Foley Hoag LLP - The Inside View

If you need a law firm with international expertise and a “small firm feel,” then it's solely Foley.

“I could never work at any other firm,” beamed one Foley junior – Quite the statement! But with an international arbitration group standing at the forefront of meaningful matters across the globe, it's no surprise that Foley was a sought after firm by our interviewees: “the work we do is what drew me here, it’s very important to me and we have a stellar team.” Simply put, at Foley, “we very much want to stand up for the little guy.” Though the work at the firm spreads far across the globe, the firm remains relatively leanly staffed. Outside of the Boston HQ, Foley has outposts in New York, DC, Denver and Paris.

“I could never work at any other firm.”

Chambers USA has also taken notice, and not just in the international arbitration spheres. Foley picks up top marks in a dozen departments like insurance, environment, energy & natural resources, labor & employment and life sciences.

Strategy & Future 

Getting more specific, managing partner James Bucking speaks of the pride he had when referring to the firm’s entrepreneurial nature “it’s not structured around a small number of money makers, it’s a firm where everybody hustles.” The hard work of everyone involved has allowed the firm to continue to grow across all its offices, particularly in Denver: “we’ve doubled the size of the Denver office over the last year, we’ve just hired a group of corporate lawyers for that office.” On the practice side of things, Bucking tells us that focus is on green energy: “our firm is heavily invested in the clean energy future and clean tech, and that’s been booming for decades.” Bucking also mentioned the firm’s continued focus on life sciences is also a priority for the firm as they continue their commitment to be innovation.  

The Work  

The firm’s base in Boston holds the majority of associates on our list, with New York and DC coming in just behind. It’s worth noting that the firm’s international arbitration associates were found in the latter two cities with business and litigation attorneys located in in Boston. There’s a central staffing system for work allocation in some groups, but informally, associates get given work from partners who have worked with them before. One source helpfully laid out the process from their experience: “At the beginning of each week, you rank how busy you are on a scale of 1-4, with one being most busy. Then you pass that on to your staffing coordinator.” Sources did emphasize that this process becomes informal the longer you’re at the firm, and then associates start getting more work directly from partners. Interviewees felt that this system was pretty fair, one explained that “all associates are not burdened so much that they cannot breathe, we can tell partners if we have too much work then they’ll accommodate us so we’re not underwater.” 

“We very much want to stand up for the little guy.” 

Foley’s international litigation and arbitration department (ILAD) certainly is quite unique in terms of its client base: “We represent sovereign clients and foreign governments in a variety of cases,” one source explains. Clearly, the novelty of this wore off on some of our sources, one told us that “I don’t think any other law firm has profiled themselves as only going for state-to-state work like this and it means we’re unmatched in this field.” These clients can be found dotted all across the globe, but associates were quick to note the fulfilling nature of this work in ILAD: “the majority of these countries are not the rich powerful bullying states, they’re developing small island nations a lot of the time. It’s important because international law matters most with these countries.” Due to the lean staffing, we heard that associates got to experience more substantive work early on. One junior shared that “the firm makes no distinction between whether you’ve just joined or have been here for three to four years, the quality and depth of the work is the same.” Speaking of the work, insiders spoke about working on ICJ and interstate arbitrations. One associate highlighted the amount of research they’re currently focused on: “These are cases that are not purely legal they’re developing political and military situations, so I have to keep on top of those things. It’s a great deal of responsibility!”

ILAD clients: France, Brazil, India, Nepal, Philippines, represented Ukraine ICSID arbitration concerning investment in a large wind power station.

In Foley’s business department, the work encompasses the “usual suspects” of business sub-groups - Think M&A, capital markets, tech transactions, emerging companies & venture capital, debt financing and tax. So, associates in their first four years practice as a generalist. This was viewed favorably by newbies on our list. One figured that “you’re a business department associate rather than something specific. it’s like a liberal arts education for being a lawyer and getting a wide range of experience.” That wide range is very much by design too, as one associate told us that “the firm wants you to try as much as you can,” encouraging newbies to explore their options. Others praised the lean team structure, giving associates the chance to work directly with partners. As one newbie reflected: “I feel valued and respected on my teams, and there’s a good system where you’re not thrown in the deep end, but you can show you want more.” Tasks ran the gamut, including diligence, doc review and drafting. Or, as one junior simply put: “whatever is asked of me, really!” 

Business clients: Hayden Creek Capital, CloudAhoy, Inc., B2W Software, represented Wall Street Horizon (WSH) in their sale to a subsidiary of TMX Group US. 

Foley’s litigation department is a broad church of areas ranging from commercial litigation, business disputes, trade secrets, SEC filings, employment law and white-collar crime. Just like the business group, Foley starts newbies off as generalist, without any pressure to pick a specialization. “I’ve tried my hand at most areas, the firm is very keen for me to chart my own path,” beamed one insider. In fact, most associates were happy about this approach. Another shared that “I’m staffed on a range of matters, everything I do is different!” Some of the common tasks our interviewees got involved with included prepping depositions, drafting statements, doc review, and research assignments.  

Litigation clients: CVS, Deloitte Consulting, Fenway Sports Group, Foley represented BioPoint and secured a 7.5 million verdict against defendants that had misappropriated trade secrets. 

Career Development 

“Prospects to make partner here are higher than at other firms because there aren’t a lot of people competing for partner.” 

“We hire very leanly, and they hope that you stay here for a very long time,” explained one junior on career development: “So the people they take on, they are invested in and want to succeed.” Associates are assigned two mentors, one associate mentor, who is usually a similar age and seniority, and a partner mentor, as well as an ELEVATE mentor to help with integration when first starting at the firm. The amount of time associates got to spend with their mentors depended on how proactive both sides were. Some met frequently while others only saw each other quarterly, which is mandated. Partnership, in general, seemed like an incredibly attainable goal if you commit to the firm: “Prospects to make partner here are higher than at other firms because there aren’t a lot of people competing for partner.” 

Pro Bono 

Pro bono hours at Foley are all classed as billable, to the delight of the interviewees we spoke to. “The firm is very supportive of people taking on pro bono work,” one source beamed. They added that “we get emails every day and we’re encouraged to do anything interesting to us.” Some of the work ranges from asylum applications, small companies, domestic violence, as well as larger public scale cases with a source highlighting that “the firm represented an NGO in front of the Supreme Court in regard to Rowe v Wade.” What’s better than getting the chance to grow your skillset and do what you love too? As one newbie shared: “It’s really great working on issues close to my heart and it’s a good way to get in court experience.” 

Pro bono hours:

  • For all US attorneys: 23,505
  • Average per US attorney: 74

Hours & Compensation  

Billable hours: 1,850 target

Foley’s 1,850-hour target used to come with an attached bonus, which only becomes market once you hit 2,000. Well - that’s been overhauled this year to a new black box bonus system. “If we hit our 1,850 hours target, we will be paid a comparable market bonus. The specific amount will take into consideration factors such as quality of work, office attendance and good firm citizenship which is a not entirely defined term right now,” explained one source. This change has been a little divisive to the sources that spoke with us, one admitted that “it’s a bit of a cause for concern, and overall, a lack of transparency.” Though others saw the positives, namely that “there is flexibility here, and an opportunity to make a better case for receiving a bonus.” 

As for workload, we heard associates “sometimes have too much work, but the firm is supportive and makes sure you don’t get overwhelmed.” In addition to the unlimited pro bono, sources could also bill a set number of DE&I hours as well as for recruiting such as hosting an event for first year law students. Tuesday – Thursday are the mandated office days, but insiders told us that’s the only rigid rule: “as long as the work is done, they’re flexible with your hours.”  


Sources said the firm has a good balance of offering social events and letting associates form natural connections on their own. As for those kinds of events, juniors told us that the firm “put on socials at restaurants and bars, they’re always really well attended, not to mention a monthly happy hour for those that had a birthday that month.”  

“I’m really lucky to have ended up at Foley.” 

A lot was also said of the “authentic warmth” from associates and partners to the newbies. One source reflected that “everyone is helpful, this is important for someone who has only just joined, people will be willing to spend hours explaining something just so you feel more confident in what you’re doing.” This was felt amongst all interviewees who all felt that there was no one at the firm they couldn’t speak to: “communication is huge amongst associates, I’m really lucky to have ended up at Foley.” So much so, a good few of the associates we spoke to said they hung out with colleagues out of work regularly. 

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion  

“It’s really important to hear perspectives of people that have different experiences, and the firm knows that.” 

Associates told us that Foley is incredibly conscious of the need for a diversity across the firm. Even at the hiring phase, one junior felt that “Foley put themselves out there to minorities and ethnic groups.” On a day to day at the firm, this stands true: “It’s really important to hear perspectives of people that have different experiences, and the firm knows that,” shared one interviewee. Retention can be an issue for diverse attorneys in BigLaw, and Foley is doing its best to fight against those statistics: “The higher up you get, it’s less diverse, but the firm is aware and really does care and even since I’ve been here, I’ve seen the people that have made partner are from different diverse backgrounds.” 

There is also a DEI department and affinity groups that we’re told put on events often, as well as the women’s mentorship group that associates said is well attended amongst those at the firm. Foley also hires globally, with a wide swath of associates from different backgrounds coming over to work at the firm. “It’s a really diverse portfolio,” noted one source. They added that “Foley has a lot of people from all around the world. I’m surrounded by many different backgrounds here.”

Get Hired

The first stage: recruitment on and off campus

OCI applicants interviewed: 238

Interviewees outside OCI:  57

Foley Hoag recruits via OCIs as well as direct applications.

Screening interviews are conducted by attorneys (usually members of the firm’s hiring committee or alumni of the particular school). Hiring partner Meredith Haviland says: “There is truly no one trait that we are looking for during the screening stage; rather, we take a holistic approach to evaluating candidates at this stage and throughout our process.” Interviewers will also aim to assess candidates’ motivation and teamwork skills. They are also interested in candidates’ practice area interests and particular interest in the firm, 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. Candidates should not be afraid to engage in a meaningful and substantive legal discussion with the interviewer.” – hiring partner Meredith Haviland


Candidates undertake four 30-minute interviews with four different attorneys and can choose whether to conduct these interviews virtually or in-office. Candidates who elect for in-person interviews are also offered the option of going out to lunch with junior associates. Haviland tells us, “the questions are not significantly different from those at the screening 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. Writing samples are also reviewed blindly.”

Top tips for this stage:

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

Summer program

Foley Hoag’s ten-week summer program allows summer associates to explore a variety of practices or to focus on a particular area of interest via an open online assignment system. In addition to a partner mentor, summers are given ‘buddies’ (associates) who they can ask questions – “everything from ‘where’s the printer?’ to recommendations on fun places to eat near the office.”

As well as lunches, social events and training 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 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.”

Near the end of the program, 2L summers are asked to rank their practice area preferences. The firm then matches them to departments based on those choices and business need, and extends department-specific full-time return offers, upon successful completion of the program.

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 have found that a key component of success for students in the summer program is good communication – particularly around assignments (including communication related to timelines and project status), and also around areas of interest.” – hiring partner Meredith Haviland


Foley Hoag LLP

Seaport West,
155 Seaport Boulevard,
MA 02210-2600

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: 9
• Number of 2nd year associates: 8
• 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 2024
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, 2023

Ranked Departments

    • Insurance (Band 1)
    • 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 3)
    • Intellectual Property (Band 3)
    • Labor & Employment (Band 2)
    • Life Sciences (Band 2)
    • Litigation: General Commercial (Band 3)
    • Litigation: White-Collar Crime & Government Investigations (Band 2)
    • Private Equity: Venture Capital Investment (Band 3)
    • Cannabis Law (Band 2)
    • International Arbitration: The Elite (Band 4)