Something strange on your balance sheet. Who you gonna call? Brown Rudnick!
WHEN beads of sweat gather on your CFO's brow, who you gonna call? Brown Rudnick! When your net assets are giving you the spooks, who you gonna call? You get the picture. Brown Rudnick is a Boston bankruptcy bigwig, says Chambers USA, which ranks the firm for bankruptcy/restructuring work in Massachusetts, New York and nationwide. But this is not a boutique: the firm's also ranked for real estate in Boston and environmental law in Connecticut and has several other transactional and litigation practices.
There were 23 second and third-year associates at Brown Rudnick at the time of our research, spread across eight practice areas. Five were in white-collar crime and investigations, and four each were in commercial litigation and restructuring, with the rest split between corporate, real estate, tax, IP and energy. Associates get their work through the associate development team, which consists of staffers who divide up who does what in each practice area. We heard that if a partner enjoys working with someone "they will just walk down the hall and say, 'Hey do you have time to do this?'" after which the associate informs the development team of their new assignment. Sources said the development team is "a good buffer for when you might be overbooked," although many noted it's difficult to say no to a partner if they ask you to do a piece of work, which can lead to juniors being overburdened if they don't watch out.
"We will turn over every stone to make sure there isn't any money left on the table."
The New York office was home to just under half of junior associates at the time of our calls, with Boston having the next highest number, followed by Hartford and Orange County. The restructuring practice is mostly based out of Boston and New York. "We tend to represent creditor committees who represent creditors in bankruptcy proceedings," one source explained. The group's work starts with the firm pitching its services to companies about to file for bankruptcy. When the pitch is won "we will turn over every stone to make sure there isn't any money left on the table, so we research deeply into credit documents and public disclosures. The job is writing-intensive as there are lots of client memos to send." Rookies work on cases start to finish, so it's important "to be a jack of all trades and to learn on your feet." Luckily there are "partners in the group who really like the educational aspect of the work." While the general variability of the work is enjoyable, associates were less keen on doing pitches. "It's cool because you are researching this whole new company, but the turnaround is really really fast – it's 48 hours! After a while it gets to be a little monotonous, but you naturally transition out of that role after your second year."
"Boston is less go-go-go!"
Bankruptcy clients: Implant Sciences Corporation, Magnesium Corporation of America and a trustee of the liquidating trust of investment firm F-Squared. Brown Rudnick represented debtors in the bankruptcy of the Boston Herald as well as representing victims of Telexfree, a giant Ponzi scheme.
Commercial litigators have a broad remit: some can be found fighting bankruptcy cases, others on real estate matters and one associate we spoke to had even worked "on some IP cases and a corporate matter involving cryptocurrencies." Lawyers in the Hartford office have a narrower focus, advising parties engaged in spats over mergers that went sour. Associate tasks fall into two broad categories. The first is "researching and writing organized emails citing relevant case law." The second is reviewing large quantities of documents, as well as "ensuring and explaining why they are being held back due to attorney-client privilege."
Litigation clients: a bankruptcy trustee of bitcoin exchange Mt. Gox, the creditors of New England Compounding Pharmacy, IT firm Bartronics Asia and law firm Lippes Mathias Wexler Friedman. Recently the firm defended crypto financial services company Bitcoin Suisse in a securities case, and acted for plaintiffs suing General Motors for faulty ignition switches.
Brown Rudnick's juniors thought of themselves as a relatively relaxed lot. "I would say informal," one associate mused when asked about the firm's culture, putting this down to Brown Rudnick doing "more fixed-rate work, so there is flexibility to say, 'Hey I've never done this before.'" Sources noted a difference in the culture between the offices, with New York being more intense and "fast-paced” while “Boston is less go-go-go!" Smaller offices such as Hartford are more chilled still with associates feeling free to organize their days as they please. "You can close your door and not be bothered or you could walk around and chit-chat,” a source said. “You are free to do what you like as long as you get your work done." A less structured approach to social events was also noted in the smaller offices. While Boston has weekly happy hours, Hartford favors office lunches twice a month. Overall, though, sources felt: "There are not a lot of planned social events, at least for juniors."
It takes "sevenish years to get to junior partner, and folks can stay there for three years before getting to equity partner." Rookies were confident this was achievable as there was a noticeable lack of attrition and a sense Brown Rudnick "wants and expects everybody to go on to the equity partner level." However don't expect to just coast along. While there's some formal training and support available "a lot of the training is by doing." While this does leave juniors dependent on how keen their seniors are to mentor, "because we are a smaller firm, people recognize you need to develop, so you can be part of the team." Juniors were also confident Brown Rudnick's reputation boosted their career prospects in Massachusetts or New York, particularly for those in bankruptcy; their confidence dropped slightly when considering moves outside of those regions or the bankruptcy practice.
“You can always email professional development and say, 'It's December, can you find me something to do?"
Hours & Compensation
Associates are expected to bill 1,950 hours a year, with bonuses handed out to those who do. Our sources varied in how easy they felt this target was to reach. Most found themselves regularly clocking up enough hours, particularly in litigation. Restructuring juniors, whose busy periods fluctuate up and down, struggled more. "I have only done it once," reported one interviewee, "but you can always email professional development and say, 'It's December, can you find me something to do?'" On the plus side, not hitting the target doesn't generally damage your long-term prospects, our sources said – it's only "a problem if you are passing up projects."
Base compensation is lockstep with bonuses decided on a discretionary basis. This setup means "there's less internal competition while the bonus gives you an incentive to do your best work." The firm matched the Milbank scale, raising first-year pay to $190,000 in 2018, which those in cheaper perches such as Hartford were noticeably perky about.
On a quiet day juniors normally leave between 6:30 and 7pm, though start times vary quite a bit by team – those in commercial litigation and IP usually start early (7:30 or 8am), while restructuring juniors reported starting at 9am or 10am. When things ramp up, leave times extend later into the night: restructuring is the most unstable with weeks flipping between 5:30pm and 10pm finishes.
Brown Rudnick doesn't cap the number of pro bono hours that can count toward the hours target, which left sources feeling free to take on as much pro bono as they wanted. Associates in Boston and New York receive regular emails informing them of opportunities while those in smaller offices rely on ad hoc requests from partners. In New York we heard of associates taking on immigration cases for KIND, in Hartford a junior reported working on a housing matter, and lawyers also handle pro bono bankruptcy matters, "dealing with individuals who can't wrap their head around the fact they are bankrupt."
Pro bono hours
- For all US attorneys: 8,157
- Average per US attorney: 63
Diversity & Inclusion
With just under four-fifths of associates (and 90% of partners) being white, Brown Rudnick is fairly homogenous. The firm does somewhat better in terms of gender diversity: nearly half of associates are female as are nearly a quarter of partners. The firm is aware it could do better and in 2017 hired a director of equity, inclusion and diversity in New York, Ari Joseph, as well as naming Sunni Beville diversity partner. We asked our sources if they had noticed an impact. They emphasized the firm's commitment but were a bit vague on details. "It's something they put a lot of emphasis on, though I can't speak to whether it's working or not," said one source. We did eventually find out about a few concrete efforts – "there is a diversity and inclusion group that has lunch meetings, and a monthly women attorneys lunch which is pretty well attended." We also heard of the firm putting financial support behind an associate to organize a panel discussion on getting into the judiciary. Generally sources felt the firm had an inclusive atmosphere, though one source noted: "There are undetected biases anywhere you go in life."
Strategy & Future
In his capacity as CEO at the time of our calls, Joe Ryan told us that Brown Rudnick intends to pursue an international focus and grow its European offices in the future. The firm opened a Paris office in 2013, which took in seven new restructuring lawyers in late 2018. Ryan also "expects to see growth in the near term in the white-collar area, both domestically and in Europe. IP litigation is also an area where we are adding folks and we are also looking to grow our corporate and life sciences practices." So bear in mind it's not all about bankruptcy at this firm!
Ryan stressed to us that the firm's strategic plans are subject to change depending on market circumstances. For example "if the regulators decide that they are going to deemphasize anticorruption we would go more slowly in expanding the white-collar group. We base our strategy on our needs but there are obviously market forces that affect how you pursue your strategy." Following Joe Ryan's retirement in early 2019, William Baldiga took the reins as CEO.
The first stage: recruitment on and off campus
OCI applicants interviewed: 237
Interviewees outside OCI: 16
Most entry-level associates are recruited though career fairs and OCI's, with Brown Rudnick attending just over ten schools for OCIs, including NYU, Boston University, and University of Texas. The firm also attends career fairs such as Lavender Law. The firm also participates in resume drops at a small mix of law schools.
The firm interviews between 15 and 25 students at each campus – these interviews are typically conducted by partners at the firm. Co-hiring partner Jeff Jonas says, “In recent years, we've focused on competency-based behavioral interviewing both at the OCI and callback stage. The questions are more structured and standardized and focus primarily on our core competencies which hone in on the following: communication, conflict management, emotional intelligence, initiative, motivation, resilience, stress management and understanding the value of equity, inclusion and diversity.”
Top Tips for this stage:
“The relaxed people do well, particularly when they have researched the firm, they can speak articulately about the firm, and they can show why they would be a good fit there.” - A third year junior associate
“We like to see candidates who are well-rounded, can communicate well and enjoy taking on new and challenging work.” – Co-hiring partner Jeff Jonas
Applicants invited to second stage interview: 80
Callback interviews are conducted by attorneys across all of Brown Rudnick’s offices, with candidates undergoing one in-office interview with a panel of four lawyers – usually two associates and two partners from different practice groups. The firm typically provides candidates with a list of their interviewers the day before, which Jonas tells us “enables candidates to draw on connections and ask more thoughtful questions.” As with OCIs, the interview focuses on teasing out whether candidates can demonstrate particular competencies, though Jonas informs us the questions are more “more structured and standardized” at this stage.
Top Tips for this stage:
“Overall, we tell candidates to be themselves. We want to gauge who they are as a person and allow their personality to shine through.” – Co-hiring partnerJeff Jonas
The firm’s ten-week summer program sees associates get a mix of training sessions and assignments, in between attending department and practice group meetings. A professional development team is on hand dishing out the assignments to ensure newbies get to sample a broad array of Brown Rudnick’s practice areas.
Sporting events, cooking classes and other social events break up the work as does the option of taking on pro bono matters. At the end of the ten weeks, juniors can express practice areas they are interested in joining. Sources felt that the program “was incredibly reflective of Brown Rudnick. While they want you to have a good time, it was a really good lesson as to what life was like as an associate.”
Top Tips for this stage:
“I think that successful summer associates are incredibly eager. Doing well means being willing to take on projects and understand that you are doing so as a blank slate – try to meet as many people as possible and learn as much as possible.”- A third year junior associate
“We always encourage our summers to take advantage of every opportunity given to them throughout the summer. In addition, they should seek out opportunities as well and be proactive. This could be reaching out to an attorney and inviting them out for coffee to learn more about what they do.” – Co-hiring partner Jeff Jonas.
Brown Rudnick LLP
One Financial Center,
- Head Office: Boston, MA
- Number of domestic offices: 6
- Number of international offices: 2
- Worldwide revenue: $208.4M
- Partners (US): 82
- Associates (US): 75
- Main recruitment contacts: Heather L. Cannady (email@example.com), Molly I. Childs (firstname.lastname@example.org)
- Hiring Partner: Jeffrey L. Jonas
- Diversity officers: Sunni Beville, Ari Joesph
- Recruitment details
- Entry-level associates starting in 2019: 10
- Clerking policy: Yes
- Summers joining/anticipated 2019: 1Ls: 2, 2Ls: 12
- Summers joining/anticipated 2019 split by office: Boston: 3, Washington DC: 3, New York: 6, Orange County CA: 1
- Summer salary 2019: 1Ls: $3,653/week 2Ls: $3,653/week Post 3Ls: $3,653/week
- Split summers offered? Case by case
- Can summers spend time in overseas office? Case by case
Main Areas of Work
Bankruptcy and corporate restructuring; complex litigation and arbitration; corporate, securities and M&A; distressed debt and claims trading; emerging companies; energy, utilities and environmental; finance; funds; government contracts; government law and strategies; healthcare; intellectual property; intellectual property litigation; international dispute resolution; life sciences; real estate; tax; white collar defense and government investigations.
At Brown Rudnick, we combine ingenuity with experience to achieve great outcomes for our clients. We deliver partner-driven service; we incentivize our lawyers to collaborate in the client’s best interest; and we put excellence before scale, focusing on practices such as distressed debt, corporate restructuring, M&A, white collar defense, international disputes, and intellectual property, where we are recognized leaders. We have more than 250 lawyers and government relations professionals across the United States and Europe, with offices in key financial centers. Beyond the United States and Europe, we serve clients in the Middle East, North Africa, the Caribbean, and Latin America.
Law Schools attending for OCIs in 2019:
• Boston College
• Boston University
• Fordham University
• New York University
• University of California (various campuses)
• University of Connecticut
• University of Texas
Recruitment outside OCIs:
• Boston Lawyers Group Job Fair
• Hispanic National Bar Association
• Lavender Law Career Fair
• Loyola Patent Job Fair
Summer associate profile:
Brown Rudnick recruits summer associates who are highly intelligent and creative and also possess those personal qualities that define our firm: hard driving but value oriented and pragmatic, entrepreneurial, always honest and ethical and highly collaborative.
Summer program components:
The summer program is your first introduction to life as a Brown Rudnick attorney. You will have the opportunity to sample a variety of practice areas, working across offices and disciplines. Our summer associates are an integral part of our client teams. We expect them to be valuable contributors to Firm outcomes and successes. You will travel to client offices, hearings, or even across the country or the globe. You will be assigned partner and associate advisors, who will provide meaningful advice throughout the summer program. Our professional development team, which is wholly composed of former practicing attorneys, will also provide training and feedback opportunities. We offer summer associates a mix of client work and outings to help cultivate a lasting relationship with colleagues. During the summer program, you will have the opportunity to socialize with your colleagues at cultural performances, casual receptions, outdoor activities, sporting events, and even Disneyland!
Recruitment website: www.brownrudnick.com/careers
This Firm's Rankings in
USA Guide, 2019
- Environment (Band 2)
- Bankruptcy/Restructuring (Band 2)
- Real Estate (Band 3)
- Bankruptcy/Restructuring (Band 4)
USA - Nationwide
- Bankruptcy/Restructuring (Band 4)