Faegre Drinker - The Inside View

You can drink your fill at this recently merged titan: a substantial product liability and IP offering stand out alongside other familiar BigLaw practices, as well as a clear path to the partnership. 

2020 may not have been the most auspicious year to conduct a merger, but it has all worked out well for Faegre Drinker. The combination brought together the Midwest’s Faegre Baker Daniels and Philly-founded Drinker Biddle & Reath, both of which had an extensive reach across the US. Today the firm boasts 19 offices in domestic locations and two international bases in London and Shanghai. Practice area-wise, the four largest groups are corporate, business litigation,product liability, and IP. The newly minted firm makes a point of delivering excellence ‘without arrogance’ on its website, and it was this humbler approach that appealed to our associate sources. “It was the vibe!” exclaimed one interviewee, before clarifying: “I got a real sense of community and that’s rare. I knew I would be able to get the BigLaw salary and access to resources, but also more boutique-style training and responsibility.” Another junior emphasized that “in BigLaw you’ll get good work anywhere, but I wanted to be at a firm that really valued its employees as people – I encountered a really lovely group of people here.” 

“It was the vibe!” 

A humble approach can certainly reap industry-wise kudos, as Faegre Drinker proves. Chambers USAshowers the firm with over 60 accolades, including tip-top, nation-leading praise for its government contracts expertise. Faegre Drinker is also ranked in the elite category for its capabilities in the product liability and healthcare spaces, while it picks up plenty of attention for its corporate, finance, IP, labor & employment, real estate, bankruptcy, and environment practices across many of the states in which it is ranked. The Minneapolis, Chicago, Philadelphia, DC,and Indianapolis offices housed the most juniors on our list, with the rest spread between cities like New York, Dallas, Denver, and Des Moines

The Work 



Faegre Drinker’s business litigation, corporate, IP and product liability practice groups were home to the majority of our associate sample, but other areas with a number of juniors included labor & employment,insurance, finance & restructuring, and healthcare. In most practices a hybrid free-market/work coordinator assignment system operates. “It is a mix,” reported one representative source. “There’s someone there [usually a group director] to help you find work if you’re slow, but mostly assignment is more organic – you find who you work well with and you go to those people for repeat work. It can be a bit tough when you first start though.” In smaller groups, assignment can be more structured as there are “client teams and a workload manager – we have bi-weekly meetings to check our status and see what our availability is like.” 

The business litigation group covers many areas including general commercial; antitrust; white-collar; appellate; financial services; tax; and trade secrets disputes. “I’ve been litigating cases for the Securities and Exchange Commission, taking on matters tied to merger clearances, and handling a lot of white-collar work – I’ve really enjoyed those as you get to work with the clients and individuals involved,” reported one litigator. Another told us that their role “really depends on the need – I'm on six cases at the moment, and I’ve been able to draft motions and letters to the opposing counsel. On the smaller cases I’m involved in talking with opposing counsel and making sure that the discovery process is going well.” 

Litigation clients: Xcel Energy, Oxbow Industries, University of Minnesota. Defended Xcel Energy against a claim that it failed to maintain and operate a power plant, causing millions in damages. 

Over in the firm’s product liability & mass torts practice, we were told that matters tied to the automotive, mechanical, and agricultural industries make up much of the workload. Assignments can be connected to product recalls, settlement strategies or risk management counseling. “I would say that 70% of the time I get to do what I want to do,” estimated one source, who bemoaned: “I don’t like doc reviews!” The good news is that there’s plenty of interesting work to get stuck into, including “a lot of research and writing assignments; prepping case assessments for pleadings; arranging subpoenas; and even traveling with a client on a national basis.” Alongside client interactions, sources felt they were developing due to the fact that they could “do more delegating and supervising of paralegals.” 

Product liability clients: 3M Company, Allergan, Bayer HealthCare. Acts as national appellate counsel for 3M Company and Arizant Healthcare in thousands of cases arising out of claims that 3M’s product caused infections following joint-replacement surgery. 

The IP practice is commended in Chambers USA for its expertise in the chemicals, electronics, manufacturing and healthcare spaces (among others). Patent, trademark, and IP-related transactional work can all be found here. On the litigation side, our sources had been able to draft appellate briefs, conduct research, and handle some discovery matters. “I’m trying to get as much experience as I can,” one interviewee commented, “and it’s been great to be staffed on lots of things, but at the same time I’m able to start developing a specific practice, too.” Other pluses here included having “a lot of communication with the other parties involved” and “good support if ever things hit the proverbial fan!” 

IP clients: Microsoft, Target, Boston Scientific Corporation. Advises the latter on its international patent protection strategy to protect its products globally. 

“...the client will call me when they need to speak with someone!” 

In healthcare “a fair amount of the work has been transactional,” a source noted, “so there have been a lot of M&A transactions. We’re seeing a lot more biopharma and medical device companies buying up other entities or selling to private equity firms.” There’s also plenty of regulatory work “where you’re responding to the client after they’ve asked you ‘Can we do x, y, and z?’” Interviewees had spent their time drafting contracts and conducting due diligence for transactions. On the whole they were very happy with the amount of responsibility they’d received: “This group has been great at giving me client-facing roles – it usually falls to me to run the meetings and the client will call me when they need to speak with someone!” 

Healthcare clients: Thomas Jefferson University, Emory Healthcare, Norman Regional Health System. Acted as lead antitrust and trial counsel to Thomas Jefferson University during an FTC antitrust action tied to its $600 million acquisition of Albert Einstein Healthcare Network. 

Career Development 



This source felt that legacy Drinker Biddle’s training program gave the combined firm a strong foundation for training: “Drinker had one of the best summer and first-year training programs!” Newbies now go through a six-week training program to teach them the basics (like legal writing and interviewing skills) before moving on to more specialized sessions within practice groups (litigators, for example, will have mock deposition training, while transactional associates will do mock negotiations). “Progression is pretty much lockstep,” an interviewee summarized. “They have skillsets they want you to hit before you advance, and the specific group training is high level.” There are also “quite a few training sessions each year that tilt largely towards business development and how to network – they want to get you thinking in that way early on.” 

“...people really care that you’re actually learning.” 

“If people want to stay and become partners then they can,” a junior insisted. “Your career path is explained very thoroughly – even as a summer.” All juniors are assigned both an associate and a partner mentor to help them with career development. “We have regular development check-ins,” one source told us, while another concluded that “the firm does pretty well with mentoring and is happy to switch your mentors if you want them changed.” Overall, “people really care that you’re actually learning,” and while “post-merger we’re a bit bigger, the firm is still very interested in targeted recruitment” from within. 

Hours & Compensation  



Billable hours: 1,900 requirement 

“You can’t be productive for ten hours every day – that's just not peak efficiency!” declared one source when asked about the working hours at Faegre Drinker. On the whole, juniors found their 1,900 billable requirementto be reasonable (“it’s on the lower end for BigLaw”) and were glad that they could count up to 100 hours of pro bono and 50 hours of DE&I activities towards this figure. We heard that there are two bonuses up for grabs each year. One (the productivity bonus) is “strictly hours-based and transparent,” while the other (the discretionary bonus) is more merit-based and awarded off the back of various factors, “like if you played a key part in securing a win for a client.” Therefore associates are still potentially eligible for a bonus even if they don’t hit their 1,900 requirement. 

Overall, “it’s not a case of live or die by the numbers,” a source was keen to point out. Another told us that they “try not to work on the weekend unless I have a major project and I have a ‘hard stop’ time each day, unless I have something that needs to get done.” Prior to the merger, “Faegre was pretty well known for being more of a lifestyle firm, and Drinker wasn’t far off that,” an associate reckoned, while another cautioned against viewing the firm exclusively as a place with more manageable hours: “It is still a lot of work, and the busy times can be really stressful!” There is, however, a healthy attitude towards taking time off, with this source happily telling us that “you can take vacation whenever and for however long you like!” (although we’d recommend always checking in with your team leader before hopping on that plane). 

Culture 



Discussions around work/life balance continued when we asked our interviewees about the firm’s culture. “We get paid a little less, but we get so many hours back,” one source insisted. “I have friends working elsewhere who can’t be away from their phones for 30 minutes! Here I’ve worked with men and women who are very senior at the firm and take the time to care about their families.” This kind of feedback was common among associates, with this junior enthusing that Faegre Drinker “could not be a nicer or more humane place to work. Today I’m on a trip and I may need to take a call later, but people are really respectful of your time.” 

“They are encouraging everyone to come into the office to catch up with people – and the office is always packed!” 

“Each office has its slightly different culture,” another source reckoned, but across the board we got the sense that people at Faegre genuinely like spending time with one another: “They are encouraging everyone to come into the office to catch up with people – and the office is always packed!”  It sounded as if there was plenty on the social calendar to keep juniors occupied in the months ahead, too. “Socials for clients happen often, but we also have weekly lunches; group dinners; diversity heritage month events; book clubs; and consistent webinars for programs that are running.” As with all mergers, sources noted an ongoing process of cultural consolidation, but did flag each legacy firm’s “strong pro bono and DE&I focus.” 

Pro Bono  



Associates were overwhelmingly positive about Faegre Drinker’s pro bono opportunities. “The expectation is that you’ll do 50 hours a year, particularly as a newer associate,” one pointed out, although the firm doesn't set a rigid minimum requirement for its attorneys. There are rewards for devoting your time to this noble pursuit, however: “You get placed on the pro bono honor roll and get a ribbon and a gift!” The firm’s commitment to treating pro bono the same as billable work was regularly highlighted, and “they never tell you that you’re doing too much!” This interviewee emphasized that “the norm is people doing more than 50. You can earn up to 100 hours’ credit, which is something I really like.” 

A designated pro bono staffer is on hand to dish out assignments, and “we get emails about opportunities pretty regularly.” Our sources spoke of matters tied to prisoners’ rights, asylum claims, and child neglect, but also flagged a partnership with the Jim Crow Juries Project, which assists those who have served prison time after being convicted by non-unanimous juries. “We can also bring cases to the firm,” one associate added, “so if there’s something you’re interested in they’ll go out of their way to make it happen.”  

Pro bono hours

  • For all (US) attorneys: 43,893
  • Average per (US) attorney: 39

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion 



Juniors were adamant “we’re doing more than other big firms,” noting there is an open dialogue between senior figures, affinity groups and diverse law students; “it helps to build more community in the firm.”  This associate added: “The affinity groups have a meaningful voice – our two co-chairs sit down with them, and we have broader DE&I discussions on a regular basis.” The firm’s DE&I advisory committee was highlighted by sources, who told us that fostering mental health and wellbeing had become an increasing focus in recent years: “They’re trying to retain people as well – with the great resignation over the pandemic, people are more aware about maintaining mental health.”  

“There’s a decent representation of women,” we heard, and “the women’s group is great!” Faegre has links with many organizations, including Diversity Lab and the Leadership Council on Legal Diversity. On the pipeline side, the firm has teamed up with Cristo Rey High School and Just the Beginning Foundation. 

Strategy & Future



"We spent a lot of time focusing on our integration," says co-chair Tom Froehle. "We feel really good about being very unified as a firm and being able to operate as one." Fellow co-chair Andrew Kassner adds: "As you can imagine, our reputation for excellence in M&A, corporate and securities really served us well. Last year was a record year in that space and we were involved in the highest cases with first-in-class counselling and litigation and antitrust. We also had a terrific year in IP, class actions, and trade secrets litigation, and we’re known for product liability and mass torts." Read the full interview with Froehle and Kassner by clicking on the 'Get Hired' tab above.

Interview with co-chairs Tom Froehle and Andrew Kassner



Chambers Associate: How would you describe the firm’s current market position?

Tom Froehle, co-chair: We made a big strategic change bringing Faegre Baker Daniels and Drinker Biddle & Reath together to launch Faegre Drinker, and we feel great about that! We’ve had great affirmation from our clients that they have a wider breadth of services. Combining the cultural fit was important and something we spent a lot of time testing and strengthening. The ideas of excellence without arrogance; collaboration and teamwork between our professionals and clients; and the firm being a place where people genuinely care about each other have all contributed to a great combination that has created opportunities for us all.

Andrew Kassner, co-chair: As a result of our combination, we have created a firm of over 1,300 lawyers and professionals across disciplines. It allows us to compete better in the market – we have full service regulatory, litigation and transactional practices. When we first explored this combination the business case was so compelling for our partners and that’s been validated; but what was really promising was, as we brought people together, everyone felt like they liked each other, shared core values and that their approach to clients worked very well together.

CA: Are there highlights from the past year or in the firm’s immediate future you think our readers should be aware about?

TF: We spent a lot of time focusing on our integration. We feel really good about being very unified as a firm and being able to operate as one Faegre Drinker.

AK: As you can imagine, our reputation for excellence in M&A, corporate and securities really served us well. Last year was a record year in that space and we were involved in the highest cases with first-in-class counselling and litigation and antitrust. We also had a terrific year in IP, class actions, and trade secrets litigation, and we’re known for product liability and mass torts. Maintaining our balance of being 50% business and regulatory and 50% litigation served us well and was reflected in the performance last year. We also combined offices in several cities – Washington D.C., Los Angeles, and Chicago with a new building that incorporates new approaches to the workplace. We have a first-rate C-Suite led by Jane Koehl supporting the firm, so growth is definitely happening and on the horizon.

CA: Would you characterize the firm as being in growth mode?

TF: We always want to be growing. That doesn’t always mean getting bigger, but getting better. We’re focused on adding talent that will help our clients, and we think we have an opportunity in California, Chicago, New York and Texas to attract talent. We’re always looking to add support in our core practices.

AK: One of the real benefits is that we have such a complementary footprint in the US and offices in London and China. Where we sit now, we really have covered the US in a way that we can attract top talent. There is the opportunity to look into the Southeast, but I think we feel very comfortable with our geography now. In the past couple of years, we’ve created this firm with a lot of potential.

CA: What do you think are the key factors driving lateral movement at the moment?Are you doing anything different to ensure Faegre Drinker has an advantageous position? 

AK: Our whole client base is open to collaboration and service – so there are so many opportunities. We’ve had over 40 partners and counsel join us in the past 15 months, and they’re overwhelmed by our client roster and how receptive partners are to introducing them. In law having opportunities is really important – we now have that platform to compete aggressively.

TF: Yes, and it’s not all about money – the differential can be that cultural side, where you can maximize opportunities from a professional standpoint. Our people have told us they can’t believe how easy it is to be introduced to clients; we’ve worked hard to keep that.

CA: How has the firm weathered the pandemic and has it affected the firm’s long-term strategy?

AK: I would say that the business case we saw has been confirmed and validated. Perhaps the pandemic has accelerated a lot of things that would otherwise have been changed in our profession, and our clients have different needs in terms of the practice. Our very well-respected customs and trade team has extensive experience with sanctions and supply chain issues, and that important experience has been highlighted because of the pandemic. The pandemic hasn’t changed our basic strategy – we are committed to being in constant communication with our clients and understanding our client sectors and their business to anticipate their needs.

TF: One of the most important things is to make sure we’re always listening. It’s important to know how our clients are seeing change and their business priorities. We spent a lot of time listening to clients and to partners about what they are seeing in their practices and with their clients.

CA: How has the rise in legal technology affected the firm? Are you implementing any specific programs/initiatives with regards to technology?

TF: We’ve seen this huge influx of AI; Tritura, the data science arm of our firm, is bringing together AI and algorithmic technologies to see how they impact our clients. Our people saw this opportunity and have come up with the cutting-edge technology to approach it.

CA: What is the greatest challenge facing the firm in the next decade? How about the legal market more generally?

AK: You won’t be surprised to hear that the greatest challenges are going to be retaining and promoting our firm’s culture and core values in this new era of workplace environment that ensures flexibility in workplace structures while also promoting togetherness. Recruiting and retaining the best and brightest talent will continue to be a challenge.

TF: What we’ve seen over the past 2 years has accelerated the pace of change – most people don’t like that, but we see the ability to adapt and be nimble as an opportunity for growth.

CA: How does Faegre approach diversity, equity and inclusion?

TF: Our profession has continued to lag in terms of Diversity & Inclusion, and we all need to improve. We’ve done some things to make that improvement. We have achieved Certification and Certification Plus credentials under the Mansfield Rule for hiring and leadership. We introduced a policy for creditable hours for D&I work - we’ve had really good feedback on that. And we have a first-rate D&I team led by Chief Diversity Officer Maria Lewis with half a dozen folks working full time to achieve our goals.

AK: It’s very important to acquire the talent, but just as important to retain that diverse talent – that’s something we’ve been focusing on. We brought in a well-recognized Chief People Officer, new director of recruitment and we continue to look at how we can develop our strategies going forward.

CA: Any advice for those about to enter the legal industry?

TF: I think being a lawyer is great training and preparation for so many things. I love what I do – it’s exciting, and challenging, and there’s tremendous opportunity for autonomy!

AK: The two of us have children that have entered in the legal industry many years after we did! There are basic things; one is collaboration and being part of the team always wins the day over being a siloed professional – that applies whether you’re a lawyer or part of business and development. Another is listening and learning as much as you can. For young lawyers, ask yourself, how do I develop a practice? Every matter involves people on your team, experts, people on the other side; all of these people are people you can have relationships with! The world is small and gets smaller all the time.

TF: Our alumni are federal judges, elected officials, general counsel… the sky’s the limit in terms of the number of different things you can do. And yes, relationships are super important. I think it’s easy to get caught up in the technical work – but there is nothing more rewarding than accomplishing something as part of a team.

Get Hired



Coming soon.

Faegre Drinker

2200 Wells Fargo Center,
90 S. Seventh Street,
Minneapolis,
55402
Website www.faegredrinker.com

  • Number of domestic offices: 19
  • Number of international offices: 2
  • Worldwide revenue: $987 million
  • Partners US: 549
  • Associates US: 434
  • Contacts  
  • Main recruitment contact: Dyana Barninger Senior Director of Lawyer & Consultant Recruiting Dyana.barninger@faegredrinker.com
  • Hiring partner: Caryn Glawe and Nicolas Guzman
  • Recruitment website: www.faegredrinker.com/careers
  • Email: recruiting@faegredrinker.com 
  • Diversity officer: Maria Lewis
  • Recruitment details 
  • Number of entry-level associates starting in 2022:Clerking policy: 25 Yes
  • Number of summers joining/anticipated 2022: 78, 1Ls 35, 2Ls 43
  • Number of summers joining/anticipated 2022 split by office: Chicago 9, Dallas 1, Denver 4, Des Moines 2, Florham Park 4, Fort Wayne 3, Indianapolis 12, Los Angeles 3, Minneapolis 20, New York 2, Philadelphia 10, Washington, DC 8
  • Summer salary 2022 1Ls: $2,692 - $3,942/week. 2Ls: $2,692 - $3,942/week
  • Split summers offered? Yes
  • Can summers spend time in an overseas office? No

Main areas of work

Practice Areas:
Benefits, Corporate, Finance & Restructuring, Government, Health Care, Insurance, IP, Investment Management, Labor & Employment, Litigation, Private Client, Product Liability & Mass Torts, Real Estate & Construction

Industry Teams:
Consumer Products & Retail, Financial Services, Food & Agribusiness, Health & Life Sciences, Insurance, International

Firm profile
Faegre Drinker is a firm designed for clients and designed for you. Our associates are our future. We are committed to attracting and retaining the next generation of talent to serve our clients’ diverse business priorities in the years to come. From our innovative associate training program to creditable hours for diversity and inclusion, we focus on career development through meaningful work experiences, technical and business development training, mentorship, service to communities, and other opportunities for professional growth and advancement.

Recruitment Law schools attending for OCIs in 2022:
Chicago Kent, Columbia, Cornell, Drake, Duke, George Washington, Georgetown, Harvard, Howard, Iowa, IU Maurer, IU McKinney, Loyola Los Angeles, Loyola-Chicago, Mitchell Hamline, Northwestern, Notre Dame, NYU, Penn, Rutgers - Newark, Rutgers-Camden, Seton Hall, St. Thomas, Stanford, Temple, University of California - Berkeley, UCLA, UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Chicago, University of Colorado Law School, University of Denver College of Law, University of Illinois, University of Michigan, University of Minnesota, University of Southern California, University of Virginia, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Villanova

Recruitment outside OCIs:
In addition to OCI we attend the following job fairs: CCBA IBA Diversity Fair Lavender Law Loyola Patent Fair MCCA Mid-Atlantic BLSA MMRC PADJF

Summer associate profile:
Law students who have a strong academic record, an entrepreneurial spirit, a diverse perspective and collaborative mindset will find opportunities to succeed and develop into successful lawyers and long-term contributors to the legal profession.

Summer program components:
Beginning with our summer associate program, we provide support and training to help law students and new lawyers build the skills and behaviors to grow a sophisticated legal practice and develop rewarding client relationships. Summer associates receive a hands-on, meaningful experience. We encourage your growth with challenging work, intensive professional development programs, personalized mentoring and coaching, and respectful yet candid feedback.

Social media
Twitter:
@FaegreDrinker
Facebook: www.facebook.com/FaegreDrinker/ 
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/company/faegredrinker

This Firm's Rankings in
USA Guide, 2022

Ranked Departments

    • Labor & Employment: The Elite (Band 4)
    • Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation (Band 3)
    • Construction (Band 2)
    • Corporate/M&A (Band 4)
    • Environment (Band 1)
    • Intellectual Property (Band 3)
    • Labor & Employment (Band 3)
    • Litigation: General Commercial (Band 3)
    • Real Estate (Band 3)
    • Bankruptcy/Restructuring (Band 4)
    • Healthcare (Band 3)
    • Intellectual Property: Patent Prosecution (Band 3)
    • Intellectual Property: Trademark, Copyright & Trade Secrets (Band 3)
    • Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation (Band 2)
    • Healthcare (Band 2)
    • Litigation: White-Collar Crime & Government Investigations (Band 4)
    • Technology & Outsourcing (Band 3)
    • Corporate/M&A (Band 1)
    • Intellectual Property (Band 1)
    • Labor & Employment (Band 1)
    • Litigation: General Commercial (Band 1)
    • Real Estate (Band 2)
    • Corporate/M&A (Band 3)
    • Labor & Employment (Band 2)
    • Litigation: General Commercial (Band 1)
    • Antitrust (Band 1)
    • Capital Markets: Debt & Equity (Band 1)
    • Construction (Band 1)
    • Corporate/M&A (Band 1)
    • Intellectual Property (Band 3)
    • Labor & Employment (Band 2)
    • Litigation: General Commercial (Band 1)
    • Real Estate (Band 1)
    • Bankruptcy/Restructuring (Band 3)
    • Corporate/M&A (Band 3)
    • Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation (Band 1)
    • Environment (Band 2)
    • Healthcare (Band 3)
    • Labor & Employment (Band 3)
    • Litigation: General Commercial (Band 3)
    • Litigation: Product Liability (Band 2)
    • Real Estate (Band 1)
    • Bankruptcy/Restructuring: Highly Regarded (Band 1)
    • Healthcare (Band 5)
    • Antitrust (Band 3)
    • Environment (Band 2)
    • Insurance (Band 3)
    • Intellectual Property (Band 4)
    • Labor & Employment (Band 3)
    • Litigation: White-Collar Crime & Government Investigations (Band 3)
    • Real Estate: Finance (Band 2)
    • Banking & Finance (Band 1)
    • Bankruptcy/Restructuring (Band 2)
    • Corporate/M&A & Private Equity (Band 2)
    • Litigation: General Commercial (Band 3)
    • Real Estate (Band 3)
    • Insurance (Band 3)
    • Litigation: General Commercial (Band 3)
    • Corporate/M&A: Highly Regarded (Band 4)
    • E-Discovery & Information Governance (Band 3)
    • Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation (Band 5)
    • Environment (Band 5)
    • Food & Beverages: Regulatory & Litigation (Band 1)
    • Franchising (Band 3)
    • Government Contracts: Highly Regarded (Band 1)
    • Healthcare: The Elite (Band 4)
    • International Trade: Customs (Band 3)
    • Labor & Employment (Band 4)
    • Native American Law (Band 3)
    • Native American Law: Finance (Band 1)
    • Product Liability & Mass Torts: The Elite (Band 3)
    • Registered Funds (Band 3)