what we’re interested in. When big decisions come out of the DC Circuit, people here are tracking it. Not just because our work is in it, but because we’re interested in it and love it.” – a junior associate
Applicants invited to second stage interview: Undisclosed
Successful candidates are invited to four to five half-hour interviews with partners and associates. Here, interviewers will be gauging “candidates’ ability to think analytically, their interest in our practice areas, and their fit within a team-oriented work environment.” Hiring sources continue that “candidates should be prepared to discuss one of their writing samples in detail, examine legal issues they have studied or analysed from all angles, and provide examples of how they embody the attributes we value.”
Top tips for this stage:
“They like to see there’s some real intellectual interest in antitrust. My interview was a lot like that – they were making sure I had the chops!” – a junior associate
“Be knowledgeable, be passionate, be engaged, be yourself.” – hiring partners Ted Mathias, Nick Gaglio and John Tanski
Successful candidates are hired directly into their desired practice group in the firm’s summer program, which will run for ten weeks from mid-May to mid-July. Summer associates typically get work assignments within their respective groups, but there can be opportunities to work on projects outside of their group as well. Work is assigned by the recruitment staff, but attorneys at the firm can also assign tasks directly.
Summer associates are assigned two mentors and get regular training programs. Social events range from virtual smaller team-building events to larger office-wide programs. Our summer associates can expect to travel to other offices and have ample opportunities to attend depositions, court hearings and trials. Summer associates receive offers directly from their chosen practice group, and they tend to stay in that group throughout their career at Axinn.
Top tips for this stage:
“We encourage summer associates to seek out opportunities of interest, such as working on particular matters of interest (including pro bono opportunities) and sitting in on depositions.” – hiring partners Ted Mathias, Nick Gaglio and John Tanski
Interview with Axinn's managing partner, Matthew Becker
Chambers Associate: How would you describe the firm’s current market position?
Despite the unprecedented events of the last two years, our current market position remains very strong. We’ve maintained our standout position in the marketplace, particularly in antitrust and IP, and we continue to represent some of the world’s most recognizable companies such as Google, Dell, Stanley Black & Decker, and pharmaceutical company Alvogen.
We have a very active practice advising clients at the intersection of IP and antitrust, including, for example, standard essential patents. We’re currently representing the Thales Group in multiple patent actions relating to standard essential patents. We are also representing multiple clients in antitrust lawsuits that have arisen out of patent infringement cases.
CA: Would you characterize the firm as in growth mode?
I would. Since the end of 2017, we have grown from 60 to 110 lawyers. The pace of growth has been the most rapid since we opened in the late ‘90s. We opened a San Francisco office in 2018 and we’ve made a number of new partners over the last several years.
Our growth has been driven by our strategy and what we see as being the right size to meet our clients’ needs. We are not a firm that wants to grow just for the sake of growth. We have no plans to become a huge general practice firm. Our growth is directly related to our model of being the best in our specific areas of focus: antitrust, IP and litigation.
CA: Does the firm have any set targets with regards to diversity?
In addition to diversifying our partnership with seven women partners added in the last few years, we also named a new Chief Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Officer, Leslie Overton. Leslie, who is also a partner in our antitrust group, is focused on developing strategies to meet our DE&I objectives.
In her role, Leslie also works closely with the firm’s DE&I Committee, chaired by partner Jason Murata. The DEI Committee is the firm’s largest, with a membership that includes nearly a third of the firm’s attorneys and professional staff. This team drives internal and external initiatives and is also focused on the DE&I aspects of professional development. In addition, it has been very supportive of pro bono efforts and commitment to social justice.
CA: How is the firm changing to accommodate the needs/expectations of the next generation of lawyers?
We’re focusing on being extremely supportive of the next generation of lawyers. We’re an entrepreneurial firm and have had to build the firm and grow it substantially. One of the ways we’ve succeeded in our growth is to increase the number of lawyers and partners at the firm who are in charge of substantial client relationships and are active in attracting business. Fifteen years ago, the firm was much smaller, and the business generation was concentrated among a smaller group. But through our focus on expanding business development and marketing resources, that concentration has changed dramatically, which is critical to the long-term success of the firm. We have also made a conscious effort to provide this next generation with substantive work on big matters, and to play important, key roles in cases, which adds to their ability to be successful.
CA: What is the greatest challenge facing the firm in the next decade?
Probably the greatest challenge will be to ensure that our next generation of superstars have all the support they need to be as successful as the current generation.
As we look to the firm’s future, we strategically consider whether and how to expand our services. One example is our dominance in antitrust litigation. Ten years ago, we identified a need to develop our capabilities in that area to complement our deal work. We now have a premier antitrust litigation practice, with our work and lawyers recognized by Chambers and other leading rankings organizations. More recently, we’ve made investments to grow and build out our IP capabilities on the tech side, which is already seeing a lot of success. We’re handing some very important cases for world-leading tech companies such as Samsung and Thales. Continuing to invest in our emerging practices is an investment in the future success of the firm and our lawyers.
CA: Is there anything else you’d like to mention?
Even though we are a boutique firm and smaller than our AmLaw-ranked peers, we’ve been extremely competitive in terms of associate compensation and retention. We think we have the finest group of associates that can be assembled, and we work extremely hard to train and develop that talent. Even though things haven’t been completely normal due to the pandemic, there’s very little attrition, and our overall attrition over the last four or five years has been below the market average. Retention of our best talent has been, and will continue to be, a focus for the firm.
114 West 47th Street,
- Head Office: New York, NY
- Number of domestic offices: 4
- Partners (US): 34
- Associates (US): 51
- Main recruitment contact: Rachel Rosado (email@example.com)
- Hiring partners: Nick Gaglio, Ted Mathias, Leslie Overton, and John Tanski
- Diversity officer: Leslie Overton (Partner and Chief Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Officer), Jason Murata (Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Committee Chair)
- Recruitment details
- Entry-level associates starting in 2022: 14
- Clerking policy: Case by case basis
- Summers joining/anticipated 2022: 9
- Summers joining/anticipated 2022 split by office: 4 NY; 3 DC; 2 CT
- Summer salary 2022: 2Ls: $4,135 per week
- Split summers offered? Case by case basis
Main areas of work
Antitrust, intellectual property and complex litigation.
Axinn combines the skills, experience and dedication of the world’s largest firms with the focus, responsiveness, efficiency and attention to client needs of the best boutiques. The firm was established in the late 1990s by lawyers from premier Wall Street firms with a common vision: provide the highest level of service and strategic acumen in antitrust, intellectual property and high-stakes litigation. Axinn’s lawyers have served as lead or co-lead counsel on nearly half a trillion dollars in transactions and, in the last 10 years alone, have handled more than 250 litigations.
Law Schools attending for OCIs in 2022:
Antonin Scalia, Berkeley, Columbia, Duke, Georgetown, George Washington, Harvard, Howard, Fordham, New York University, Stanford, UPenn, Washington University in St. Louis, University of Chicago, University of Connecticut, University of Michigan, University of Virginia, Yale, UCLA
Recruitment outside OCIs:
We visit various diversity and practice group focused job fairs, including Google LSI, MCCA, NEBLSA, Lavender Law, Bay Area Diversity Fair and the Patent Law Interview Program.
Summer associate profile:
We seek to hire students, like you, with excellence in a range of areas that illustrate your desire and potential to be a great lawyer. Academic distinction, law journal participation, moot court experience, and/or prior work experience are just a few of the characteristics that can set an applicant apart.
Our Antitrust practice is one of the largest in the country and counsels leading companies in diverse industries such as technology, health care, sports, aerospace, fintech and many others. We represent clients across the spectrum of antitrust matters: mergers, civil and criminal investigations, and litigation. While many of our attorneys have an economics background, this is not required. Axinn’s IP practice offers skills and experience in numerous industries and technologies, including all areas of life sciences, chemicals, mechanical, electronics and software. A STEM background or degree is preferred, but not required. Axinn’s complex litigation practice represents companies in a broad range of high-stakes business disputes, including matters involving allegations of unfair trade practices, malpractice and fraud. Our trial lawyers have varied academic backgrounds but share a drive to persuade judges and juries through their oral and written advocacy.
Growing to more than 100 attorneys over our 25 years , Axinn continues to excel and flourish. Come learn more about our culture of excellence, opportunity-rich work environment, and strong commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion.
Summer program components:
During their summer with Axinn, associates attend internal meetings and seminars to familiarize themselves with lawyers, clients and a range of projects that comprise our practice. In addition, Axinn attorneys and outside professionals provide training in such topics as legal writing, litigation strategy and how to effectively utilize firm resources and support services. Each training experience emphasizes “learning by doing” and serves to enhance opportunities for summer associates to develop, exercise and build confidence in their skills. Each summer associate is assigned a partner and associate mentor, who are available to prioritize assignments and act as a sounding board. Summer associates are invited to join events such as wine tastings, theater, sporting and museum outings, and cooking classes.
Recruitment website: www.axinn.com
This Firm's Rankings in
USA Guide, 2022
- Litigation: General Commercial (Band 2)
District of Columbia
- Antitrust (Band 3)
- Antitrust (Band 2)
USA - Nationwide
- Antitrust (Band 3)