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

Pronounced Freed Frank, this New York outfit gives associates the Fried-om to find their feet.

BIGGER fighters don’t always win the day – haven’t you seen Rocky IV? If you need more evidence, check out Fried Frank. Given it has just two US offices and two more overseas, the firm’s $776 million revenue figure is all the more impressive. “It’s a smaller firm that punches like a bigger one,” Rocky-minded interviewees said. “Fried Frank is a prestigious outfit, but it’s got that small-firm feel and an unrivaled depth of expertise in real estate.” 

TOP READ: Funds and investment management: For Fried Frank's asset management whizzes, it's the variety and ever-evolving nature of this practice that leads them to recommend becoming a lawyer in the area.

A more measured review of the firm’s strengths comes from Chambers USA: a top ranking in its home state of New York for real estate, plus major plaudits for litigation in the Big Apple; corporate, private equity and tax in DC; and investment funds, real estate and tax nationwide. “There’s a heavy focus on funds and real estate here,” according to juniors. “That provides opportunities to dive deep into all the permutations of those areas.” 

“Fried Frank is a prestigious outfit, but it’s got that small-firm feel.” 

Strategy & Future

Fried Frank’s financial future looks fab: the firm passed the $3 million profit-per-partner mark for the first time in 2019. “All the groups are growing, and in that sense we’re financially healthy,” one source noted. Peering into their crystal balls, sources predicted a growing focus on corporate and transactional work with litigation acting as a “support to corporate real estate and securities.” 

The Work

Most new arrivals join the New York team, though DC also recruits a sizable cohort. Corporate is the most popular practice group, followed by litigation, real estate (only available in New York) and tax. Each group has an assignment coordinator to help juniors in the early going before work builds up “like a snowball. You do good work for someone, then it cascades into more and more tasks.” 

Corporate splits into seven subgroups: asset management; capital markets and corporate governance; corporate real estate; M&A and private equity; finance; environmental; and IP transactions. New arrivals join one of these – juniors in M&A plunged into deals with public companies and private equity funds as well as “working with specialist alternative investment groups and buying stakes in other funds, rather than a portfolio company.” Deal admin and due diligence color early associate life but “if you can do more and put yourself forward, partners will give you primary documents to mark up.” Associates in asset management told a similar story: “There’s a lot of document review and I primarily work on documentation” on derivatives deals which also require regulatory guidance. Though they may often play a small role, juniors told us that “the work’s exceeded expectations; there are lots of opportunities for growth and development” if you’re proactive. 

Corporate clients: Sinclair Broadcast Group, Blackstone, Goldman Sachs. Represented Jacobs Engineering in the $3.3 billion sale of its energy, chemicals and resources segment to peer company WorleyParsons. 

“The work’s exceeded expectations; there are lots of opportunities for growth and development.” 

Litigation juniors start life at Fried Frank as generalists and can in theory source work in white-collar, securities, general corporate, insurance, family, and arbitration subdivisions. Some practices are more likely to appear on your docket than others: “If you know you want to do securities litigation or New York real estate disputes, great, but if you’re unsure what you like then be aware you’re definitely going to be doing those,” sources warned. Fried Frank’s clients are as varied as juniors’ workloads, which range from document review to preparing discovery requests and assisting depositions. “My experience has been unusually good compared to others who’ve done 50 hours of doc review a week for weeks on end,” a happy insider declared. “I think a lot of it is luck of the draw.” Others described working on opposition to a class certification and crafting arguments based on case law as highlights of their experience. 

Litigation clients: Under Armour, Perrigo, Tradeweb. Represented two former board members of The Weinstein Company in connection with allegations of workplace misconduct by the company’s former CEO. 

General and corporate real estate, land use, informal leasing and lender- and borrower-side financing all appear in real estate; by mid-level, associates “are focusing more on certain subgroups and get less variety.” The firm’s lender-side financing practice is growing but borrowers still make up the bulk of Fried Frank’s client base. New starters invariably handle due diligence and document review: “I think it can sometimes feel menial, but even as a junior you get pretty important tasks to do,” according to one third year. Examples included drafting loan agreements and other documents that sit below the main deal. 

Real estate clients: JP Morgan, WarnerMedia, Google. Acted as sole US counsel to The Children’s Investment Fund on various real estate loans and financings totaling more than $1 billion in value. 

Career Development 

Fried Frank University provides “a good grounding for the basics of what the firm does. Training never tends to be substantive in orientation, but it was a great opportunity to go to New York” for DC-based juniors. The firm also provides ongoing programs, but we heard that “the sessions aren’t hands-on enough and I would have benefited from certain things being taught rather than learning in abstract.” Some went deeper on their issues with feedback: “We have a lot of mentoring but it’s incumbent on the associate, you have to ask for feedback as most people tend to be very busy. Learning on the job is how you improve here.” The firm is introducing more regular formal feedback sessions to help improve things, which may also help to address issues some juniors had with lack of clarity surrounding the partner track. “Maybe there’s a door to Narnia, but as a junior it’s not been discussed.” Sources in DC felt that they had less chance of making that mystical land than their New York colleagues. 

“Maybe there’s a door to Narnia, but as a junior it’s not been discussed.” 

Pro Bono

Juniors were happy to note that “the firm is committed to pro bono and there are lots of opportunities available.” Fried Frank’s real estate specialty comes to the fore here: involvement with pro bono landlord/tenant disputes bolsters FF’s “strong reputation in the real estate space.” Other common cases include work with elderly legal services on will writing and counsel. “My impression is the firm leans to liberal causes,” a junior implied, citing a collaboration with the New York organization Her Justice in aid of women living in poverty. Associates also helped immigrants detained on the border and non-US citizens in the army or got involved with the firm’s partnership with the Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund. Yearly commitments vary – we heard of one associate clocking 450 hours – but at least 20 are required to hit bonus targets and associates can count up to 300 pro bono hours toward their annual target. 

Pro bono hours

  • For all US offices: 35,855.8
  • Average per US attorney: undisclosed

Hours & Compensation 

Billable hours: 2,000 target 

“Right now, we’re very busy and I’ll hit above 2,500 hours for the year.” Associates agreed that there’s plenty to go around: “It’s been very busy since I’ve got here and there’s never been a worry of not hitting target.” There’s incentive to above and beyond too: the firm awards additional incremental bonuses beyond 2,000 hours. As well as 300 hours of pro bono, associates can count 125 qualified ‘non-billables’ including hours spent on marketing, recruitment and business development. 

“I usually work a few hours on weekends, but I’ve never had to cancel plans.” 

Even the busiest took the demands of law firm life in their stride. “I billed four hours on Thanksgiving because there was a filing,” one revealed. “Slower times come around, and the firm is good about encouraging you to take vacation.” 80+ hour weeks at peak times unsurprisingly prompted some grumbles, but most were happy with their lot: “I usually work a few hours on weekends, but I’ve never had to cancel plans.” Flexible working is a “sensitive topic – I think the problem is that there’s not a firm-wide policy. Every group is different: there was a crackdown on working from home in corporate but it’s more regular in real estate.” We also heard that WFH is more common in DC


“Given that New York is the HQ, it tends to be more formal whereas DC is more relaxed.” That’s what we heard from juniors who clarified that “partners are on the younger side in DC.” Others focused on differences between practice groups: “I’ve heard capital markets and real estate aren’t as warm and welcoming as we are in M&A.  Other groups have reputations of not being all that jolly.” Yet as JFK (almost) said, what unites Fried Frankers is greater than what divides them, and “the common thread across all groups is that people are friendly and generally nice. It’s a place where people like coming to work.” Juniors agreed that “at Fried Frank we go out of our way to be polite to one another. The firm doesn’t feel competitive; potential friction is handled and dealt with.” Social outings “tend to be based around practice or affinity groups. We go out with colleagues because they’re also friends, but sometimes after 12 hours of billing you just want to go home; people here are friendly but there’s not a big drinks culture.” 

“People here are friendly but there’s not a big drinks culture.”  

Diversity & Inclusion 

When the norm is straight, white and male, law firms can feel marginalizing and suffocating,” diverse sources pointed out. Lack of representation at upper levels “affects retention rates at the firm. They’re good on the hiring side but there’s no understanding of why people leave.” A familiar BigLaw story. Recent positive moves include events and conferences, progress on gender pronouns and unisex restrooms, and “very active” resource and affinity groups. “They’ll reimburse you for 50% of things you spend on wellness” up to $750. Critical voices contended that “Fried Frank doesn’t do enough to deal with structural issues,” but recent hires of a new diversity director and wellness coordinator will hopefully make things better.

Get Hired

The first stage: recruitment on and off campus

OCI applicants interviewed: undisclosed

Interviewees outside OCI: undisclosed

Fried Frank recruits from the top 20 law schools, as well as schools with a large alumni representation at the firm. In 2019, the schools Fried Frank attended were: 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; Rutgers; St. John’s; UVA; and Vanderbilt – as well as the Lavender Law Career Fair and the Northeast Black Law Students Association (NEBLSA) Job Fair.  Our hiring source at the firm explains: “We plan to recruit from the same schools in 2020. Candidates can also apply through direct outreach and our website. Our goal is to get the most talented people wherever they are.”

Fried Frank typically has partners conducting interviews at OCIs, who try to interview “as many students that are interested in us as we can during this timeframe.” Our hiring source tells us that the OCI process creates a time for firm and candidate to “get to know one another. We want to try to learn as much about potential recruits as we can in a short amount of time.” Interviewers typically ask questions like “why did you go to law school?  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 find out their story and why they are interviewing with 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.


Becoming a funds and investment management lawyer

Advising on the activities of hedge and private equity funds certainly keeps lawyers on their toes.

Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP

One New York Plaza,
New York,
NY 10004

  • Head Office: New York, NY
  • Number of domestic offices: 2
  • Number of international offices: 2
  • Worldwide revenue: $776 million
  • Partners (US): 133
  • Associates (US): 314
  • Contacts  
  • Main recruitment contact:  
  • Nancy Parker (
  • Hiring partners: Diversity officer: Randi Lally and Mark Hayek (NY); Matt Howard and Brad Lucas (DC) Stephanie Quappe
  • Recruitment details  
  • Entry-level associates starting in 2020: Clerking policy: Summers joining/anticipated 2020: Summers joining/anticipated 2020 split by office: Summer salary 2020: Split summers offered? Can summers spend time in an overseas office? 54 Yes 76 1Ls: 5, 2Ls: 71, SEO: 2 NY: 64; DC: 122Ls: $7,916.67/semi-monthlyCase by case No

Main areas of work
Antitrust and competition; corporate (asset management, capital markets, corporate governance, derivatives, environmental, finance, mergers and acquisitions, private acquisitions and private equity); energy and energy enforcement; executive compensation and ERISA; financial services; intellectual property and technology; international arbitration; international trade and investment; litigation (antitrust litigation, commercial litigation, government contracts, healthcare fraud and compliance, securities and shareholder litigation, securities enforcement and regulation, white collar criminal defense and securities enforcement); pro bono; real estate (corporate; acquisitions, dispositions and related financings; restructuring and financing; leasing; land use, construction and development); restructuring and insolvency; tax; trusts and estates; white collar criminal defense.

Firm profile
Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP is a leading international law firm with offices in New York, Washington, DC, 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 2020:
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; Rutgers; St. John’s; UVA; Vanderbilt

Recruitment outside OCIs:
Lavender Law; NEBLSA

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.

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

This Firm's Rankings in
USA Guide, 2020

Ranked Departments

    • 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 3)
    • Litigation: White-Collar Crime & Government Investigations (Band 3)
    • Real Estate: Mainly Corporate & Finance (Band 3)
    • Real Estate: Mainly Dirt (Band 1)
    • Tax (Band 3)
    • Banking & Finance (Band 4)
    • Capital Markets: Derivatives (Band 3)
    • 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)
    • Corporate/M&A: The Elite (Band 4)
    • Investment Funds: Hedge Funds (Band 2)
    • Investment Funds: Private Equity: Fund Formation (Band 2)
    • Private Equity: Buyouts: Mid-Market (Band 1)
    • Real Estate (Band 2)
    • Tax: Corporate & Finance (Band 2)

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