Brown Rudnick LLP - The Inside View

It may be an oxymoron, but “global boutique” is one way to describe this Boston-founded bankruptcy behemoth.

We think it’s fair to say that bankruptcy doesn’t sound like the most glamorous practice area. That’s not to say it isn’t interesting, it’s just that bankruptcy cases don’t typically dominate the news like A-Lister disputes do. And you’d be hard pressed to find a firm that does both types of work, right? Wrong. Not only does Brown Rudnick boast a top-tier bankruptcy practice – it’s earned three Chambers USA rankings for this work – it also represented Johnny Depp in his defamation case against Amber Heard. CEO and chairman William Baldiga explained that it isn’t just the partners getting involved in this case: “We had an associate defend Johnny Depp’s testimony and another associate cross-examine Amber Heard. Our associates don’t just support partners, they are front and center on worldwide, live TV.” You’d be forgiven, then, for assuming that this firm only hires students who went to the most ‘elite’ law schools. But Brown Rudnick is wise enough to know that the best talent is secured from a range of institutions: “My law school wasn’t highly ranked but I came across the firm at a law fair and everything just clicked. They didn’t ask generic questions in the interview, they wanted to know about my life experiences. In other interviews, it felt like the firm was just going through the motions, but with Brown Rudnick I felt like I was having a proper conversation.”

“Lots of firms cover more ground than us, but we are much more cross-border than any other firm our size.”

This was a common theme among our interviewees: “Law isn’t a solo practice, so the warmth of the people I interviewed with really made me feel at home. It’s also a smaller firm so it’s tight-knit, but we still compete at an international level.” Case in point, the firm has picked up two rankings in Chambers Global: corporate/M&A in the USA and bankruptcy/restructuring in Latin America. In addition to its Chambers USA bankruptcy rankings across New York, Massachusetts and the nationwide category, the firm is also recognized for its environment work in Connecticut and its real estate and energy and natural resources practices in Massachusetts. With six domestic offices, plus overseas bases in London and Paris, Baldiga described the firm as a global boutique: “Although lots of firms cover more ground than us in terms of number of offices and practice areas, we do much more cross-border work than any other firm of our size.”

Strategy & Future



Baldiga told us: “We’ve had significant growth in our life sciences and technology practices across firm, so we have identified those practices as being the emphases of the firm going forward, in addition to commercial litigation and insolvency.” On the people side of things, Brown Rudnick will continue to place a premium on attorney development: “Not many firms combine the opportunity to work at the highest level with the chance for tremendous engagement. Professional development here is a fire hose, not a garden hose. But if you’re ready for that then come on board," says Baldiga.

The Work



Most of the associates on our list were based in the Boston and New York offices, while a handful were located in the DC and California bases. Practice-area wise, juniors were split fairly evenly between the dispute resolution and restructuring and corporate and capital markets departments.

“I’ve had really good hands-on experiencing working with the other side.”

The corporateandcapital markets department covers traditional transactions, in addition to more specialized IP, real estate, energy and environment matters. Baldiga explains: “Throughout the world, Boston is considered to be a major investment hub for the life sciences industry.” As such, the firmregularly works with life sciences companies on everything from pre-seed funding and Series A financing rounds to IPOs and mergers and acquisitions. More generally, these folks regularly work with their London colleagues on transatlantic transactions, advising the full range of companies, from startups to multinational public corporations. The department also supports financiers, including private equity houses and hedge funds. Where acquisitions are concerned, associates are involved in the full transaction lifecycle, from due diligence to negotiating purchase and sale agreements: “I’ve had really good hands-on experience working with the other side,” one source enthused. In our associate survey, the firm earned a ton of praise for awarding associates a high level of responsibility and client contact, as well as the subsequent opportunity to develop a career in this department.

Corporate and capital markets clients: Mitsubishi Chemical Holdings America, Black Creek Capital, University of Oxford. Represented global healthcare and life sciences company Arix Bioscience in its IPO and admission to the London Stock Exchange.

"We do a lot of mass tort work, especially where opioids are concerned."

Thedispute resolutionand restructuringdepartment covers – you guessed it – dispute resolution and restructuring. According to our sources, the group’s bread and butter work is acting for creditor committees and bondholder committees: “Within that space we do a lot of mass tort work, especially where opioids are concerned,” explained one insider. These cases are among some of the most high-profile in the world: the firm recently represented the Plaintiff’s Executive Committee in negotiating a settlement with Purdue Pharmaceuticals and the Sackler family concerning its role in the US opioid crisis, which is the subject of a Netflix documentary: “Representing financial institutions doesn’t excite me. Representing victims and serving as their champion is what makes me feel good,” recalled one interviewee.

The firm is also a dab hand at more traditional litigation, as evidenced by its representation of Johnny Depp against Amber Heard, in addition to its appeals prowess. Insiders explained that these cases are staffed leanly, meaning their role is more substantive than it would be on larger matters, so they were able to draft motions and communicate with opposing counsel: “I’d describe it as a guardrail system: they don’t let me veer too far off track but if I’m doing okay, they leave me to it.” On cases that are staffed with multiple juniors, seniors and partners, the rookie role tends to involve taking care of discrete, ad hoc tasks: “Obviously some tasks are unavoidable, like creating privilege logs, but what I like about this firm is the opportunity to work directly with partners and have meaningful client contact.”

Dispute resolution and restructuring clients: Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors (Chesapeake Energy), Financial Oversight and Management Board for Puerto Rico. Represented the Coalition of Abused Scouts in an agreement with the Boy Scouts of America to exit bankruptcy while still providing compensation to the victims.

Hours & Compensation



Billable hours: 1,950

Putting in an average of roughly 49 hours a week, our associate survey respondents were working slightly less than the market average – three hours, to be specific. Laterals told us they were working less than at their previous firms, and “if you have too much work, the firm will move assignments around to help.” Some groups, like restructuring and corporate, have a more variable workload: “The term feast or famine definitely applies!” Either way, sources agreed the firm is flexible when it comes to the working day: “I’m free to spend time with my kids then log back on once they’ve gone to bed. Not only does that mean I can be present for my family, but it’s better for my mental health, too.”

“When they say you need to hit 1,950 to get a bonus, they mean it, there isn’t a hidden expectation to do more.”

Brown Rudnick follows the market salary scale up to the fourth year, at which point the base compensation deviates slightly behind market: “The tradeoff is that our billable target is lower. When they say you need to hit 1,950 to get a bonus, they mean it, there isn’t a hidden expectation to do more.” Associates are expected to work in the office two days a week, but alternative schedules can be discussed if need be: “We hope that the majority of time will be spent with clients, in court or on the road. That’s more important to us than being in the office,” Baldiga explains. The firm also allows attorneys to take two ‘personal days’ each year, which are separate from vacation and sick days. As part of the benefits package, attorneys can talk to a mental health professional at any time of day, any day of the week.

Culture & Career Development



Those who joined the firm remotely didn’t feel disadvantaged, given that most people continue to work from home for much of the week: “We keep in touch via video, which has worked well so far,” an interviewee told us. We also heard that everyone from support staff to partners made a conscious effort to reach out to newbies when they first arrived: “The impression I got about the firm during my interview has definitely aligned with the true culture of the firm,” confirmed one insider; “this a stressful job, but people don’t make it more difficult, they make it better: there is a ton of support so I don’t feel like I’m just here to bill hours.” Others explained: “Doing exceptional work at the highest level colors everything, but because we staff matters leanly, there is congeniality to our work. It’s not like my practice group leader doesn’t know my name.”

“I feel like they value me as a peer and not just another associate.”

Every new starter is assigned an associate and partner mentor: “They try to pair you with people you have something in common with, like those who studied at the same law school.” As we often hear, mentors are more proactive when associates first arrive at the firm, then allow associates to develop relationships with other mentors as they progress through the firm and their careers. Sources also pointed out that their mentors played a pivotal role in helping them to get a steady stream of work when they first started: “Having those mentors was great because they brought me on to projects I wanted to be on. Now I’ve been here a while, 95% of my work comes from senior associates and partners I’ve built relationships with.” Senior associates were also praised for their pastoral care: “I feel like they value me as a peer and not just another associate. They understand that I’m juggling multiple projects so they’re always mindful of my schedule and, if I’ve needed it, nobody has ever said they’re too busy to help me.”

Those who were concerned about the jump from law school to real practice soon had their minds put at ease: “I wasn’t expected to know everything top to bottom when I first got here.” Brown Rudnick puts on weekly training sessions which associates can attend “without the pressure of having to produce work related to it.” The firm also runs a ‘HotShot’ service, which is a library of YouTube videos on different aspects of the law, like how to take a case from discovery to deposition stages: “The firm gives you time and space to learn and grow, to make the transition from law school where everything is black and white to practice where things can be in the gray.”

Pro Bono



Our interviewees thought pro bono was a great way for them to find their feet and develop new skills at Brown Rudnick: “On these cases, there is the perfect combination of getting client interaction but also having enough guidance, so there’s the opportunity to develop skills you might not be able to on billable matters.” Brown Rudnick has partnered with a local Innocence Project, which helps to exonerate those who have been wrongfully convicted of crimes.Like many firms, Brown Rudnick also partners with Kids In Need of Defense, an organization that represents migrant children who have been separated from their families: “I’ve done a lot of humanitarian relief work, especially matters connected with the Taliban’s reclamation of power in Afghanistan.” Given the firm’s strength in bankruptcy work, it also represents individuals in Chapter 7 cases.

“Brown Rudnick puts its money where its mouth is.”

Overall, our insiders thought pro bono was “a huge focus for the firm,” with one source even telling us: “It’s my favorite thing about working here.” Brown Rudnick publishes a congratulatory statement about people who have done the most pro bono in a year: “Our pro bono director, Meredith Joseph, works incredibly hard. In any way that a firm could show it supports pro bono, Brown Rudnick puts its money where its mouth is.”

Pro bono hours

  • For all (US) attorneys: 16,492
  • Average per (US) attorney: 48.7

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion



“The firm is very big on DE&I. As someone with a diverse background, I feel like the firm is very understanding and makes an effort to help everyone feel included,” declared one insider. Brown Rudnick runs regular seminars hosted by both internal and external speakers “to embrace the different cultures at the firm, and in society.” We heard that a recent highlight saw a trans member of the firm explain how to be accepting, while another session focused on implicit bias. In addition, Simon Tam and Joe Jiang from The Slants performed and spoke about their U.S. Supreme Court victory against the PTO in Matal v. Tam. Some of the firm’s affinity groups include FAWN (the First Attorneys Working Network), BR & Proud (the firm's LGBTQ+ affinity group), and DAWN (the Diverse Attorneys Working Network), in addition to a Parents’ Forum and a Women’s Initiative. The firm hired a new director of equity, inclusion and diversity, Renauld G. Clarke in 2020: “He’s put tremendous effort into our DE&I programs and is involved in the discussions around structural elements of the firm, so I think there is weight behind our public-facing sentiments.”

Get Hired



Fellowships

Brown Rudnick runs two fellowship programs: the 2L Joseph F. Ryan Ingenuity fellowship and the1L Social Mobility Diversity fellowship. The former is awarded to law students who have shown a high aptitude for problem-solving, creative thinking and client service. The latter targets first year law students who are the first in their family to graduate from baccalaureate college and/or the first in their family to join a professional school.

Students can apply for these directly through the firm’s website when applications open in June and December each year. The firm also recruits fellows from The Boston Lawyers Group Annual Diversity Job Fair.

Top tips: “Fellowship recipients are those who think outside of the box and bring new ideas to the firm. We are looking for game-changers who demonstrate a true commitment to community service. Applicants who can speak to their personal experience in driving change will be successful.” - chair of strategic growth, Jeffrey Jonas

Callbacks

At this stage, applicants meet with one member of recruitment or DE&I, two partners or counsel and two associates. The interview is based on behavioral questions targeting certain competencies; partners may ask questions related to motivation and resilience, whilst associates may ask about the value of equity, inclusion and diversity. 

Summer program

Offers: 6

The summer program is comprised of students from its fellowship programs. During the ten-week program, the professional development team overseas work allocation to ensure summers are exposed to as may practice groups as possible. The pro bono team also assigns pro bono matters and organizes community events.

Along with skills training, associates in each practice group host “Hour in the Life” sessions where summers can learn more about the day-to-day lives of associates and the work they do. The class is brought together for orientation in Boston, and a midsummer retreat in New York to help build their cross-office and cross-practice networks within the firm.

 Several summer associates return as junior associates. The firm describes successful summers as those who are self-motivated, proactive, communicative and client-service oriented. Summers are encouraged to meet as many people as possible, whether through an assignment, coffee break or a social event: “Not only is this a great way to build their network, but they will be able to make a more informed decision on their practice preferences and career trajectory.”

Top tips: "It’s almost impossible to be overly communicative as a summer associate. Take notes, ask questions, keep your assigning attorney up to date on progress, and follow-up as necessary. While some assignments may seem small, they could very well be an important piece in the larger picture.” - chair of strategic growth, Jeffrey Jonas

Interview with William R. Baldiga, Chairman and CEO



Chambers Associate: Describe the firm’s market position

WB, Chairman and CEO: We think of ourselves as a global boutique. Although lots of firms cover more ground than us in terms of number of offices and practice areas, we do much more cross-border work than any other firm of our size. Some deals, like monstrously large acquisitions, go to other firms because they can throw more people at them, but we do top-shelf work for top clients, who we are very close to.We combine playing at the highest level with the best clients in the most competitive markets – London, New York, Boston, California and DC.

CA: Are there developments in the firm’s immediate future you think our readers should be aware about?

WB: We’ve had significant growth in our life sciences and technology practices across firm, so we have identified those practices as being the emphases of the firm going forward, in addition to commercial litigation and insolvency. Throughout the world, Boston is considered to be a major investment hub for the life sciences industry. We are also investing in our technology and our efforts to work with clients to develop the platforms they want to work with.

CA: What is the greatest challenge facing the firm in the next decade?

WB: The biggest challenge for us is the same challenge faced by all law firms, which is the terrifically competitive market for talent. Compensation is important, but that’s not a differentiator for us: where we distinguish ourselves is the opportunity for development. We believe the winning combination is to pay people fairly and give them the opportunity to develop more fully and more quickly than other firms.

CA: How does the firm help associates with professional development?

WB: We staff matters leanly and push associates to have client responsibilities and facetime very early in their careers, so we offer a much different experience to firms that operate with very large case teams. Every firm offers professional development training, but we think the best way for associates to become great lawyers is by working side by side with partners and clients.

For example, one of the most watched trials in the world right now is the one between Johnny Depp and Amber Heard. We had an associate defend Johnny Depp’s testimony and another associate cross-examine Amber Heard. Our associates don’t just support partners, they are front and center on worldwide, live TV. This sort of thing requires a lot of training, confidence building and patience. We work with clients to make sure they understand that our associates are superb and can handle that kind of responsibility. We take the same approach on the transactional side: our associates aren’t just sitting in a backroom drafting documents; they’re actually doing the negotiation. 

CA: How has the firm weathered the pandemic?

WB: We all learned to be incredibly capable in working remotely. Every firm now has to answer the question of whether to continue to work remotely, work in the office or have a combination of the two. Our answer isn’t any of the above; it’s be with your client. Clients want to be with their lawyers so that’s the approach we’re taking and they’re delighted. We hope that the majority of time will be spent with clients, in court or on the road. That’s more important to us than being in the office.

CA: Does the firm have any set targets with regards to diversity?

WB: We have several initiatives but like all firms, we need to do better. We emphasize inclusion in everything we do. Although we don’t have a numbers target, we do follow the Mansfield Rule and we have a fellowship we use to hire many of our incoming associates: we sponsor law students who are the first in their family to go to college. We look at economic diversity, not just gender and racial diversity.

CA: What advice do you have for those who are about to begin their legal careers?

WB: Some firms will fit new lawyers better than others. For many people, the best place is somewhere they can remain fairly anonymous, within a large pool of people. Somewhere they can learn their craft without the pressure of being fully engaged all day, every day. For those people, Brown Rudnick isn’t a good fit. For those who want to be fully engaged with their work and clients, then we are a great choice. Not many firms combine the opportunity to work at the highest level with the chance for tremendous engagement. Professional development here is a fire hose, not a garden hose. But if you’re ready for that then come on board.

Brown Rudnick LLP

One Financial Center,
Boston,
MA 02111
Website www.brownrudnick.com

  • Head Office: Boston, MA
  • Number of domestic offices: 6
  • Number of international offices: 2
  • Worldwide revenue: $228.7M
  • Partners (US): 91
  • Associates (US): 90 (with Counsel and Of Counsel) or 79 (Associates Only)
  • Contacts 
  • Main recruitment contacts: Toccarra Brooks (tbrooks@brownrudnick.com) Alexandra Gharghoury (agharghoury@brownrudnick.com)
  • Hiring Partner: Jeffrey Jonas
  • Diversity Chair: Jane Colston, Chelsea Mullarney, Renauld Clarke 
  • Recruitment details 
  • Entry-level associates starting in 2022: 5
  • Clerking policy: Yes
  • Summers joining/anticipated 2022: 2Ls: 6
  • Summers joining/anticipated 2022 split by office: Boston 2, Hartford 1, New York 2, Washington DC 1
  • Summer salary 2022: 1Ls: $4,134/week
  • 2Ls: $4,134/week
  • Post 3Ls: $4,134/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, investigations and compliance.

Firm Profile
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 industry-driven, client-facing practices where we are recognized leaders. Our lawyers and government relations professionals work 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.

Recruitment
Brown Rudnick recruits our 1L Social Mobility Diversity and 2L Joseph F. Ryan Ingenuity Fellows through direct write-in applications on our website: www.brownrudnick.com/careers.

Additionally, the firm participates in the Boston Lawyers Group 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, value-oriented, pragmatic, entrepreneurial, honest, ethical, highly collaborative. 

Summer program components:
The summer program is your first introduction to life as a Brown Rudnick attorney. During our 10-week program 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, and 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 a partner and associate advisor, each of whom will provide meaningful advice and feedback throughout the summer program. Our professional development team, composed of former practicing attorneys, will also provide training and formal feedback opportunities throughout the program.

We offer our summer associates a broad mix of interesting work and exciting social events to help cultivate a lasting relationship. The Firm believes that building strong workplace friendships is a critical factor in our success. 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! Summer associates will get to know their home-office city and the Firm better alongside their mentors and colleagues.

We recruit summer associates into our Boston, New York, Orange County, and Washington, DC offices. 

Social Media:
Recruitment website: www.brownrudnick.com/careers
Linkedin: brown-rudnick
Twitter: @BrownRudnickLLP
Facebook: Brown-Rudnick-LLP
Instagram: @brownrudnickllp

This Firm's Rankings in
USA Guide, 2022

Ranked Departments

    • Environment (Band 2)
    • Bankruptcy/Restructuring (Band 1)
    • Litigation: General Commercial (Band 4)
    • Real Estate (Band 4)
    • Bankruptcy/Restructuring: The Elite (Band 4)
    • Bankruptcy/Restructuring: The Elite (Band 3)

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