With a growing transactional remit and nation-leading strengths in IP and life sciences, this prestigious outfit offers juniors much more than just a springboard into government agencies.
That revolving door between law and politics is well known in BigLaw. Lawyers leave their firms, have their moment in the political spotlight, and then return to their former stomping grounds with the benefit of practical experience and a handy new address book of contacts. Indeed, many of the most eminent politicians have been attorneys: research from a Yale law professor in 2013 showed that more than half of all presidents, vice presidents, and members of Congress in US history had a background in law. WilmerHale is a firm that has had no shortage of notable names go through that revolving door: think – most recently – of Robert Mueller, but also of Paul Eckert, who was special assistant to President George W. Bush, and David Cohen, the Deputy Director at the CIA. As of January 2021, eight attorneys had joined President Biden’s administration, with former Wilmer partner Alejandro Mayorkas picked to serve as US Secretary of Homeland Security.
Those interested in corporate work come to Wilmer for the opportunity to work on smaller venture capital deals as opposed to the giant M&A matters at larger New York firms, while litigators are attracted by chances to work on complex commercial cases. Nationwide strengths for the firm in Chambers USA include antitrust, appellate, financial services regulation, government relations, IP, life sciences and securities regulation. In DC, the firm stands out for its white-collar crime and investigations know-how, while in Boston its corporate/M&A work shines and in New York its general commercial litigation expertise gets the star treatment.
DC and Boston – the firm’s joint HQs – house just under two thirds of the firm’s US attorneys. Beyond these bases, Wilmer boasts five international offices and six more in the US, in New York, Denver, LA, Palo Alto, Dayton, and (most recently) San Francisco.
View the firm's Chambers USA rankings here>>
Strategic recruitment focuses 2022
The view from the firm: Our premier corporate practice provides practical, solutions-oriented advice on the most important issues faced by fast-growing companies in technology, life sciences and regulated industries. Leveraging our experience in the areas of emerging companies, venture capital, public offerings, mergers and acquisitions, corporate governance and strategic alliances, we help our clients achieve strategic advantage, navigate complex legal and business issues, and realize their long-term business objectives. We represent more than 100 public companies and 1,000 private companies, investment banks, venture capital and growth equity firms, and individual entrepreneurs. Associates in the corporate group draft and negotiate numerous types of agreements, as well as play critical roles in the planning, structuring, negotiating and closing processes. They also advise on day-to-day matters directly with our clients, including corporate formation, commercial contracts, financings and strategic transactions, as well as securities, disclosure and corporate governance matters.
Corporate clients: Akamai, Blue Apron Holdings, Discovery, Robinhood Financial, State Street Corporation.
Recent highlight: Advised General Catalyst, the largest shareholder of Livongo, in connection with the $18.5 billion merger of Livongo and Teladoc Health.
The view from the firm: WilmerHale’s Trial Practice, with more than 300 lawyers and support professionals across the US and Europe, has a legendary history of trial victories stretching back many decades. Our Trial Practice has tried 175 cases and arbitration merit hearings in the past 10 years alone. We have more than 40 lawyers with first-chair trial and arbitration experience and seven fellows of the American College of Trial Lawyers. This group cuts across our firm’s regulatory, commercial, intellectual property, criminal, antitrust, international arbitration and securities teams. This allows us to assemble trial teams that marry top-tier trial expertise with whatever substantive knowledge is necessary for the particular case. Associates in this group research legal issues, draft and file pleadings, and engage in fact and expert discovery while working with senior lawyers to craft case strategy.
Trial clients: The Boeing Company, Comcast Corporation, Deutsche Telekom AG, Harvard University, National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).
Recent highlight: Represented Fidelity Charitable, the largest charity in the United States against allegations that they mismanaged the sale of their donated assets.
The view from the firm: With more than 200 general IP, IP litigation and appellate lawyers, we offer clients a deep pool of experience across all issues related to their intellectual property. Our lawyers have prevailed in notable disputes for many of today’s most significant companies in technology, pharmaceuticals and other industries. Areas of focus include: patent litigation; intellectual property appeals; post-grant proceedings; Hatch-Waxman and biologics litigation; international trade commission; intersection of antitrust and IP; trade secrets; copyright, trademark and trade secrets litigation; IP in international markets; and cases in front of the Unified Patent Court and in the Western District of Texas. In addition to litigation-based projects, attorneys in this group advise and counsel clients on various IP matters involving copyrights, patents, trademarks, and trade secrets as well as draft, file and prosecute patent applications before the USPTO and foreign counterparts.
IP clients: Intel, Apple, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Becton Dickinson.
Recent highlight: Represented Lenovo and Motorola in a multi-year global patent license war with Nokia.
International and secondment opportunities
Common secondment destinations: Switzerland, New York, San Francisco, Washington, DC.
Client secondment examples: Glencore, Barclays, Snap, Google, Facebook, HSBC.
The view from the firm: WilmerHale's International Arbitration Practice Group provides a unique opportunity for lawyers from across the globe to experience the realities of a busy international arbitration practice and to learn from colleagues who are leaders in their field. Attorneys in this practice are exposed to a wide range of international commercial disputes and take on factual and legal assignments stemming from current cases.
Career development & the path to partnership
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The view from the firm: Diversity, equity and inclusion are guiding principles of WilmerHale and key drivers of the value we provide our clients. The Executive Diversity and Inclusion Committee (EDIC) represents the establishment of a chain of accountability that starts at the top and sets goals that extend throughout our firm, covering objectives relating to recruiting, developing and retaining diverse lawyers; strengthening our culture of inclusion; tying partner compensation to demonstrated diversity efforts; revisiting evaluation, mentoring and benchmarking programs; and revamping work assignment process. The EDIC is chaired by co-managing partners Susan Murley and Robert Novick and includes department chairs, and practice group leaders.
Hours & compensation
- 1st year: $202,500
- 2nd year: $205,000
- 3rd year: $215,000
- 4th year: $240,000
- 5th year: $275,000
- 6th year: $305,000
- 7th year: $330,0000
- 8th year: $350,000
The view from the firm: WilmerHale has a lockstep compensation system. Associate and Counsel salaries are based purely on their seniority level within the organization. The firm has part-time and flex-time policies and considers all requests for alternative workload arrangements to address family, personal, or professional circumstances or goals. In addition, in the wake of the pandemic, we have adopted a hybrid work model wherein attorneys are only required to be in the office three days per week. Finally, WilmerHale has recently moved to allow our DEI efforts to count for billable hours, outside of pro-bono work.
Is WilmerHale the right firm for you?
The view from the firm: WilmerHale seeks to hire students from a diverse array of backgrounds whose academic and personal record of achievement demonstrates a commitment to excellence and are at or near the top of their class. In addition, we are looking for individuals whose character, intelligence, judgment, and training will inspire confidence their colleagues and clients. We focus on six competencies when selecting and evaluating candidates: commitment, confidence, oral communication, problem solving, teamwork and writing. Successful laterals are also lawyers that flourish in a collegial environment that emphasizes teamwork, collaboration and the spirited exchange of ideas in the pursuit of excellence.
Diversity, inclusion and wellbeing
of partners are women
of associates identify as ethnically diverse
The view from the firm: Diversity is a guiding principle of WilmerHale and a key driver of the value the firm provides to clients. The range of perspectives, backgrounds and talents of our lawyers helps us develop creative and effective solutions for our clients’ most complex and challenging legal issues. Collaboration and collegiality are additional guiding principles that reflect our commitment to fostering an inclusive workplace.
average pro bono
The view from the firm: Our commitment to providing a voice for all is demonstrated through pro bono contributions that range from cases of national importance before the US Supreme Court to litigation on behalf of individuals who lack the means to secure necessities as fundamental as housing, adequate medical care, and protection from abuse and exploitation. Through these efforts, and through community service initiatives that have grown into thriving partnerships, we work to enhance the quality of life for many in our local neighborhoods and around the globe.
Sustainability and CSR
The view from the firm: WilmerHale is actively developing its global sustainability program and has engaged an international sustainability consultant to assess the firm’s carbon emissions and recommend approaches to reduce them. This effort, along with our ongoing membership in the Law Firm Sustainability Network, provides us an opportunity to benchmark our sustainability initiatives against specific, measurable and actionable goals. The firm takes its commitment to sustainability seriously and is developing a program that aims to reduce its environmental impact across offices in partnership with our property managers, consultants and suppliers.
See opportunities at the firm here>>
Recruitment contact: Peggy Giunta, Chief Legal Personnel and Practice Management Officer
Visit the firm's website here>>