An old hand in Milwaukee, Foley's 180-year-old roots are gaining traction across the US with a new CEO elected in 2022 and a renewed focus on business and leadership development for ambitious associates...
“We’re an AmLaw 50 firm and the last few years have been incredible,” Foley’s chairman and CEO Daljit Doogal tells us. “The firm recently celebrated its 180th anniversary with 25 offices worldwide and 1,100 lawyers. We are one of the top-tier firms in the US.” From its humble origins in Milwaukee, Foley has certainly stamped its presence on the BigLaw scene. “Foley is considered a prestigious firm in Wisconsin, but also across the Midwest,” an associate pointed out while discussing their reasons for joining the firm. Foley’s reputation clearly extends beyond regional borders, as the firm has scooped up associates to work in its offices across both coasts and pretty much everywhere in between. Whether you’re looking to be based in a major market (like New York, DC, or Chicago) or a rising one (like Salt Lake City), Foley will no doubt have you covered. Offices with the most associates on our list included Milwaukee, Chicago, Boston, LA, and Tampa.
Chambers USA shows that Foley still rules Wisconsin when it comes to areas like IP, corporate/M&A, banking and finance, litigation, and real estate. Other regional highlights include insurance in Texas, patent prosecution in DC, and private equity in Florida. Foley receives multiple accolades for its healthcare expertise both on a national and state level.
Strategy & Future
Associates are kept up to date on the firm’s strategy through hour-long quarterly meetings: “We’re moving towards a more sector-based approach,” a source commented. Talent acquisition and a focus on the firm’s core sectors of life sciences, energy, manufacturing and innovative technology remain at the forefront of Foley’s vision for the future, but the firm is also looking to perform an increasing business advisory role. “They just started a new sector strategy where we’re meant to pick one sector to focus on in terms of business development,” one junior told us, highlighting the firm’s ambitions in this area.
Chairman and CEO Daljit Doogal reiterates these points and adds that Foley’s long-term strategy and diverse portfolio should give it the necessary resilience for upcoming challenges. “Our corporate practice has been really robust, so we’ve been able to build on that,” he tells us. In addition, “we’re really decentralizing our management as a firm. Ten to fifteen years ago most of the leadership team was in Milwaukee – now I’m the first chairman and CEO outside of that office, and our sector, practice and industry chairs are spread across multiple offices as well." Underpinning the strategy is an understanding of the “need to be proactive with clients – they want someone to help them and be a partner for them, not just a lawyer!”
Foley’s business law practice scooped up most of the juniors on our list, followed by litigation and IP. Initially, work allocation is coordinated through assignment partners who look for matters that fit with new hires. Importantly, “they wanted me to be genuinely interested in the project,” one insider told us, “and not just take it because I had to” – something that’s stressed for personal development. “Over our first year they emphasized internal networking,” another added, in a bid to promote a more organic allocation model and support newbies’ interests. Juniors did say that “it’s up to the associate to say no to something they cannot do,” with the understanding that “it isn’t fine to take on too much and then drop something, but it’s totally fine to say no in the first instance.”
The business law practice encompasses groups like finance, transactions, tax, healthcare, and real estate. On the finance side, “we do a lot of funding work for private equity companies that are making acquisitions, so I often coordinate with the client and handle the certificates. I get to have a first crack at the credit or security documents as well. I can definitely say it’s exceeded my expectations – I wasn’t expecting to be doing this stuff so early in my career.” For any business lawyer, due diligence is a key task “that needs to be done, but the teams do a great job of connecting it to the more interesting stuff.” Another insider informed us that “we’ve recently been working on more venture capital matters – we’re very good in that space.” On securities matters, juniors find themselves assisting with offerings and annual filings, which are “scary at first because of all the compliance considerations, but it’s work I really enjoy!” The work portfolio is “huge,” so juniors can be placed on a range of local to global deals: “I didn’t want to pigeonhole myself, and over 50% of my work is with partners in different offices so I’ve been able to travel around as well!”
Corporate clients: Airway Holdings, Biotron Laboratories, Farrar Scientific. Acted as US counsel to Horizon Capital in purchasing stock of BP3 Global, a matter value of $33 million.
Across litigation, “the work spans everything,” leaving plenty of room for associates to explore their interests in sectors like energy, sports, and healthcare, as well as practices like labor and employment and commercial litigation. The token space was flagged as an area where “there’s growing business work to be found, especially with the FTX downfall.” Regardless of whether it’s an emerging or established area of litigation, “you can find the work you want if you ask.” Juniors told us they typically worked on drafting the likes of discovery responses and complaints, but also had the opportunity to argue motions to dismiss in the state courts. “There’s a lot of training when you first start,” one insider highlighted, “so there are things you can do to make you more valuable as an attorney in the future.”
Litigation clients: KPMG, Harley-Davidson, County of Los Angeles. Successfully defended a false advertising class action against Walmart with the plaintiffs seeking over $200 million.
“The work flows directly from senior associates and partners” in the IP practice, which juniors felt “works well – we are a smaller group, so it helps us to build relationships as well.” One source had spent a lot of time on patent prosecution matters, where “our contribution is in translating everything into legalese and outlining what would be the commercial application of the technology.” We were told that there’s a broad range of clients that come from areas such as life sciences and pharma, advertising, and fashion and beauty. There are both national and international matters to delve into: “We work with a ton of foreign counsel all over the world, including the UK, Australia, South Africa, and India.” Another attorney explained that “patents are very territorial, so you have to fight in particular jurisdictions – we try to harmonize them so you can put out a product globally.” The practice is split into trademark litigation, copyright and advertising counselling – the latter makes up a large piece of Foley’s IP pie.
IP clients: S.C. Johnson & Son, FuelCell, Avantus. Undertook IP due diligence for Rockwell’s $2.2 billion purchase of Plex Systems.
“There are a lot of internal trainings,” a source noted, which include “a first-year training series that different partners put on at least once a month – it’s substantive and covers a lot of procedural and ethical considerations.” Praise was heaped onto mentors – both formal and informal – and new joiners can expect to be paired up with both a partner/senior counsel and an associate mentor to help them hit the ground running. “I’ve had a couple of really great mentors!” a junior enthused, while another told us about the benefits they’d gained from having a designated career coach at the firm.
Ultimately, “Foley has always said that anyone who wants to make partner will make partner, and I haven’t seen anything to indicate that it’s not true.” To help those ambitious associates make the leap, Foley has a leadership development program that has included modules on building high-performing teams and navigating difficult conversations. Foley elected 23 lawyers to its partnership in 2023 – all were based in the US offices and all three of the firm’s overarching practices (business law, litigation and IP) were well represented.
Hours & Compensation
Billable hours: 1,900 target for first full three years; 1,950 from fourth-year onwards
Our sources who were aiming for the 1,900 target found it “really doable – it's not an issue to hit it at all!” Another interviewee admitted that “there can be a bit of a ramp-up period in your first few months, but now I’m hitting my hours easily.” Reaching the targetmakes associates eligible for a bonus, which in their first three years can range from 5% to 30% of their base salary. From the fourth year onwards, that bracket extends to 50% of the base salary. Hitting 2,000 hours ensures 10%, while 2,200 unlocks 20% of the base salary.
For those working in business law, “sometimes you do have to work on the weekend, as that’s just the nature of the job, but if you’re slow you’re not expected to just be sitting there on your computer!” While “you’re expected to get a project done by the deadline, you’re not necessarily expected to work on a weekend. In fact, people have sent me stuff on a Friday and have explicitly said to me not to work on it over the weekend!” Juniors were similarly positive about Foley’s hybrid working approach, with 96% of survey respondents indicating that they had a good level of autonomy over when they could work remotely.
For the associates we spoke with, Foley’s culture fundamentally came down to a strong feeling of respect: “It manifests itself in the way that partners speak with associates, paralegals and assistants. And it’s not just respect in terms of being nice to someone’s face – they respect your boundaries and what you can do. If you say you can’t do something, they’ll take that on board and won’t push back.” This associate recounted: “One of my favorite emails I received was from a senior associate – they said nobody is going to tell you to work less! I’ve really appreciated that email, and at Foley it’s all down to knowing your own limit as a junior.” Ultimately “the partners know you have a life!” a source cheerfully exclaimed: “The job itself is pretty all-consuming, so the partners I work for told me if there’s any tension between work and what I’m doing personally, they’ll take care of it.”
"There’s definitely a sense of camaraderie, and that’s on a cross-office basis as well!”
Our interviewees were unanimously positive about the social life, but it can vary by office. Chicago, for example “is a big office, so the people are pretty social and some of my best friends are here!” TheNew York base, meanwhile, has a more intimate feel: “We were a boutique absorbed by Foley, so everyone knows each other well.” On the whole, our sources had built strong relationships in and out of office with colleagues: “There’s definitely a sense of camaraderie, and that’s on a cross-office basis as well!” We heard that the summer season is particularly lively, with events including office drinks, pizza nights, and trips out to watch baseball games.
“They definitely encourage pro bono!” an interviewee enthused, while another told us that “the firm treats it like we’re working for a standard billable client.” Associates can count up to 100 hours of pro bono as billable, but we heard that “once you hit that you can submit a request to the pro bono partner and after that they’ll extend your time.” Business associates were happy to tell us that “Milwaukee has a collection of clinics we can volunteer for, including a small business clinic.” Those who focused on IP also found pro bono work they could take on, including clearance prosecution matters. Beyond that, we were told about a range of asylum and immigration cases that Foley handles, as well as the firm’s dedicated Racial Justice and Equity Pro Bono Practice Group, which launched in 2020 and covers areas like eviction defense; financial assistance and business mentoring to minority and women-owned businesses; and assistance with a police accountability bill.
Pro bono hours
- For all US offices: 47,519
- Average per US attorney: 40
Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
Foley’s affinity groups were described as “really active and they get lots of support from the firm.” These include affinity groups for women, ethnic minorities, LGBTQ+ attorneys, and veterans. Sources flagged that they were members of more than just one affinity group and enjoyed “the get-togethers that we have as part of the all-attorney retreat.” Interviewees did highlight that diversity can vary by practice area, with one in IP noting that “our trademark group is predominantly made up of women,” while another mentioned that “the finance practice has the highest percentage of women at Foley, while M&A is mainly men.” Foley also has a DE&I strategic plan in place for 2026, which is supported by a data analytics tool to help the firm assess its progress in areas like recruitment, development and promotion.Our survey respondents were generally positive about the firm’s DE&I efforts, with 87% of them agreeing that recruitment initiatives and progress were strong.
The first stage: recruitment on and off campus
OCI applicants interviewed: 1231
Interviewees outside OCI: 23
Given Foley has more than 20 offices across the US, it's no surprise to hear the firm interviews at more than 45 law schools and job fairs throughout the OCI season and takes resume drops at others. Interviewing one or multiple schedules of students depending on the school, Foley collates a cross-section of attorneys from firm leaders to associates as interviewers.
"Our interview process is not formulaic, as we value the unique experiences and perspectives that each candidate brings to the table. However, there are key qualities that we look for in all candidates, including entrepreneurial drive, collaboration and leadership, among others. During the interview, we'll be asking for specific examples of how you've demonstrated these qualities in your past experiences. Our goal is to get to know the real you, so we encourage you to be authentic and honest throughout the interview process."
Top tips for this stage:
“Do your research and know what our practices are – understand also that we work across the firm and you'll be in contact with everyone.”
“Our interviewers will ask about your interest or connection to the city to which you are applying. We want to make sure that you’re truly interested in living and working there.”
“Be authentic and look for genuine opportunities to connect. Convey who you are as a person, rather than just who you are on your resume. For example, discuss why you’re interested in the activities and achievements on your resume.”
Applicants invited to second stage: 342
Successful applicants will spend enough time with the firm to attend between four and six interviews including some more informal meet-ups in certain offices. Again, the seniority of interviewers will vary. Foley encourages candidates to ask their own questions here, while also demonstrating watertight knowledge of their resume.
Top tips for this stage:
“It's obvious when someone's done their research. You don't need to know our whole history but we see your familiarity with the firm as a good indicator of your interest.”
The firm sorts summer associates into particular practice groups, but it's not frowned upon to sample work from others if you're interested. An online assignment system gives summers an idea of how long tasks will take and gives them some autonomy over what they pick up, and Foley prefers them to get a varied experience across the program.
A roughly 1:1 partner-to-associate ratio means it's more difficult to hide in the crowd than at some other firms, and Foley expects everybody to pitch in. That said, they also want summer associates to use the resources and attorneys around them – the majority of each entry-level class comes from the program so it's an ideal opportunity to get to know the folks at Foley.
Notable summer events: firm-wide summer associate retreat, theater, ball games and boat rides.
Top tips for this stage:
“I definitely encourage summers to literally tell senior associates and partners that they’d like to work with them, sometimes they don't realize it's okay to approach people here like that.”
“Take advantage of your mentor and summer program coordinators as you navigate the summer program - they’re eager to help you and can be a tremendous resource!”
Foley & Lardner LLP
777 East Wisconsin Avenue,
Main areas of work
With more than 1000 attorneys spread across 22 domestic offices and three international offices, Foley’s market-leading platform includes business law, intellectual property and litigation. Adding depth to our bench strength, we focus on four primary sectors: Energy, Health Care & Life Sciences, Innovative Technology, and Manufacturing.
Foley provides award-winning business and legal insight to clients across the country and around the world. Creating legal strategies that help meet our clients’ needs today — and anticipate their challenges tomorrow — Foley is continually recognized by our clients and the legal industry for our exceptional client service, thought-leadership, value and innovative strategy.
Law Schools attending for OCIs in 2023:
Baylor Law School, Boston College Law School, Boston University School of Law, Brigham Young University J. Reuben Clark Law School, Columbia Law School, Duke University School of Law, Florida State University College of Law, Fordham University School of Law, Georgetown University Law Center, Harvard Law School, Howard University School of Law, Marquette University Law School, New York University School of Law, Northeastern University School of Law, Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law, South Texas College of Law Houston, Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law, Stanford University Law School, Texas A&M University School of Law, Texas Tech University School of Law, University of California-Berkeley School of Law, University of California-Davis School of Law, University of California-Los Angeles School of Law, University of Chicago Law School, University of Florida Levin College of Law, University of Houston Law Center, University of Illinois College of Law, University of Illinois Chicago School of Law, University of Iowa College of Law, University of Miami School of Law, University of Michigan Law School, University of Minnesota Law School, University of Notre Dame Law School, University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School, University of San Diego School of Law, University of Southern California Gould School of Law, University of Texas School of Law, University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law, University of Virginia School of Law, University of Wisconsin Law School, Vanderbilt University Law School, Yale University Law School.
Job Fairs: Bay Area Diversity Career Fair, Cook County Bar Association Minority Law Student Job Fair, Lavender Law Conference, Loyola Patent Law Interview Program, Southeastern Minority Job Fair, Sunbelt Diversity Recruitment Program, The Law Consortium – 2022 Chicago Recruitment Program
Recruitment outside OCIs:
We fill the majority of our hiring needs through OCI but also consider all other applicants who apply to the positions posted on the Careers page of our website at www.foleyrecruiting.com. Specific needs outside of OCI are posted to that same Careers page. Summer associate profile: Foley is looking for summer associates with an entrepreneurial spirit who bring diverse life and work experiences. Key attributes also include intellect, academic achievement, judgement and leadership abilities and excellent communication and interpersonal skills.
Summer program components:
We aim to introduce our summer associates to life as a Foley associate. Making significant contributions from day one, our summer associates are immersed in real world, practical experiences. Work is assigned on a project basis, which allows summer associates to experience a variety of practice areas and choose projects that match their interests. Summer associates receive dedicated associate and partner mentors and our Foley Academy training programs highlight Foley’s culture, practice areas and strategic goals while developing and strengthening professional skills. To round out the experience, our summer associates participate in entertaining social events, including a firmwide retreat, where summer associates hear directly from firm leadership, participate in interactive workshops and training programs and build and strengthen relationships with our attorneys and other members of their class.
Recruitment website: www.foleyrecruiting.com
Foley Career Perspectives
The Path & The Practice
This Firm's Rankings in
USA Guide, 2023
- Healthcare (Band 3)
- Litigation: White-Collar Crime & Government Investigations (Band 4)
District of Columbia
- Intellectual Property: Patent Prosecution (Band 2)
- Banking & Finance (Band 3)
- Construction (Band 4)
- Healthcare (Band 2)
- Insurance: Transactional & Regulatory (Band 2)
Florida: North & Central
- Corporate/M&A & Private Equity (Band 1)
- Real Estate (Band 2)
- Bankruptcy/Restructuring (Band 4)
- Healthcare (Band 4)
- Healthcare: Pharmaceutical/Medical Products Regulatory (Band 2)
- Insurance: Dispute Resolution: Reinsurance (Band 2)
- Litigation: General Commercial (Band 5)
- Litigation: White-Collar Crime & Government Investigations (Band 4)
- Healthcare (Band 2)
- Litigation: General Commercial (Band 4)
- Private Equity: Fund Formation (Band 3)
- Corporate/M&A (Band 4)
- Litigation: General Commercial (Band 4)
- Bankruptcy/Restructuring (Band 4)
- Corporate/M&A: The Elite (Band 5)
- Insurance: Regulatory (Band 1)
- Labor & Employment (Band 4)
USA - Nationwide
- Cannabis Law (Band 3)
- Derivatives (Band 4)
- Franchising (Band 3)
- Healthcare: The Elite (Band 3)
- Leisure & Hospitality (Band 4)
- Projects: Power & Renewables: Transactional (Band 3)
- Projects: Renewables & Alternative Energy (Band 4)
- Public Finance (Band 1)
- Sports Law (Band 3)
- Transportation: Road (Automotive) (Band 3)
- Litigation: General Commercial (Band 2)
- Banking & Finance (Band 2)
- Corporate/M&A (Band 1)
- Intellectual Property (Band 1)
- Labor & Employment (Band 3)
- Litigation: General Commercial (Band 1)
- Natural Resources & Environment (Band 1)
- Real Estate (Band 1)