Get enjoyment from labor and employment? Care about healthcare? Then consider “super boutique” Epstein Becker Green.
“HEALTHCARE is what I went to school for, and I want to grow in that space,” one very clear-minded source declared when asked why they chose EBG. This determined response became very familiar to us during the course of our calls; “super boutique” Epstein Becker Green was certainly the natural choice for those with a targeted approach, with its dual focus on healthcare law and labor and employment law. At EBG, “we are niche on purpose and we like it that way. We mainly do two things and we do them very well.”
“We are niche on purpose and we like it that way.”
Tip-top rankings from Chambers USA back up those claims. The labor and employment practice is recognized in New York and New Jersey, while EBG’s healthcare expertise is rated nationally as well as in New York, the District of Columbia and New Jersey. These latter locations are where you’ll find the firm’s three largest offices: New York, DC,and Newark. Most of the firm’s juniors are split evenly between New York and DC, with just a sprinkling in Newark and LA. The firm, however, has an additional 11 smaller offices spread out across the country, from San Francisco to Boston. Many of the juniors we spoke to who’d joined one of these 14 offices had some prior experience, as this source explained: “We attract a lot of second career people – former nurses, people who wanted to go to med school, people who worked for insurance companies.” With a background tied to one of the firm’s core areas of expertise, several of our interviewees felt comfortable specializing early on in their legal career.
“My major piece of advice is that you demonstrate an interest in our areas of expertise, whether that’s through work experience, internships or classes that you’ve taken in law school.” For more advice click the 'Bonus Features' tab above.
Almost two thirds of the associates on our list were working within Epstein’s healthcare and life sciences practice group; the remaining third were assigned to the labor practice, with the exception of one junior who had joined a dedicated litigation practice. There’s no formal work assignment in any group; often the “associate has to put themselves in front of a partner” and ask to be assigned to certain matters of interest. However, the firm does help to get newbies started by assigning them a few matters off the bat. Associates felt they were “rewarded for our willingness to walk the halls and find work,” and concluded that “you’re always bouncing around between different partners,” which results in a more “interdisciplinary type of practice.”
“I’m in charge of reviewing the licensing regime for 15 states.”
Healthcare and life sciences juniors took care of “hospitals, health plans, web devices – you name it!” Under “a very broad umbrella,” associates described “three prongs that blend together.” These were transactional, regulatory, and investigations work, and associates commented that “almost everybody covers these different types.” Different offices also have more specialized teams; DC, for example, has a telehealth group, while we heard that Chicago has a “very robust” FDA practice. On the transactional side, “we help investors and entities that are interested in purchasing or selling healthcare-related companies.” Interviewees had worked on matters spanning “multibillion-dollar transactions” to smaller, more specialized projects like “helping new entities become licensed to provide services.”
The regulatory practice “helps current entities make sure they’re maintaining regulatory compliance and that they understand how they can enter new markets.” The most popular type of work was in investigations – particularly with regard to the fraud and abuse group – but to get it “you really have to get in front of someone’s face and say you want to do it – every day!” Juniors felt that their responsibilities on the litigation side were “pretty standard – it’s not like you’re taking depositions at an early stage,” one DC resident told us. Associates tended to assist by “drafting briefs to be filed for review in court and reviewing documents to be turned over to opposing counsel.”
Healthcare & life sciences clients: Apollo Global Management, Veterans Accountable Care Group and HealthSun Health Plans. Assisted surgical center service SurgiCore as it purchased Fifth Avenue Surgery Center in Manhattan.
“I was lucky to help create this great interactive training program for clients from scratch!”
Epstein’s labor and employment practice is split between “advice and counsel work” and wage and hour matters. With regards to the former, lawyers “advise companies on their polices and handbooks and provide general guidance to pre-empt their problems and keep them out of the courtroom.” Recently the MeToo movement has been keeping the group busy: “We started getting a lot of questions about whether MeToo has anything to do with the workplace. That translated into clients having to turn around updated policies and training.” In this scenario, our sources found that “they let us go at it first if there needed to be revisions to contracts or handbooks.” Juniors were often called upon to “assist with the preparation of presentations and trainings for clients and HR panels.” One associate told us: “I was lucky to help create this great interactive training program for clients from scratch!”
Labor & employment clients: National Restaurant Association, Restaurant Law Center and insurance firm AXA. Successfully defended the latter against breach of contract claims and secured a judgment in favor worth over $1.6 million.
Hours & Compensation
Sources agreed that Epstein’s 1,950 billable requirement “can be challenging to hit, especially in first year,” due to the free market assignment system: “It’s all about building relationships, doing good work, and therefore getting repeat work,” a DC healthcare associate explained. “This is probably not a good firm to join if you’re not willing to hustle for work.” A labor junior in New York added that “once you’re a good six or seven months in and gotten comfortable working with certain attorneys then the work comes much more easily. Second and third-years seem to hit their hours much more easily and earlier in the year.” Associates had used their pro bono allowance and credit earned via a work-shadowing program to bump up their hours, but some referred to “the expectation to do a lot of nonbillable work, like blog posts and articles” as a hindrance to their efforts to hit the billable requirement.
“There is a true work/life balance.”
“We’re not totally market, and I wish we were,” a DC source commented, while one of their colleagues added: “My understanding is that in the next year or two the base salary will increase for incoming first-years, but we’ve not been given much more info.” A New York interviewee corroborated that “they haven’t told us how much the increase will be, and whether salaries will be lockstep or individualized – at the moment they are individualized, and I think I’d prefer lockstep.” The firm told us that first-year salaries are in fact lockstep, but beyond that an individualized system is in place and there are no current plans to change that. Ten-hour days were “pretty standard” in both groups, but some in the healthcare practice highlighted periods where they were working “twelve hours each day.”
Associates can bill up to 100 hours toward their billable requirement – an amount that was seen as “fair compared to other firms.” Sources in DC felt that pro bono “is definitely encouraged, but I don’t know if it’s fully ingrained in the culture yet; we are working toward that by bringing in more programs that are sponsored by very senior partners. If I see a senior putting time in, that tells me they want this to be important to us as well.”
Monthly emails inform associates about opportunities, but “they give you a lot of free rein – if you want to work on something and find an opportunity to do it, I don’t think you’re limited.” Our interviewees had worked on matters beyond the firm’s core practices, in “everything from family to criminal to immigration to setting up structures for nonprofits.” Housing court work was common in DC.
Pro bono hours
- For all (US) attorneys: 5,522.5
- Average per (US) attorney: 19.4
A new shadowing program pairs first-years with “senior equity partners, so we can gain exposure to basic things like conducting a conference call and opening client matters – I do think they make an effort to invest in us.” Healthcare associates are sent to a national conference every year, “usually in Chicago – it’s hosted by the Health Law Association.” In addition, the firm encourages all attorneys to attend one conference of their choosing per year: “I’ve been to four already!” exclaimed a New York junior.
DC interviewees highlighted that “the two people who run the formal mentoring program really care,” and also spoke of the benefits of bi-annual associate summits (“which provide us with specialized training and networking opportunities with other colleagues”) and annual business development meetings (“which are also focused on helping you understand where you’re going with your own career path”).
Culture & Diversity
Associates praised the representation of women at partner level: “This firm does a really great job of promoting women. As a female, I can see there is a trajectory.” However, sources also wanted to see “more diversity in terms of race, ethnicity and LGBT status at the partner level.” EBG’s New York office has connections with the LGBT Lawyers Association, and associates noted that “they are trying to build on LGBT diversity.” The firm also has “a whole month where we celebrate diversity” with different activities, such as a speaker event in New York. In Newark, meanwhile, “we had a luncheon where everyone brought a pot luck dish representing your background – it’s a little thing, but you get to know the people you work with and talk about their culture with them.”
“I genuinely like 97% of the employees here!”
While some emphasized the “very strong focus on diversity” as symptomatic of an “inclusive and thoughtful” culture, others highlighted that the free market assignment system can “make things a little competitive.” On the whole though, sources agreed that people tended to be nice and cooperative, with this junior going as far as saying: “I genuinely like 97% of the employees here!” One interviewee felt that EBG “doesn’t really feel like a firm, but rather a small workshop in that it’s common for people to email firmwide with a question and then see a dialogue going on.” Those in Newark were glad to report that “we often get invitations to attend social events in other offices,” but in DC sources warned that “we’re not a super social firm,” with one explaining that “we do have associate happy hours on occasion, but because we have an older associate group at the moment, the people who would have spearheaded those events are married and/or have kids.”
Strategy & Future
Associates said: “The firm is clearly growing; they’re hiring a lot of midlevel associates.” Chair of the board of directors Mark Lutes tells us: "We’re putting faces and ideas into the market quite vigorously and that I think is a distinguishing feature of our approach." He adds that "the focus of the firm – labor & employment and healthcare – allows lawyers to go very deep into the fundamental trends affecting customers. And as those lawyers grow in their experience, that focus makes those lawyers more attractive to the customer than a generalist is." For more from Mark Lutes click the 'Bonus Features' tab above.
The first stage: recruitment on and off campus
OCI applicants interviewed: 476
Interviewees outside OCI: 788
Epstein Becker Green reviews over 1,200 resumes from 2L law students each year. The firm conducts OCIs at 19 law schools throughout the country and collects resumes from an additional 32 schools. The firm also participates in diversity recruitment fairs including the Mid-Atlantic Black Law Students Association job fair and the Lavender Law career fair. “We can see as many as 15 candidates if we conduct 30 minutes interviews on campus or up to 21 students if we conduct 20 minute interviews,” says director of legal recruitment and professional development Amy Simmons. “The number of students also depends on whether the school is 100% lottery or whether we get to select the candidates we are interested in interviewing.”
OCIs are conducted by members of the firm’s hiring committee and other attorneys at the firm (often in pairs) and the firm aims to send attorneys who are alumni of the law school. “The questions at this stage tend to focus on whether the student has a demonstrated interest in one of our core practice areas – health care & life sciences, employment, labor and workforce management, or litigation,” Simmons says. “We also ask questions to understand a candidate’s work ethic, career goals, and identify traits that would lead to success at our firm.”
Top tips for this stage:
““My major piece of advice is that you demonstrate an interest in our areas of expertise, whether that’s through work experience, internships or classes that you’ve taken in law school.” – a third-year junior associate
“Interested candidates should understand that our law school recruiting efforts are very focused in our core practice areas, and we are looking for people who have demonstrated interest in these areas.” – director of legal recruitment and professional development Amy Simmons
Applicants invited to second stage interview: 90
The callback format differs office to office. The DC and New York offices interview the most candidates, who undergo four interviews with two attorneys (so candidates will see eight in total). LA and Newark’s callback interviews take place over a two-week period, and candidates will meet with around six attorneys in total. In LA, this includes a lunch.
Simmons says that by this stage the firm is already convinced of a candidate’s interest in one of the firm’s core practice areas. At the callback interview, “we ask questions that help us determine whether or not the student communicates effectively, is able to work effectively in teams, can problem solve, is resilient, etc.” An associate said that “if you’ve got experience in an area, you might get challenged on it in your interview. I can remember during my interview I pushed back and I happened to be right. I think that’s why I got my offer – I was not afraid to push back while still being respectful.”
Top tips for this stage:
“Candidates should come prepared to ask questions of all of the attorneys with whom they meet, even if the questions have already been answered.” – director of legal recruitment and professional development Amy Simmons
Summers don’t rotate through practice areas as they are hired into a specific group, although they may sometimes get assignments from other groups too. Projects are assigned through project management software with oversight by the professional development team. Summers can also receive projects directly from attorneys. The system got the stamp of approval from this second-year associate, who “had a wide variety of assignments – it was a great summer.”
Each summer is assigned both an associate and partner mentor, “who are responsible for ensuring the quality and variety of projects and helping the summer associate navigate the EBG summer experience.” EBG also runs a training program specifically for summers. Simmons tell us that “in the past five years, 93% of our summer associate have received offers to return as junior associates and all of them have accepted the offer to return.”
Top tips for this stage:
“People in school tend to be super competitive, but at the firm people tend to help each other, so you have to adapt to that..” – a third-year junior associate
“Summer associates should actively participate in the program – via projects, educational sessions, and events.” – director of legal recruitment and professional development Amy Simmons
“Be selective with your courses,” associates said. “If want to concentrate on healthcare or labor and employment law, make sure you select courses to fulfill that!”
Interview with firm chair Mark Lutes
Chambers Associate: What highlights at Epstein Becker & Green would you like to highlight to our readers?
Mark Lutes: We’ve formalized a shadowing program for associates which had previously been piloted, and we’re finding that it is giving them a really good opportunity to earn billable hour credit while participating in client interactions they might otherwise not be exposed to. We want them to be as client-facing as they can be as early as possible, and we don’t want client billing concerns to stand in the way of their development. There’s been wide uptake of that across the associates with a full range of partners.
They’ll also be getting together this spring at an associate summit where we’re giving them a whole range of training around their business planning development, opportunities to grow how they interact with clients and the tools they need to build their own individual brand. It also allows them to get to know their peers across the country, because we’re going to be relying on those relationships to power the firm going forward. We want associates in New York to be comfortable working with associates in LA. We staff all our projects across the country, and we find those teams work very effectively if nurtured by experiences at an associate summit.
When starting out at the firm, they experience ‘boot camp,’ and on the healthcare side we make sure they go to an American Health Care Association fundamentals conference to make sure they understand issues of other healthcare lawyers. They continue development through periodic internal training sessions via the EBG Academy throughout the year.
Unlike some firms, we don’t hide our associates under a bushel. We expect them to be the face of the firm. If you look at the video series on our website, you will see the reach is near a million. And associates are talking heads on that program – they are building the brand through appearances on that in a way that is reserved to a few partners in most other venues. Right now it’s a video program, but we hope to launch it in podcast form in April 2019.
So there is a very definitive plan for associate development, and that culminates in associates having a position in the marketplace that branches around areas of expertise in our core practices. If they’re known on the healthcare side, whether they’re clinical research focused or laboratory focused, the industry has dozens of specialties for them to embrace and build national recognition in. The same happens in the labor and employment side, where we’re building associate participation in traditional things like wage and hour, but also in the counseling of clients on risk management, harassment training and compliance in response to the MeToo movement. We’ve got associates helping through those issues.
CA: Based on the knowledge that you've gained over the course of your career, what advice do you have for students who are about to enter the legal profession?
ML: Focus on the customer, your future customer and the problems that your future customers are likely to be faced with. Put together your portfolio of legal advice built around customer problems. Another failure quite often in legal career planning is not to acknowledge the multi-disciplinary nature of problems that clients are faced with. Lawyers have to take that into account as they prepare, and build relationships with other components of potential solutions for the client, whether those be training components or accounting components. The lawyer needs to find a way to package and make his or her advice useful in that overall context. Through our EBG Advisors consulting arm, we bring a lot of additional disciplines to the table and we encourage our lawyers as they develop in their careers to be thinking broadly around what the nature of the client problem is, and to partner with a range of other professionals to make sure that their advice can be best used by the client.
CA: You’ve been at Epstein for 30 years – why do you think the firm is an attractive place for students to start their careers?
ML: Three reasons. One is that the focus of the firm – labor & employment and healthcare – allows lawyers to go very deep into the fundamental trends affecting customers. And as those lawyers grow in their experience, that focus makes those lawyers more attractive to the customer than a generalist is. Customers want specialty expertise and we are giving our lawyers an opportunity to develop consistently and to be deeply involved in the understanding of client problems in these core areas. It becomes natural for them to be viewed as experts bringing value add to their future clients.
A second reason is that they can do this in an environment which is large enough to have the resources it needs, but not so big they feel like they’re working in a place that doesn’t know them or doesn’t care about the development of their individual capacities. We need all of them to succeed and we invest in them accordingly. With a couple of hundred lawyers, we are able to maintain a degree of collegiality which professionals enjoy, and our lawyers feel like they know their peers across the entirety of the firm, and they feel that brings richness to their practice that might be lost if they were in a 2,000 person firm environment.
The third element would be our track record of associates joining us right out of school, or coming to us laterally and finding a niche that they can embrace and build brand recognition around. And they get consistent support from the firm with their business development endeavors. They tend to enjoy that level of support and stick with us for their careers.
CA: Anything to add?
ML: We’re putting faces and ideas into the market quite vigorously and that I think is a distinguishing feature of our approach. It works for us from an institutional sustainability perspective because as they build brands around those issues they become very valuable in the marketplace. It works for associates from a professional enjoyment perspective. They realize they are not cogs in a wheel, but that they are what we’re selling to the market. We are making their intellectual capital available to the market, and that becomes professionally rewarding when they know it is all about them. Building contributions to client risk management in our core areas and us finding ways to pair them off with clients over the long term.
Epstein Becker & Green PC
1227 25th Street North West,
250 Park Avenue,
- Head office: New York
- Number of domestic offices: 14
- Number of partners (US): 139
- Number of associates (US): 135
- Main recruiting contact: Amy Simmons, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Hiring partner: Carrie Valiant
- Diversity officer: Carrie Valiant
- Recruitment details
- Entry-level associates starting in 2019: 8
- Clerking policy: No
- Summers joining/anticipated 2019: 1Ls: 2, 2Ls: 9, 3Ls: 0, SEO: 0
- Summers joining/anticipated 2019 split by office: DC: 4, New York : 5, LA: 2
- Summer salary 2019 1Ls: $2,000/week 2Ls: varies
- Split summers offered? considered on a case-by-case basis
Main areas of work
• Employment, Labor & Workforce Management
• Health Care & Life Sciences
• Litigation & Business Disputes
Epstein Becker Green (EBG) is a national law firm with a primary focus on health care and life sciences; employment, labor, and workforce management; and litigation and business disputes. Founded in 1973 as an industry-focused firm, EBG has decades of experience serving clients in health care, financial services, retail, hospitality, and technology, among other industries, representing entities from startups to Fortune 100 companies.
Recruitment Law Schools attending for OCIs in 2019:
• American University
• Benjamin N. Cardozo
• Boston University
• Case Western Reserve University
• Fordham University
• George Washington University
• Loyola University Chicago
• New York University
• Seton Hall University
• St. Louis University
• University of Houston
• University of Maryland
• University of Virginia
Recruitment outside OCIs:
The firm also collects resumes from 19 law schools, participates in several career fairs, and receives over 500 resumes from law school candidates who apply directly with the firm.
Summer associate profile:
EBG looks for law students who have a demonstrated interest (through experience and/or education) in health law or in labor and employment law. EBG prefers students who are in the top third of their class and prefer law journal experience.
Summer program components:
EBG’s Summer Associate Program is designed to provide a comprehensive picture of practice at the firm as well as training in substantive areas of the firm’s core practices and is the primary source of new associates. Summer associates are assigned a broad range of projects that otherwise would be preformed by junior associates. They get the opportunity to work on client projects, pro bono projects, and client development projects.
Recruitment website: www.ebglaw.com/careers
This Firm's Rankings in
USA Guide, 2019
- Labor & Employment Recognised Practitioner
District of Columbia
- Healthcare (Band 3)
- Healthcare (Band 1)
- Labor & Employment (Band 1)
- Healthcare (Band 2)
- Labor & Employment (Band 4)
USA - Nationwide
- Healthcare (Band 3)