Foley Hoag LLP - The Inside View

Foley’s flair for international work and “warm and welcoming” culture will certainly set tongues Ho-wagging... 

“We’ve got the best of both worlds - we do BigLaw work without feeling like we’re in a BigLaw firm,” one interviewee said right off the bat. It does have a somewhat cozy footprint, with US offices in Boston, New York, DC, a brand new base in Denver and an international office in Paris. However, the geographical spread of its work is far less compact. Foley’s star-studded international arbitration group takes on cases from all over the globe, and juniors boasted how “the practice is unparalleled, so I only wanted to work at Foley, nowhere else.” Our colleagues at Chambers USA have also recognized Foley as a global market leader in public international law, and many other practices also receive top awards. The guide rates the firm’s work in energy and natural resources, environment, white-collar litigation, and government investigations in its home state of Massachusetts. Managing partner Jim Bucking describes Foley as a firm with “a strong focus on key industries and practice areas.” He explains how Foley's biggest industry vertical is life sciences (as you might expect from a Boston firm), though it’s continuing to thrive in technology, private investment funds, and cannabis – the latter of which has also been highly ranked by Chambers. 

“If you like international law, this is the place to be.” 

Foley’s global prestige was hugely attractive to juniors, even outside of the international arbitration group. Put simply, “if you like international law, this is the place to be.” What’s more, associates had only positive things to say about their colleagues: “It sounds kind of cliché, but the people stood out to me from the first round of interviews. The leaders of the department knew associates by name and put me in touch with them” Juniors also get the chance to work in small teams with senior partners, and many were grateful for the substantive opportunities that come with such close contact. Ultimately, this balance has meant that “it’s not a stereotypical BigLaw environment. People take ownership for the kind of firm they want this to be and go out of their way to welcome people.” 

Strategy & Future 

Bucking explains that, going forward, Foley will continue to grow steadily in the areas in which it has “a distinct market edge.” This growth has kicked off with its new office opening in Denver, to expand Foley’s US presence beyond the East Coast. When it comes to specific practice areas, “clean energy is really at the top of our list for growth. We’re at the vanguard in representing wind energy and solar firms.” However, Bucking made it clear that, although growth is certainly on its way, “we’re not a megafirm and don’t want to be.” The culture is key to the firm’s identity, and any growth won’t jeopardize that: “It’s a key part of how we identify ourselves and how we attract and retain lawyers.” 

The Work 

Most associates were based in the firm’s Boston HQ, with a few more spread across DC and New York. The DC office is home to the bulk of the ILAD (International Litigation and Arbitration Department) cohort, whilst many juniors on our list found themselves in the litigation and business departments, the latter of which is an umbrella term for its corporate practice. Matters are typically allocated through a staffing attorney based on associates’ availability, though partners can also assign work directly. However, irrespective of practice group, partners might bypass the staffing system and reach out to those they’ve worked with before or give matters to those who ask them directly. We also heard that staffing attorneys take associates’ interests into account and do a good job of matching juniors with tasks that suit their interests. There’s also a marked effort to ensure that associates branch out: “Assignment is a two-sided analysis of what the case needs and what the associate needs. I was encouraged to expand my skills, and my portfolio has since got more diverse.” 

“One case will never look like another.” 

International arbitration certainly sounds exciting, and associates assured us that this is true in practice. The department works on unique matters, mainly representing states and state-owned entities. Juniors appreciated how “one case will never look like another, so it’s a never-ending learning experience.” Interviewees typically worked in investment and commercial arbitration and public international law. The global-scale work lends itself to some great contact with clients and external experts as “a single firm typically can’t handle everything. Teams are leaner because we rely on outside entities such as technical experts and local legal counsel.” There are other benefits to working in small teams, such as partner contact and more advanced, substantive work. One junior was grateful for the fact that “partners and colleagues give you opportunities if you demonstrate responsibility.” Juniors still do some good ol’ doc review, but there’s a substantial amount of witness prep and drafting, and even the chance to prepare for and help present hearings. Many agreed that cases are most fun towards the end, “where everything comes together” and “you can demonstrate what the case is about.” 

ILAD clients: Chile, The Republic of France, Nigeria. Represented Qatar in arbitration against Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the UAE concerning their termination of postal services with Qatar. 

Litigators begin their journey as generalists and are “encouraged to explore as many areas of work as possible.” We heard there isn’t much pressure to specialize, so juniors can get involved in a variety of matters, including general commercial, white-collar, product liability, and securities. Except for some white-collar matters, teams are pretty small, meaning “you get a lot of partner interface. The only tradeoff is that you don’t have more senior associates to guide you like you do on larger teams.” Others relished the chance to step up: “Partners and senior associates try to get juniors to own little pieces of the case.” For instance, first-years experience the “full spectrum” of drafting and filings, which gets more substantive as you progress. 

Litigation clients: Transparency International, Massachusetts General Hospital, Georgetown-Roxbury Prep. Represented Myriad Genetics in a federal healthcare fraud investigation.  

Over in business, associates typically work in M&A and emerging companies venture capital (ECVC), though there’s also life sciences, tax, licensing, and debt finance work on offer. Just like their litigator counterparts, business associates also begin as generalists. “The firm believes that you should experience a little bit of everything so that you have more context when giving advice to clients,” a source explained, though there are other benefits to the generalist system. A junior happily noted, “I have a lot of control and can do the work I want to be doing.” Some of that might include tasks such as diligence and managing signature pages on M&A matters. There’s more responsibility on ECVC matters. Associates found themselves doing lots of general corporate work and reviewing primary documents, in addition to direct communication with clients.  

Business clients: DataDog, Alexion Pharmaceuticals, MiniLuxe. Represented Columbia Care, a medicinal cannabis provider, in its $2 billion acquisition by Cresco Labs. 

Pro Bono 

It’s typically the case that if you want to take on even more responsibility, pro bono is the way to go – and Foley is no exception. Sources explained how, although you get partner supervision, these matters are “really your case,” so you’re trusted to handle deadlines, communication and strategy. Juniors also raved about the “endless source of work.” Better yet, it’s all billable! “It’s one of the strongest aspects of the firm. I’m encouraged to do it; I’ve never felt any pressure to prioritize billable work over pro bono.” Associates over in Boston might get more local options with the community, but there are relevant matters going around no matter what office or practice area you’re in. “There are definitely enough corporate opportunities,” a transactional associate explained, having worked with pro bono startup clients, “but you’re not siloed to that.” We heard that juniors had worked on a whole range of matters, including immigration, reproductive rights, environment and, more recently, racial justice.

Pro bono hours  

  • For all (US) attorneys: 20,752
  • Average per (US) attorney:  54


“I can just pick up the phone and call the managing partner of the ILAD department!” 

I feel comfortable being myself. Even during my interviews I was laughing with the partners,” one survey respondent said. Our interviewees felt similarly positive about Foley's lack of hierarchy. Despite the highbrow work, sources felt that their colleagues at the firm weren’t “pretentious BigLaw lawyers,” but were markedly “humane.” Juniors told us that they don’t feel intimidated by partners, who are so approachable that one boasted, “I can just pick up the phone and call the managing partner of the ILAD department!” 

Sources agreed that the culture differs across offices: “Boston is where the firm’s core identity is, but the other satellite offices have started to develop their own feel and personality that’s slightly influenced by the HQ.” For example, the international work in DC is reflected in the make-up of the firm, which is more multicultural than the HQ. “The DC office really feels homey,” one insider reflected, “There are always people gathered in the kitchen, common areas, rooftop and our little living-room space.” Associates over in New York felt their office was “intimate,” but the firm facilitates regular visits to the HQ, so juniors all have access to strong cross-office networks. 

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion 

Foley’s scale of work is massively international, so diversity was at the forefront for many of our interviewees. Associates felt that Foley was working hard to meet expectations on representation, but there was a “little less” visible diversity than juniors were hoping for. However, we heard that the recent and upcoming summer class is more diverse than ever before - people of color make up more than half of the summer 2023 summer class. Like other BigLaw firms, Foley is doing best when it comes to female representation. All departments have women in leadership roles: two women were recently promoted to global co-chairs of ILAD. The offering of affinity groups and a whole host of diversity events at the firm meant juniors felt “everybody finds their group here if they want to.” There’s a way to go, especially in the larger Boston HQ, but juniors were optimistic, nonetheless. 

Hours & Compensation 

Billable hours: 1,850 target

Foley has historically been known as having one of the more relaxed billable targets in Boston. The more hours associates bill, the higher the bonus will be. Interviewees explained that although a bonus is dished out once associates hit 1,850 hours, the amount becomes market-level at the 2,000 hours mark. This was disappointing for many: “One of Foley’s selling points has always been that you’re getting to do a lot of typical BigLaw work while retaining more of a regional firm feel.” The new target seems to have lost this somewhat, by taking inspiration from the national, not local market, according to one junior. Although this may be a deal-breaker for some, others appreciated that the firm isn’t laying off employees. 

 “Partners apologize for surprise assignments” 

ILAD attorneys tend to be so busy that hitting the target isn’t typically an issue. Some reported regularly weekend work or multiple 14-hour days in a row. Workloads fluctuate, so “you learn to take advantage of relaxed periods as there’ll be a busier time ahead.” In other groups, it’s rare to hit 2,000 hours, so the newer target could be rough. However, associates explained that hours aren’t monitored unless there’s an upcoming deadline and, although it might be “rare to have a weekend where I do no work, I’m not working through the whole weekend.” Others were clear that “partners apologize for surprise assignments” and people are “not tethered to their desks.” If things do get intense, staffing attorneys will often get another associate on the matter. 

Career Development 

It’s definitely not a hands-off approach,” one interviewee told us, explaining how there’s a range of mentorship and training for juniors. Litigators particularly appreciated the skills training and depositions workshops available. All newbies get assigned a partner and peer mentor, and the firm sponsors lunch and coffee meetings, with materials available to guide discussions. Alternatively, mentorship is available through affinity groups – partnership is often a focus of these discussions. While some thought the firm could be more transparent about the necessary steps for making partner, others reported that it is discussed and seems attainable. One ILAD associate highlighted how making partner might initially look impossible as it’s “no small feat to bring in entire states as clients! I thought I probably won’t make partner, but that’s not necessarily true. The major factor is the quality of your work.” Sources noticed that attorneys tend to stay at the firm for a long time: “The firm is clearly invested in bringing up younger talent.” 

Get Hired 

The first stage: recruitment on and off campus 

OCI applicants interviewed: 336 

Interviewees outside OCI:  18 

Foley Hoag recruits predominantly via OCIs but does consider direct applications. In 2023, the firm expects to recruit directly from 25 schools via OCI and resume collects, as well as four 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: “There is truly no one trait that we are looking for during the OCI 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 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. 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 mentor, who is typically a partner and/or member of the firm’s hiring committee, summers are given ‘buddies’ (usually first-year 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 2022:
Boston College, Boston University, Chicago, Columbia, Fordham, Georgetown, Harvard, New York University, Northeastern, University of Pennsylvania, University of Virginia, and Yale. Summer details

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)