When creditors find themselves in times of trouble, Brown Rudnick comes to me. Speaking words of wisdom, let it be… dealt with by Boston’s bankruptcy bigwigs!
BROWN Rudnick’s website tells us to “throw out the old paradigm. In fact, throw out the word ‘paradigm’ – and anything else tired, trite, sluggish or slow.” No Internet Explorer here, then. The firm is following up this bold talk with action – CEO and chair Bill Baldiga reveals that in 2019 “more than half of the firm’s work has been generated by lawyers aged 50 and under. We’ve experienced quite a generational change and seen tremendous success among our younger lawyers, not just in doing good work but also in revenue generation.”
The firm isn’t rewriting the rulebook entirely: Boston-born Brown Rudnick was built on bankruptcy expertise and still earns Chambers USA rankings in Massachusetts, New York, nationwide and even in Chambers Global for the practice. BR doesn’t only stand for BankRuptcy – Brown Rudnick’s also ranked for real estate in Boston and environmental law in Connecticut and has several other transactional and litigation arrows in its quiver.
Our list of BR juniors split fairly evenly between contentious and noncontentious; the majority were in New York, with a handful in Boston and one apiece in DC and the OC. Work firm-wide is coordinated by a “robust professional development team that helps us get staffed until you’ve established a good working rapport with senior associates and partners.” The relationship with the professional development team doesn’t end there: “The team is invaluable when you are swamped. If you do have to say no, they’ll say it for you.”
BR’s bankruptcy department focuses almost exclusively on creditor-side representation. The team employs “very creative litigation tactics,” a necessary approach as “bankruptcy moves very fast – years of litigation happen in a matter of months.” This can make the department “intense and stressful for juniors,” but even those who dealt with “raised voices at times” didn’t begrudge the intensity. “It makes you better at managing new situations, so you get better at handling stress in general.” Junior associates tend to prepare situational overviews for creditors and fill their time with research, document review, preparing depositions and drafting memos, motions, provision agreements and requests. “One great thing in bankruptcy is we’re given tasks that are above our pay grade – it’s stressful but I learn a lot!”
Bankruptcy clients: General Motors, Puerto Rico Financial Oversight and Management Board, Aralez Pharmaceuticals. Represented The Weinstein Company in a Chapter 11 protection case following sexual misconduct claims brought against its co-founder.
“Because we’re often representing the underdog, there are more opportunities to work closely with individual clients.”
Dispute resolution houses multiple sub-departments including IP litigation, white collar defense and government investigations and a general commercial litigation pool. Juniors in the last of those ended up “doing a lot of breach of contracts work,” but large bankruptcies often flood the pool. Our interviewees recommended “Brown Rudnick summers take a bankruptcy class at law school to have some familiarity with the terms and get baseline knowledge before joining.” The firm’s white-collar team represents both companies and individuals during internal investigations. DC and New York“work seamlessly together – I see people from both offices equally because we’re on the road all the time!” IP litigators primarily focus on patent litigation in tech, software and hardware cases, mainly representing inventors and patent holders on plaintiff-side work. “Because we’re often representing the underdog, there are more opportunities to work closely with individual clients and take on more responsibility in cases,” an IP-er explained. Juniors across litigation tackle discovery, deposition prep and drafting memos, complaints, expert reports, responses and objections.
Litigation clients: Puma, Ultravision Technologies, Cher. Yes, BR represented actual Cher in an unauthorized use of name and picture of person case arising from Cher’s Oscar-nominated documentary Edith+Eddie.
Career Development & Culture
Juniors sang the praises of partners who “go out of their way to make sure I’m on interesting cases and sit down to explain all the terms and what’s going on.” Brown Rudnick runs a formal mentoring program, pairing each junior with a senior associate and partner. Formalized relationships “sometimes get lost in translation just because we’re very busy, but my mentors do check in on a personal basis every now and then.” Juniors appreciated that “partners not only care about helping us build our careers, but they’re aware we’re humans with a personal life. They know that if your personal life is in a good place, you’re going to be a better attorney in the long run.”
“They know that if your personal life is in a good place, you’re going to be a better attorney in the long run.”
We heard that partners are invested in “developing associates’ skills not only for the law, but in a business sense too,” putting on presentations about business development and building a practice. Many associates at Brown Rudnick use that business knowledge to change careers after a few years with the firm: “To be honest I probably don’t see myself being a ‘lifer’ here – it’s the hours,” one confessed. “That said, if you’re leaving Brown Rudnick you’re typically leaving BigLaw as a whole.”
Associates were impressed to see partners who’d summered with Brown Rudnick: “It was striking that they call them lifers. That really speaks to the firm’s culture.” Cross-office collaboration helps foster this culture of longevity, an approach that’s “integrated across the office network. I see some people on the other side of the country on a monthly basis and it’s nice to know that your practice isn’t limited to your home office.” Pressed for some differences between bases, juniors told us that Boston is more family-oriented and New York takes the medal for most social office. Juniors from across the firm agreed that “everyone gets along and respects each other with no office drama. It’s a healthy environment.”
Hours & Compensation
Billable hours: 1,950 target
Every associate who reaches their goal earns a bonus, but that’s where certainty ends: bonus values are discretionary. Our sample of juniors in different practices and offices found 1,950 hours “extremely easy to meet, we’re only partway through the year and some people have already completed it!” The busiest Brownians reported reaching as high as 2,500 hours within a year. This translates to “a solid nine or ten hours a day, with another hour logging on from home most days.” In many cases this extra post-dinner work mostly involves “answering emails, not actively working on things,” tucked up on the couch with a blanket and hot chocolate. We might have made up that last bit.
“Most the work you do is with partners from all over the place, so to a certain degree it doesn’t matter where you are."
Not all feedback from associates was sweet: the most overworked voices in both contentious and noncontentious groups revealed that “for about a month I’ve worked every day including Saturdays and Sundays.” Though some found this pace “absolutely relentless,” others had a more Zen view of the constant weekend work: “It’s just temporary. I grew a ton as an attorney in that time and it’s exciting, interesting work.” As a means of easing pressure on associates, flexible working isn’t only for twilight hours and “the firm doesn’t put up any opposition to us working from home.” Sources took full advantage and worked from home regularly, from once or twice a month to every morning of the week in some cases. “Most of the work you do is with partners from all over the place, so to a certain degree it doesn’t matter where you are – as long as you get it done.”
Brown Rudnick lets attorneys count an unlimited number of pro bono hours toward their billing target. Our interviewees averaged out at around 100 hours annually; “some people do around 300 hours of pro bono and that’s absolutely fine!” We heard accounts of dispute resolution juniors working on landlord/tenant and employment discrimination cases; bankruptcy lawyers helping with individual bankruptcies; and corporate associates assisting nonprofit organizations with corporate maintenance, loans and dissolutions. BR also works with Kids in Need of Defense (KIND), helping unaccompanied children with immigration; attorneys in the Boston office help provide legal advice to occupants of housing shelters on evictions, housing applications and immigration issues. Juniors agreed that the firm is “really good promoting and emphasizing that we do pro bono.” The variety of work “allows juniors to take full ownership of the case. It’s a great opportunity to be in court, write memos, get lots of client contact and tgive back to the community.”
Pro bono hours
- For all US attorneys: 5398.3
- Average per US attorney: 44.3
Diversity & Inclusion
On a strictly numbers basis, Brown Rudnick doesn’t appear to excel in the field of diversity. However, there’s more to inclusion than numbers alone: juniors suggested the firm is “putting its best foot forward – because there’s a lot of work to be done.” The firm’s diversity and inclusion director is charged with organizing initiatives at the firm, which span from affinity groups to outreach events. Juniors appreciated that outgoing diversity director Ari Joseph “reached out to diverse attorneys, checking in to making sure they’re well adjusted and feel part of the firm.” Let’s hope that spirit continues under new director Renauld Clarke.
“…putting its best foot forward – because there’s a lot of work to be done.”
In a pioneering new initiative for the US market, Brown Rudnick is aiming to further social mobility in the law by offering a $22,500 law school stipend to summer associates who are the first in their family to graduate from college. CEO and chair Bill Baldiga tells us the initiative has already attracted “applicants of extraordinary quality. The social mobility fellows are exceptionally engaged, and we are seeing tremendous work done in that area.” Overall, juniors reckon that BR is “on the forefront of diversity issues. They give firm-wide bias training, bringing those issues to light and working on a better future.”
Strategy & Future
Baldiga took the reins as CEO in early 2019; he tells us the firm is “seeing exceptional demand especially in the firm’s white-collar and insolvency practices. Everything’s grown organically.” He predicts more growth in the future but no “dramatic” changes like new office openings. Associates agreed that “Brown Rudnick is never going to be interested in aggressive expansion. I personally don’t want the firm to grow beyond measure – it works well how it is.”
The first stage: recruitment on and off campus
OCI applicants interviewed: 298
Interviewees outside OCI: 18
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. Chair of Strategic Growth 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:
“I felt it was interesting that they sent practice group heads to do OCIs – they weren’t just hiring for numbers, they were being very selective and putting the most in.” – a third-year junior associate
“I reached out directly to a partner for advice. We had initial conversations and he encouraged me to apply directly. It shows the firm doesn’t just stick to whoever they find on the traditional OCI route.” – a second-year junior associate
Applicants invited to second stage interview: 77
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:
“Everyone is nice, there’s an open-door policy, and we work well together. There’s so much crossover between groups – we work so closely with other groups so you get to meet so many different kinds of people.” – a second-year junior associate
“I enjoyed the people I met and the level of interest they expressed – I believed they wanted me to come.” – a third-year junior associate
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:
“They even let summers travel – someone went to London to pitch with clients. You’re thrown in early!” – a third-year junior associate
“I clerked for a year afterwards, which the firm was really supportive of – they gave market bonus for it too.” – a second-year junior associate
Brown Rudnick LLP
One Financial Center,
- Head Office: Boston, MA
- Number of domestic offices: 6
- Number of international offices: 2
- Worldwide revenue: $217.8M
- Partners (US): 87
- Associates (US): 75
- Main recruitment contacts: Toccarra Brooks (email@example.com) Molly Childs (firstname.lastname@example.org)
- Hiring Partner: Jeffrey Jonas
- Diversity Chair: Chelsea Mullarney, Renauld Clarke
- Recruitment details
- Entry-level associates starting in 2020: 12
- Clerking policy: Yes
- Summers joining/anticipated 2020: 2Ls: 8
- Summers joining/anticipated 2020 split by office: Boston 3, Hartford 1, New York 3, Washington DC 1
- Summer salary 2020: 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 2020:
• Boston College
• Boston University
• Fordham University
• New York University
• University of California (various campuses)
• University of Connecticut
Recruitment outside OCIs:
• Boston Lawyers Group Job Fair
• Lavender Law Career 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, 2020
- Environment (Band 2)
- Bankruptcy/Restructuring (Band 2)
- Bankruptcy/Restructuring (Band 4)
USA - Nationwide
- Bankruptcy/Restructuring (Band 4)