Finance-focused, free market, and a friendly feel – Cahill may have a shiny new office, but some things stay reliably the same.
Small vibe, BigLaw – look no further. Cahill has a “big reputation in New York for banking & finance and capital markets” but associates didn’t want to bite off more than they could chew from the Big Apple. “I didn’t want to get lost in larger firms or class sizes,” we heard from one associate. "Cahill has a smaller vibe, but it’s still BigLaw.” For juniors, smaller class sizes and fewer associates meant “people know your name and there are lots of opportunities to stand out.” All newbies join the New York office, although the firm has additional bases in DC and London. The firm recently moved to new premises in both New York and London, and sources reckoned the novel New York office “stays true to Cahill’s understated vibe.” Subtle, classy, and overlooking the Hudson River – it really couldn’t be any NYCer!
TOP READ: Becoming a capital markets lawyer. Intrigued by the thought of becoming a capital markets lawyer and want to know more? Cahill's pros in the area are on hand to shed light on their intricate and complex practice.
Beyond the class size, one particular word often cropped up when sources explained what drew them to Cahill, and that word was ‘prestige’. Established over a century ago, Cahill holds a seat at the table among the top dogs in finance. Chambers USA recognizes the firm’s high yield capital market and banking & finance expertise as among the finest nationwide, meaning big-name clients including J.P. Morgan, Deutsche Bank, and Citigroup turn to the firm for legal work. Other nationally ranked practices include the firm’s environment, corporate crime & investigation, and investment grade capital market practices (among others). Many of these also achieve impressive rankings in Cahill’s home state of New York, alongside other areas like First Amendment litigation, general commercial litigation, and white-collar crime litigation.
TOP READ: Becoming a white collar litigator – the view from Cahill: In the fast-paced world of white collar litigation, junior associates get to utilize the skills of investigative reporters, and can find themselves chasing money trails and detecting patterns in financial records.
Strategy & Future
Cahill’s expansion has recently been focused on growth across the pond. “We have built a first-class English law finance practice over the past 18 months focused on high-value work that meets our clients’ needs, and expect it to continue to grow over time," explain partners Jonathan Schaffzin and Jennifer Ezring. Back on US soil, Schaffzin and Ezring explain that there has been “great demand in our core practice areas, and we continue to add more talented people to serve those demands.” Both were keen to emphasize that Cahill’s aim is “not just growth for growth’s sake,” but rather to “follow clients as their needs expand and to grow with the markets we serve. Our initiative in London and other areas, such as crypto expertise, are in direct response to our clients." The plan is more to “double down on our strengths. Summed up, it’s more of the same disciplined approach that has been highly successful for us.”
Read about lateral recruitment at Cahill here.
Associates echo that Cahill’s commercial focus seems to be “staying good at what it has always done.” Many agreed that Cahill had a “conservative” and “risk-averse” approach to its strategy and future trajectory. That said, Schaffzin and Ezring explain that Cahill’s new New York office is part of a push “to support our lawyers and staff in a first-rate way now and for years to come.”
Each junior associate is assigned a partner mentor and a senior associate mentor. The latter has been in place for a while, but also increased its focus recently to address juniors’ concern over soliciting feedback during remote working: “Mentors will check in informally a couple times throughout the year, and there is an annual formal review,” we heard. “People are receptive and want to teach you.” When it came to their development, associates felt that their responsibilities within the firm followed a steady progression and suited individual potential: “Cahill prides itself on being a place where you can move according to your own ability.”
“It doesn’t take work to get work!”
When asked about the potential to make partner, we were met with varied responses. Most corporate associates felt partnership was achievable and followed a “pretty classic eight-year track.” We heard from one corporate associate that “Cahill tries to build partners from summer or first year upwards. Everyone who has made partner while I’ve been here has started at Cahill.” On the litigation side, however, sources found “it’s not easy to become partner.” But sources also flagged that Cahill was upfront about the matter: “Summers are informed about the path to partnership. In my experience, people know within a few years if they want to be partner. If partnership isn’t looking realistic, the firm will let you know.” And if partnership isn’t your cup of tea, fear not; many felt there were a range of exit options after getting the Cahill name on their resumes: “A handful of people go in-house at banks. Associates are often seconded to clients at banks, which makes working together easier in the long run.”
While summers are given the option to state their preference between corporate and litigation work, we heard from one associate that “a few people switched practice in their first year.” The firm is known for its free-market work allocation system which gives associates the autonomy to find work they enjoy. Juniors aren’t necessarily expected to reach out to find work, but our interviewees agreed that they felt confident doing so. “At Cahill there is an environment of being comfortable speaking to anyone, whether they may be a senior associate or a partner. I’ve never felt intimidated.” This was particularly important in a free-market system where associates are encouraged to develop autonomy and independence. “People want you to help out and get integrated. It doesn’t take work to get work!”
Cahill’s corporate practice has a focus on banking & finance and capital markets, plus there is also a “strong M&A group.” Sources appreciated that “there are a mix of projects, and people can get involved in everything.” In particular, corporate juniors flagged “a lot of high-yield bond work, including securities and loans.” Elsewhere, associates found themselves working on leveraged finance cases, as well as bank credit agreements, bond issuances, and a few equity deals. Most of the work involves representing lenders like investment banks, but the team does have a small company side too. Day-to-day we heard corporate associates were involved in drafting documents and letters, and working with clients to coordinate and finalize agreements. “It’s a fast-paced environment – you hit the ground running.”
Corporate clients: Kaspien, Credit Suisse, and Shutterstock. Advised insurance company Arch Capital Group in its acquisition of Watford Holdings for approximately $700 million.
“On smaller cases we basically run the show under the direction of partners.”
Cahill’s litigation practice covers a range of contentious work, from white-collar and securities litigation to more general commercial matters. A lot of the team’s work has a financial or insurance slant to it, given the firm’s core areas. So far, juniors had come across Foreign Corrupt Practices Act work, regulatory matters, antitrust cases, and investigative work – the last of which we heard was split into three sections: courtroom litigation, government investigations, and internal investigations. Cahill’s litigation associates typically worked on tasks like doc review, legal research, and drafting briefs. Our associate sources felt they had seen good progression in their responsibilities over time: “We get experience early on. On smaller cases we basically run the show under the direction of partners.” Juniors particularly appreciated the level of client contact, noting they were often charged with “drafting communications with clients.”
Litigation clients: Deutsche Bank, Wells Fargo Bank, and KeyBanc Capital Markets. Represented UBS in a breach of contract action filed by Bloomberg Finance, which alleged UBS had breached two data license agreements.
All pro bono hours count toward billable credit and bonuses, and associates agreed that the firm offered “diverse pro bono options” which were “really rewarding” to get involved in. One associate spoke about a recent case they did in conjunction with legal aid, where they helped a client acquire special education needs: “I got to communicate directly with legal aid and the client’s guardian, as well as draft documents independently.” Another spoke about an immigration asylum case where they were able to “get involved in interviews” and “wrote 80% of the brief independently.” Some reckoned pro bono could sometimes be “difficult to fit into your day,” but emphasized that “opportunities are available, and there’s a devoted pro bono counsel at the firm.”
Pro bono hours
- For all (US) attorneys: undisclosed
- Average per (US) attorney: undisclosed
Hours & Compensation
Billable hours: no requirement
While the firm doesn’t have an official billable hours requirement, most interviewees estimated billing somewhere between 1,800 and 2,000 hours a year. Juniors typically clocked in around 9.30am – “I don’t feel any pressure to start before then, unless there is an urgent matter.” In a good week, associates billed anywhere between 40 to 50 hours, but the city that never sleeps sometimes keeps company… “80-hour weeks do occasionally happen if there’s something you’ve been working on that’s coming to a close, but these aren’t frequent.” Another source elaborated: “There are days where it’s difficult to bill a whole hour, and some where there’s an overnight closing and you bill 24 hours and don’t sleep.” But sources assured us that these are rare!
Speaking of rest, associates spoke highly of Cahill’s respect for vacations. “If you give enough notice, you can completely switch off.” Another source even found that vacations were “encouraged!” What’s more, alongside a “healthy compensation,” juniors highlighted that “everyone gets a bonus.” We heard that associates must be in “good standing” to be eligible, but one of our sources admitted that “it’s hard not to be.”
Despite the universal struggles of remote working, everyone still felt immersed in the company spirit: “Everyone who works at Cahill is very team-driven. We’re all trying to get to the finish line together.” Interviewees stressed the importance of finding a comfortable and collaborative working environment, and to many of our sources, Cahill actively fosters that: “I’ve made a lot of friends based on intense work weeks together.”
“What associates want matters more than ever.”
More generally, associates described the culture at Cahill as a “down-to-earth, comfortable culture.” Importantly, juniors felt that they had a voice within the firm through Cahill’s formal associate liaison committee. “Each class has two representatives who provide feedback to partners. What associates want matters more than ever.” Over the pandemic, Cahill has hosted a bunch of virtual events (called Cahill Connect) to keep up company culture – associates spoke fondly of trivia events, book club meetings, and cooking nights, as well as occasional outdoor dinners where COVID restrictions permitted. Looking ahead, associates expressed excitement at potential plans for happy hours in the new office.
Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
“Everyone in the legal field could always be doing more, but Cahill has made a good start.” The consensus among our sources was that Cahill’s incoming classes had an even spread between men and women, but “retention efforts could be better.” Cahill has dedicated affinity groups for diverse lawyers and an active women's initiative committee, and most reckoned “the firm is actively trying to recruit more diverse people. The efforts do feel meaningful.” Beyond the recruitment side of things, others noticed “an emphasis on providing mentoring and opportunities” to diverse attorneys too. One junior admitted: “It’s trickier as a smaller BigLaw firm, but I do see the firm trying.”
The first stage: recruitment on and off campus
OCI applicants interviewed: undisclosed
Interviewees outside OCI: undisclosed
Cahill partners conduct OCIs as well as interviews at job fairs. “Every resume we receive is reviewed thoughtfully,” says chair of the hiring committee Sheila Ramesh. “A hallmark of our process is the amount of time and energy we put into this – after all, this is all about identifying the best possible future for everyone involved.”
Transparency is key as far as Cahill is concerned. “It is such a fast process, and we focus on being as transparent as possible,” says Ramesh. “We are really looking for students to do the same so that the dialogue moves as quickly as the process.” Associates confirmed the firm wants “someone that can explain something on their resume – if you had a really bad class first semester but you’re willing to explain that upfront, that shows that you’ve taken it upon yourself to improve.”
Top tips for this stage:
“We are always looking to see excitement around our work and our culture.” – Sheila Ramesh, chair of hiring committee
Applicants invited to second stage interview: undisclosed
Candidates meet with two partners and two associates at the callback stage, with each interview lasting approximately 30 minutes. “We really work hard to create interview schedules that will allow each candidate to learn as much as possible about the firm,” Ramesh says. The panel could include junior associates, who say they look for “people who are entrepreneurial and seem to want to take control of their career.” Associates say candidates should “inquire about the firm’s culture and try and figure out if it’s something you like.”
Top tips for this stage:
“Don’t feel the need to do a ton of research about the people you’re interviewing with, but have an understanding of the firm and ask questions specific to the firm.” – a third-year junior associate
“Take your time, be thoughtful, and really work to determine where you think you will truly thrive as a new professional.” – Ramesh
Summer associates can sample work across Cahill’s practice groups, “and they will have the support of their mentors every step of the way to do so.” Associates said that this was their experience not only as a summer, but also after returning full time: “There have been a couple of times when partners have called me and said, ‘My mentee is interested in securities, I know you’re on this case, is there anything they can help out with?’” The majority of summers return to the firm: “They select their practice area of interest, and we honor that.”
Top tips for this stage:
“Because of the free-market system, you really have to show that you can put yourself out there both personally and in terms of work.” – a third-year junior associate
“Carpe diem! There is so much to get involved in, and there are so many people who are so excited to share what they know and teach you how to be successful. Don’t hesitate to try new things, meet new people and ask questions.” – Ramesh
“Cahill is a New York-based firm, so showing that you actually want to be in New York is important!” – a third-year junior associate
Cahill Gordon & Reindel LLP
32 Old Slip,
- Head Office: New York, NY
- Number of domestic offices: 2
- Number of international offices: 1
- Worldwide revenue: $515,600,000
- Partners (US): 68
- Associates (US): 177
- Main recruitment contact: Yedida Hiller, Director of Legal Recruiting (firstname.lastname@example.org)
- Hiring partner: Sheila C. Ramesh
- Diversity officer: Luis R. Penalver
- Recruitment details
- Entry-level associates starting in 2022: 39
- Clerking policy: Yes
- Summers joining/anticipated 2022: 2Ls: 38
- Summers joining/anticipated 2022 split by office: NY: 38
- Summer salary 2022: 2Ls: $4135/week
- Split summers offered? Yes, with government or public agencies.
- Can summers spend time in an overseas office? No
Main areas of work
Widely recognized as the leading law firm in lending and capital markets, and with a nationally recognized litigation practice, our clients entrust us with the most sophisticated and challenging matters. Building on over a century of excellence, our corporate, corporate finance, litigation, and investigations practices continue to be market leaders with some of the most celebrated practices in the industry.
We also offer premier practices in antitrust, bankruptcy and restructuring, communications, corporate governance, crisis advisory, executive compensation and employee benefits, environmental, insurance, intellectual property, media, pro bono, real estate, tax, trusts and estates, and white collar and regulatory enforcement.
Cahill has thrived for nearly a century by focusing on the most significant opportunities and complex legal challenges facing leading financial institutions and global businesses. Cahill is a firm where you can shape your own legal career. We believe that lawyers who practice in diverse areas are happier and more productive. We do not require immediate specialization and do not have formal departments or rotation policies. While among the most profitable New York-based law firms, our size is conducive to regular interaction between partners and associates. Opportunities abound for interesting work and unparalleled on-the-job training.
Law Schools attending for OCIs in 2022:
Albany, Boston College, Boston University, Brooklyn, Columbia, Cornell, Duke, Fordham, Georgetown, George Washington, Harvard, New York University, University of Pennsylvania, University of Virginia and Washington University (with job fairs and write-ins from a dozen more).
Recruitment outside OCIs:
As a complement to our campus interview process, we review all additional direct submissions. We encourage candidates interested in our firm to contact us with inquiries about our Summer Program and associate opportunities.
Summer associate profile:
The firm seeks academically strong candidates who display good judgment, self-confidence and enthusiasm for the practice of law.
Summer program components:
Summer associates at Cahill gain first-hand experience of what it would be like to be an associate at Cahill. With substantive assignments and opportunities to gain valuable public interest work experience and attend client meetings, negotiations, court appearances and networking events, Cahill’s summer associates develop a true understanding of the firm’s practice. Formal and informal training, personal mentoring and comprehensive evaluations are components of the firm’s summer program.
Recruitment website: www.cahill.com/careers
This Firm's Rankings in
USA Guide, 2022
District of Columbia
- Telecom, Broadcast & Satellite (Band 4)
- Antitrust (Band 4)
- Banking & Finance (Band 1)
- Environment: Mainly Transactional (Band 2)
- Insurance: Dispute Resolution: Insurer (Band 3)
- Litigation: General Commercial: The Elite (Band 3)
- Litigation: Securities (Band 3)
- Litigation: White-Collar Crime & Government Investigations: The Elite (Band 2)
- Media & Entertainment: First Amendment Litigation (Band 2)
- Tax (Band 3)
USA - Nationwide
- Banking & Finance (Band 1)
- Capital Markets: Equity: Manager Counsel (Band 3)
- Capital Markets: High-Yield Debt (Band 1)
- Capital Markets: Investment Grade Debt: Manager Counsel (Band 2)
- Corporate Crime & Investigations: Highly Regarded (Band 1)
- Environment: Mainly Transactional (Band 3)
- First Amendment Litigation (Band 3)
- Insurance: Dispute Resolution: Insurer (Band 3)
Visit Cahill's careers page for more information.