Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP - The Inside View

Let’s be Frank: this New Yorker is comparatively small in BigLaw terms but packs a mighty punch when it comes to global asset management, real estate and finance work.

“We are the advisers to the elite of Wall Street and global finance,” declares chairman David Greenwald when we ask him about Fried Frank’s market position. When it comes to hedge fund and private equity work, you’ll be hard pushed to find a firm that does it better, as FF’s Chambers USA nationwide accolades reveal. The firm has other strong suits of course: its New York HQ is particularly well regarded for its real estate capabilities (both transactional and litigious), while in DC the firm’s general commercial litigation work comes to the fore. Across the board, the firm is well known for its tax expertise and its robust white-collar crime and government investigations practice.

“The past five years have been a big growth period for the firm.”

Greenwald confirms that FF’s core practices remain asset management; capital markets and finance; litigation; M&A and private equity; real estate; restructuring and insolvency; and tax. The firm has undergone a growth spurt in recent years, and in 2022 absorbed 30 financial services lawyers and business services professionals from Cadwalader. Greenwald is also keen to highlight the firm’s status as a destination for those returning from senior government positions, including two former US Attorneys for the Southern District of New York (Geoffrey Berman and Audrey Strauss) and a former Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the DOJ’s Antitrust Division (Richard Powers). These hires, Greenwald points out, have bolstered and driven expansion in the firm’s litigation practice.

TOP READ: Becoming a funds and investment management lawyer - the view from Fried Frank

Areas like capital markets and litigation were attractive to our associate interviewees, who also highlighted the firm’s personable edge (“the people are very humble – not like stereotypical partners or senior associates!”). FF also has humble dimensions for a BigLaw firm: it retains a modest scope of just two US bases (in New York and DC) and three overseas offices (Brussels, London and Frankfurt). However, the firm’s humility doesn’t obscure its ambition, as this associate noted: “The past five years have been a big growth period for the firm. It’s been finding new markets for growth, investing in new partners, and building up areas like white-collar, antitrust, and IP. They want to bring the best of the best to the firm.” The vast majority of the associates on our list were based in New York.

Strategy & Future

The focus at FF is still on “serving as the go-to firm for our clients’ most complex and sophisticated matters,” Greenwald explains. When it comes to practice area priorities, “we are seeing a more aggressive enforcement environment in the US, led by the DOJ and the SEC, which has prompted us to strengthen our regulatory and financial services capabilities to better serve our client base.” Commenting on the market-wide slowdown in transactional work, Greenwald remains “hopeful about experiencing an uptick in public M&A, IPOs, and other dealmaking activities in 2023.” 

The Work

FF’s extensive corporate department held the most associates on our list, but the firm’s litigation and real estate groups also took on a significant number. Other departments represented included restructuring and insolvency, tax, and antitrust. All groups had centralized work coordinators on hand to help dish out the work, which was well received by our sources. A corporate junior commented that the system has “worked brilliantly so far – it's great to have that person in-between, as they help to moderate the workload and keep track.” Litigators also liked the setup: “You never have to worry because the work is always being managed. It’s a busy general litigation practice, so you’re expected to contribute to anything and as a result get staffed on a variety of matters.”

“My favorite thing is getting involved with the clients, and the partners and senior associates are really supportive of that.”

There are subgroups aplenty in corporate, covering asset management; capital markets; corporate finance; corporate real estate; M&A and private equity; financial services; IP and tech; and environmental. Capital markets sources told us that “we represent many public issuer clients and companies that are looking to go public with corporate governance work. We do debt and equity work, and there’s quite a bit of overlap with leveraged finance work as well.” Tasks here included “explaining what the government advice is for a public company, as well as doing the initial drafts of public filings and forms. I’ll manage the deal checklist and cover document control and inputs. My favorite thing is getting involved with the clients, and the partners and senior associates are really supportive of that.” Corporate finance sources had been “assisting with tasks that show they are trusting of us, like drafting ancillary documents. You get to work on a lot of matters from start to finish, including those with long-term clients like giant asset management funds on their subscription finance matters.”

Corporate clients: T-Mobile, CVS Health, J.P. Morgan. Acted as counsel to Permira during its $5.8 billion agreement to take private Mimecast Limited. 

In litigation, “you will get more senior work if you show you’re capable.” For one associate this meant access to arbitration matters at any early stage: “One of the partners said to me, ‘Did you think that four months in you would be supporting two partners with this kind of work?’ I was extremely happy and it was well worth the effort that I put into it!” Others told us that they’d been “focused on research but also drafting court filings – with the documents you could be writing, reviewing or making amendments.” For this source, “litigation hasn’t been a disappointment – I came here because I wanted to work on stuff that was in the news, and I’ve been able to do that out of this growing practice.” FF’s litigation practice spans the likes of general commercial cases, white collar-crime and government investigations, and securities matters. Chambers USA especially commends the department for representing financial services clients on international cases, as well as for its know-how when it comes to regulatory disputes.

Litigation clients: New York Department of Health, Deutsche Bank, API Technology. Fended off a motion for a preliminary injunction that would have ordered API Technology to fire its newly instated CEO on the basis of contractual noncompete clauses and allegations of misuse of information from their prior employer.

Career Development

New associates are assigned both an associate mentor and a partner mentor, while summers are assigned two associate ‘buddies’: “One of my buddies was a mid-level and the other was more junior – that was ideal as you felt much closer to them because they were just in your shoes. One thing the firm could do better is making the senior mentors more accessible.” Other interviewees told us that “we had a lot of training initially, but that has slowed down a little – it would be good to have more specific training in capital markets, on things like decoding legal language, for example.” Greenwald tells us that the firm has just implemented “a new initiative called FeedForward, which is designed to promote consistent, project-based guidance that will stimulate professional development in ways that will benefit individuals, departments, the firm, and our clients.” 

“This is definitely an environment in which I can see myself growing and staying.”

The annual review process was felt to be highly structured and detailed: “They email you with various instructions and you log onto a portal that tells you who you interacted with more so you can assign reviewers. It’s very streamlined.” Interviewees were also glad to tell us that FF conducts 360 reviews that allow juniors to appraise those in levels above them. “This is definitely an environment in which I can see myself growing and staying,” a satisfied source told us. A career adviser is on hand to help associates with their progression, but for many of our interviewees it was still early days: “I’m relatively junior, so I haven’t spoken much about progression, but the chairman has told us that there is a partner track and that there are different routes to becoming partner.”


We regularly hear concerns about BigLaw firms being “aloof” and “hypercompetitive,” but our sources told us this wasn’t the case at FF. The culture was felt to be “one of the firm’s strongest points. We have to deliver and it’s a hard job, but they don’t want to make it any harder than it has to be. We’re respectful to one another and always offer help and our availability. You can walk down the hall, knock on the door, say hi and ask a question, or just pick up the phone and ask. Equally, people won’t call you at 3am and expect you to be available!”

“...we're one of the louder floors!”

“It is what you make of it,” another commented, “but the people who come here generally want to hang out with their co-workers, chat over coffee, and build relationships.” The litigators in New York were described as “very social people – we’re one of the louder floors!”, but corporate juniors also said that “we enjoy having lunches together and we really try to put on social events to get to know each other.” In the hybrid world that isn’t always easy (“it’s harder to socialize”), but at the same time many sources were glad that FF appreciated that its attorneys have lives beyond work: “My group is very family-friendly,” said a corporate source. “I’ve had partners and senior counsel tell me, ‘You’ll never remember the deals you were on, but you will remember the family events that you missed – it's important for you to go to these events.’”

Pro Bono

Almost 100% of survey respondents agreed that the pro bono opportunities offered by FF were both meaningful and engaging. “There is a surprising amount of pro bono, and it is just as important as billable work,” we were told. FF certainly has a more generous billable pro bono threshold than many of its competitors: up to 300 hours can count toward the billing target. It’s therefore commonplace for “everyone to always have at least one pro bono matter going on.” There’s a pro bono coordinator who “sends out regular emails and expects people to reach out and get involved.” For corporate associates, pro bono often looks like “helping nonprofit and for-profit organizations in the local community, so we’ll do general contract negotiations and cover other corporate arrangements.” Litigators spoke of “a large spectrum of matters,” including immigration, voting, and abortion rights, as well as wrongful convictions. “It isn’t hollow, they really do care about it,” concluded one source, while another highlighted that “we are strongly encouraged to do at least 20 pro bono hours each year!”

Pro bono hours:

  • For all US offices: undisclosed
  • Average per US attorney: undisclosed

Hours & Compensation

Billable hours: 2,000 target for market-level bonus, 1,850 for bonus eligibility

Our interviewees didn’t express any concerns about not hitting the billable target, with this one stating that “it’s pretty achievable – what's being dished out is enough to hit it. I have enough work, even with the workforce expanding!” Bonus eligibility kicks in at 1,850 hours, while those who go above and beyond (and reach the heights of 2,200 and 2,450 hours) are eligible for super, above market bonuses (up to 30% above at the 2,450 mark). Juniors were also happy with the amount of pro bono and qualifying nonbillable hours that could count toward the target, with the latter comprising up to 125 hoursof DE&I, business development, mentoring, recruitment, and firm committee work. “It’s a significant amount of money,” a source said when reflecting on their compensation. “It’s on market!”

“You have to expect long hours in BigLaw, but the partners are always there if you’re doing too much – they check in on you.”

Areas like capital markets are “so up and down” in terms of hours: “The stock markets are slower at the moment, but during COVID it was so busy.” Another corporate junior commented: “I have lots of work now, but I do have to take time for myself. You have to expect long hours in BigLaw, but the partners are always there if you’re doing too much – they check in on you.” Realistically, “when it’s busy I’m billing 12 hours a day and working up to five hours at the weekend,” a finance source told us. Litigators, meanwhile, explained that they can be doing 50-hour weeks: “That’s on the higher end – if you’re hungry, they will reward you! If not, they’re fine with you doing what you’re assigned.”

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

Sources praised FF for being “conscious about diverse hiring, which you can see filtering through.” Interviewees also spoke highly of Stephanie Quappe, FF’s director of diversity and inclusion: “She’s amazing! Her strategy and events are not about stating intention – they are actually doing what needs to be done. She’s changing up our efforts to make them better.” We heard that the firm’s diversity and inclusion council “puts on one program a month, plus there are resources and groups that give the D&I team an opportunity to listen to associates’ comments and any concerns they may have.” This source summarized: “Of course there’s room for improvement, but compared to other firms, we’re doing quite well.” The litigation department in particular was described as having “more female and diverse partners compared to most groups, but we are still working towards equity in that space.” As this interviewee put it: “I would like to see more female partners and more partners of color – I would just love to see someone like me!”

Get Hired

The first stage: recruitment on and off campus

OCI applicants interviewed: undisclosed

Interviewees outside OCI: undisclosed

Fried Frank recruits at a wide range of law schools across the country. Fried Frank has previously held OCIs at the following schools: American; Boston College; Boston University; Brooklyn; SUNY Buffalo; Cardozo; University of Chicago; Columbia; Cornell; Duke; Emory, Fordham; George Mason; Georgetown; George Washington; Harvard; Hofstra; Howard; Michigan; New York Law; Northwestern; NYU; Penn; St. John’s; Texas; UVA; and Vanderbilt – as well as the Lavender Law Career Fair, Northeast Black Law Students Association (NEBLSA) Job Fair and the Southeast Minority Job Fair (SEMJF).  Our hiring source at the firm explains: “We are focused on getting talented candidates from a wide variety of law schools. Candidates can apply through the traditional methods, but we encourage direct outreach as well, especially if you have built a connection with us over the course of the academic year. We are not limited to on-campus programs and job fairs.”

Our hiring source tells us that the OCI process creates a time for firm and candidate to “get to know one another. Our approach is holistic.” Interviewers typically ask questions like “What is your favorite class; what makes it your favorite?  What are you enjoying most about law school?  We’ll ask students about summer work experiences and have them describe challenging moments. We want to try to learn as much about potential recruits as we can and hear about their interest in Fried Frank.”   

Top tips for this stage:

“Have confidence and keep calm.  Spend some time learning about the firm and what we do – we don’t expect you to be an expert but spending a lot of time talking about one’s interest in a practice area where we don’t have a significant presence isn’t a great use of either party’s time.” – Fried Frank hiring source.


Applicants invited to second stage interview: undisclosed

Callback interviews consist of a series of one-on-one interviews with two or three partners and two or three associates. “We create your tailored schedule based on information you provide to us,” our hiring source says. “Candidates can make specific requests about the types of attorneys they would like to meet based on practice area and other factors, such as gender, diversity, sexual orientation, law school and other specific interests.”

At callback level, questions will be asked to gauge whether “we relate to you on a professional and intellectual level. At the callback, we want to know why you are specifically interested in Fried Frank.  The questions at this stage may not look very different from the OCI stage, but they will be substantive.” Candidates should be prepared to go into detail about prior work experiences: “We may ask about classes, professors, research or writing assignments.  We want to get to the heart of your ability to be a team player and we may ask about challenging team experiences and environments.  Our goal is to make sure that Fried Frank is the right place for you.”

Top tips for this stage:

“They try to make sure each candidate meets with a junior and a senior associate – it gives you a little bit of a different perspective.” – a junior associate.

“Demonstrate confidence, enthusiasm, and professionalism. The callback interview will be tiring, but candidates who remain engaged and upbeat stand out. Candidates who come to us well-prepared with thoughtful questions about our practice areas and our firm community make an impression. A good sense of humor never hurts either!” – Fried Frank hiring source.

Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP

One New York Plaza,
New York,
NY 10004

Antitrust and competition; asset management; capital markets; corporate real estate; data strategy, security and privacy; digital assets and blockchain; environmental, social and governance (ESG); executive compensation and ERISA; finance; fund finance; financial services; financial products; financial regulation; intellectual property and technology; technology transactions; international trade and investment; litigation; antitrust litigation; bankrupty-related litigation; commercial litigations; government contracts; intellectual property litigation; international arbitration; m&a litigation; real estate litigation; securities and shareholder litigation; white collar defense, regulatory enforcement and investigations; m&a and private equity; asset management m&a; corporate governance; financial advisory; private equity transactions; strategic m&a; pro bono; real estate; acquistions and dispotions; borrower-side financing and restructuring; land use, zoning, and development; leasing; lender-side financing and restructuring; REIT; restructuring & insolvency; tax; trusts and estates.

Firm profile
Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP is a leading international law firm with offices in New York, Washington, DC, Brussels, Frankfurt and London. Our lawyers regularly advise the world’s leading corporations and financial institutions on their most critical legal needs and business opportunities.

Recruitment Law Schools attending for OCIs in 2023:
American; Boston College; Boston University; Brooklyn; Cardozo; University of Chicago; Columbia; Cornell; Duke; Emory, Fordham; George Mason; Georgetown; George Washington; Harvard; Hofstra; Howard; Michigan; New York Law; Northwestern; NYU; Penn; Texas; UVA; Vanderbilt; Washinton University; Washington & Lee

Recruitment outside OCIs:
SUNY Buffalo; Lavender Law; Loyola IP; NEBLSA; SEMJF; William & Mary

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, two associate advisors, and one first year associate buddy 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.

Social media:
Recruitment website:
Linkedin: Fried Frank
Twitter: @friedfrank
Instagram: @friedfrank

This Firm's Rankings in
USA Guide, 2023

Ranked Departments

    • Corporate/M&A & Private Equity (Band 2)
    • Litigation: General Commercial: Highly Regarded (Band 1)
    • Real Estate (Band 3)
    • Tax (Band 2)
    • Antitrust (Band 5)
    • Banking & Finance (Band 4)
    • Corporate/M&A: The Elite (Band 4)
    • Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation (Band 2)
    • Environment: Mainly Transactional (Band 3)
    • Litigation: General Commercial: Highly Regarded (Band 3)
    • Litigation: Securities (Band 4)
    • Litigation: White-Collar Crime & Government Investigations: The Elite (Band 2)
    • Private Equity: Buyouts (Band 3)
    • Real Estate: Litigation (Band 1)
    • Real Estate: Mainly Corporate & Finance (Band 2)
    • Real Estate: Mainly Dirt (Band 1)
    • Real Estate: Zoning/Land Use (Band 1)
    • Tax (Band 2)
    • Technology (Band 3)
    • Banking & Finance (Band 4)
    • Capital Markets: Equity: Issuer Counsel (Band 3)
    • Capital Markets: Investment Grade Debt: Issuer Counsel (Band 3)
    • Capital Markets: Investment Grade Debt: Manager Counsel (Band 3)
    • Capital Markets: Structured Products (Band 2)
    • Corporate Crime & Investigations: Highly Regarded (Band 2)
    • Corporate/M&A: The Elite (Band 4)
    • Derivatives (Band 2)
    • Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation (Band 4)
    • Financial Services Regulation: Broker Dealer (Compliance & Enforcement) (Band 4)
    • Government Contracts: The Elite (Band 3)
    • Hedge Funds (Band 1)
    • Private Equity: Buyouts: Mid-Market (Band 2)
    • Private Equity: Fund Formation (Band 2)
    • Real Estate (Band 2)
    • REITs (Band 5)
    • Tax: Corporate & Finance (Band 2)

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