Come for the elite government contracts team, stay for the “genuinely progressive culture.”
Crowell’s origins can be traced back to the late 70s when a group of lawyers left the same BigLaw firm with a shared goal of forming a ‘different type of firm.’ 40 years – and a great many mergers and tactical acquisitions – later, Crowell’s name has become synonymous with government contracts work, its own practice having been top-ranked by Chambers USA for 15 years straight. Unsurprisingly, many of our interviewees cited Crowell’s government-facing work as a key draw, as well as its reputation in other areas such as healthcare, data & privacy, insurance, environment, and trade. However, sources stressed that “while the work and opportunities are great, it’s the people who make this firm.” Cliché? Perhaps. But it was a view espoused by almost all our insiders. “Crowell has a super relaxed air to it,” one told us, adding that “it has a boutique feel but with the resources of a BigLaw firm.”
Outside of its DCheadquarters, Crowell has seven other US offices including in New York, LA, San Francisco, and Orange County. The remaining three offices were all opened in 2021. As a result of a couple of mergers and a sprinkle of ambition, the firm is now also waving the flag in Chicago,Indianapolis and Denver.
“In Denver, we opened with seven practitioners, made up of partners, counsel, and associates, all of which are women," managing partner Phil Inglima tells us. He adds that “we’re developing a strong brand in Denver; there are many client opportunities out there and we hope to further define our healthcare, corporate, and litigation practices.” As for Chicago and Indianapolis, Crowell merged with Chicago-based IP firm Brinks Gilson & Lione – the largest merger in Crowell’s history. The firm also recently snapped up the corporate law boutique Kibbe & Orbe into its DC base.
Strategy & Future
Safe to say that 2021 was an exciting year for Crowell. Inglima confirms that “despite the bizarre and unprecedented changes of the pandemic we’ve experienced the largest level of growth in the firm's history.” The firm’s first merger of 2021 with Kibbe & Orbe was spearheaded by Crowell’s intentions to strengthen its transactional practices. Inglima elaborates: “We had a team of 24 lawyers join us, primarily based in New York but also in London and DC. These lawyers have expertise in corporate work, focusing on distressed debt and claims trading. They’ve been a terrific addition to our transactional practice.” The later merger with Brinks was underpinned by the firm's goals to grow in the Midwest and build upon its IP practice: “We’d been thinking about expanding in the Midwest for a while, and it was a natural decision as we’ve also been growing our tech practices, particularly in the privacy and cybersecurity arenas.” Inglima adds that “we gained around 61 IP lawyers, with a focus on patent prosecution and disputes. They’re some of the most outstanding people in their field.”
“Firm leadership has taken some bold, well-calculated steps to position us for consistent excellence in a rapidly modernizing industry and world.”
One of our junior insiders also gave us their view on the matter: “My understanding is that Crowell has historically been strategically conservative and has always prioritized firm stability and ability to support its attorneys. However, recently firm leadership has taken some bold, well-calculated steps to position us for consistent excellence in a rapidly modernizing industry and world.”
At the time of our calls, the large majority of associates were based in DC. New York also held a fair few, with the rest thinly spread between San Francisco, LA, Chicago, and Orange County. When joining, incoming associates rate their practice area preferences and generally split their time between two groups in their formative months at the firm. Newbies are also free to apply directly into a single practice area if they wish. Each group has a different approach to work allocation. For example, in the government contracts group, associates spoke of having two staffing associates “responsible for keeping an eye on how much time associates are billing each month and allocating assignments accordingly.” Alternatively, in other groups juniors are organically staffed onto projects once they’ve built relationships and a good reputation.
“There’s been a push within the group for young associates to get their names out there on cases."
The firm’s government contracts practice covers the whole government marketplace, including handling bid protests, investigations related to government procurement, disputes, compliance, and advising companies on how to obtain government contracts. Clients come from sectors such as healthcare, private equity, and aerospace. An associate focused on claim litigation explained that “when disputes do arise from contracts, my job is to review the contracts, check the factual records, and figure out what arguments to put forward in our client's favor.” With the recent presidential announcement that all contracts must comply with the vaccine mandate, the team has also been pretty busy “working with businesses to ensure they are compliant,” one source said. Far from being left to do doc review, we were told that “there’s been a push within the group for young associates to get their names out there on cases. For example, if you mentioned you’d like to do more client presentation, you’d be given the opportunity to do so.” Other day-to-day tasks tackled included researching and crafting arguments, analyzing questions, informing clients of any key points, and drafting motions.
Government contracts clients: Lockheed Martin Corporation, Raytheon Technologies, BAE Systems. Acted as lead counsel for Amazon in a bid protest filed by Oracle in the Court of Federal Claims challenging the Department of Defense’s Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) procurement.
The IPteam tackles everything from litigation and portfolio management challenges to patent prosecution and licensing. “I mostly take on patent litigation matters, I also do some patent prosecution, trademark prosecution, and enforcement work,” one junior said. In keeping with its healthcare sector specialty, the department represents a lot of pharmaceutical drug companies and medical device companies. In a typical IP case, one source explained that “it’ll usually involve a generic company wanting to challenge a company's patents through court litigation and file applications to make similar drugs to the big-name brands.” Junior associates are involved with doc review, drafting expert reports, preparing motions, researching briefs, and helping with witness preparation. Once in their second year, associates' chances for attending trial go up. As one source told us: “I’ve been to trial twice so far, where I’ve been able to substantively help with all the behind-the-scenes stuff – it’s pretty exciting!”
IP clients: Amneal Pharmaceuticals, BOS Automotive Products, Cook Medical. Managed Cook Medical’s patent strategy, including the invalidation of four patents asserted against the company.
“Crowell's healthcare practice is special,” according to one source, “and it is not just because it has some of the biggest clients in the industry. What sets this practice apart from an associate's perspective is that Crowell represents top clients in matters of all sizes.” The benefit? “It means first- and second-year associates are given substantive opportunities on paid matters.” True enough, one second-year divulged “having been assigned multiple cases where I have served as the lead litigator, and I was also given primary responsibility for drafting summary judgment papers addressing multiple unsettled legal issues.”
Healthcare clients: Advent Health, Centene Corporation, United Health Group. Represent eight Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies in significant antitrust multidistrict litigation against plaintiffs seeking injunctive relief to dismantle the Blue Cross Blue Shield system.
“Leadership wants us to be truly happy in our personal lives so as to thrive as attorneys.”
For one interviewee, “the fact that friendships I have made over my first couple of years at the firm have endured, even across the pandemic,” was indicative of a healthy culture. “The firm is genuinely committed to helping attorneys develop meaningful relationships and our leadership wants us to be truly happy in our personal lives so as to thrive as attorneys,” they added.Another enthused: “The firm doesn’t take itself too seriously and partners are never uptight like you may assume.One of the partners even has a nap in her office every day and nobody bothers her!”Accordingly, sources made clear that “you will not find people charging around, buttoned up in a power suit.” Juniors were also pleased to report that the firm puts on plenty of drinks and dinners for its happy campers, which “always enjoy a good turnout.”
Hours & Compensation
Billable hours: 2,000 target
Crowell employs a staggered compensation system depending on which bracket of hours associates choose to hit. For the standard 2,000 hours track, associates receive market rate pay of $205,000 for first-years. For a slightly better work/life balance, attorneys can opt for the lower target of 1,900 which aligns with a lower pay of $185,000 for first-years. Attorneys in 'good standing' are guaranteed a 70% bonus, with the remaining 30% tied to performance. One associate commented: “If you want to work longer hours the firm has plenty of work to give you and will reward you for that. Alternatively, if you want to have a more active personal life there’re also options for you too.”
For most of our interviewees the average day, ran from around 9.30am to 7.30pm, with busy periods taking juniors closer to 12-hour days. Sources weren’t shy about voicing frustrations. For example, one junior reflected that “it would be good to have clearer boundaries when it comes to work time and personal time. I’ve had partners email me at 9pm asking for a phone call as they can’t find a specific document.” However, the overall sentiment was that associates at Crowell had a better deal compared to many of their peers on the market. This is evident in our latest survey, where the firm scored solidly higher that the market average for the metrics ‘You have good work-life balance,’ and ‘You can take vacation on your own terms.’ One source told us: “Ultimately,I have time to work out, go for a walk with my partner, and have dinner together in the evening.”
Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
Associates on the 2,000 hour track can count up to 100 hours of DE&I-related activities toward the billing hours target. “The diversity hours can be spent on things like presentations or writing articles that are relevant,” one source explained, adding that “it’s a great way to encourage associates to get involved.” Crowell also hosts an array of programs, like its ‘diversity speaker series’ where people come into the firm to discuss issues surrounding D&I. Past speakers have included New York Times best-selling author Michael Eric Dyson.The firm also has plenty of affinity groups for African-American, Asian, Hispanic and LGBTQ+ members of staff. Lastly, stats show that Crowell’s representation of women at the partnership level is also among the top of all the BigLaw firms covered in our guide.
"Partners are always providing us with constant feedback to really push our growth.”
Crowell’s career development opportunities were singled out for acclaim in many of our conversations with juniors at the firm: “What sets Crowell apart is the amount you can develop as a junior attorney. Even as a first-year, you have the opportunity to work directly with senior partners and clients – people are invested in your success and growth.” Once at the firm, associates are assigned a mentor and a partner professional development adviser. The firm also put on a number of internal training sessions on specific subjects, like going to trial or drafting. Still, most of the training comes organically at Crowell. As one source told us: “My responsibilities on matters have progressed and I’ve received more challenging assignment as I’ve grown through the firm. Partners are always providing us with constant feedback to really push our growth.”
Our survey results indicate that associates feel partnership was very much achievable, reflected in the fact that nearly 40% of respondents intended to make partner – significantly higher than the market average. One junior summarized: “Given the relationships I'm building with senior partners at the firm and the opportunities I'm getting in both pro bono and paid matters, I don't know why I'd go anywhere else!”
Attorneys at Crowell are held to 50 hours minimum of pro bono work with an unlimited cap, all of which can count toward the billable hours requirement. Although Crowell covers a colorful array of projects, the firm has a particular focus on children’s rights/family law, immigration, and criminal justice. Detailing their involvement on one recent case, a junior told us: “The defendant was convicted of a crime and we worked on getting them pardoned. In terms of my role, I worked on going through the claims.” Another eager associate enthused that “on pro bono projects, you get to really spearhead the matters you’re working on – it's great for professional development.”
Pro bono hours
- For all (US) attorneys: 22,972
- Average per (US) attorney: 90
The first stage: recruitment on and off campus
Crowell conducts OCIs at a mix of schools across the country, as well as schools local to its offices. At each school, the firm sees about 15 to 20 students, though hiring partner Ryan Tisch notes: “We see an increasing number of write-in candidates, and we always ask our OCI interviewers to fit in additional candidates at lunch and before and after scheduled interviews. I don’t want to miss a 'true fit' because he or she didn’t make it through the school’s OCI lottery and onto our schedule.”
The interviews are usually conducted by a team of two attorneys. "We like to send a team of two, and we try to pick people who are dissimilar to one another," says Ryan Tisch. "That means partners with associates, different practice groups, and people with diverse perspectives in lots of other ways. That way our candidates can get a range of questions answered, and a range of answers to their questions." Interviewers will try to gauge why candidates want to work in law, as well as what their goals and working style are like, and how they see themselves interacting with clients and fellow attorneys.
Top tips for this stage:
“We love candidates who can talk concretely through specific examples from their educational, personal or working lives and tie those experiences to their expectations for a career at Crowell & Moring.” – former recruiting chair, Ryan Tisch.
Those invited to callbacks usually start with a tour of the offices, followed by four one-on-one interviews with a “diverse and relevant” range of lawyers. At this stage, interviewers are looking to hear about “specific formative experiences.” For example, Ryan Tisch often “asks interviewees to talk me through a thorny problem they have worked through, and ask follow-up questions about how they might do things the same or differently given things they have learned since then.” In addition, interviewers look for people who can relate to the person in the room. On the firm's side, “we try to identify interviewers who are great at connecting and who naturally ask questions that enrich a conversation.”
Top tips for this stage:
“Don’t be afraid to ask questions – we are most impressed when these are well informed and based on some insights into the legal profession, our firm or our client base.” – former recruiting chair, Ryan Tisch.
During the summer, "there is no rotation," Ryan Tisch explains, "and we ask our summers to work with us to design a summer experience that helps them 'get' the firm and decide what areas, groups and colleagues they might be interested in getting to know better. It’s a very self-directed process." There are work managers available who "work with our summers to identify and staff assignments to hit designated practice areas and build individual relationships." There’s also a full training program, which Tisch tells us is “designed to hit the high points of practice from a young lawyer’s perspective.”
Top tips for this stage:
“The best summers and associates talk to other lawyers whose practices interest them and invite themselves to take part. We love that.” – former recruiting chair, Ryan Tisch
Crowell & Moring LLP
1001 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW,
- Head Office: Washington, DC
- Number of domestic offices: 8
- Number of international offices: 4
- Worldwide revenue: $517.6 million
- Partners (US): 237
- Associates (US): 156
- Counsel/Sr Counsel (US): 172
- Main recruitment contact: Alice Kelly, Attorney Recruiting and Development Manager email@example.com
- Hiring partners: Astor Heaven & Dj Wolff
- Diversity officer: Don Smith
- Recruitment details
- Entry-level associates starting in 2022: 17
- Clerking policy: We encourage clerkship opportunities.
- Summers joining/anticipated 2022: 1Ls: 4, 2Ls: 20
- Summers joining/anticipated 2022 split by office: Washington, DC: 11, New York, NY: 2, Los Angeles, CA: 3, Orange County, CA: 3, San Francisco, CA: 3, Chicago, IL: 2
- Summer salary 2022: 1Ls: $$3,942.31/week 2Ls:$3,942.31/week
- Split summers offered? Case by case
- Can summers spend time in an overseas office? No
Main areas of work
Advertising and media, antitrust, aviation, bankruptcy and creditors’ rights, C&M international, digital transformation, e-discovery and information management, environment and natural resources, energy, financial services, government affairs, government contracts, healthcare, insurance/reinsurance, intellectual property, international dispute resolution, international trade, investigations, labor and employment, litigation and trial, plaintiff ’s recovery, privacy and cybersecurity, tax, mass tort, product and consumer litigation, technology and brand protection, trade secrets, transaction and corporate/securities, and white collar and regulatory enforcement.
Crowell & Moring LLP is an international law firm with offices in the United States, Europe, MENA, and Asia that represents clients in litigation and arbitration, regulatory and policy, and transactional and corporate matters. The firm is internationally recognized for its representation of Fortune 500 companies in high-stakes litigation and government-facing matters, as well as its ongoing commitment to pro bono service and diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Law Schools attending for OCIs in 2022:
Berkeley, Cardozo, Columbia, Cornell, Duke, Fordham, George Washington, Georgetown, Harvard, Howard, Loyola Law School, Michigan, UC Irvine, UCLA, USC, University of Virginia
Recruitment outside OCIs: We participate in the following job fairs: Lavender Job Fair, Bay Area Diversity Career Fair, Loyola Patent Law Career Fair
Summer associate profile: The firm looks for highly qualified, entrepreneurial candidates with diverse backgrounds. We prefer candidates with law review, journal or moot court experience and/or strong relevant legal employment experience, including judicial clerkships; as well as demonstrated leadership capabilities.
Summer program components: The diversity in our summer program reflects the diversity of our firm at large. We want summer associates who take the practice of law and client service more seriously than they take themselves, who will contribute to the life of the firm, and who share our sense of responsibility to the community. Most of our junior associates come from our Summer Associate Program. We want you to go back to law school knowing who we are, what we do, and how we do it. Work for summer associates includes mostly short-term projects that will allow you to experience as many practice areas and as many lawyers as possible. Summer associates have the opportunity to participate in workshops and seminars on such topics as ‘The Law Firm as a Business’ and ‘Oral Advocacy Training’. In addition, the firm offers summer associates opportunities to accompany Crowell & Moring attorneys to ‘Live Events’, which are real-world activities such as court hearings, client meetings, depositions, presentations and negotiations, to observe our lawyers in action.
This Firm's Rankings in
USA Guide, 2022
- Antitrust (Band 3)
- Healthcare (Band 3)
- Intellectual Property: Trademark, Copyright & Trade Secrets (Band 3)
- Litigation: General Commercial: Highly Regarded (Band 2)
District of Columbia
- Antitrust (Band 5)
- Corporate/M&A & Private Equity (Band 3)
- Environment (Band 2)
- Healthcare (Band 2)
- Insurance: Insurer (Band 2)
- Labor & Employment (Band 4)
- Litigation: General Commercial: Highly Regarded (Band 1)
- Litigation: White-Collar Crime & Government Investigations (Band 3)
- Tax (Band 4)
- Intellectual Property (Band 3)
- Intellectual Property: Trademark, Copyright & Trade Secrets (Band 2)
- Antitrust (Band 4)
- Healthcare (Band 2)
- Litigation: White-Collar Crime & Government Investigations: The Elite (Band 3)
USA - Nationwide
- Advertising: Litigation (Band 3)
- Advertising: NAD Proceedings (Band 1)
- Antitrust (Band 4)
- Climate Change (Band 2)
- Corporate Crime & Investigations: Highly Regarded (Band 2)
- Energy: Electricity (Regulatory & Litigation) (Band 5)
- Environment (Band 4)
- Government Contracts: The Elite (Band 1)
- Healthcare: The Elite (Band 3)
- Insurance: Dispute Resolution: Insurer (Band 2)
- International Arbitration: Enforcement Spotlight
- International Arbitration: Highly Regarded (Band 2)
- International Trade: Customs (Band 2)
- International Trade: Export Controls & Economic Sanctions: The Elite (Band 4)
- International Trade: Intellectual Property (Section 337) (Band 5)
- Privacy & Data Security: Highly Regarded (Band 1)
- Product Liability & Mass Torts: Highly Regarded (Band 2)
- State Attorneys General (Band 3)
- Tax: Controversy (Band 5)
Visit Crowell & Moring's careers page for more information.