Juniors were frank about their reasons for joining this Manhattan maestro: big-ticket clientele; a robust corporate offering; and smaller teams that offer early responsibility.
“FISCAL year 2018 has been another strong year of growth for the Firm,” chairman David Greenwald is pleased to tell us. From its two offices in the US – its HQ in New York and its DC base – Fried has been busy helping the likes of Bain Capital to establish a new $9.4 billion fund; Sinclair Broadcast Group to snap up the Tribune Media Company for a cool $3.9 billion; and a former Bank of America Merrill Lynch executive to settle securities violations claims.
These highlights show off some of Fried's core practices (asset management, M&A, private equity and litigation), but its others include capital markets, finance, tax and real estate. With regard to the latter, juniors told us that “it's the best real estate department in New York City,” and Greenwald is quick to sing its praises too: “From counseling Related Companies on various aspects of the development at Hudson Yards, to our representation of Brookfield Asset Management in many of their transactions, our work in the real estate space continues to be transformational."
But do the Chambers USA rankings back all of this up? Nationwide, Fried's real estate expertise is certainly singled out as an area of strength, as are its investment funds and tax practices. In the Big Apple, its general commercial litigation and real estate lawyers come out on top, while over in DC its corporate/M&A, private equity and tax clout are of note. Further accolades in Chambers Global and Chambers Europe demonstrate Fried's international reach, which is focused on the key financial centers of London and Frankfurt.
Strategy & Future
In order to boost its core practices, Fried Frank has been busy drawing laterals into its fold of late, as Greenwald reveals: “We have added six lateral partners, five lateral special counsel and 26 lateral associates this year, and welcomed an incoming associate class of 69 to further increase our capacity to serve our clients and to tackle new and exciting challenges.” For more from Greenwald, click on the 'Bonus Features' tab above.
The vast majority of the associates on our list were based in Fried's New York HQ, but a handful were toiling away in DC. Department-wise, most (almost 60%) had joined the firm's corporate practice, while Fried's litigation and real estate groups scooped up a large chunk of the remaining juniors. Only a few could be found in the firm's tax, restructuring & insolvency, and executive compensation & ERISA departments. All departments have a designated assignment coordinator to dole out the work, “but like many firms the matters you get end up coming through a mixture of the formal process and then just the people who you gravitate to.”
Corporate is split into seven subgroups: asset management; capital markets & corporate governance; corporate real estate; finance; M&A & private equity; environmental; and IP transactional. Associates are placed in a specific group when they start but do have the option to move around after six months if they want to. Quite a few of our sources had worked in the asset management subgroup, which “represents both fund sponsors and investment managers – we advise on organizational matters, and also help funds to comply with regulations.” For juniors, this involved “helping to renew subscription documents; negotiating with the other side during transactions; communicating with overseas parties; drafting agreements; and researching issues that come up.” Overall, interviewees felt that they'd “received a large degree of responsibility – I've taken the lead on parts of the transaction and I've enjoyed that.”
“We work on some really flashy and notable developments, which is exciting!”
Litigators reported taking on “an interesting array of work,” which spanned the likes of “class actions over car parts; shareholder disputes over mergers; bankruptcy cases; employment matters; and the more general contract-related fallouts. Fried likes to make you more of a generalist right off the bat, so you have knowledge of lots of things.” Work-wise, sources relayed that “on some cases you'll be doing first-year tasks – like doc review, research and drafting discovery documents – but on other cases you can do more advanced stuff like writing briefs, contributing to strategy and decision-making and second-chairing depositions, which is a lot of fun.” New Yorkers told us that “the department here is relatively small compared to our peers, so we have leaner teams. You're not one of 50 first-years staffed on one case forever – that experience isn't possible here.”
The real estate department “on the whole has a focus on New York, but works on transactions all over.” These deals cover matters from joint venture formations to acquisitions and dispositions. Insiders had been “advising clients on zoning and other land-related matters, as well as seeking government approvals.” They found that “there's no upper limit when it comes to taking responsibility in this department; I have calls and meetings with clients, and I've drafted the application materials that are submitted to the government.” The best thing about the group? “We work on some really flashy and notable developments, which is exciting!”
“I think pro bono is one area where the firm truly excels,” juniors told us. “The firm's dedication is, quite frankly, stellar. Up to 300 hours count toward our billable target, so the firm really does put its money where its mouth is.” All associates are also required to bill a minimum of 20 hours in order to qualify for a bonus. “The firm seriously pushes it and expects it – our pro bono coordinator constantly sends out opportunities via email, but people also just get one another involved, which is cool.”
“The firm's dedication is, quite frankly, stellar.”
The firm works with organizations like Her Justice, Planned Parenthood and Lambda Legal. Our sources had taken on a range of work; some had gone to the family court to appeal immigration rulings; others had delved into the stream of criminal cases overseen by the Southern District of New York; and a few had focused on more corporate matters by “drafting contracts for small businesses that are starting to think big.”
Pro bono hours
- For all US attorneys: 33,291
- Average per US attorney: 68.2
Training & Development
All new associates complete a week-long orientation in New York before joining their own practice groups. “They call it Fried Frank Universityandyou spend all day in different classes that cover topics like writing, how to work with a secretary, billing, professional responsibility and client/attorney relationships – everything you need to know as a first-year they cover in that first week!” Monthly lunches and CLEs follow as part of the first-year attorney development series: “These take you through things like public speaking, accounting, and working through generational differences. The firm’s also really good about taking requests for CLEs and allowing you to attend external panels and conferences.”
“Everything you need to know as a first-year they cover in that first week!”
“It's a New York-headquartered law firm, so the pace is quicker and people do work hard, but they're kind too,” thought one junior, whose sentiments were shared by many other insiders. “We all share the goal of doing elite-level corporate and finance work, and everyone really cares about the end product, but there's a lack of formality for formality's sake. There's no culture of mean yelling; the environment is collaborative; and the hierarchy is fairly flat.” Regular meetings that keep associates in the loop bolster this sense of 'togetherness.' Fried's chairman, David Greenwald, hosts “biannual meetings with associates, in which he lays out the firm's recent performance and its plans for improvement. He's very frank about how the firm's doing.”
Juniors also felt that having lots of different things to chat about helped to foster close bonds. “Everyone here has interests that are not generic,” summed up one interviewee. “I know someone who's writing a fantasy novel, someone else who was a yoga teacher, someone else who was a speech writer for Hillary Clinton… People come from very different backgrounds and life experiences, and that makes things interesting.” This all bodes well for a fair amount of socializing at the firm, and we heard about “monthly associate lunches; 'dessert Thursdays'; attorney cocktail parties; and a big summer blowout at Central Park Zoo.”
Hours & Compensation
If juniors bill 2,000 hours they become eligible for a full bonus. Our sources generally found this target manageable, especially as up to 300 hours of pro bono and 125 hours of qualified non-billable work (like marketing, recruitment and business development activities)can count toward it. “The firm is good and really flexible with bonuses,” interviewees explained. “If you bill between 1,850 and 2,000 you qualify for a partial bonus; between 2,000 and 2,200 you get a full one; and between 2,200 and 2,400 you get an extra percentage; and beyond 2,450 you get a super bonus!”
“The firm is good and really flexible with bonuses.”
Does this bonus-related flexibility have any impact on the hours worked by juniors? In corporate, “there is an expectation that you'll be responsive for most of the day, including outside of office hours, but that's not really specific to our firm.” Litigators, on the other hand, said they “have worked on the weekends, but haven't been slammed – generally it's been very manageable,” while real estaters had “worked late nights and weekends, but there's no fake urgency; you work late only when something is really important.”
What are the firm's New York digs like? “Totally nice,” one source summed up casually, while another expanded: “Our office is on the southern tip of Manhattan with a gorgeous view of the water. All the offices have huge windows and there’s a lot of wood around so it’s got a very old-world law firm feel.” Juniors were also keen to tell us about the associates lounge, which comes complete with “snacks, a TV and a ping pong table. It's part of an initiative to create more collaborative spaces, and it's turned out to be a nice feature.”
“There are ongoing and transparent conversations about how we're going to ensure we're a diverse firm, especially when it comes to the partnership and promotions,” juniors revealed. On the whole, interviewees felt that Fried was making progress, and praised the efforts of the firm's diversity and inclusion director, as well as its “numerous affinity groups, which are very active.” The focus is also on the make up of incoming classes; sources involved in recruitment told us: “We recruit through our affinity groups at law schools and have summer 'buddy' programs to further encourage diversity.”
Associates involved in recruiting told us: “What characterizes the people we’re excited about is that they’re exceptionally smart – and that doesn’t mean that they simply have the best grades. These are people who you speak to and see them understanding and questioning things on a different and superior level.” Other juniors that we spoke to also touched upon this, and explained that during interviews “we'll be looking for those who are able to talk intelligently about their interests and experiences. We'll ask you thoughtful questions to draw that out instead of quizzing you on rule 45 of federal procedure!” If rule 45 is all you can talk about, there may be a problem, as “we value intellectual curiosity that goes beyond the law. People with diverse and serious interests are well liked here. We are very conscious of ensuring that there’s no particular mold of lawyer at Fried.”
Honesty is always the best policy, as “we're a firm that will give you more points for being yourself. Don't hide yourself away.The firm looks for genuine people rather than those wearing a pristine mask. People here are generally a little quirky and fun – maybe even slightly nerdy!”
Notable summer events: Jerry Seinfeld Comedy Show; Cooking Class; Yankees Baseball Game; Washington Nationals Baseball Game; Casino Night; Shakespeare in the Park; Central Park Zoo; Dinner at Whitney Museum of Modern Art
Interview with chairman David Greenwald
Chambers Associate:Have there been any developments at the firm over the last 12 months that our readers should know about?
David Greenwald: Fiscal year 2018 has been another strong year of growth for the firm. We remain focused on serving our clients’ most challenging and complex matters, and this focus drives everything we do. Globally, our strategy has been to grow our core practices – asset management, M&A, private equity, real estate, capital markets, finance, tax and litigation – and to align the practices in our European offices with these core strengths. To that end, we have added six lateral partners, five lateral special counsel and 26 lateral associates this year, and welcomed an incoming associate class of 69 to further increase our capacity to serve our clients and to tackle new and exciting challenges.
As a firm, we achieved this level of success as a result of the talent and dedication of our people, which is why we are always looking for ways to better address their needs. This year, we updated our associate parental leave policy to address the unique challenges that new parents face. The policy has been amended to be gender neutral and to allow new parents to take leave at any time during the first 12 months of a child’s arrival, among other things. We also continue to offer professional development opportunities to attorneys – from first-year associates to partners – so we can perform at our best, and we create opportunities for rising talent to work on cutting-edge matters and build strong relationships with clients.
The firm has provided counsel on several significant matters this year. For example, we represented Sinclair Broadcast Group in its acquisition of Tribune Media Company for $3.879 billion, and, as a result of this transaction, Sinclair-owned and operated TV stations will cover 72% of US households in 108 TV markets nationwide. We also represented Bain Capital Private Equity in the formation of Bain Capital Fund XII, which closed with $9.4 billion in aggregate commitments. In litigation, we represented a former Bank of America Merrill Lynch executive in the successful settlement of securities violation claims. And we continue to work on many projects in real estate. From counseling Related Companies on various aspects of the development at Hudson Yards, to our representation of Brookfield Asset Management in many of their transactions, our work in the real estate space continues to be transformational.
CA:Where do you see the firm in five years’ time?
DG: We will continue to build our core practices, with our clients at the forefront of everything that we do, and be as prepared as we can for whatever happens in the markets so that we provide our clients with excellent client service and remain the go-to firm for their most challenging and sophisticated matters. Another growing focus is cybersecurity and, recognizing how significant this is, the firm will continue to invest in security systems to protect client confidentiality. We also continue to invest in our associates because they are the future of the firm, and I am excited to see what the future will hold when they are in leadership.
CA:How would you describe the ideal Fried Frank lawyer?
DG: We pride ourselves on the notion that there are no two Fried Frank lawyers who are alike; no specific mold into which someone needs to fit. Ask any lawyer at the firm and they will tell you that they are comfortable being themselves. But to be successful in a demanding profession, it is important to remember that we are in a client service business. We are looking for lawyers who work hard, are dedicated, proactive and have the ability to solve problems. In addition, the law is constantly changing and we look for individuals who are excited to continue to learn, and be resilient in the face of inevitable career challenges.
CA:What does Fried Frank offer associates that is unique?
DG: What makes Fried Frank unique for associates is our offering of preeminent training, mentoring and opportunities to work for sophisticated and elite clients. One example of this is Fried Frank University (FFU), our comprehensive orientation program designed by Attorney Development and Human Resources to introduce our incoming associates to the firm and assist with the start of their legal careers. The initial phase of FFU in the autumn helps to transition recent law school graduates from academia into practice. The second phase, held in the spring, involves a series of workshops on accounting and writing techniques. There is a program for third-year associates to facilitate the move from junior to mid-level associate, focusing on topics such as negotiation, client management and business development. The curriculum for senior associates has a particular focus on helping them become effective client managers.
We also offer a comprehensive business development training series to provide our attorneys with opportunities to improve their client service, networking and business development skills. In addition, we provide training to our partners about delivering performance reviews so that they are equipped to provide associates with substantive and useful feedback.
More on feedback at Fried Frank
When it comes to feedback, the review system is “pretty robust. You fill out upward and downward reviews of associates, and in turn the people you've worked with write up evaluations of you. Your department manager then creates a one-page summary of the comments, which you get given a day before you sit down with two partners to discuss your progress.” Some did feel that the written feedback could be “quite generic, like 'great research,' which doesn't have much value.” However, others praised the regular check-ins they received: “Everyone here is friendly, and so you get plenty of informal feedback over the course of a project.”
Interview with hiring partners Mark Hayek and Randi Lally, and director of legal recruiting Nancy Parker
Chambers Associate: Have there been any changes to your recruiting drive over the last twelve months?
Nancy Parker: Our recruitment strategy is always to get the best talent from all of the law schools where we recruit. We are looking for well-rounded individuals: those who are hard-working, dedicated, driven and who possess a desire to give back to the community. We’ve stayed pretty consistent throughout the years with the universe of schools where we recruit and we are working to increase our visibility and brand awareness. We want recruits to understand that Fried Frank is a place where you will be trained, valued and be part of the 'FFF' – the Fried Frank Family. We continue to build on all of our training programs, particularly Fried Frank University and our business development programs, so that our associates feel prepared to face any challenges that might come up in the day-to-day practice of law.
CA: What is the firm doing to encourage diversity in recruiting?
NP: We recently hired a new director of diversity and inclusion in May 2017. Recruitment and Professional Development has partnered with him to make sure we’re focusing our efforts in the right way, whether that’s relating to women, people of color or LGBTQ recruits and associates. We want to make sure that the candidate and associate experience is top-notch and effective. We continue to grow our relationship with targeted outreach programs like the City Bar and SEO organizations; we host citywide receptions and continue to sponsor student affinity group organizations. Fried Frank has a tremendous commitment to diversity and inclusion. We are proud that we continue to attract diverse students.
Randi Lally: We’ve also been introducing other initiatives at a more senior level to make the firm an even more engaged place when it comes to diversity and inclusion.
CA: What advice would you give candidates preparing to interview at Fried Frank?
Mark Hayek: Be engaged with the firm and make it clear you’ve done a bit of homework on us. People really appreciate that – it makes someone seem more serious. It doesn’t take long but it pays strong dividends when people make the effort.
RL: People should be prepared to talk about themselves and their story – why they’re doing what they’re doing. We’re always interested to learn about that so people should be comfortable and confident talking about themselves.
CA: Do you have any examples of when a candidate has stood out at interview?
RL: One thing that impresses us is when people are prepared to talk about things they’ve overcome and how hard they’ve worked. Another thing is just enthusiasm – I enjoy meeting and interviewing people who are excited and in my mind that’s what stands out and makes me want to hire someone.
MH: I know it’s hard to do, but selling yourself is important. Some people are overly shy and don’t want to sound like they’re bragging but you need to tell your story and be positive about the attributes that make you a great candidate, not in an abrasive way but in a confident, straightforward way. Talk about yourself the way your mom or dad would talk about your accomplishments, although I know this isn’t 100% intuitive for people in their early twenties applying for their first jobs.
CA:What does the firm offer associates that is unique?
MH: My line is that we’re a small big firm. We’re a full-service firm offering the full suite of BigLaw departments, but we’re a firm of just about 500 lawyers, which creates a very different culture from a firm of 2,000 lawyers.
Pro bono opportunities: Immigration; Family Law; Housing; Criminal Defense; Civil Rights Litigation; Transactional matters for certain small businesses and not-for-profit organizations.
Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP
One New York Plaza,
- Head Office: New York, NY
- Number of domestic offices: 2
- Number of international offices: 2
- Worldwide revenue: $634.9 million
- Partners (US): 122
- Associates (US): 298
- Main recruitment contact: Nancy Parker (firstname.lastname@example.org)
- Hiring partners: Randi Lally and Mark Hayek (NY); Jonathan DeFosse and Michelle Gold (DC)
- Diversity officer: Asker Saeed
- Recruitment details
- Entry-level associates starting in 2018: 60
- Clerking policy: Yes
- Summers joining/anticipated 2018: 71 1Ls 3, 2Ls 68, SEO 2
- Summers joining/anticipated 2018 split by office: NY: 61; DC: 10 Summer salary 2018: 2Ls: $ 3,462/week
- Split summers offered? Case by case
- Can summers spend time in an overseas office? No
Main areas of work
American; Boston College; Boston University; Brooklyn; SUNY Buffalo; Cardozo; University of Chicago; Columbia; Cornell; Duke; Fordham; George Mason; Georgetown; George Washington; Harvard; Hofstr a; Howard; Michigan; New York Law; Northwestern; NYU; Penn; Rutgers; St. John’s; Toronto; UVA and Yale.
Recruitment outside OCIs:
Loyola Patent Job Fair, Lavender Law
Summer associate profile:
Our summer associate program is a critical part of our recruiting process. In hiring summer associates, we look for energetic, motivated candidates who demonstrate a high level of intellectual ability, curiosity, and creativity, as well as a strong interest in working in a collegial setting.
Summer program components:
During the program, summer associates receive meaningful work assignments in a variety of practice areas, as well as attend court, client meetings, drafting and negotiation sessions and closings. They are also given significant opportunities to work on a range of pro bono matters. Each summer associate is matched with one partner mentor and two associate mentors who review and provide feedback on assignments and guide them through the program. Working closely and socializing with partners, counsel and associates, our summer associates leave the program with a clear understanding of what Fried Frank can offer them as a place to begin their legal careers.
This Firm's Rankings in
Chambers USA Guide 2017
District of Columbia
- Corporate/M&A & Private Equity (Band 2)
- Real Estate (Band 3)
- Tax (Band 2)
- Corporate/M&A: The Elite (Band 4)
- Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation (Band 3)
- Litigation: General Commercial: Highly Regarded (Band 2)
- Litigation: White-Collar Crime & Government Investigations (Band 3)
- Real Estate: Mainly Corporate & Finance (Band 3)
- Real Estate: Mainly Dirt (Band 1)
- Tax (Band 3)
USA - Nationwide
- Banking & Finance (Band 4)
- Capital Markets: Debt & Equity (Band 4)
- Corporate/M&A: The Elite (Band 4)
- Government Contracts (Band 4)
- Investment Funds: Hedge Funds (Band 2)
- Investment Funds: Private Equity: Fund Formation (Band 2)
- Private Equity: Buyouts (Band 3)
- Real Estate (Band 2)
- Tax: Corporate & Finance (Band 2)