Foley Hoag LLP - The Inside View

With its focus on innovative industries and a portfoleyio of clients established and new, Foley associates have everything they need to startup their legal careers.

When we of think Boston, we think of the Red Sox (both in terms of baseball and comfy feet-clothes); lobster rolls; strong ‘cwoahfee’; and Mark Wahlberg. Dreamy. If you’re a lawyer, however, we’re guessing that you’ll probably think more along the lines of Harvard Law School; thriving local life sciences and tech industries; Mark Wahlberg (obviously); and, if you’re looking for a smaller firmwith the “culture of a close-knit family,” no doubt Foley Hoag will pop into your head too. Yes, our interviewees were enamored with this firm’s balanced environment from the get-go. “At Foley it’s realistic to make partner and see my family!” exclaimed one source, while another added that “you don’t get the turn and burn that you might see at larger firms.”

“At Foley it’s realistic to make partner and see my family!”

Of course, it wasn’t just the prospect of a warm, personal life-appreciating kind of atmosphere that appealed to our interviewees. The work was another vital consideration, and at Foley there are plenty of “interesting” matters to keep fresh-faced juniors occupied. Throughout our conversations, associates told us about Foley’s focus on innovative industries like life sciences, energy and tech, as well as its “fairly large cannabis department” – an emerging practice for law firms in the US. Over in Chambers USA, Foley picks up most of its rankings in its home state of Massachusetts, where it stands out particularly for its litigation (both general commercial and white-collar crime); corporate/M&A; environment; labor & employment; and insurance work. Its rankings in areas such as healthcare and venture capital also reflect the booming industries in Boston. Globally, Foley Hoag is considered world-beating for its public international law expertise and is widely recognized for its international arbitration capabilities.

Alongside its Boston HQ, Foley has two additional domestic offices in New York and DC, and one overseas base in Paris. The vast majority of the associates on our list were in Boston.

Foley is a consistently strong performer in our annual research. This year they made the US top ten in career development>

The Work

Just over two thirds of the junior associates on our list were in Foley Hoag’s business practice, while the rest had found their home in the litigation group. Incoming juniors are paired with a mentor or two (or three, or even four in one instance) who work in the newbie’s area(s) of interest. For the first year, mentors “put you in touch with people who do the work you want” and also help those who are starting out to “maintain and develop networks.” There are also work coordinators in both business and litigation who juniors can reach out to for work. Work assignment eventually becomes quite informal for litigators, while in business sources reported filling out weekly reports to indicate their capacity for new assignments. “In practice,” one noted, “you tend to work with similar people.”

“I like that we’re very general at first,” said a business associate, commenting on the range of matters available.The business practice encompassesM&A, capital markets, emerging companies and venture capital (ECVC), tax, funds, general corporate, and debt finance work. Foley has a program that encourages business juniors to remain generalists for their first four years. “After that, you pick a major and a minor.” Like in college? “Exactly. So, for example, I might have a major in M&A and a minor in clean energy.” Emerging company matters are reportedly “leanly staffed – it can be just you and the partner, so you’re taking the first draft of documents, helping to do the checklists and ancillaries, and moving the transactions along.” Working with startups made juniors feel like they were acting as “general outside counsel: there’s a lot of drafting smaller agreements, like confidentiality agreements, as well as engagement letters.” While a Foley business associate’s life isn’t “devoid of checklists,” sources were pleased to report that their experience wasn’t “wholly encompassed by them.”

Business clients: Boston Consulting Group, Dell, vaccine and drug developer Greenlight Biosciences. Recently represented the latter during its $102 million Series D funding round led by Morningside Ventures. 

Foley does “a little bit of everything” when it comes to litigation. Our interviewees in this department had had access to general commercial, labor and employment, IP, government investigations, and bankruptcy matters among others. The work can involve collaboration with transactional colleagues on matters pertaining to their startup clients, we heard. On bankruptcy proceedings sources found themselves busy taking part in “calls, research and working out deals with interested in parties.” There can be “a lot of one-off research assignments, where you provide a high-level overview” that can lead to further involvement in the case at hand. On smaller cases “you pretty much do everything,” which includes “prepping the partner for depositions, having direct client and opposing counsel contact, and helping with summary judgments.”

Litigation clients: Public Gas Corporation of Greece, Bangladesh Power Development Board (international arbitration clients). On the IP front, Foley is currently representing Unilever in five consumer class actions related to allegations of misleading flavor labeling.

Pro Bono

Litigators added that they’d also kept themselves busy with pro bono work, as this source explained: “Every pro bono hour counts toward your billables. I’ve spent about 30% of my hours on pro bono and I’ve never been told that’s too much or too little.” There’s a pro bono coordinator on hand to help assign matters, which have included securing restraining orders for those who have suffered domestic violence and “potential civil suits against the police. We’ve partnered up with the ACLU in California and have been looking into searches and seizures conducted on Black and Hispanic individuals.”

“Even if you’re a business associate you can do pro bono work,” commented one relieved interviewee. “Most of the pro bono work in business involves attending clinics and offering advice, which you can’t really do as a junior in your other work.”

Pro bono hours

  • For all (US) attorneys: undisclosed
  • Average per (US) attorney: undisclosed

Hours & Compensation

Billable hours: 1,850 required

“The billable target is on the lower end for BigLaw,” relayed this source, “but it’s still a lot of hours!” The good news is that “the expectation when you’re very junior is that it’s great if you meet your hours, but if you don’t then it’s not a dealbreaker. It takes time to ramp up.” We heard that it’s “very common” as a business associate not to meet the billing target in the first year, but after that reaching it becomes more realistic. “If you’re conscious of the hours target and of where you stand on a monthly basis then I think it’s pretty easy to meet your hours.”

“’s great if you meet your hours, but if you don’t then it’s not a dealbreaker.”

The life of a transactional associate is typically up and down hours-wise, and it’s no different at Foley. “Sometimes clients want to close a deal at a certain time and you have to handle that,” said one source, “and when it’s slow it’s okay as you know it will pick up again!” Deal closings can mean weekend work, but outside of that situation juniors typically get their free time. One junior jokingly summed up: “It averages out at billing 160 hours a month, which for BigLaw standards isn’t horrible... but isn’t great... but isn’t horrible...”


“To an extent it depends on who you end up working with,” agreed sources when it came to experiencing Foley culture. However, litigators and business associates alike reported good working relationships with their respective teams, with this junior summing up the overall vibe well: “It’s a more laid-back environment with less hierarchy and bureaucracy than other firms might have.” Indeed: “Even with the most senior partner, I’ve never felt hierarchy. I can ask a question or crack a joke.” Others also noted that rainmaker partners were “brilliant and kind – they were interested in us and our professional development.”

“It’s a more laid-back environment with less hierarchy and bureaucracy than other firms might have.”

This all bodes well for a good social life, which several sources missed as a result of the global pandemic. “I consider a lot of people to be good friends, so it’s been hard not to see them,” one mourned. Hopefully, our interviewees can look forward to the return of the pre-pandemic social activities, which were largely “department-focused” and informal: “They were quite last-minute and led by seniors, which made them organic and fun!” For now, sources were left with thoughts of what could’ve been: “We were supposed to have a holiday party, so not having it is really going to suck!”

Diversity & Inclusion

We were told that Foley is “committed to doing the work” to improve diversity, with one junior highlighting that the firm has recently hired a diversity coordinator. Others told us about training sessions devoted to implicit bias and inclusion, as well as diversity events that the firm attends at law schools. “Other firms may artificially promote diversity, but Foley genuinely wants to be more diverse,” this interviewee concluded.

When it came to action points, another source emphasized how they would like Foley to “find ways to ensure they retain people of color – the attrition rate seems to be higher.” Juniors subsequently noted that “there needs to be improvement in the higher ranks,” but were encouraged by Foley’s increasing response to “equity matters, as opposed to just diversity matters.”

Career Development

Foley was praised for considering client secondment options for juniors: “They want you to have that experience, as they know that when you come back, you’ll have gained skills and be more marketable.” There’s also no shortage of mentors at Foley. As mentioned,juniors can havepractice-specific mentors who help with work assignment, but can also sign up for other initiatives to get additional support. Formal training doesn’t just cover “the technical stuff,” but also those ‘softer skills’ that are just as important: “Recently we were required to meet with a coach who met us individually to teach us presentation skills.”

“If I’m going to stay in BigLaw, then it’s going to be at Foley.”

While aiming for the partnership wasn’t for everyone, sources did say that it felt like an attainable goal at Foley. “If I’m going to stay in BigLaw, then it’s going to be at Foley,” confirmed a junior. “It’s an excellent place to work, there’s a good work/life balance, good pay, and you can make partner.” Other options juniors were considering included moving in-house, transitioning to a government role or taking up an academic position.

Strategy & Future

“For the most part, Foley has been about organic growth,” reflected one source. Other interviewees agreed and felt that the firm would continue with this approach: “Most of the people do come up through the summer program.” However, it was also pointed out that Foley “has hired more laterals” of late and “will continue doing that.”

Get Hired

The first stage: recruitment on and off campus

OCI applicants interviewed: 395

Interviewees outside OCI:  undisclosed

Foley Hoag recruits predominantly via OCIs but does consider direct applications. In 2020 the firm expected to interview at 17 schools and job fairs. It also hires law clerks.

OCIs are conducted by attorneys (usually members of the firm’s hiring committee or alumni of the particular school). Hiring partner Meredith Haviland says: “While academic achievement is perhaps more relevant at the OCI stage, it is only one of many factors that are considered.” Interviewers will also aim to assess candidates’ motivation and teamwork skills. They are also interested in candidates’ practice area interests as well as interests outside the law.

Top tips for this stage:

“Students should come ready to engage in a conversation with the interviewer, rather than expecting a strict Q&A session led by the interviewer.” – hiring partner Meredith Haviland



Applicants invited to second stage interview: undisclosed

Candidates undertake four 30-minute interviews with four different attorneys. Haviland tells us “the questions are not significantly different from those at the OCI stage, but the interviewers have more time to delve deeper into each candidate’s experience and interests.” Candidates are also asked to submit a writing sample. Haviland tells us that “as part of our ongoing efforts to make the interview process as fair and free of unconscious bias as possible, we remove GPAs from the resumes seen by our interviewers.”

Top tips for this stage:

“We are particularly impressed with students who have done their research and understand why our firm is of special interest to them.”  hiring partner Meredith Haviland


Summer program

Offers: 17

Acceptances: 16

Foley Hoag’s ten-week summer program allows summer associates to choose a variety of assignments or to focus on a particular area of interest via an online system. In addition to a mentor, summers are given ‘buddies’ (usually first-year associates) who they can ask questions – “silly types, like where’s the printer?”

As well as lunches, social events and trainings throughout the program, summers meet with the firm’s executive committee to hear about the firm’s strategic plans for the future, and to get advice on succeeding as a summer. On that front, Haviland says: “We have found that a key component of success for students in the summer program is good communication – whether this is around assignments, including communication related to timelines and the status of assignments, or around areas of interest.”

Following successful completion of the program, summers are asked to rank their practice area preferences. The firm then matches them to departments based on those choices and business need.

Top tips for this stage:

“Try everything you can! It’s perhaps the last time for at least a couple of years that you’ll have the opportunity to try such a diverse cross section of different areas of law.” – a first-year junior associate

“We also encourage summer associates to make use of our lunch program to invite attorneys out to lunch to learn more about their practice areas, careers, and life at the firm.” – hiring partner Meredith Haviland

Foley Hoag LLP

Seaport West,
155 Seaport Boulevard,
MA 02210-2600

  • Head Office: Boston
  • Number of domestic offices: 3
  • Number of international offices: 1
  • Worldwide revenue: $232,300,000
  • Partners (US): 140
  • Associates (US): 149
  • Main Recruitment Contact: Dina M Wreede, Director of Legal Recruiting
  • Hiring Partner: Meredith A. Haviland
  • Recruitment website: http://recruiting.
  • Diversity Officer: Kenneth S. Leonetti, Co-Managing Partner
  • Summer Salary 2021: 1Ls: $3,654 per week 2Ls: $3,654 per week Post 3Ls: $3,654 per week
  • 1Ls hired? Yes
  • Split summers offered? No
  • Can summers spend time in overseas office? No
  • Summers 2020: 20
  • Offers/acceptances 2020: 20 offers, 19 acceptances

Main areas of work
Business crimes and government investigations; corporate finance and securities; corporate social responsibility; energy, technology and renewables; environmental litigation; government strategies; insurance recovery; international litigation and arbitration; fund formation; labor and employment; licensing and strategic alliances; life sciences and health care; mergers and acquisitions; patent litigation; patent prosecution; professional liability litigation; tax; trademark, copyright and unfair competition.

Firm profile
For more than seven decades, Foley Hoag has represented public and private clients in a wide range of disputes and transactions around the world. We have established a lengthy record of success in industries such as life sciences, health care, technology, energy/renewables, investment management, and professional services. We deeply understand our clients’ businesses, priorities, strategies and industries. We are connected to the entrepreneurial community and detect emerging trends that will affect clients down the road. We have a reputation for an intellectual approach to case analysis and efficiently developing creative, compelling legal strategies. Foley Hoag lawyers are innovative, energetic and entrepreneurial, and we seek new lawyers who possess these same traits.

Recruitment details
• Number of 1st year associates: 17
• Number of 2nd year associates: 12
• Associate salaries: 1st year: $190,000
• 2nd year: $200,000
• Clerking policy: Foley Hoag provides salary and tenure credit, as well as a judicial clerkship bonus, to associates who join the firm upon completion of a federal district or circuit court clerkship or a state supreme court clerkship

Law Schools attending for OCIs in 2021:
Boston College, Boston University, Chicago, Columbia, Fordham, Georgetown, Harvard, New York University, Northeastern, University of Pennsylvania, University of Virginia, and Yale.

Summer associate profile:
We hire lawyers who have excelled academically, who are intellectually curious, and whose intelligence, character and creativity will inspire the confidence of clients and colleagues. We seek lawyers who take initiative, who strive for and achieve excellence, and who are motivated by a desire to make a difference – not only in their profession, but in their community as well.

Summer program components:
We work hard to build a summer associate program that provides a realistic look at life at Foley Hoag. Summer associates have the opportunity to choose their own assignments, experiencing as many or as few practice areas as they’d like. They work on real matters for real clients. They participate in team strategy meetings, go to court, attend negotiations, and assist in contract drafting. They receive on-the-job training, advice and feedback from seasoned partners and associates, and take part in seminars aimed at transforming their law school knowledge into real world skills.


This Firm's Rankings in
USA Guide, 2021

Ranked Departments

    • Healthcare (Band 5)
    • Bankruptcy/Restructuring (Band 3)
    • Corporate/M&A (Band 2)
    • Energy & Natural Resources (Band 1)
    • Environment (Band 1)
    • Healthcare (Band 3)
    • Insurance (Band 2)
    • Intellectual Property (Band 3)
    • Labor & Employment (Band 3)
    • Litigation: General Commercial (Band 3)
    • Litigation: White-Collar Crime & Government Investigations (Band 1)
    • Private Equity: Venture Capital Investment (Band 3)
    • Cannabis Law (Band 3)
    • International Arbitration: Enforcement Spotlight Table
    • International Arbitration: The Elite (Band 3)

Visit Foley Hoag's recruiting page for more information.