Bracewell LLP - The Inside View

Brace yourself for this Texan firm providing full client service with an “old-school approach to really develop associates into partners.”

“I wanted to be in Bracewell’s HQ in Houston, and the strong energy focus was something I was interested in,” admitted one associate. The firm’s managing partner, Gregory Bopp, seconds this: “To compete for the best talent and win the best clients and matters, we have to have a well-known reputation in certain areas and sectors. That’s why we’re focused on big sectors, such as energy, finance, infrastructure and technology.” And, according to Chambers USA, the firm earns top marks in numerous energy sectors: electrical, oil and gas, and offshore to name a few. Bopp goes on to confirm the strength of the firm’s litigious work, as well: “We have two very large practice areas that complement these sectors, which are litigation and government relations. We are market leaders in all of these areas, which sets us apart when competing for the best clients and talent. ” But the recognition doesn’t stop there – the firm is also known for banking & finance, environment, and real estate in Texas, while the New Yorkoffice has also been noticed for its white-collar crime and government investigations work.

“You really get that Texas feel with a friendly environment and sustainable mindset…”

According to our list, most juniors are based in the firm’s main Houston office, while the remainder are spread across New York, DC, and Dallas. Many associates felt that the firm’s Texan feel would give them a more homegrown experience, as one source detailed that “I was looking for somewhere as a long-term home, rather than joining a big firm to be churned and burned.” And the long-term benefits? The clarity around the partner track: “You really get that Texas feel with a friendly environment and sustainable mindset to allow juniors to develop into partnership.”

Strategy & Future

When we asked the associate cohort about the future at the firm, energy seemed to be Bracewell’s continued strategy. “I know the firm is interested in establishing carbon capture technology and offshore wind. We definitely have the partners as the go-to for this work, so I imagine this will grow,” confirmed one interviewee. Another highlighted the continued growth of litigation at the firm: “Our litigation group is quite big for a law firm at a time when others are downsizing theirs. Bracewell has had some major victories in the past couple of years, so our presence here has grown.”

Bopp notes that the growth strategy for the firm is in fact developing on their strength sectors: “Our strategy is to be consistent in our leading energy finance, infrastructure, and technology, and continue to invest in those areas.” This includes a focus on international markets like London and Dubai. However, Bopp is also eager to tell us about the firm’s expansion into transactional work, as “capital markets and banking and finance are areas we expect to be very busy throughout the course of 2024.” How’s it going so far? “M&A is off to a good start this year. We are optimistic about the level of productivity,” Bopp enthuses.

Read more from Gregory Bopp under the ‘Get Hired’ tab.

The Work

The majority of Bracewell associates sit within the trial group, with the rest sprinkled between corporate & securities, projects,and finance. We heard that associates get most of their work through a free market system. For example, in the corporate & securities group, an associate told us: “We have a free market where from first year, you’re meant to be reaching out and working with partners.” Similarly, in projects, “whenever deals come in, partners will reach out to associates to build teams. It’s down to us to reach out if we have availability to take on work.” Bar a few exceptions, the system was generally received well by interviewees, who claimed that “I personally like it because I’m able to reach out for work that I enjoy and want to keep doing.”

“There is a lot of research, particularly in the energy sector.”

“A lot of our work comes from oil, gas, and renewable energy clients!” said one associate in the trial group. The practice has a mix of commercial, IP, and white-collar work. While the New York office has opportunities available in all three areas, offices like Seattle tend to be more IP focused. “There’s a lot of research, particularly in the energy sector,” stated one associate, and another told us that they were doing a lot of motion writing alongside the typical document review. Interviewees praised the trial group for the opportunities it provides: “It is so nice to get opportunities a more senior associate would get!” And even better, one IP enthusiast noted that the firm’s IP teams operates within the technology space, with “international clients who are really interesting.”

Trial clients: Apache, Saudi Aramco, lululemon Athletica. Represented Chevron in a dispute arising from natural gas sales during Winter Storm Uri.

The corporate & securitiesgroup is said to do mostly M&A and capital markets work. Like the trial group, most corporate & securities clients are within the energy sector. As for what our associates found themselves getting up to, there is more traditional junior work like checklists and diligence to be done, but “I’m also getting opportunities to draft some ancillary documents on deals. It’s nice to be able to do it all.” Bracewell’s juniors are counting their lucky stars, as “when I speak to my friends elsewhere, I realize there’s more opportunity to do more interesting and thorough work here, so it’s above and beyond what I expected when I joined!” In the projects department, associates managed to get their hands on drafting and editing purchase agreements, as well as negotiating agreements. Cross-team collaboration with the real estate team is frequent too since “a bit of your work is going through evaluating risks from the real estate lens,” and it works well because the projects team was described as having “a very collaborative nature.”

Corporate & securities clients: Allegiance Bank, Sabalo Energy, Titus Oil & Gas. Represented Phillips 66 on their $3.8 billion acquisition of petroleum company DCP Midstream.

The financegroup “mainly represents lenders, but we also do borrower work so there’s a healthy mix!” The group’s clientele is largely banks: “We’re there for the before, during, and after for banks, and often our engagement will last years if not decades!” Sector focuses for the team include retail, entertainment, and (drumroll please) – energy! In fact, “the New York office has been doing some renewable work in the solar and battery energy storage area, which is great to get involved in.” Day-to-day life for a finance associate involves running closing checklists and adding comments into documents from the other party on bigger deals, or drafting ancillary documents outside the credit or purchase agreement “on matters where I’m working directly with a partner.”

Finance clients: JPMorgan Chase Bank, Wells Fargo, Citibank. Represented Kinder Morgan as a borrower on two credit facilities with Barclays Bank.

Career Development

Development opportunities were described as a selling point for Bracewell. In fact, a junior even told us: “One of the biggest things I was looking for was a good mentorship program and strong attorneys I could seek mentorship from.” When joining the firm, newbies are paired with a mid or senior level associate on their team, as well a partner in another practice group. “The benefit is that you don’t feel limited in what you can ask them because you’re not rubbing elbows with them,” one interviewee detailed. For others, the informal mentorship was also a fantastic way to learn, “with people teaching me their work and showing me their concept to keep me in the loop.”

“…an all-rounded law school view within the firm context.”

More formal structures of career development include practice-specific training. For instance, transactional associates go through a Business Regulatory Sector bootcamp. Stand down! This isn’t as intense as it sounds: juniors spend four or five months walking through different types of stages in deals in areas like finance, M&A, and capital markets. There is also the chance for associates to dip their toes into specialist groups like tax, antitrust, and environment. Litigation associates also have a bootcamp: “It’s so helpful to get an all-rounded law school view within the firm context,” praised an insider. All these avenues lead somewhere, and the partnership track is something that Bracewell’s associates were ready to face head-on, with 89% of survey respondents agreeing that partnership is realistic at the firm.

Hours & Compensation

Billable hours: 2,000 target

When asked about the achievability of the target, there were mixed reviews amongst associates. “My friends and I talk candidly about it, and we know a low percentage of people hit it every year,” explained one associate. Though another highlighted that first years tend to have difficulty reaching the number due to “the time spent learning and trying to get onto cases.” Transactional associates deemed the target “justifiable,” whereas litigation associates were “unsure they were going to hit the target.” That said, all associates noted that there are no ramifications for first years if they are unable to hit their target. If juniors do go above and beyond and exceed 2,200 hours, there is a special bonus on top of the lockstep bonus up for grabs.

Work-life balance was a high point at the firm, with our survey reporting average weekly hours at 45.4 – a few hours below the market average. While we heard that the average finish time was between 5:30pm and 6:30pm, naturally in BigLaw, late nights can occur. However, associates confirmed that Bracewell try to keep on top of that to ensure “you aren’t working all night.” Logging back on in the evening was a rare occurrence for juniors, with one interviewee even boasting, “I still have my evenings to try out local restaurants, as I’m a big foodie!”

Pro Bono

At Bracewell, 100 hours of the billable target can be filled with pro bono work. Associates gave the firm's encouragement of pro bono a thumbs up, noting that the seniors get involved too. One insider stated: “A few of the senior associates I work with are involved in pro bono, which is encouraging to see.” There is also a weekly firmwide meeting where attorneys share reports of the cases they are working on and the outcomes they've achieved. Although some juniors haven’t managed to get as much hands-on pro bono, the ones who had mentioned working on a range of things from landlord and tenant disputes to supporting artists with copyright agreements. For those looking for litigation pro bono, family and immigration matters were mentioned as work that’s typically available. Even if that’s not your calling, it’s good to branch out, as one interviewee admitted to using pro bono “as a way to get out of my comfort one with interesting work.”

Pro bono hours

  • For all (US) attorneys: 5,669
  • Average per (US) attorney: 18.83


“This an old law firm that has been established in Houston for a long time, and the firm recruits locally to keep that feeling.”

Keeping to their Texas roots, Bracewell is said to have a “Houston feel about it.” As another associate clarified: “This is an old law firm that has been established in Houston for a long time, and the firm recruits locally to keep that feeling.” Don’t despair if you’re not Texas-based – we heard that the wholesome vibe is felt across offices. Those in the New York office benefitted from an open-door culture and approachable partners and senior associates. They even described their office as less “meat-grinder-y” than other firms in the Big Apple.

Socially, the firm has office-wide monthly mixers, which can be anything from happy hours to lunches across the different floors. The summer program was highlighted as “a big time for social events, and everyone is encouraged to attend and mix” with their colleagues. While there’s no formal policy for hybrid working, interviewees stated that “people come in most of the week because everyone likes working with each other!”

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Interviewees praised the firm for their diverse recruitment efforts: “From what we see in the summer recruits, there is a dedicated effort to recruit diverse candidates.” However, when looking further up the ranks, associates were eager to see some change. One stated: “We did have a full female partner class four years ago, which was great. It would be nice to see those opportunities again!”

“…it’s great having someone neutral to voice problems to.”

Bracewell is “improving” though by “making concerted efforts towards being better for diversity,” and juniors were quick to shout out DEI director as a huge proponent of this. “They act as a point of contact on diversity and inclusion issues, and it’s great having someone neutral to voice problems to,” explained one insider. In terms of inclusion, others loved the firm’s Women’s Network that hosts monthly meetings with panels and “provide an open network just to chat,” gender neutral bathroom, guidelines across inclusive language, and regular panel talks. On top of this, part of the 100-hour pro bono threshold can also be allocated DE&I activities.

Get Hired 

LATERAL RECRUITMENT: Find out more about lateral opportunities at Bracewell here. 

The first stage: recruitment on and off campus  

OCI applicants interviewed: 93 

Bracewell recruits through OCIs and regional and minority job fairs across the country. It also accepts write-in applications. The firm does 1L hiring as well, primarily in its Texas offices. Candidates meet with a mix of partners and associates from different practices and backgrounds during the interview process.  

If you want to help ensure your success at OCI, brush up on your research about the firm and ask specific questions to make yourself stand out from the crowd. Hiring sources tell us “the firm looks for law students and lawyers who wish to be part of a team and will appreciate regular interaction with senior associates and partners.”  

Top tips for this stage:  

“Enjoy the process for what it is and look around and see what makes the firm stand out. Notice how the attorneys are interacting with each other and remember how you felt when you were leaving the interview.” – a mid-level associate.


Successful candidates are invited back to meet with six to eight lawyers as well as a member of the firm’s recruiting team. The interviews are 30 minutes long and focus on the candidate’s experience, their career goals and understanding how candidates would fit within Bracewell’s culture. At this stage, hiring sources say, “it’s time to demonstrate your knowledge about the specific office in which you are interviewing.” Interviews are conducted in person (unless a candidate needs to interview virtually), which gives candidates an opportunity to walk around the offices, see attorneys interacting with each other and to get a real feel for what the office is like.    

Top tips for this stage:  

“What got me the position was being transparent about who I was and what I can bring to the table, and I was willing to express that.” – a junior associate.  

“Be sure to familiarize yourself with the major practice groups in the office, any alumni from your law school, and be prepared to discuss both your connection to the market, specific interest and experience in a particular area (if known), and information you’d like to share that doesn’t come through your application materials.” – hiring source at the firm.

Summer program  

Offers: 18 (excludes returning 2Ls who had spent the previous summer at the firm) 

Acceptances: 8 (excludes returning 2Ls who had spent the previous summer at the firm) 

Bracewell’s eight to ten-week summer program held in three offices consists of a “combination of rotations, specific section assignments and a pool approach to work assignments.” Summer associates will receive rolling informal feedback as well as midpoint and end-of-program reviews before offers are given at the end of the program. One of the goals of the summer program is to have the summers meet as many lawyers as they can to see if Bracewell is the place they want to start their careers. To that end, one of the highlights of the program is the annual retreat in Austin, Texas.  

Top tips for this stage:  

“We want our summer associates to connect with as many of us as possible – whether socially or through work experience – to get the fullest sense of our firm and the real experience of our junior associates.” – hiring source at the firm  

And finally…   

“I became enamoured with Bracewell after my OCI. When I returned to the firm to begin working as an associate, I felt like I was coming home to a familiar place.” – a second-year junior associate 

Interview with Gregory Bopp, Managing Partner

Chambers Associate: How would you define your firm’s current position and identity in the legal market? What differentiates your firm from your peer firms in the market?

Gregory Bopp: To compete for the best talent and win the best clients and matters, we have to have a well-known reputation in certain areas and sectors. That’s why we’re focused on big sectors, such as energy, finance, infrastructure and technology. We have two very large practice areas that complement these sectors, which are litigation and government relations. We are market leaders in all of these areas, which sets us apart when competing for the best clients and talent.  

CA: Have there been any developments at the firm over the past year that you’d like law students to know about?

Bopp: It has been an extraordinary year for the firm for the volume of business. You can see this through our financial results and the fact we have recruited well and retained and developed associates. It’s a good time to be at Bracewell! One significant development has been our global focus on the energy transition, most notably in London and Dubai. This is an area we excel in, across the spectrum of oil and gas, electric power and our very large and growing renewables and energy transition practice. The high level of client engagement we have had over the past few years in renewables has been transformative for us in the US and globally. It has allowed us to become a leading energy transition firm in the world, and we continue to build on this. 

CA: Are there any domestic or international events/trends that are affecting any of the firm’s practices at the moment? Are there any trends that you think are affecting the business of law firms more generally, and how is that playing out with your firm? 

Bopp: We’re seeing opportunities in the worldwide landscape for capital deployment for energy sector and non-energy and social infrastructure projects in all of the jurisdictions where we’re located. This creates a great opportunity for ourfinance and project development practices. Jurisdictionally, in the US, we have one of the largest and highest producing public finance practices. That practice, which essentially focuses on tax-exempt debt), is boomingbecause of the increasing work with wastewater treatment, hospitals, colleges, rail roads and other large infrastructure, often involved in the finance of tax-exempt debt. Outside of the US, in our Dubai and London offices, a lot of the work is based in countries in the Middle East and Africa. There is a need for infrastructure to catch up to population and economic needs in these markets.  

CA: What is your firm’s commercial strategy focusing on, and how do you expect the next year to unfold? 

Bopp: Our strategy is to be consistent in leading energy, finance, infrastructure and technology transactions,to invest in those areas and continue to be a preeminent firm across a broad range of practices. This continues to be remarkably successful for us. There are a lot of great law firms, but the consumer is looking for firms that can differentiate themselves by being specialists in the market. 

2023 was productive for many of our practices, and we expect that to continue into 2024. Capital markets and banking and finance are areas we expect to be very busy throughout the course of 2024. We know M&A is off to a good start this year. We are optimistic about the level of productivity and the examples of work I see us engaged with. A lot of that comes back to being a leader in the sector practice to draw in the work. 

CA: An area of positive growth highlighted by associates this year was litigation. Do you have any comments on this? 

Bopp: We have had growth in litigation practice. We have had a lot of growth through a couple of higher profile hires. Our dispute practice in London has been a successful growth practice for us as well, encompassing international arbitration work that we do for large institutional clients. International arbitration in the US has been coordinating and collaborating with the team in the UK on large government enforcement and investigations. In the US, there is also a lot of very heavily regulated government, enforcement and regulatory work that touches the energy sector. We have built our government enforcement and regulatory practice alongside that growth with a pipeline safety team in DC.  

CA: How do you predict the rise in AI will affect the ways in which lawyers work? How will it affect the services law firms provide?

Bopp: It’s very important for professional service organizations to be aware of AI. Over the past year, we have had a task force dedicated to AI that involves partners, associates and members of our technology team. They are interested in learning and promoting products in the legal service market that are driven by AI. This is giving our lawyers and staff an opportunity to work with products out there to bring greater efficiency to the firm. 

CA: Is there any advice you’d give to your younger self starting out your career? 

Bopp: I speak to the firm on a weekly basis, and one of the things I say is: “Enjoy what you do, win every day and to always fulfill obligations to the firm, to clients, to family and the communities.” I love being a lawyer and love my long-term career at Bracewell. If you can find professional and personal fulfillment, you will have a great career and life. This rule has benefited me in my life and everyone that comes to Bracewell.  

CA: Is there a movie/TV show/books about lawyers or the legal profession that you particularly enjoy? And how accurate would you say it is? 

Bopp: I often share books and TV shows with the entire firm in meetings. On a less serious note, a show I always enjoyed is Suits. It’s a little impractical. One day, they are closing an M&A deal and then appear in court with a trial the next day! But nonetheless, it’s a fun show and easy to watch.

Bracewell LLP

711 Louisiana,
Suite 2300,

711 Louisiana,
Suite 2300,

Main areas of work
• Antitrust/Competition
• Banking & Finance
• Carbon Capture Utilization & Storage
• Commodities & Derivatives 
• Corporate & Securities
• Data Security & Privacy
• Economic Development Incentives
• Employee Benefits/ERISA
• Energy Regulatory
• Energy Transition
• Environment, Land & Resources
• Environmental, Social & Governance (ESG) 
• Financial Restructuring
• Government Contracts
• Government Enforcement & Investigations
• Government Relations
• Healthcare & Life Sciences
• Hydrogen
• Incident Prevention & Response
• Infrastructure Development
• Insurance Recovery
• Intellectual Property
• International Arbitration
• Labor & Employment
• Litigation
• Oil & Gas
• Outsourcing
• Pipeline Safety
• Power
• Project Finance
• Public Finance
• Public Lands & Resources
• Real Estate & Finance
• Renewable Energy
• Strategic Communications
• Tax
• Technology  

Firm profile
At Bracewell, leading lawyers and advocates work creatively and efficiently so our clients can achieve exceptional success.

For over 75 years, Bracewell has focused on delivering superb service and sophisticated insight. We excel where collaboration and deep sector knowledge provide the edge, particularly in energy, infrastructure, finance and technology. Our award-winning teams lead the market in transactions and litigation, regulatory matters and government relations. Bracewell’s strengths have made it the firm of choice for many of the world’s most successful companies, financial institutions, private funds and municipal entities.

We are proud of our spirit and our reputation for excellence. Bracewell’s success is anchored by four pillars: an authentic culture based on personal relationships, collaboration and a shared passion for the firm and its clients, our distinction as a destination firm for talent, blue-chip clients and our devotion to excellence. 

Law Schools attending for OCIs in 2023:

Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law, The George Washington University Law School, The University of Texas at Austin School of Law, Tulane University School of Law, University of Houston Law Center, University of Virginia School of Law and Vanderbilt Law School.

We participate in resume collects at Duke University School of Law, Georgetown University Law Center, Howard University School of Law, South Texas College of Law and University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School. 

Recruitment outside OCIs:
We participate in resume collects at law schools across the nation and encourage accept write-in candidates to reach out to us via the application on our website.

Summer associate profile:
We look for candidates who have distinguished themselves academically and actively participate in law school. Successful candidates possess a strong work ethic and are self-motivated. Given the firm’s collaborative culture, we value individuals who are team players and want to work cohesively to provide innovative and sophisticated solutions to challenging legal issues. 

Summer program components:
The firm offers summer associate programs in Houston, Dallas and Washington, DC. These programs typically run nine to ten weeks. During this time, summer associates have the opportunity to explore different areas of the law by working on actual matters. Summer associates attend hearings, depositions, trials, negotiations and client meetings. They also hone legal writing and presentation skills by researching and drafting agreements, briefs, articles, blog posts and podcast episodes. In addition, summer associates are encouraged to explore the local community, participate in summer associate lunches and events and attend the annual summer associate retreat in Austin, Texas.

Social media:
Recruitment website:
LinkedIn: Bracewell LLP
X: @BracewellLaw
Instagram: @bracewellllp

This Firm's Rankings in
USA Guide, 2023

Ranked Departments

    • Environment (Band 2)
    • Litigation: White-Collar Crime & Government Investigations: Highly Regarded (Band 2)
    • Tax (Band 5)
    • Banking & Finance (Band 1)
    • Bankruptcy/Restructuring (Band 3)
    • Capital Markets: Debt & Equity (Band 4)
    • Corporate/M&A: The Elite (Band 4)
    • Environment (Band 1)
    • Healthcare (Band 4)
    • Intellectual Property (Band 5)
    • Labor & Employment (Band 3)
    • Litigation: Appellate (Band 3)
    • Litigation: Securities (Band 3)
    • Litigation: White-Collar Crime & Government Investigations (Band 2)
    • Real Estate (Band 2)
    • Technology: Outsourcing (Band 3)
    • Litigation: General Commercial (Band 4)
    • Climate Change (Band 2)
    • Energy Transition (Band 2)
    • Energy: Electricity (Finance) (Band 2)
    • Energy: Electricity (Regulatory & Litigation) (Band 3)
    • Energy: Electricity (Transactional) (Band 4)
    • Energy: Oil & Gas (Regulatory & Litigation) (Band 1)
    • Energy: Oil & Gas (Transactional) (Band 2)
    • Environment (Band 2)
    • Government Relations: Federal (Band 3)
    • Offshore Energy (Band 1)
    • Oil & Gas Litigation (Band 2)
    • Projects: Oil & Gas (Band 3)
    • Projects: Power & Renewables: Transactional (Band 3)
    • Projects: PPP (Band 4)
    • Public Finance (Band 2)