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

Whether it’s real estate, capital markets or private equity, from a small collection of offices Fried Frank is “competing with some of the biggest law firms in the world.”

In the world of BigLaw, Fried Frank offers something relatively unique. A commercial expertise capable of “competing with some of the biggest firms in the world,” but with the draw of a small firm-feel. Not to mention it’s HQ nestled in the bustling New York market. Known for its strong reputation in capital markets, private equity, and real estate, it has been awarded strong nationwide rankings from Chambers USA in all three, with a top-tier nod in hedge funds to boot. In short, FF ticks all the boxes for associates looking for a corporate firm “with a very strong level of practice across all of its groups,” with clients ranging from the world’s biggest companies and financial institutions to investment funds on the cutting-edge.

“The firm attracts people with good vibes!”

The firm’s headcount is split between offices in New York, DC, London, Frankfurt and Brussels. Associates at the firm were quick to highlight the fact that the firm’s investment in its areas of strength hasn’t come at the expense of its people: “The emphasis has always been on creating a strong practice without sacrificing culture,” one told us. So, what did that look like for the current crop? As one associate so neatly put it: “The firm attracts people with good vibes!”

Strategy & Future

There’s no getting past it, big change is on the horizon at Fried Frank, with a new leadership team announced for 2024. Kenneth Rosh – a leading global funds partner and head of the private equity funds group – has been appointed as the firm’s chair, alongside a newly established leadership team. But new doesn’t always mean change – the firm’s New York office has recently undergone a refurb, “demonstrating an intention to stay” at 1 New York Plaza. Associates told us that the refurb has waved goodbye to “brown and eighties vibe floors,” and in doing so paved the way for a welcoming “new and modern layout,” which sounded like a relief to everyone!

The Work

Most of Fried Frank’s corporate associates were based in the New York office, with the remainder housed in Washington DC. The entirety of the associates on our list sat within the broad corporate group across practices like asset management, capital markets, corporate finance, intellectual property & tech, and M&A private equity. Work in each of the practices is distributed by the relevant practice manager: “You can try out different things by expressing an interest to the practice manager, and partners can informally ask you to work on a deal,” one explained, “so it’s a good balance.” The benefit of this setup is that “you don’t feel like you need to befriend partners just for work. So there’s no competitiveness when there is that fair distribution.”

“If you demonstrate the ability to really engage, they will give you the opportunity to jump onto things…”

The asset management practice is split between teams in private equity fund formation and alternative investment. In private equity, “work involves fundraising for funds largely in the energy and infrastructure space, mostly with sponsor clients,” one told us. Those we spoke to described “providing legal advice and guiding sponsors” as the “bread and butter” of their practice, involving tasks like “drafting the relevant legal documents, the subscription of funds, walking clients through to the closing of investment, and post-closing maintenance.” One benefit highlighted by our interviewees was that “the smaller funds mean that the more senior associates and partners can see what you’re doing.” Nervous? Don’t panic: “If you demonstrate the ability to really engage, they will give you the opportunity to jump onto things, and at that point, you will be dealing with substantive work.”

For associates specializing on the alternative investment side, fund formation for investment vehicles and portfolios shapes the work across both small and large-scale funds. Those we spoke to enthused about the range of work on offer, with the opportunity to “quarterback a lot of these deals.” How so? “By keeping track of the status of everything. Often times, you’re responsible for communicating with investors, checking that things are resolved and getting that signed off by partners.” Typical junior associate tasks included drafting “side letters, comment notes, and offer memorandums.”

Asset management clients: BlackRock, J.P. Morgan, Goldman Sachs. Represented DE Shaw with the formation of DE Shaw Voltaic Fund and DE Shaw Diopter Fund raising $1.1 billion in total commitments.

“…we helped a guy realize his dream when he sold his company for X million dollars.”

The M&A and private equity practice is split four ways into public, private, stakes & seat deals, and financial work. In New York and DC, we heard that teams “work seamlessly” on deals and transactions from acquisitions and portfolio companies to corporate governance work. Associates were quick to point out that the firm “helped pioneer” a seats and stakes practice in the industry four or five years ago; the team works on GP stake portfolio sales, portfolio IPOs, and GP stake asset-backed securitizations. Juniors recalled getting “involved early with due diligence and drafting, sourcing a precedent and bringing it to a senior, managing signing and closing checklists, and coordinating with specialists and opposing counsel.” For a number of our interviewees, client contact was a particular highlight: “There has been a number of times where clients would call me to tell me how grateful they were,” one enthused, “on one of those deals, we helped a guy realize his dream when he sold his company for X million dollars.”

M&A and private equity clients: T-Mobile, Hellman & Friedman, Monarch Alternative Capital. Represented CVS Health in its $8 billion agreement to acquire health risk assessment provider Signify Health.

Associates working out of Fried Frank’s corporate finance practice can expect to touch on work covering the “securing of funds, financing and leveraged finance” for borrowers and lenders such as banks, private equity or portfolio companies. Within the firm’s client pool, keen eyes will spot “some of the world’s major banks and Fortune 500 companies, most of which have an office in New York, London or Hong Kong,” quipped one associate. As one put it: “As a practice it’s constantly evolving - whether it’s changing interest rates or swapping/joining lenders. So whatever the terms are, we are there throughout.” Those we spoke to were positive about the amount of responsibility on offer too: “I’ve been given a ton,” one told us, “I am a junior managing tasks, sending emails and in some cases I’ve been able to be the lead, coordinating with another junior and senior associate.” Typical junior associate tasks included “checking with the opposing counsel when running a deal, interfacing with clients, deal management, sending signature pages, and sometimes even taking a stab at any changes that have been made in review.”

Corporate finance clients: Futures Industry Association, Proshares, SIFMA. Advised USB, TD Securities and the Bank of Novia Scotia on the structured products market, and 5,400 structured products issuances.

Career Development

“If you want to specialize or diversify, they will tell you what you need to do to get there.”

Upon joining the firm, new starters will be assigned a partner and a mid-level associate as mentors. Interviewees spoke of advice coming from both formal and informal mentors as, “very helpful. If you want to specialize or diversify, they will tell you what you need to do to get there. They provide good career advice and teach you the ropes.” Training as a whole at the firm received a solid thumbs up: “The learning curve is definitely steep, but with the resources we’ve been given, I have come so far, and that is exciting!” Formal feedback arrives in the form of mid and end of year reviews, but there is also an online platform – called Feed Forward – where associates can request feedback, and a partner feedback program. While it was understandably early to talk about future career progression for many of our interviewees, Fried Frank has a career advisor on hand when the time comes. Associates said similar things about the path to partnership too, with one telling us that “just last Thursday the chairman gave a presentation about what they expected from those going for partnership (from eighth year onwards). It helps ground you as to what you need to focus on to be considered. So many partners began their careers here. Of course it is difficult, but it is helpful to have that emphasis from the firm.”

Hours & Compensation

Billable hours: 2,000 target for full bonus; 1,850 for eligibility for partial bonus

For first year associates – you’ll be pleased to hear – a pro-rated bonus is guaranteed, “which is nice, especially when you’re still getting acclimatized.” Bonus eligibility starts at 1,850, with 2,000 the cut off for a full bonus. For associates that move beyond that, there’s an additional tier of “super bonuses.” Of course, the top-tier of hours targets can be impacted by market slowdowns throughout the year, but associates told us that typically “it’s achievable if you want it. Almost everyone is capable of the 1850 bonus especially.” The general consensus among associates was that Fried Frank was “very generous in how they reward you for the stuff you do for the firm.” A further 125 hours can be accredited for business development, recruitment and affinity hours.

All attorneys at the firm come into the office Tuesday through Thursday. When it came to hours, “it isn’t like there is an M&A schedule, for example, but you can foresee the busier times.” One junior noted that there are “days where there could be fourteen hours of billable – but then some weeks nothing,” although this was the exception rather than the rule. “If you need to do something at night or over the weekend, people are genuinely apologetic, and partners make sure you are appreciated,” one finance associate added. That said, associates were keen to clarify that weekend work only happens during the busiest windows: “It’s rare.I leave my laptop in the office regularly and don’t take work home.”


Of course, BigLaw can be an intimidating prospect. As one put it: “You expect a formality and a weird professionality.” But Fried Frank’s associates were quick to point out that “you aren’t treated as a cog in the machine, boundaries are respected.” In fact, one went as far as to say that: “Everyone works hard, and there is a team atmosphere where people pitch in for others when they are working on other matters.” Being a smaller sized firm, “you can get to know a lot of people very well,” one explained, “every month a practice manager goes through the monthly birthday celebrations, and one partner keeps making carrot cake!” Sign us up! Social gatherings are often hosted in the DC and New York offices, with associates unanimous that “the firm makes the effort for us to get together.” There was even mention of traditional holiday parties, charity walks, non-profit tables, team karaoke, casual dinners, and drinks, as well as outings to Broadway shows and sports events.

Pro Bono

“Day to day I work with money where it is not life or death, but housing is a human right!”

We heard that “people have different interests,” so “it feels like there is a good mix” of pro-bono opportunities ranging from: voting rights, immigration (citizenship/employment), family (custodial/divorce) – of which a new initiative with a women’s prison sponsored by VOLS, called Incarcerated Mothers Law Project, was highlighted – name change clinics, and housing matters. All of which are circulated daily by the pro-bono coordinator. Of course, pro-bono opportunities can often feel litigation heavy, but corporate opportunities do exist where associates can take an advisory role. One such example is the Legal Services of Hudson Valley, which was repeatedly mentioned by interviewees: “The housing clinic is my absolute favorite, I’m invested in what happens. Day to day I work with money where it is not life or death, but housing is a human right!” There is a 20-hour minimum pro-bono requirement for associates at Fried Frank, with 300 hours which can be contributed to the end of year bonus – “it just speaks to how the partnership views its pro-bono practice.”

Pro bono hours

  • For all (US) attorneys: undisclosed
  • Average per (US) attorney: undisclosed

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

Sources recognized and “appreciate that the firm is trying in the DEI space.” We heard from one asset management source that: “I look at my class, and it seems pretty diverse, but at the partnership level it could do with some improvement.” Associates were also quick to highlight the firm’s Mansfield 6.0 Certification as “a big step.”Another interviewee spoke proudly of the “Pride Alliance and Women’s Forum being very well attended. There was a Pride bingo event, and a women’s forum with different speakers.” There was also the mention of a new initiative, the Attorneys of Color Retreat which was themed Fostering Career Success this year. More than 120 attorneys, including associates, special counsel, and partners attended the two-day retreat.

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. We encourage candidates to apply directly to us; we are open to early recruitment outside of the campus and job fair programs.” 

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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