Cahill Gordon & Reindel LLP - The Inside View

This New Yorker promises plenty of finance work with a free-market style… and you can take that to the bank.

If it’s “expertise in the financial sector” and “excellence in capital markets” you’re after, here’s one firm you can hedge your bets on. Finance aficionados were drawn to Cahill’s “strong identity” as a quintessential New York firm that’s comfortable in the company of the financial elite. “We work with Wall Street banks and Fortune 500 companies,” from J.P. Morgan and Credit Suisse to the likes of Citigroup and Deutsche Bank. All junior associates join the firm’s New York HQ, but Cahill also has offices in DC and London.

“We’re expected to ‘develop business’ by reaching out to partners and associates for work.”

Our sister publication Chambers USA puts Cahill firmly among the best in the country for banking & finance and high-yield capital markets – the latter is actually one of three capital markets rankings the firm has to its name. Cahill also has a strong litigation practice, which is closely connected to finance too: insurance litigation is another highly ranked practice for the firm. In the Big Apple specifically, the firm nabs up some more rankings in environment, First Amendment litigation, white-collar crime, and finance-related litigation.

The Work



Summer associates can choose to split their time between corporate and litigation or focus on one practice if they prefer. Both corporate and litigation operate under a free-market work allocation system, wherebyassociates are responsible for getting their own work. Upon joining the firm full-time, “we’re expected to ‘develop business’ by reaching out to partners and associates for work and developing those relationships to ensure that more work comes our way.” For juniors that are a little more introverted, “the system can be challenging,” but they’re likely to get a bit of help in the beginning. “When I started I talked to my partner mentor and associate mentor about what I wanted,” one interviewee recalled. “They told me which partners to reach out to. I sent out some emails and within a day I was staffed on three matters!”

“A first-year can quickly learn the ins and outs of a bond deal.”

Cahill’s corporate offering is known for leveraged finance and high-yield bonds, along with credit agreements and broader bank financing matters. Juniors said bond deals were particularly fast-paced. “We did two note offerings in one bond deal,” one insider recalled. “And we got the deal closed within ten calendar days!” One junior explained that because of the fast-paced nature of this type of work, “juniors are really involved – a first-year can quickly learn the ins and outs of a bond deal.” Another described the junior associate role as “more diligence-focused. Your job is to ensure there is proof for every claim and contact the bankers.” Interviewees were responsible for “client communication work, a lot of document management and keeping track of where we are in the deal.” There’s also equity, capital markets and M&A work at Cahill, but junior associates are less likely to work on these kinds of matters. The deals will inevitably be high-stakes and high-value.

TOP READ: Becoming a capital markets lawyer – the view from Cahill

Corporate clients: Wells Fargo, Citigroup, Jefferies Finance. Cahill represented Morgan Stanley and JPMorgan Chase as lead arrangers in an amendment to a credit agreement worth $2.5 billion.

Over in litigation, the department works on antitrust, insurance, professional liability and securities disputes, plus white-collar investigations. The firm also has a strong reputation for First Amendment litigation (but there aren’t many opportunities for junior associates to get involved in this type of work). The litigation team also works with the firm’s large financial institutions clients. One junior litigator described their role handling “a lot of doc review, prep for depositions, work on responses to subpoenas, and legal research.” Juniors time’ was also spent on shareholder derivatives, due diligence, share purchase agreements, conducting client interviews and drafting client memoranda. In drafting, “whatever you write as a first-year will always be edited but it’s nice to see some of your style and sentences included in the end result,” said one. “My skills have improved and I’m now writing work that is passed on to the client.”

TOP READ: Becoming a white collar litigator – the view from Cahill

Litigation clients: UBS, S&P Global, insurance companies AIG and Arch Capital Group. Cahill recently defended Credit Suisse against allegations that it colluded to manipulate the initial auctions and secondary market for Mexican Government Bonds

Culture, Hours & Compensation



Billable hours: no requirement

With New York and financial institutions come some inevitably demanding working hours. Although Cahill doesn’t have an official billing hours target, we heard 2,000 hours is the “unwritten rule” that most go by. As a New York firm, associates reckoned a standard day usually runs from 9am to 7pm (“when the banks sign off”), but 12-hour days weren’t uncommon in busy stretches. A litigator told us that half of their weekdays were busy due to lean staffing. “Having smaller teams means I am often working alongside just a partner,” they explained. “If I can’t do the work, no one else can.”  Whatever the hours end up being like on an assignment, there's strong camaraderie: “Being comfortable with the people you work with makes the long nights almost enjoyable.”

“Being comfortable with the people you work with makes the long nights almost enjoyable.”

Juniors described the Cahill cohort as “super down-to-earth. There’s no pretentiousness here.” They felt the free-market work system allows for free-flowing conversation across all levels of seniority, with juniors encouraged to reach out to anyone at the firm with questions or to ask for a quick catch-up. Sources appreciated that “when starting in a high-intensity environment in BigLaw, it helps to have people you can go to.” Most of the associates we spoke to had made firm friends at Cahill: “We go out together not as colleagues but as friends.” Pandemic permitting, juniors mingled during holiday parties and a book club which “has continued over Zoom.” However, we heard grumbles over happy hours getting the boot.

It may not be totally work-hard-play-hard at Cahill but it is work-hard-pay-hard, with not one but two longstanding bonuses – one for everyone and a second “special bonus,” which is merit-based. One insider said getting the second bonus “is dependent on the hours and quality of work that you put in,” but no one we spoke to had heard of anyone missing out. The firm informed us that around 90% receive the special bonus.

Pro Bono



Pro bono hours count the same as client billable work when determining bonuses. The pro bono program at Cahill features matters concerning youth development, the arts, criminal justice, sex trafficking and domestic violence. The firm is partnered with Sanctuary for Families to help victims of domestic violence, and because of the rise in domestic violence cases since COVID-19, we heard the firm is also providing online assistance to victims to file for orders of protection remotely.

Elsewhere, one source described a case helping the mother of an adopted child with learning difficulties: “We helped them get physical therapy and separate classrooms to aid with the child’s learning.” Although the associates who had a chance to nab up some projects found the pro bono work “rewarding,” some of the corporate lot hadn’t done any pro bono at all, explaining that most of the opportunities were “very much litigation-focused.”

Pro bono hours

  • For all (US) attorneys: undisclosed
  • Average per (US) attorney: undisclosed

Diversity



Cahill’s diversity committee branches out into various affinity groups for African Americans, Asian Americans, Hispanics, women and LGBTQ+ people. Our interviewees weren’t satisfied with the current level of ethnic diversity at the firm, with one pointing out that “there are no black men in my year.” Our data shows that 5% of associates and 3% of partners at the firm are African American. Associates did praise the firm’s efforts to recruit a more ethnically diverse cohort. “BigLaw is riddled with your stereotypical white lawyer,” said one junior, “so it’s great to see a big firm take the initiative to attract different types of people.” We also heard that associates of color at Cahill are given additional mentors, and one interviewee praised the firm’s book club for “focusing on ‘woke’ books – right now we’re reading The Color of Law.”

Career Development



Cahill juniors get kicked into shape during Cahill Kick Off, a two-week training program which commences upon associates’ arrival at the firm. The sessions include IT training, simulated doc review, some legal research projects and presentation skills. On an informal level, one interviewee said, “I’m satisfied with my time with partners and more senior associates for career development.”

“I’m satisfied with my time with partners and more senior associates."

Looking ahead, associates had a clear idea of what is expected of them to make partner (“work hard and stick around for eight years”),but they were all too aware of how fierce the competition is. In a class size of over 40, Cahill promotes just one or two to partner each year. Given its client base, going in-house with banks and financial institutions is a common exit route for former Cahill lawyers.

Strategy & Future



When scoring the firm’s strategic and commercial mindset, associates marked Cahill highest in the ‘conservative’ and ‘risk-averse’ categories. By way of example, Cahill’s made the decision to switch things up to a smaller office, in keeping with the trend among many companies across industries since the pandemic. The sparkling new office will be “just two blocks away” from its current premises at Old Slip, just around the corner from Wall Street. Associates were eager to experience the many perks of these new digs, such as a wellness room, café, open-plan communal areas and all-new tech – “we’ll have laptop docking stations throughout the whole office so you can take a meeting anywhere.”

Get Hired



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.” – chair of hiring committee Sheila Ramesh

Callbacks

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.”  chair of hiring committee Sheila Ramesh

Summer program

Offers: undisclosed

Acceptances: 30

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.” – chair of hiring committee Sheila Ramesh

And finally….

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,
New York,
NY 10005-1702
Website www.cahill.com

  • Head Office: New York, NY
  • Number of domestic offices: 2
  • Number of international offices: 1
  • Worldwide revenue: $444,400,000
  • Partners (US): 66
  • Associates (US): 176
  • Contacts 
  • Main recruitment contact: Noelle Fletcher, Director of Legal Recruiting (nfletcher@cahill.com)
  • Hiring partner: Sheila C. Ramesh
  • Diversity officers: Luis R. Penalver
  • Recruitment details 
  • Entry-level associates starting in 2021: 31
  • Clerking policy: Yes
  • Summers joining/anticipated 2021: 2Ls: 31
  • Summers joining/anticipated 2021 split by office: NY: 31
  • Summer salary 2021: 2Ls: $3,654/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 leveraged finance, 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.

Firm profile
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.

Recruitment
Law Schools attending for OCIs in 2021:
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 writeins 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, 2021

Ranked Departments

    • 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 4)
    • Litigation: White-Collar Crime & Government Investigations: The Elite (Band 3)
    • Media & Entertainment: First Amendment Litigation (Band 2)
    • Tax (Band 4)
    • 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 2)
    • Environment: Mainly Transactional (Band 2)
    • Insurance: Dispute Resolution: Insurer (Band 3)

Visit Cahill's careers page for more information.