Even with an expansive national network, Cozen keeps a cozy kinda culture.
From its humble roots in Philadelphia, Cozen O’Connor has grown to become one of the nation’s largest legal outfits by geographic footprint, with 775 attorneys in a whopping 30 cities across two continents. Outside of its hometown, the firm has bases in all the country’s key legal hubs, including Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, LA, Miami,New York,San Francisco and DC.
Across its vast network Cozen has amassed a range of Chambers USA rankings. Nationwide, its corporate, state attorneys, and transportation (aviation and shipping/maritime) practices are all considered top notch, while in its home state, the firm earns high commendations for its construction, healthcare, labor & employment, litigation, real estate, and tax practices. Outside of its HQ, other ranking highlights include in Florida, where Cozen stands out for its IP expertise, and New Jersey for its energy & natural resources work. Go to Chambers.com for the full list.
“If I had to do it all over again, I’d still choose Cozen.”
Reputation is one thing, but for our interviewees, Cozen’s culture was the real selling point. As exemplified by one insider: “Everyone is comfortable with each other here. It’s more relaxed and you’re not expected to bill crazy hours, which was very attractive to me.” One third-year, reflecting on their career at the firm, told us: “If I had to do it all over again, I’d still choose Cozen.” Touching stuff.
Strategy & Future
To keep its attorneys in the loop Cozen puts on town hall meetings, where senior staff answer any questions put forward by associates and update them on the future of the firm. One associate noted that “the firm is looking to maintain a balanced portfolio, and while we’re an entrepreneurial firm, we are still conservative in our growth.” Looking forward, we heard the firm is focused “on developing its highest money-earning departments including private client and real estate.” The firm’s business, IP, and litigation teams were also said to be targeted for growth, having recently attracted several key lateral hires.
The majority of associates on our list sat in the business litigation group with the rest split between construction, private client, trademark prosecution, global insurance, real estate, labor & employment, IP, real estate, and corporate. Work assignments are filtered down to attorneys both formally and organically. One junior litigator explained: “We have a work coordinator that is in touch with all the partners, who will sort projects out with them and then email us to check availability.” Sources highlighted that the allocation process also takes into account personal interests. “As junior associates, there’s the opportunity to be staffed on a huge range of deals/cases,” sources emphasized, adding that “we get to really explore all corners of our practice.” Moreover, in our latest survey, nearly all of our respondents felt that they received good levels of responsibility.
“We get to really explore all corners of our practice.”
Cozen’s litigation team tackles everything from commercial litigation, white-collar defense, tax, and construction disputes to class actions, product liability and contentious trademark issues. Key industries include food and beverages, healthcare, energy, and gaming and entertainment. More than three quarters of our survey respondents in litigation stated they felt happy in the group, underpinned by what one source described as a “solid management system.” Junior associates spoke of taking up more discrete tasks within the group such as “research into really obscure areas of law,” as well as more substantial responsibilities in the form of attending mediations and depositions. Others we spoke to were entrusted to take the lead on client calls and have the first stab at drafting motions. “My everyday changes a lot,” one source shared. “Some days I’ll spend hours looking at a very narrow piece of statute, while others I’ll be mostly corresponding with the other side – the variety is great.”
Litigation clients: Energy Transfer Partners, SAP America, Express Transfer Partners. Represented Lindsay Transport Solutions, a manufacturer of road safety products, in litigation involving its X-Lite Tangent End Terminal guardrail system.
Cozen’s real estate group represents REITs, regional and national developers, investors, builders, private equity funds, banks, and government departments in the acquisition, development, financing, leasing, and sale of real estate. Many of the associates we spoke to had worked on the purchase and sale of properties, which meant “drafting closing documents, leases, working on non-foreign certifications, closing statements, putting together signature pages, and reviewing title commitments.” Legal research into specific client issues was a frequent day-to-day task too. There was also a consensus that the “high partner-to-associate ratio” translated into good training and development for newbies. As one source said: “I’m frequently working alongside senior partners, which has been great for getting good feedback.”
Real estate clients: Equus Capital Partners, Parkway Corporation, Provco Group. Represented Arden Real Estate Partners and its affiliates in the acquisition of several portfolios of small-bay industrial properties throughout the country, aggregating in excess of 2.5 million square feet.
“People are pretty type-B at Cozen."
Despite the difficulty in pinning down the cultural specifics of a firm spread across so many offices, sources agreed that “people are pretty type-B at Cozen,” emphasizing that “everyone's easy-going and friendly.” Others described the culture as “welcoming,” “relaxed,” and “comfortable.” Many also felt that the cool culture was manifested from the top down. As one junior told us: “I can walk into any partner's office and talk to them about anything; I feel no different talking to partners than I do juniors.” It’s a point confirmed in our survey results where associates scored the firm markedly less than the market average for the metric ‘the firm feels hierarchical.’ An associate in Philadelphia reiterated that “the firm is super down to earth. People aren't stuffy here, and for the most part everyone's relatable and personable.”
“I have time for my social life, and I don’t feel like I’m overworked.”
Sources also praised the firm for its efforts at keeping juniors connected in an age of remote working, noting that “there is a great deal of effort from the firm that goes toward building personal relationships between staff.” With a return to the office, attorneys looked forward to a more active social calendar which in the past has included cocktail making classes, dinners, and of course the usual holiday parties.
Hours & Compensation
Formal hours target varies by department and location but on average our survey respondents estimated having worked 49 hours in the previous week - a not insignificant four hours less than the market average. Scores for the metric ‘there is an expectation to be available outside of office hours’ were also markedly below the market average. One source in Philadelphia enthused: “Overall, I have a good work-life balance. I have time for my social life, and I don’t feel like I’m overworked.” For mostof our interviewees, the average day ran from around 9am to 7pm, with later finishes during busy periods. Juniors in DC and New York were less likely to endorse the image of Cozen as “less intense than other BigLaw firms,” with one source noting that “the hours have been tougher than I expected.” However, the same associate also told us that during stressful periods, “my work coordinator has been genuinely very supportive and impressive. They want you to enjoy your job and not just think about the bottom line.”
Compensation similarly varies by office, though sources were pleased to report that starting salaries increased recently in all of the firm’s domestic offices by $20,000. Associates spoke of receiving both a merit-based and a firmwide bonus, with one source noting that “the compensation is wonderful; I received an end of year bonus and special bonus – the firm is very generous.” Although the majority expressed satisfaction, sources also agreed that the process lacked transparency.
Associates are encouraged to do 20 hours of pro bono a year. Up to 75 hours of pro bono can count toward associates’ billable requirement/expectation, and they can seek approval for additional credit for anything more. A dedicated pro bono coordinator is at hand to get juniors staffed on cases they have an interest in, with projects spanning immigration, child custody, LGBTQ+ rights, religious freedom, and women’s rights. An associate in one of the firm’s corporate groups told us they “recentlyrepresented a tenant, making sure they don’t get evicted - the work can be very fulfilling.” Despite the bandwidth given to engage with pro bono, many sources expressed disappointment that “there are several people who do little to no pro bono. It's surprising.”
Pro bono hours
- For all (US) attorneys: 19,547
- Average per (US) attorney: 25.8
“People have been very deliberate in giving me a broad range of work experience so I can develop my interests.”
Upon arrival, newbies have a full calendar of training “corresponding to topics that any new associate would need to know, such as general skills and networking.” The firm also gives juniors a formal mentor, but we heard that informal mentors were also highly valued. Many of our interviewees were quick to bring the conversation back to the benefits of the high partner to associate ratio: “You get a lot of feedback and people have been deliberate in giving me a broad range of work experience so I can develop my interests.” Associates are eligible for promotion to member (the equivalent of partner) in their seventh year of graduation from law school.According to our survey, nearly three quarters of respondents felt partnership was achievable, well above the market average, with a third intending to make partner.
Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
Our interviewees were clear that the firm’s representation of ethnic minority partners was something that clearly needed improvement. However, a vast majority of our survey respondents expressed satisfaction at the firm’s efforts to recruit diverse candidates. One source in DC told us that “the firm does a great job of hiring women. The majority of my peers are women, and a lot of senior mentors are women too – it's nice to see the representation.” Cozen maintains a wide variety of D&I groups, including for Asian, black, LGBTQ+, Hispanic/Latino, and disabled attorneys. Parents-to-be were also impressed with the firm's mandates surrounding parental leave: “I’m often seeing senior attorneys going on maternity or paternity leave – it's always a celebration!”
The first stage: recruitment on and off campus
OCI applicants interviewed: 150
Interviewees outside OCI: 41
Cozen O’Connor attends OCIs at schools in the regions of its offices that run a summer program. It also conducts interviews at top law schools with students who want to practice in any of Cozen’s office locations that have a summer program. The firm interviews about 20 candidates at each school. In addition to this, the firm attends job fairs including, the Philadelphia Area Diversity Job Fair and the Allegheny County Bar Foundation Fellows Program. Hiring sources at the firm tell us “we are constantly evaluating the breadth of our recruitment drive to ensure that we are engaging the best talent for our firm.”
OCIs are conducted by two attorneys (normally partners) 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.” However, the most recent OCI recruiting season was conducted 100% virtually due to COVID-19.
Top tips for this stage: “You should always know who is interviewing you and what they do. Once you know the basic background of your interviewers, it will be much easier to ask them more meaningful questions about their practice and the firm.” – hiring sources at the firm
Applicants invited to second stage interview: 86
he format of call-backs differs by office, but the firm assures us candidates are given all the details they need ahead of their interview. In Philadelphia, for example, “we conduct two two-partner panel interviews followed by a shorter interview with two associates.” 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
Summers indicate their top three practice areas of interest. 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 take assignments from diverse practice areas and from as many different attorneys as possible to develop a strong sense as to what the firm does.” 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 most 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
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 as a candidate and as a person.”
One Liberty Place,
1650 Market Street,
- Head Office: Philadelphia, PA
- Number of domestic offices: 28
- Number of international offices: 4
- Worldwide revenue: $584,802,000
- Partners (US): 497
- Associates (US): 165
- Main recruitment contacts: Lauren Carella (email@example.com) Mindy Herczfeld (firstname.lastname@example.org)
- Hiring partners: Maureen Holland and Jared Bayer
- Diversity officer: Lynne Espy-Williams
- Recruitment details
- Entry-level associates starting in 2022: 14
- Clerking policy: Yes
- Summers joining/anticipated 2022: 21 ( 7 1Ls; 14 2Ls)
- Summers joining/anticipated 2022 split by office: Los Angeles: 1, New York: 2, Philadelphia: 11, Pittsburgh: 2, Washington, DC: 5
- Summer salary 2022: 1Ls: $2876-3454/week, varies by ofﬁce. 2Ls: $3076-3654/week, varies by office.
- Split summers offered? Case-by-case
- Can summers spend time in an overseas office? No
Main areas of work
Business/corporate, commercial litigation, construction, government and regulatory, health law, insurance coverage, institutional response, intellectual property, labor and employment, life insurance and annuities, real estate, private client services, subrogation and recovery, state attorneys general, transportation and trade, utility, environmental and energy, white collar defense and investigations.
Ranked among the top 100 law firms in the country, Cozen O’Connor has more than 775 attorneys in 30 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 start-ups, 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 2022:
Brooklyn, Fordham, George Washington, Georgetown, Harvard, 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. For students at non-OCI schools who wish to apply outside of these programs, please submit application materials at https://www.cozen.com/careers/law-students.
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, such as a trial skills workshop where they learn to prepare and present an opening statement. 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 and teambuilding activities are scattered throughout the program to help each summer associate become better acquainted with each other and the firm’s attorneys.
Recruitment website: www.cozen.com/careers
This Firm's Rankings in
USA Guide, 2022
- Labor & Employment: Highly Regarded (Band 1)
- Bankruptcy/Restructuring (Band 3)
District of Columbia
- Construction (Band 3)
- Litigation: White-Collar Crime & Government Investigations (Band 4)
- Insurance (Band 3)
- 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)
- Construction (Band 1)
- Healthcare (Band 2)
- Insurance (Band 3)
- Intellectual Property (Band 4)
- 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)
Pennsylvania: Philadelphia & Surrounds
- Banking & Finance (Band 3)
- Corporate/M&A & Private Equity (Band 3)
- Litigation: General Commercial (Band 3)
- Real Estate (Band 1)
- Insurance (Band 2)
USA - Nationwide
- 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)
More from Cozen O'Connor:
Learn more about the firm's diversity and inclusion fellowship for 1Ls