Cozen O'Connor - The Inside View

Think you can find a full-service firm with a better work/life balance? O’Conntraire.

In central Philadelphia born and raised, on the legal playground is where they spend most of their days. There’s no getting past it, Cozen O’Connor is the fresh prince of a great work/life balance. Compassion was the word of the moment as our sources described the level of togetherness felt at the firm: “My perception was that it’s a hard-working firm, but people look out for each other,” one told us, “there’s a real sense that attorneys having their own lives is important at Cozen.” And, as is so often the case, this more compassionate approach only motivates the associates at Cozen to work harder to achieve great things for the firm across its litigation, business law and corporate spheres.

“…wherever I go in my law career, it’ll be with Cozen O’Connor.”

Cozen’s reach is pretty significant, with 27 offices in the US and a further four overseas. The majority of junior associates were based in Philadelphia, with a good number split between Washington DC and New York. The rest were sprinkled across Atlanta, Chicago, Seattle and Miami. Wherever associates find themselves, we heard the secret sauce at the firm is a level of support that inspires loyalty: “My own ambitions and life goals are supported here, wherever I go in my law career, it’ll be with Cozen O’Connor.” It’s an approach that has translated to success too, with the firm boasting close to 40 Chambers USA ranked departments, including top-tier corporate crime & investigations, state attorneys general, aviation and shipping regulatory practices nationwide. There are also top nods for real estate in Philadelphia and employment and construction across Pennsylvania.

Strategy & Future

Managing partner Vince McGuinness highlights the firm’s continued focus on growth, especially in increasing its presence as a “full-service practice” in Canada: “US firms have never really done well in the Canadian market,” McGuinness tells us, “so we’re very happy with our progress there. We’ve moved to new corners in Vancouver and Toronto, and added full-service lawyers in areas like real estate and capital markets – precisely what we need.” Part of this growth plan has also extended to the firm’s ancillary businesses: “Every one of these has come out of the practice of law,” McGuinness explains, “if it’s closely connected to us, then we’re open minded.” Previous examples have included technology that will benefit litigation practices through the use of predictive analytics, and, as McGuinness highlights, for smaller “ADA and FMLA claims, we created a special business that will review these things.”

“Happy lawyers are productive lawyers…”

Of course, progress often means remaining as focused on what to hold onto as what to reach out for. McGuinness jumps at the opportunity to restate the firm’s continued and long running commitment to the culture of the firm and its desire to provide a work/life balance for its attorneys: “Happy lawyers are productive lawyers,” he states, “If there’s any legacy I leave, it’s that my lawyers have the same experience that I did; family life is important and valued.”

Read more from Vince McGuinness under the 'Get Hired' tab.

The Work

The majority of associates on our list found themselves in the business litigation group, with corporate law, global insurance, real estate and IP making up the rest. While business litigation makes up the bulk of the firm’s contentious work, we heard senior attorneys will encourage juniors to explore their interests in the first year. As one associate explained: “Originally, we’re assigned work from a litigation pool. You’ll take assignments from all the commercial litigation practices and then after a year, you pick your practice area of choice.” This general pool was pretty well received too: “The firm is very invested in getting to know associates and what they’re interested in,” one told us. Waiting for associates on the other side of this pool (and as is the case for the other practices at the firm), associates report their hours and availability to a workflow coordinator: “If you don’t have enough work to keep yourself occupied, then you can expect that to change!” We heard the model provided a good “balance of structured assignments and requests.”

“Opportunities are given to you based on when you’re ready for them, not what your class year is.”

As the group that takes on the largest number of junior associates, the appeal of business litigation at Cozen was the breadth: “I’ve done about every kind of complex litigation you can think of,” one told us, “I’ve been on everything from smaller 100k personal injury cases to multi-million-dollar cases as well.” Sources told us that if you put in the work and show promise from the start, you can expect your experience level to accelerate pretty quickly: “You get substantive experience very early. Opportunities are given to you based on when you’re ready for them, not what your class year is.” When it comes to specifics, associates spoke about things like multi-district corporations, personal injury defense, insurance defense, liability, corporate governance and more. “The everyday is kinda different,” one explained, “one day I’m drafting a motion, the next I have an outline to do. There’s a lot of variety.”

Business Litigation clients: Pennsylvania American Water Company, The Arden Group, Lindsay Transportation Solutions. Represented 29 of the EB-5 Visa investors who were defrauded into investing in a Florida real estate commercial development with the matter valuing over $12,000,000.

In the corporate group, Cozen makes sure its associates are able to jump on any and every aspect of the corporate deal process: “I’m expected to be knowledgeable on these subjects if they come up in calls,” one associate explained, “and that’s because you should expect to be involved in the deal at every stage if you come to Cozen.” The knock-on effect of this is that there’s plenty of work to go around, with interviewees talking about “up to four or five M&A deals” simultaneously, “the workload is always changing.” Typical associate tasks mentioned everything from due diligence to being the point person for clients and plenty of drafting: “The group has so many niche areas which I love, you can get super specialized if you want to,” even at the junior level. In fact, this even went as far as for juniors to get a sense of what it’s like to be a more senior lawyer: “What I enjoy most about being a lawyer is having direction over your own work.” That’s not to say that juniors are left to their own devices however – the firm makes sure to keep junior associates in the room, even if they aren’t playing a particularly important role in a matter: “You might take a backseat on certain issues, it’s important to learn and observe.”

Corporate clients: J&J Snack Foods Corporation, The Beachbody Company, TRX Training. Represented Boenning & Scattergood in its sale of all of its private client group assets to LPL Financial LLC.

“I have no work I don’t enjoy.”

The IP group may be smaller than its business and corporate contemporaries, but it’s no less impressive. While patent prosecution and patent litigation will crop up elsewhere, sources were excited about the fact that there is room to dip your toes in either: “Cozen lets me do both, and I love that. I am able to experience both sides and see which one I gravitate towards most.” The usual suspects of IP work at Cozen feature anything from copyrighting to trade names. As one source told us, there is plenty of “research and drafting” with “a lot of generic applications for brand names before they expire.” One associate was quick to highlight their enthusiasm for their practice group: “I have no work I don’t enjoy. Working out what the clients can do and what they shouldn’t do, that’s something I particularly enjoy.”

IP clients: Allied Universal, BODI, Endo Pharmaceuticals. Handled all federal trademark and copyright protection for the Web3 company Streaming Rat, which integrates traditional media with blockchain technology.

Pro Bono

“20 hours of pro bono is the recommendation, but you can bill up to 75 hours here at Cozen” one associate told us. We heard of a wide range of matters that are available firm-wide, but the associates we spoke with had also brought in their own clients: “The firm is really receptive to that, they’ll hear you out and more often than not, you can take them on as a client.” Otherwise, the firm has a full-time pro bono coordinator who works with outside organizations to bring in such work as transgender name changes, non-profits, criminal work and, we hear, a robust network of veterans cases which most of our sources had participated in. One junior expressed their delight at being able to do just that: “I have family who are disabled veterans, so I feel really grateful for the opportunity to experience impactful stories in that space.”

Pro bono hours

  • For all (US) attorneys: 18,570
  • Average per (US) attorney: 22.6


Outside of a general excitement for the work they were doing, insiders were most passionate about the “familial vibe” of the firm. That’s more than just a moniker too, as associates told us: “The firm is incredibly supportive of those of us with families. Some attorneys leave work at three to pick up their kids and there’s never any problem.” This type of consideration adds to what sources described as a “small firm-feel” where everyone feels comfortable with each other: “I can joke around with my boss and they take an interest in what I’m up to over the weekend, but easily the most important thing is that I can be myself at work.”

“It’s good for us, and it’s good for the firm, because you feel more comfortable and therefore your work is better. It’s a win for everyone!”

We also heard of an all-attorney summit down in Florida that takes place every 4 years, as well as various events and happy hours organized and encouraged by the firm: “It’s good for us, and it’s good for the firm, because you feel more comfortable and therefore your work is better. It’s a win for everyone!” The pride in being part of the firm’s community was practically infectious, and one source hit the nail on the head as to why: “We have hard jobs that are made harder when people are generally unpleasant and there’s none of that here. It’s just kindness at Cozen.”

Hours & Compensation

Billable hours: varies by department

Truthfully, for all the praise heaped on the firm’s culture, it has one trade off, but as sources put it; “Cozen is really upfront about who they are, you either like it or you don’t.” What this is referring to specifically, is the fact that Cozen pays its attorneys slightly below market rate. Although this might be a sticking point for some, our sources unanimously believed this was worth it for what they get in return: “The quality of life makes it worth it, I’d take this and still get to keep my weekends and enjoy my life.” Your yearly target depends on your practice group, but sources didn’t feel an overwhelming sense of stress when it came to their yearly goals: “They’re holistic about your targets. We don’t practice law in a vacuum and they realize that, if I don’t hit my target but I’m working hard on other things, they will be supportive.” As for hybrid working, it’s three days a week depending on the practice group, but sources stressed that once again the firm is flexible to an individual’s needs.

Career Development

Associates on our list were eager to point out the strengths of the mentorship available at the firm, citing the reachability of senior colleagues: “I’m looking to develop my skills as quickly as possible, and many of the older associates and partners put their money where their mouth is and meet with me regularly once a week to discuss my assignments - what I did well and what I can improve on.” The firm’s investment in associates’ development is of paramount importance, and we’re told it comes “from the top down. I’ve developed personal relationships with senior partners who are dedicated to making the job better for us.” As for the path to partnership, we were told that making member (Cozen’s term for a non-equity partner) is a transparent process and after seven years, you’ll likely be up for it. As one associate put it: “They have a policy of not hiring people that aren’t great people and that links into the track for partnership.” Following that, at the ten year mark, members are up for shareholder (equity partner), which while in the distant future for our sources, didn’t seem like an unattainable goal.

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion 

The firm’s women’s initiative was lauded as the “the most well attended and robust group” of its kind, with associates pointing out that “the firm does an excellent job of recruiting and retaining women, I think the majority of litigation associates, for example, are women.” We heard about a number of available affinity groups covering LGBTQ attorneys and attorneys of different racial backgrounds. Of course, as is often the case, associates highlighted that overall, the firm was lacking in terms of the number of diverse attorneys. Not to be misunderstood, sources pointed out this was “an industry wide problem, and the firm is aware that they need to improve. They are taking steps to do more.” These steps included unconscious bias training, funded events, and galas for affinity groups, but most importantly, listening to their associates. One source was very optimistic on the subject: “We seem to be getting more diverse each year.”

Get Hired 

The first stage: recruitment on and off campus 

OCI applicants interviewed: 150 

Interviewees outside OCI: 39 

Cozen O’Connor attends OCIs at schools in the regions of its offices that run a summer program. It also conducts interviews at national schools with students who want to practice in any of Cozen’s office locations that have a summer program. Direct applications are welcomed for these locations as well, with interviews conducted on a rolling basis. In addition to this, the firm attends job fairs. Hiring sources at the firm tell us “we are constantly evaluating the breadth of our recruitment to ensure that we are engaging the best talent for our firm.” 

First round interviews are conducted by two attorneys from the regional office, which tends to draw the most interest from students at a particular campus. “For example, we will have two attorneys from the firm’s Washington DC office conduct interviews at Georgetown,” hiring sources at the firm explain. In the interview, “we seek students who demonstrate sharp analytical thinking skills, leadership characteristics, and inquisitiveness about the career upon which they are embarking.”  

Top tips for this stage:“Be prepared. Take time to research the firm and your interviewers.  You should come to the interview with thoughtful questions about the firm.” – hiring sources at the firm. 


Applicants invited to second stage interview: 100 

The format of call-backs differs by office, but the firm assures us candidates are given all the details they need ahead of their interview. Interviewers assess candidates on the same criteria as the OCI stage, but in much more detail. Hiring sources advise that “a big part of interviewing is listening to what the interviewer says and making appropriate connections to your own background and experiences.” 

Top tips for this stage:“Candidates stand out when they show a strong interest in the firm.”– hiring sources at the firm. 

Summer program 

Offers: 36 

Acceptances: 25 

Attorneys across the firm can request assistance from a summer associate via an assignment portal. Each office also has an assignment coordinator who will get a sense of what summer associates are particularly interested in. “They will make best efforts to assign them work that aligns with their interests,” hiring sources tell us, “but we also believe it is very important that our summer associates are exposed to as many different practice areas and attorneys as possible.” Every summer is also assigned two mentors – a partner writing mentor and an associate mentor. There are social events scattered throughout the program and weekly training sessions. The firm says almost all summers return as junior associates (sometimes after completing a judicial clerkship). Associates who focused more on the transactional side during the summer may start at the firm in a specific practice area, while those who were focused on the litigation side return to the firm’s litigation general pool before joining a specific group after one year. 

Top tips for this stage: “When you’re given an opportunity to observe an attorney at court, in a deposition, conduct a client meeting, or participate in a call with the client or opposing counsel, take it!” – hiring sources at the firm. 

And finally.... 

It may seem obvious, but “never ask questions that a cursory review of the firm’s website would have revealed the answers.” The firm sees hundreds of candidates, so “the less times we have to answer ‘tell me about your summer program,’ the better. With those questions out of the way, we can get to know you better and you can get better insight on the firm.” 

Interview with Vincent McGuinness, president and managing partner

Commercial strategy, market position and trends

Chambers Associate: How would you define your firm’s current position and identity in the legal market? What differentiates your firm from your peer firms in the market? [e.g. other energy firms, or other firms in New York]

Vincent McGuinness: I think that we are well positioned in the market. The firm continues to explore, and our trajectory has increased in the last 10 years. Increased both in head count and geographically. Everything is in a positive space. With the growth we have, we’re representing the culture.

CA: Have there been any developments at the firm over the past year that you’d like law students to know about?

McGuinness: We’ll start with Canada, we committed to diversity and became full-service. Part two of this is to continue the growth, with both laterals and organic growth. U.S. firms have never really done well in the Canadian market, so we’re very happy with our progress there. We’ve moved to new corners in Vancouver and Toronto and added lawyers in areas like real estate and capital markets – precisely what we need.

Otherwise, we are expanding and building our ancillary business units, and making sure the geographic reach we have continues to grow. The next big area is technology. We’re in step with this new technology and we’ve worked with practice groups to figure out which tech could benefit the firm and our clients. For example, predictive analytics for our, litigation practices. We’re moving forward quickly but also cautiously, as not everything is fit for the industry.

With the ancillary businesses, we have found it’s interesting to look at those that are practical with the law. Every one of these has come out of the practice of law, if it’s closely connected to us then we’re open minded and shall continue to expand those in the future.  As we speak, we’re going to launch another business to work with our labor and employment group. TPAs and third parties manage ADA and FMLA claims, So we created a special business that will review these things for our clients.

CA: Are there any domestic or international events/trends [legal, economic, political, social] that are affecting any of the firm’s practices at the moment? Are there any trends that you think are affecting the business of law firms more generally, and how is that playing out with your firm?

McGuinness: There’s a lot more activity in the regulatory space, telecommunications, and we have a very active cannabis practice. Because cannabis isn’t legal at the federal level, there’s an increase in regulation significantly impacting our clients.

Core practices are our bread and butter, but we are expanding niche practices as well.  There’s many incremental changes at the state and local level, and we want to be able to provide guidance on these issues for our clients.

Also DEI initiatives are being challenged in court, so we try to provide guidance for clients who want to maintain these programs without facing lawsuits..

CA: Tell us a bit about the firm’s reputation for a strong work/life balance, why is that important to Cozen?

McGuinness: It’s interesting you raise that, I’m a lifer at the firm, when I joined the firm it was Stephen Cozen and Patrick O’Connor at the helm and they felt it was very important to have a personal life, happy lawyers are productive lawyers. If there’s any legacy I leave, it’s that my lawyers have the same experience I did, family life is important and valued. Myself, Michael Heller, and others that are lifers had that relationship with others, there’s the business of law that’s important but we have found that lawyers that have that balance. From a business perspective too, we spend a lot of time recruiting good talent, for those that want that experience. A well-balanced person is the most productive.

CA: Mentorship is another huge thing for the firm, can you talk about how important it is to have home grown talent at Cozen?

McGuinness: Everyone talks about culture; everyone wants to be the best person they can be. One of the things we set up was a separate firm foundation and part of our guidelines was we’re supportive of what attorneys value such as contributions and other activities. This goes back to when I first joined the firm. It’s really important to do things in life that are really important to you. To me, that’s crucial in terms of an organization. Our legal talent and training team keep that in mind when they do their training. How to be thoughtful, mindful, and engaged.

Inside the Firm

CA: How is the firm evolving to accommodate the needs/expectations of the next generation of lawyers when it comes to mental health?

McGuinness: wellbeing is a challenging issue in our industry. Even practicing in a positive environment is still stressful. Lawyers need to understand we have resources they can turn to. Speakers and presentations come in often, one being Courageous Conversations: where lawyers come in and talk about difficult things that have happened: child death, addiction, a child coming out as LGBT. These people volunteered to share their experiences. It says to our employees that we all have challenges and that’s okay! We all have difficulties we can deal with. People realize ‘sometimes I felt I was alone but in fact I’m not and that’s great.’

The Fun Bit

CA: Is there any advice you’d give to your younger self starting out your career?

McGuinness: It’s so important to embrace who you are and where you’re going. Once you do that you’re going to have professional and career satisfaction and enjoy what you’re doing. I love the law and it saddens me to hear people are unhappy in the job they’re doing and sure it can happen anywhere but for us it’s really important to address these concerns, and enjoy the practice. You’re blessed to do it so enjoy it.

CA: Is there a movie/TV show/books about lawyers or the legal profession that you particularly enjoy? [It can be fictional or based on real events, and it can even be one scene] And how accurate would you say it is?

McGuinness: I’ll give you three films. 12 Angry Men, super important movie and it’s a classic that’s enjoyable to watch. To Kill a Mockingbird; a great movie about fighting for the oppressed. And My Cousin Vinny, a lot of fun and lighthearted.

Cozen O'Connor

One Liberty Place,
1650 Market Street,
PA 19103

Main areas of work
Bankruptcy, business/corporate, commercial litigation, construction, government and regulatory, health law, insurance coverage, insurance defense, intellectual property, labor and employment, life insurance and annuities, real estate, private client services trust & estates, subrogation and recovery, state attorneys general, tax, transportation and trade, utility, environmental and energy, white collar defense and investigations.

Firm profile
Ranked among the top 100 law firms in the country, Cozen O’Connor has 825+ attorneys in 31 cities across two continents. We are a full-service firm with nationally recognized practices in litigation, business law, and government relations, and our attorneys have experience operating in all sectors of the economy. Our diverse client list includes global Fortune 500 companies, middle-market firms poised for growth, ambitious startups, and high-profile individuals.

In an industry built on talk, Cozen O’Connor has made its name by doing. We have built our firm one case, one victory at a time. Our attorneys have impeccable academic credentials and are able to combine intellectual rigor with practicality and efficiency. We provide sophisticated, business-minded advice aimed at one simple goal: getting the right result for our clients. No matter how complex, contentious, or critical the undertaking, we persevere until the job is done.

Law Schools attending for OCIs in 2024:

Brooklyn, Fordham, George Washington, Georgetown, Howard, Penn, Rutgers- Camden, Temple, University of Virginia, and Villanova.

Recruitment outside OCIs:
We anticipate collecting resumes at a number of schools and participating in the Philadelphia Area Diversity Job Fair and the Loyola Patent Law Interview Program. Students who wish to apply outside of these programs, please submit application materials at

Summer associate profile:
We seek summer associates who embody the best characteristics of our attorneys. These are candidates who have distinguished themselves from their peers in academics, legal writing ability and oral advocacy skills. Our summer associates have diverse backgrounds including, but not limited to, prior work experience, military service and a demonstrated commitment to serving their communities through volunteerism.

Summer program components:
We provide our summer associates with a realistic experience of the responsibilities and high level of performance expected of our associates. They take part in an extensive firm orientation and weekly training programs. We assign writing mentors and associate mentors to provide advice and guidance. Summer associates are invited to practice group meetings and to attend hearings, depositions, or client meetings with attorneys. Social events are scheduled throughout the program to help each summer associate become better acquainted with each other and the firm’s attorneys.

Social media:
Recruitment website:
Linkedin: cozen-o’connor
Twitter: @cozen_oconnor
Facebook: CozenOConnor
Instagram: @cozenoconnor

This Firm's Rankings in
USA Guide, 2023

Ranked Departments

    • Labor & Employment: Highly Regarded (Band 2)
    • Bankruptcy/Restructuring (Band 3)
    • Construction (Band 3)
    • Litigation: White-Collar Crime & Government Investigations (Band 4)
    • Real Estate (Band 4)
    • Insurance: Dispute Resolution (Band 3)
    • Insurance: Transactional & Regulatory (Band 2)
    • Intellectual Property (Band 1)
    • Labor & Employment (Band 3)
    • Insurance (Band 2)
    • Bankruptcy/Restructuring (Band 4)
    • Labor & Employment: The Elite (Band 3)
    • Corporate/M&A (Band 3)
    • Energy & Natural Resources (Band 1)
    • Litigation: General Commercial: Highly Regarded (Band 5)
    • Litigation: White-Collar Crime & Government Investigations: Highly Regarded (Band 3)
    • Construction (Band 1)
    • Healthcare (Band 2)
    • Insurance (Band 3)
    • Labor & Employment (Band 1)
    • Litigation: White-Collar Crime & Government Investigations (Band 2)
    • Real Estate: Finance (Band 2)
    • Real Estate: Zoning/Land Use (Band 2)
    • Tax (Band 2)
    • Banking & Finance (Band 3)
    • Corporate/M&A & Private Equity (Band 3)
    • Litigation: General Commercial (Band 3)
    • Real Estate (Band 1)
    • Insurance (Band 2)
    • Cannabis Law (Band 4)
    • Construction (Band 5)
    • Corporate Crime & Investigations: Highly Regarded (Band 1)
    • Insurance: Dispute Resolution: Insurer (Band 3)
    • Labor & Employment (Band 4)
    • State Attorneys General (Band 1)
    • Transportation: Aviation: Regulatory (Band 1)
    • Transportation: Shipping/Maritime: Finance (Band 2)
    • Transportation: Shipping/Maritime: Regulatory (Band 1)