Foley Hoag LLP - The Inside View

A perfect place for the chilled yet innovative attorney – Foley delves into niche and new industries, with plenty of startups on its roster too. 

Boston-born Foley Hoag has developed a knack for work with emerging companies and innovative industries. Managing partner Kenneth Leonetti describes the firm’s focus in more detail: “Our main areas of practice are new economy industries, like life sciences, tech, clean energy, healthcare, disputes, private funds, private equity and venture capital. We’re evenly divided between our transactional type work and litigation disputes as well as a healthy amount of regulatory.” Massachusetts flies the Foley flag in Chambers USA for a number of top-ranking departments, such as corporate M&A, energy, environment, insurance and litigation. Nationwide, the firm earns a unique ranking in cannabis law and international arbitration. In addition to its Boston HQ, Foley maintains two other domestic offices in New York and DC, and one overseas base in Paris.  

“The hours target is very gentle and so are the people.” 

Aside from the quirky matters, interviewees were attracted to the lifestyle that the firm was able to offer them. One junior echoed the motivations of many: “Foley is the perfect balance of BigLaw work while still having a work-life balance – the hours target is very gentle and so are the people.” 

Strategy & Future 

Managing partner Kenneth Leonetti tells all about the past twelve months at the firm: “We’ve been growing substantially in New York with five key lateral hires in the litigation and energy space. In Washington DC, we've also added a number of new hires to the healthcare practice.” An associate reiterated: “There’s been major growth in both New York and DC, especially within the cross-departmental energy group. The firm has also been investing into its life sciences, tech and financial services sectors.”  

“The firm is growing, but it does not want to balloon to 1,000 lawyers.”

Both associates and Leonetti agreed that the firm likes to grow both strategically and conservatively: “The firm is entrepreneurial in the types of clients it takes, but is fairly conservative in how it wants to grow. The firm is growing, but it does not want to balloon to 1,000 lawyers.” Leonetti also states the firm has been focusing on diversity this past year: “With the recent hire of a D&I chair, we’ve been building upon many of our initiatives and programs to help support our diverse staff.” More on that later…

The Work 

On this year's list of associates, business, litigation and IP were the most popular practices, with the remainder scattered across administrative law and ILAD [International Litigation and Arbitration]. According to our survey, 70% of respondents felt they had autonomy over their workloads – processes surrounding work allocation remained pretty casual, with many picking up projects naturally: “I get assigned matters by partners whenever I’m short on work, I’ll just ask them if they need help with anything!” Associates are also allowed to request specific matters depending on their interests: “I have a lot of interests in clean energy work and I consistently pick up those types of assignments,” one revealed.

When in IP, the team advises its clients on patent, trade secrets and Hatch-Waxman litigation. Associates take on plenty of trademark prosecution for clients, as one detailed: “These matters involve national and international trademark clearances, giving risk analysis to our clients. We then look at the strategy for prosecuting the trademark and eventually file an opposition to their pending applications or have their trademark registrations canceled.” Associates also got stuck into false advertising-related work where clients are sued for advertising things like food products incorrectly. Typical tasks for associates include legal research, writing patent applications, identifying claims and drafting settlements. As a particular highlight in our survey findings, 100% of associates in IP were satisfied with both client and partner contact.  

IP clients: Machinex, Elysium Health and Unilever. Foley represents Machinex Group, creators of machinery used for sorting and recycling waste, on patent infringement claims. 

“I take on a lot of work in the emerging companies space and these clients typically come from the tech and clean energy sectors.” 

The businessoffering tackles M&A, capital markets, emerging companies and venture capital (ECVC), tax, funds, general corporate, and debt finance work. Foley is best known for its representation of emerging companies and startups, with many initially coming to Foley as just an idea. One junior explained: “I take on a lot of work in the emerging companies space and these clients typically come from the tech and clean energy sectors – we do everything from helping them form companies through to venture financing deals.” Foley encourages business juniors to remain generalists for their first four years, and to help them explore the practice they also give newbies two partner mentors with different specialisms. When taking on project finance deals, juniors tend to work alongside a partner and a senior associate. “The company may want to create a stock incentive plan, I’ll then help with granting options, get all the documents together and complete diligence.” Even juniors were over the moon with the client contact they received: “I’m able to liaise with the client and give my input – day to day I’m usually in contact with clients and answering any questions they may have.” 

Business clients: Kula Bio, RStudio and Alloy Therapeutics. Foley represents Bolt in its $2.3 million seed financing of SwayAI. 

Pro Bono 

“As long as you have a healthy mix of both billable work and pro bono you can do as much as you like.” Foley has no cap on pro bono, and as such nearly 90% of survey respondents felt the firm is genuinely committed to pro bono. The firm provides representation for a variety of causes, including education, criminal defense, domestic violence, civil rights and immigration. Foley also takes on IP pro bono projects – one junior said: “I’ve done a lot of trademark prosecution clearances, and I’m also dealing with a client's privacy rights in terms of social media.” On the litigation side, associates take up expungement proceedings and criminal justice reform, among other matters. 

Pro bono hours 

  • For all (US) attorneys: 14,971 
  • Average per (US) attorney: 49 

Hours & Compensation 

Billable hours: 1,850 target 

The billing target is 1,850 hours for associates, though this is more of an aspirational goal as opposed to a strict requirement: “We don’t have to hit the hours target; it's something we work toward. There’s never a ton of pressure if you don’t hit it or a feeling that your job will be in jeopardy.” As well as pro bono, associates can also credit an unlimited number of D&I and recruitment hours.For the more ambitious, associates can gun for 2,100 hours for a higher percentage bonus, and overall associates seemed very pleased with Foley’s compensation system, which matched the latest hikes at the time of writing.

“Some days I’m done at 4pm, others at 8pm.”

According to our survey, over two thirds of respondents felt that their hours and workloads were reasonable, with even more feeling the benefits package made the work worthwhile. On average associates logged on around 9am and logged off around 6pm with a couple of extra hours in the evening if needed. However, some did notice more extreme fluctuations in their schedules: “When it’s slow, it’s really slow, and when it’s busy its extremely busy! In business, matters tend to pick up quickly.” Another reiterated: “Some days I’m done at 4pm, others at 8pm.” Associates averaged their weekly hours at just over 47 per week – slightly below the market average. 


“The culture is friendly and respectful. People seem to genuinely care about the law – both in their practice areas and beyond – as well as their colleagues,” one associate explained, echoing the opinion of many. Interviewees described Foley’s culture as “collaborative,”“relaxed,” and “down to earth.” In the big Boston HQ the culture was described as particular tight-knit and associates were able to reap all of Foley's benefits: “It’s the firm’s home base, we have regular socials, drinks and lots of resources.” TheWashington DC, is slightly smaller, giving off a more homely vibe: “The kitchen is in the center of the office, it’s kind of like the social hub, everyone's very friendly and up for a chat!”  

“Very few of the partners and attorneys matched the lawyer stereotype...” 

100% of respondents felt camaraderie is strong at the firm – the majority also appreciated that Foley maintained a flat hierarchy. One source was pleased to find that “very few of the partners and attorneys matched the lawyer stereotype. Despite the firm's size, people seemed to know everyone, and like and respect all their co-workers.”

Diversity & Inclusion 

“I’ve been really impressed with the efforts the firm makes in hiring and supporting diverse attorneys,” one junior reflected. And in fact, it wasn’t just that one – 100% of survey respondents agreed that they were pleased with the firm's commitment to recruiting diverse attorneys. The firm's efforts are visible through its recent hire of a diversity, equity and inclusion chair, Rosa Nunez, who oversees Foley’s colorful array of events, initiatives and programs, like the women’s forum.  

“My summer and first-year class must be one of the more diverse classes in BigLaw.” 

Others appreciated the training sessions devoted to implicit biasand inclusion, as well as diversity events that the firm attends at law schools. The firm now also allows associates to bill D&I hours, one explained: “There’s now recognition for attorneys who put in those extra hours toward diversity events and initiatives, and we’re allowed to put them toward the billing target.” As of late, associates noticed a real push toward hiring diverse talent: “My summer and first-year class must be one of the more diverse classes in BigLaw,” one commented.

Career Development 

To guide them through their initial years at the firm, all newbies are assigned two partner mentors: “Each department has their own way of doing things but in my experience, they’ve been extremely involved in my development and supportive.” Diverse rookies also receive a diversity mentors who they can meet over lunch and discuss personal or professional matters. 

When in the business department, first-years attend a two-week 9am to 5pm training program to give them the skills they need to get going. When in their second and third years, associates attend mandatory monthly training sessions, called ‘Core 24’ – “these are a deep dive into specific areas of law, like IP or tax.” At Foley, 40% of junior associates stated they intend to make partner – significantly more than the market average, which sits at around 25%. Partnership is generally considered in associates’ eighth year at the firm. 

Get Hired

The first stage: recruitment on and off campus

OCI applicants interviewed: 443

Interviewees outside OCI:  undisclosed

Foley Hoag recruits predominantly via OCIs but does consider direct applications. In 2022 the firm expects 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: “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 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


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 can articulate why 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 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 – “everything from ‘where’s the printer?’ to recommendations on fun places to eat near the office.”

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: $208,144,000
  • Partners (US): 122
  • Associates (US): 128
  • 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 2022: 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 2022: 19
  • Offers/acceptances 2022: 11 offers, 10 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: 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, 2022

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)

Visit Foley Hoag's recruiting page for more information.