Dorsey & Whitney LLP - The Inside View

An extensive national network; offices in some of the most promising emerging markets in the US; three partnership tracks; and a welcoming Midwestern culture – Dorsey has a winning formula that’s hard to resist.

“We’re an AmLaw 100 firm headquartered in Minneapolis with a strong presence along the coasts,” managing partner Bill Stoeri replies when we ask him to sum up Dorsey in a nutshell. That’s just the headline of course – there’s much more to say about this Midwestern powerhouse of a firm, which boasts around 550 lawyers, an extensive national offering, and six international bases.

TOP READ: Spotlight on Minneapolis: Partner Kirsten Schubert gives us an introduction to this bustling legal market.

For our associate sources, Dorsey presented them with an enticing mix of qualities: “I got relaxed vibes from the firm, but it also stood out for the sophistication of its legal work and the fact that it works for all sorts of interesting clients.” These include names like Micron Technologies,  Facebook, Samsonite, and the UnitedHealth Group.While many of our associate interviewees stated their interest in the Minneapolis market, others pointed to the work that Dorsey’s doing in the emerging companies/venture capital space in one of the rising tech markets in the US – Salt Lake City, which fallswithin the ‘Silicon Slopes’ area in Utah.

“It’s a promising market for growth and its economy, and it’s not oversaturated with lawyers.”

On the subject of Utah: Chambers USA bestows plenty of praise on the firm’s corporate offering in the state, especially when it comes to the tech sector. Elsewhere, Dorsey’s strongest collection of Chambers USA accolades can still be found in its home state of Minnesota, where top-notch nods are given to the firm’s antitrust, corporate/M&A, immigration, litigation, and real estate practices. Intellectual property is another strength for Dorsey, especially in its Seattle, Denver, and Salt Lake City offices. On a nationwide level, the firm is considered a leader when it comes to energy transactions in the mining and metals space.

Strategy & Future 



In January 2022, Dorsey opened its 20th US office in Phoenix: “We looked at metropolitan cities, and Phoenix was in our top five,” says managing partner Bill Stoeri. “We narrowed it down further and decided that Phoenix offered good opportunities with exciting clients. It’s a promising market for growth and its economy, and it’s not oversaturated with lawyers.” Stoeri emphasizes opportunities for Dorsey’s energy and banking and finance practices in the city.

“…we’ve always had a really strong cross-border Canadian practice.”

Careful expansion is the name of the game at Dorsey. “We have been pursuing growth,” says Stoeri, “but we wanted to do it in a thoughtful manner. We want to grow where it makes sense for us to be in terms of our existing geographies and practices.” On that note, Stoeri tells us that “we’ve always had a really strong cross-border Canadian practice and we’ve now enhanced that by hiring a group of lawyers from the Canadian firm Osler – they came over from that firm’s New York office and have added to our M&A and financial restructuring capabilities.”

The Work 



Dorsey’s trial, corporate, and financial restructuring practices housed the most juniors on our list, but associates could also be found in areas like labor & employment, real estate, and IP. Work assignment in the trial group has been jazzed up recently, we heard. Associates described it as “a hybrid model, where you can still get assignments from reaching out to partners, but there’s also a portal [called the Project Opportunity Portal], that uses an algorithm to assign work.” At the time of writing, the portal was being used by first- through to third-year associates in the corporate and trial groups in the Minneapolis office, but plans are afoot to expand it to the same cohort of associates in additional offices.

“It’s split between regional and then national or even international clients."

Corporate juniors told us that there were three main ‘buckets’ of work here: “We do venture capital and startup work, private company M&A, and then public client matters, like capital markets and securities deals.” Associates spoke of working with a lot of startup clients from the tech and healthcare spaces: “It’s split between regional and then national or even international clients.” 92% of our survey respondents in this group felt that they received interesting work and had good client contact. An associate detailed an asset purchase they recently got involved with: “The deal was between two healthcare clients and I covered everything from drafting the main agreements to handling the ancillaries and taking client calls!” When working with emerging companies, associates said they took on a role akin to that of general counsel: “I help them with equity and debt fundraising matters and basically draft all the agreements associated with them, like the employment agreements.” The corporate bunch also conduct a lot of due diligence and monitor data rooms. The corporate group is officially split into four practices: capital markets and corporate compliance; emerging companies; mergers and acquisitions, and technology commerce.

Corporate clients: U.S. Bank National Association, Mayo Clinic, Facebook. Advised Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers on its $275 million equity purchase of Rouse Services.

Over in trial, Chambers USA heaps praise upon Dorsey’s handling of securities, white-collar, shareholder derivative, breach of contract, and class action disputes. Clients come from sectors like healthcare, tech, and financial services. An interviewee enthused: “I love the work we do. We have interesting cases with important clients. Moreover, given the lean staffing on the cases I've been assigned to, I am able to participate substantively in the work we do, which greatly enhances my satisfaction in my role.” When juniors first start out, “you’re given a lot of one-off research assignments or smaller pieces of litigation work, like preparing a small motion. We also get staffed on larger case teams, so I’ve been working on antitrust matters involving M&A deals, as well as large class actions.” Associates need an eye for detail: “You’ll be researching previous cases to check that an understanding of the law is correct and to see whether our argument needs to be adjusted – you are safe-checking the work!” Dorsey's litigation groups include commercial, IP, construction & design, and securities & financial services litigation.

Litigation clients: Apex Financial Options, ADX Labs, Peakspeed. Dorsey recently represented a cannabis company with regard to derivative claims. 

Culture 



“In Minneapolis the culture is a lot more Canadian – people are very nice, apologetic even!”

The firm’s cross-border work with Canada was flagged as an influence on the culture: “In Minneapolis the culture is a lot more Canadian – people are very nice, apologetic even!” In Denver, meanwhile, the people were described as “extremely nice – I look forward to seeing everyone and the other associates are great.” This source very much felt that the tone for the culture was “set from the top down,” which on a broad note was described as friendly and professional: “We work very hard, but everyone remains cheerful and appreciative of one another. Everyone's kind nature makes the working day that much more enjoyable.” Another happy camper enthused that "a lot of attorneys have spent their whole careers here, which just shows how much the firm values us. Dorsey does not have a cutthroat environment.”

It came as no surprise to subsequently hear the culture described as “team-oriented: they look for people who are able to work well in a team and can present themselves in a professional manner.” In addition, “staying connected” was deemed very important, with sources telling us that the firm had achieved this via “lots of social events” and a very clear open-door policy for partners and associates alike: “When you’re in the office your door is expected to be open!”

Career Development 



Learning at Dorsey is “primarily on-the-job: I’ve received a lot of training from my partner mentor, who’s been very hands-on.” We also heard that “other partners and associates are willing to take you through every assignment and send you their edits. The training process is less formal, but everyone is willing to offer guidance.” At the same time, “they do provide CLE trainings” and “there are a lot of career development programs conducted via Zoom that you can tune into.”

“…they really empower us to build our own practice and stick around.”

Associates at Dorsey are in it for the long haul: 48% of our survey respondents said that they intend to make partner, which is almost double the market average that we record. These hopes were fostered by partners who reportedly speak frequent words of encouragement: “Senior people tell us they want everyone to make partner and they are truly looking to keep everyone of us.” Another added that “they really empower us to build our own practice and stick around.” Several of our interviewees mentioned Dorsey’s three-track partnership path, which come with different billable requirements and salaries: “They say we can work on whatever track we want to get to partnership.” Managing partner Bill Stoeri explains that “we wanted to respond to the big changes in associate compensation in a way that didn’t change our culture. Instead of opting for a ‘one size fits all approach,’ we wanted to give flexibility to associates and the firm.” Elevation to the partnership is usually considered around an associate’s seventh year at the firm.

Hours & Compensation 



Billable hours: Dorsey has three partnership-tracks: 1,600 hours, 1,750 hours and 1,900 hours 

Each billable track at Dorsey “has a posted salary progression chart, which can be a bit overwhelming to look at!” First and second-year associates aim for 1,900 hours, but can decide to switch tracks from their third year onwards. When it comes to bonuses, all associates can bag both a productivity and merit-based bonus based on their performance. Associates did point to a recent “big move up in compensation for us – it’s not all the way up to Milbank levels, but the vast majority of us work in affordable places, so we probably end up taking more home.”

On average, associates we interviewed worked from around 8am until 6pm. However, hours did vary between offices and departments. “Sometimes you are working on things until they are done,” an associate told us, “but if that happens partners are usually apologetic and will help you if you’re working late!” Others mentioned that they’d “definitely had those BigLaw 14-hour days, but they are not common!” For this source there were “weeks where I could leave at 5pm and then weeks where I was working later into the evening.” Our survey respondents had worked an average of 49 estimated hours in the preceding week and had taken an average of seven vacation days in past twelve months.

Pro Bono 



“The firm has a good pro bono culture,” an interviewee declared. “It's encouraged by partners and the projects are also very interesting.” Associates can count up to 100 hours of pro bono toward their billing target. Our sources had worked on veterans, housing, and religious freedom matters, but “there are a wide range of opportunities available depending on your interests.” Dorsey’s lawyers work with the Innocence Project, but also take on LGBTQ rights, asylum, tenants’ rights, and domestic abuse matters (among many other projects). One associate shared that “on one case we were asked to draft a memorandum and arguments that we could use – I was able to work collaboratively with a partner and bounce ideas back and forth. I certainly got to do a lot.” 93% of our survey respondents agreed that Dorsey is committed to pro bono and that they had autonomy over the amount of pro bono work they could take on.

Pro bono hours 

  • For all US offices: 24,594 
  • Average per US attorney: 48

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion 



“Dorsey really does try and makes an effort,” an associate told us, mirroring how others felt. Interviewees did flag the firm’s location as a challenge to improving diversity: “It’s hard because in the Midwest there’s not a diverse pool of candidates to recruit from,” said one, while another highlighted that “Denver is maybe the least diverse city in the US.” Gender diversity was deemed a strength at Dorsey, however, with an associate highlighting that “the split of men and women as mostly at or near 50/50” across various practices. A source was particularly glad to see the number of women represented in their office: “Among the associates in my group, I’m the only male.”

Interviewees were also happy that Dorsey had granted 50 hours of billable creditfor DE&I activities. We heard of several diversity events and trainings taking place, as well as regular meetings between the Lawyers of Color group and each office's diversity committee: “The last one we had was about bias in the US and how missing persons of color don’t become national news stories – I’d say almost all of the office attended.” This source added that “George Floyd was killed in Minneapolis, and the firm really took the lead and was proactive following that.” Managing partner Bill Stoeri tells us that Dorsey “developed an identity-based trauma response plan after George Floyd’s death, which was put into effect following the increase in anti-Asian racism and the shooting of Daunte Wright. As part of the plan, Dorsey offered support to Black and Asian attorneys and staff, which included Dorsey-sponsored wellness coaching from an outside counselor who specialized in racialized trauma.”

Get Hired



The first stage: recruitment on and off campus 

OCI applicants interviewed: 302 

Interviewees outside OCI: 32 

In the summer of 2021 Dorsey visited more than 25 law schools for OCIs on top of a handful of job fairs including the Lavender Law Career Fair, the Loyola Patent Interview Program, and the Minnesota Minority Recruitment Conference. Alumni are a common choice to conduct the interviews; when not possible the interviews are typically handled by recruiting committee members. 

The candidate's interests form the subject matter for initial interviews, including their general view on the legal profession; Dorsey as a firm; and the office location. “We may ask about the candidate's experience in law school and try to get a sense of the practice areas they think they're most interested in.” Anything that can help an applicant stand out from the crowd is factored in, including but not limited to background, interests and breadth of academic and work experience. Law review, journal and moot court experience all count positively here. 

Top tips:  

“I’d say there’s a big spread of people here who have had careers before. Though in the summer class, there’s quite a few summers who went straight from college to law school to here. Also, there’s people who had plenty of work experience prior to law school. Dorsey has no preference and welcomes everyone!” – a third-year associate 

Callbacks 

Applicants invited to second stage: 86 

At this stage each candidate meets with about six interviewers to talk about their own interest in the firm, their practice areas of interest and working in the relevant city. Dorsey favors a mix of one-on-one, two-on-one and a more informal interview with a couple of associates to see how applicants perform in different situations. 

The firm's advice here is similar to that for the OCI stage, with the addendum that callbacks are more personal and are a good stage for the applicant to get to know the firm and their interviewers better. Some prior preparation is essential here, as being knowledgeable about the interviewers' practice is a great conversation starter and tells them you have a genuine interest in working alongside them. 

Summer program 

Offers: 66 

Acceptances: 35

Each office conducts its summer slightly differently, but most aim to give their summer associates a breadth of work from multiple practice areas including some client contact. Minneapolis rotates its visiting applicants through three groups. Pro bono work is also on offer during the summer period. Along with 'real' work, summers also attend Dorsey U training seminars plus in-house writing workshops. 

Dorsey encourages summer associates to make personal connections with attorneys so they're ready to hit the ground running when they return to the firm proper. Each candidate submits practice area preferences at the close of the program – spots are given out based on these and department need. 

Notable summer events: cooking classes; escape rooms; cocktail/mocktail classes; baseball games; and a meet and greets with various attorney across the firm, including the Managing Partner.

And finally... 

Examples of Dorsey U sessions that summer associates attend include Hot Topics in Employment and Benefits Law; Addressing Antitrust Risk in M&A Transactions; the Art of a Closing Argument; and How Appellate Courts Do Their Work. 

Dorsey & Whitney LLP

50 South Sixth Street,
Suite 1500,
Minneapolis,
MN 55402-1498
Website www.dorsey.com

111 S. Main Street, 21st Floor,
Salt Lake City,
UT 84111-2176

Columbia Center,
701 Fifth Ave,
Seattle,
WA 98104-7043

300 Crescent Court,
Suite 400,
Dallas,
TX 75201

Suite 400,
1400 Wewatta St.,
Denver,
CO 80202-5549

  • Head Office: Minneapolis, MN
  • Number of domestic offices: 14
  • Number of international offices: 6
  • Worldwide revenue: $424,825,000
  • Partners (US): 289
  • Associates (US): 166
  • Other Attorneys: 67
  • Contacts:  
  • Main recruitment contact: Melissa Gregory, Director of Lawyer Recruiting
  • Hiring partner: Kirsten Schubert
  • Diversity & Inclusion contact: Joan Oyaas, Chief Legal Talent Officer
  • Recruitment details 
  • Entry-level associates starting in 2022: 24
  • Clerking policy: Yes
  • Summers joining/anticipated 2022: 1Ls: 10, 2Ls: 27
  • Summers joining/anticipated 2022 split by office: Costa Mesa: 2, Dallas: 3, Denver: 5, Minneapolis: 18, Salt Lake City: 4, Seattle: 5
  • Summer salary 2022: Costa Mesa: $3,650/week; Dallas: $3,940/week; Denver: $3,460/week; Minneapolis: $3,460/week; Salt Lake City: $3,170/week; Seattle: $3,650/week
  • Split summers offered? Case by case

Main areas of work
Dorsey is a full-service law firm with an integrated network of practices that routinely work with one another. It has more than 60 practice areas including: benefits and compensation; corporate; finance and restructuring; health transactions and regulations; labor and employment; patent, public finance; real estate; regulatory affairs; tax, trusts and estates; trademark; and trial.

Firm profile
Dorsey provides an integrated, proactive approach to its clients’ legal and business needs around the globe, with locations across the United States and in Canada, Europe and Asia. Industry leaders and successful companies turn to Dorsey for the edge they need to succeed in a highly competitive world. It serves clients in nearly all industries, but focuses on six key industries — banking and financial institutions; development and infrastructure; energy and natural resources; food, beverage and agribusiness; healthcare, and technology — in which the firm has great depth and a history of achieving client success.

Recruitment
Law Schools attending for OCIs in 2022:

Arizona State University, Brigham Young University, Georgetown University, Harvard University, Howard University, Mitchell Hamline, Northwestern, Seattle University, Southern Methodist University, Stanford University, University of Arizona, University of Alabama, University of California – Berkeley, University of California – Irvine, University of California – Los Angeles, University of Chicago, University of Colorado, University of Denver, University of Iowa, University of Michigan, University of Minnesota, University of Southern California, University of St. Thomas, University of Texas, University of Utah, University of Virginia, University of Washington, University of Wisconsin, Vanderbilt University, Washington University, Yale University

Recruitment outside OCIs:
The firm participates in a number of job fairs, accepts online applications, and partners with local diversity hiring programs.

Summer associate profile:
Dorsey values the strength that comes from a diverse and inclusive work environment. It contributes to the success of its people and clients and enriches their experience. It seeks students who have strong interpersonal skills, ambition, and diverse perspectives, experiences, and interests. It prefers students with a record of strong academic achievement and law review, journal, or moot court experience.

Summer program components:
The firm’s summer associates have the opportunity to work on substantive projects from different practice areas, and get to know its attorneys through those work opportunities and a variety of social events. Summer associates work on challenging client matters; represent pro bono clients; and have the opportunity to attend client meetings, depositions, closings, and court appearances. Dorsey values the growth and development of its summer associates. It recognizes the importance of feedback throughout the process, therefore summer associates are assigned mentors and receive personalized feedback from Dorsey’s Recruiting Committee in the middle and at the end of the summer. Dorsey’s summer associates also participate in numerous seminars and training events hosted by Dorsey U, their in-house professional development group.

Social Media:
Recruitment website: www.dorsey.com/careers
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/company/dorsey-&-whitney-llp
Twitter: @DorseyWhitney
Facebook: Dorsey & Whitney LLP

This Firm's Rankings in
USA Guide, 2022

Ranked Departments

    • Corporate/M&A (Band 2)
    • Litigation: General Commercial (Band 3)
    • Intellectual Property (Band 2)
    • Litigation: General Commercial (Band 3)
    • Antitrust (Band 1)
    • Capital Markets: Debt & Equity (Band 2)
    • Construction (Band 2)
    • Corporate/M&A (Band 1)
    • Immigration (Band 1)
    • Intellectual Property (Band 3)
    • Labor & Employment (Band 2)
    • Litigation: General Commercial (Band 1)
    • Litigation: White-Collar Crime & Government Investigations (Band 1)
    • Real Estate (Band 1)
    • Corporate/M&A (Band 1)
    • Litigation: General Commercial (Band 3)
    • Natural Resources & Environment (Band 2)
    • Corporate/M&A: Highly Regarded (Band 5)
    • Intellectual Property: Trademark, Copyright & Trade Secrets (Band 3)
    • Cannabis Law (Band 3)
    • Corporate/M&A: Highly Regarded (Band 5)
    • Energy: Mining & Metals (Transactional) (Band 1)
    • ERISA Litigation (Band 3)
    • International Trade: Export Controls & Economic Sanctions: Highly Regarded (Band 2)
    • Native American Law (Band 3)
    • Corporate/M&A (Band 1)
    • Intellectual Property (Band 1)
    • Litigation: General Commercial (Band 2)
    • Natural Resources & Environment (Band 2)
    • Corporate/M&A (Band 3)
    • Intellectual Property (Band 3)
    • Tax (Band 2)