There’s a “classic New York style” at this compact, full-service outfit.
What defines Fried Frank? For one insider, it was the “very classic New York style, where people prefer to pick up the phone and talk.” Their comments speak to a sense of traditionality befitting the firm’s origins: its New York office dates all the way back to the 1890s, which served as its sole base of operation until a second office was opened in DCover 50 years later. To this day, the firm operates out of this duo of offices in the US and a European trio in London, Brussels and Frankfurt.
Many of our interviewees were drawn to Fried’s status as one of the more compact outfits on the market. But make no mistake. The firm may not have the headcount of some of the giants in BigLaw, but there’s certainly no shortage of big names and big deals on Fried’s books. For example, the firm recently acted as counsel to Exeter Property Group in a $7 billion, 72 million square foot real estate transaction spanning over 25 states. The firm isn’t short of Chambers USA rankings either. In DC, its commercial litigation team is highly regarded, while in New York its white-collar crime team comes with coveted ‘elite’ status. Its real estate work in the city is also considered top-notch, as is its nationwide hedge funds practice. There’s plenty of other rankings in areas ranging from private equity to environment law – head to Chambers.com for the full list.
The largest helping of second- and third-year associates on our list were in the firm’s New York office, with the rest situated in DC. Asset management takes on the most attorneys (mostly in New York), with litigation and M&A also taking up a noticeable share. After completing their summer, “people typically get their first or second choice of practice group,” sources were happy to report. Most juniors received work from partners directly after schedule reviews. However, in groups such as tax, the system was described as closer to a free market despite efforts “to make it more coordinated.”
"With such large international clients it doesn’t feel like we have distinct offices - we’re constantly working with colleagues in London, New York, and Germany.”
Newbies are hired directly into one of corporate’s seven subgroups: asset management; capital markets and corporate governance; corporate real estate; M&A and private equity; finance; environmental; and IP transactions. In the asset management group, a big emphasis is placed on the formation, maintenance, and closing of funds for private equity houses, hedge funds, and family offices. For juniors, “it’s a lot of editing docs and pushing things forward.” One source told us: “I’ve spent a lot of time helping manage investor negotiations and assist investors who want to come into the funds.” They added that “with such large international clientsit doesn’t feel like we have distinct offices - we’re constantly working with colleagues in London, New York, and Germany.” Within M&A, the value of the average deal typically falls “somewhere between a quarter of a billion and $10 billion,” sources explained. The private equity team similar has its fair share of mega deals but also regularly represents middle-market sponsors on smaller transactions. “It’s a ‘help out wherever you can’ kind of thing,” one source told us. Another added: “I’m regularly on calls discussing strategy, and on the public deals I’ve done, I’ve written numerous filings.” Others we spoke to kept busy conducting diligence and drafting other key documents.
Corporate clients: Extended Stay America, Ascential, Viavi Solutions, At Home Group. Acted as counsel to the board of directors of Home Partners of America in its $6 billion acquisition by Blackstone Group.
Incommercial litigation, practice group directors help staff matters, and were described as “great matchmakers,” to balance out associate hours and ensure they get a good variety of cases. Real estate, securities, M&A, and bankruptcy-related litigations are some of the firm’s specialist areas. We were told that “they’re really trying to beef up the corporate litigation team in particular.” Our interviewees in New York had experience defending shareholders, while in DC juniors were tackling an influx of government investigations work. Across all the cases, juniors took the lead conducting research, helping to develop the facts of the case, and managing doc review. One junior flagged “helping to produce witness interview outlines” as a highlight, alongside opportunities to draft motions.
Litigation clients: Permira Affiliates, VP Bank AG, Piofrancesco Borghetti. Represented Onex Corporation in a RICO litigation filed in federal court in the Eastern District of Missouri.
Associates were more than satisfied with pro bono opportunities, with 100% of survey respondents agreeing that the work on offer was both meaningful and engaging. “The firm’s commitment to pro bono is legitimate – everybody participates,” one source made clear, adding that “we get to count 300 hours toward our billable target every year, and almost every single person in the firm participates - not just those in the litigation department.” As testament to that commitment, another insider pointed out that “our bonus is tied to pro bono,” where juniors are expected to bill a minimum of 20 hours “to be in good standing,” and where “you can choose any pro bono project you want to get signed off by a partner.” Fried was commonly touted as having strengths in tackling cases spanning immigration, voting rights, reproductive justice, and anti-racism.
Pro bono hours
- For all US offices: undisclosed
- Average per US attorney: 49.3
Culture & Career Development
Across our interviewees, one message was clear: Associates chose Fried “not because of the prestige, but because of the people." Although Fried wasn’t described as a “majorly” social firm, juniors were keen to emphasize the benefits of a culture where attorneys don’t take themselves too seriously, and who “for the most part, don’t havethe mentality of the traditional stuck-up lawyer – they really have your back.” For many, the firm’s culture was also very much entwined with perceptions of career development opportunities. As encapsulated by one junior: “The informal training has really surpassed my expectations! I’m constantly on the phone with partners who are always giving me feedback.” The culture of mentorship was aided by what our survey respondents felt was a flat hierarchy: “People know each other’s names and partners are very engaging with junior associates.”
“You need to be a self-starter and put in the effort to market yourself.”
There was very much the sense that longevity at the firm was a strong possibility, underpinned by an observation that “most of the partners now were associates at Fried themselves.” Making partner was viewed as achievable, but only for the most dedicated: “You need to be a self-starter and put in the effort to market yourself.” The process certainly isn’t for everyone, and as such our insiders made us aware that a number of associates had recently left the firm to pursue other opportunities. Many attributed the attrition to the effect of COVID on working culture.
Hours & Compensation
Billable hours: 2,000 target for full bonus
Specifically, many felt that remote working had played its part in “blurring the line” between work and home. One source lamented that “partners don't have as much restraint in giving out work assignments.” As a result, many of our interviewees found themselves working “until about 10pm most nights.” For one insider, the issue was less with remote working and more about “the reality of being a junior associate in a BigLaw firm; people are always going to send you work to do at the end of the day, including at the end of the week.” Accordingly, sources made clear that “it’s not a Monday to Friday job,” with most estimating working three to four hours every weekend on average.
"Not every group has weeks where the hours become tremendously demanding.”
However, while our insiders made clear that many of the firm’s transactional teams, including private equity and funds, came with some grueling hours approaching deadlines, they were also keen to highlight that “not everygroup has weeks where the hours become tremendously demanding.” As one junior explained: “In the regulatory areas, your schedule is much more structured. I start work every day at 9am knowing what I have to do that day and then I’m done – it’s the thing I appreciate most about Fried Frank.” The average number of hours associates worked at Fried in a given week was actually just under the market.
Associates must reach the billable hours target of 2,000 hours to be eligible for a bonus, but juniors can also get “a super bonus over 2,200, and a super, super bonus at 2,450.”
Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
Like many firms, feedback regarding diversity was mixed. On the one hand, sources praised the firm for being “a founding member of the Law Firm Antiracism Alliance,” with one source pointing out that “they revamped D&I after George Floyd, which was heartening for me… some law firms would shy away from it.” We were told thatpart of the revamp included an “active effort to make our pro bono practice antiracist.” Another second-year insider also reflected that “in the recruitment of female attorneys, they’ve done a good job – this summer’s class was much more diverse than my own.” However, our interviewees were equally clear that “the firm is very top-heavy with white males,” and many expressed disappointment in the firm’s ability to retain senior diverse and female associates. We did, however, hear praise for the firm’s “on-site mental health counselors who can-do short-term therapy and coordinate for longer-term care.”
Strategy and Future
“They’re pretty transparent about strategy,” one associate told us, referencing the firm’s monthly town halls. Another elaborated: “Every single one of our corporate groups is growing; we have more work than we know what to do, which is great!” Life sciences was identified as an area targeted for growth, as well as financial services and white-collar litigation. With the BigLaw lateral market simmering, sources also highlighted that “the firm has been very busy bringing in lateral hires, including both partners and associates.” Overall, associates were optimistic about the firm’s outlook, and felt that “the firm’s values are in the right place, and the will for it to come to fruition is there.”
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; Rutgers; 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 will continue to recruit at these schools and with virtual recruitment now part of the process, the scope of our recruitment efforts has increased. Candidates can apply through the traditional methods, but we encourage direct outreach as well. We are not limited to on-campus programs and job fairs. 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. Our approach is holistic.” 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 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.
Interview with chairman David Greenwald
Chambers Associate: Can you tell us about any highlights from the past year at the firm?
David Greenwald: We continue to grow and build on our success from each previous year. In particular, the Firm’s profits grew 24 percent during the last fiscal year and have doubled over the last five years.
Our position in the market and overall outlook for 2022 is particularly strong due in large part to the sustained growth of the overall Firm as well as the tremendous growth and successes achieved in our practices. In 2021, financial markets were robust and transaction activity levels were very high. As a result, our transactional practices were very busy in 2021 and we set revenue records in our Mergers & Acquisitions and Private Equity, Asset Management, Capital Markets and Leveraged Finance practices. Our Tax and Executive Compensation & ERISA practices which support our transactional practices also achieved record revenues. Away from the transactional practices, our Litigation practices also had a record year.
We thoughtfully consider opportunities for growth, with a focus on meeting the needs of our clients, and remain committed to serving as their go-to firm on their most complex matters. In line with this considered approach, we opened an office in Brussels to enhance our global antitrust and transactional services. Over the past year, we have substantially increased our attorney population through of the addition of lateral partners, special counsel and associates in nearly all of our practice groups.
Touching on these lateral developments, we bolstered our financial services practice with the addition of five partners with a market-leading derivatives and financial products practice and a leading broker-dealer regulatory practice, allowing us to further serve our financial services clients in the increasingly complex regulatory landscape. We also welcomed two former US Attorneys for the Southern District of New York (SDNY) and a former SDNY Deputy US Attorney to expand our white collar litigation practice. In addition, we added two IP litigation partners who have been counsel of record in over 150 intellectual property matters and serve our clients on their most complex and high profile IP disputes.
These exciting partner additions were matched with tremendous growth in our associate ranks as we look to continue to attract, retain, develop and promote the best talent. As our clients’ needs evolve, we proactively consider external and internal opportunities to grow our practices while strengthening our Firm culture.
I believe these successes in lateral recruitment are a product of the Firm’s heightened profile, our success, the high quality of our lawyers, our impressive client roster and our culture, including our commitment to fostering an inclusive and accommodating environment for our attorneys and business services professionals. The Firm’s Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) Council, which I chair and the other members of which are attorneys and business services professionals from across our the Firm, helps to implement our long-term diversity and inclusion strategy that is built around four key objectives: encouraging partner engagement and accountability; developing inclusion skills Firmwide; embedding diversity and inclusion into everything we do; and elevating our Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) as catalysts for change.
I am pleased to report a variety of exciting developments on our efforts to engage our people on this critically important topic. To support learning and community building, our D&I team hosted 19 Firmwide events and 43 ERG member meetings last year. The ERGs were also instrumental in our Culture, Law and Policy Series, which addresses thought-provoking topics, raises awareness and encourages the exchange of ideas and perspectives about our workforce's rich diversity.
Our work on diversity, inclusion and equity extends outside the Firm as well. Our clients and alumni regularly participate in our Culture, Law and Policy Series events. We are also a founding member of the Law Firm Antiracism Alliance, which now has over 200 law firms involved in its work. The Alliance is addressing systemic racism in the legal system in the US by using the law as a vehicle for change that benefits communities of color and promotes racial equity in the law. To date, more than 20 Fried Frank attorneys have participated in working groups focused on reproductive justice, gun violence prevention, the criminal justice system and housing.
As a signatory of the ABA’s Well-Being Pledge, Fried Frank launched Living Well at Fried Frank in May 2019 to consolidate our current programs and services, expand our wellness offerings to all employees, and destigmatize conversations surrounding wellness and mental health. Two Living Well initiatives worth noting include: an onsite (now virtual) wellness counselor service and our Fitness and Wellness Reimbursement Program. The former offering provides all US employees with a counselor who can assist them with wellness and mental health related questions and resources, while the latter offers a health stipend for workout equipment, gym memberships, etc. to all US employees. Wellness has become a regular theme in attorney training programs; the Living Well team consistently re-evaluates the Firm’s wellness resources to ensure that they are valuable, accessible, and relevant to our community. We remain deeply committed to launching programs and initiatives that support the wellbeing of everyone at Fried Frank.
CA: Do you have any practice areas or sectors that you’ve earmarked for growth?
DG: Our clients are at the forefront of everything that we do and we continue to focus on building our core practices with their business goals and needs in mind. The core of our business is to provide excellent client service and continue to remain the go-to firm for our clients’ most challenging and complex matters. We are actively building our Litigation Department to make up 25-30% of our total attorney headcount and to complement the strength of our growing transactional and real estate practices.
In regards to our transactional offerings, the record-breaking activity in transactional markets over the past two years has emphasized the need for the Firm to continue to grow its overall size in our asset management, leveraged finance, capital markets, and M&A/Private Equity practices even if the markets are not as robust this year. Our transactional practices grew dramatically this past year and we will continue to invest in them for further growth.
CA: Did the pandemic have an effect on the firm’s long-term strategy:
DG: Despite the challenges of the pandemic, we remained committed to our long-term strategy and in executing upon key projects and initiatives that directly contribute to our Firm’s objective of working on our clients’ most important matters in all areas. Although the historic pace of activity continues to feed our transactional practices, we remain positioned to weather market volatility, whether pandemic or geopolitically-related or otherwise, and the past year has validated our long-term strategic goal to build our litigation and regulatory practices to best serve our clients and to have more activities that are less tied to markets.
Aligned with our previously mentioned lateral hires in our US and European offices, we will continue to bolster our Corporate practices. The opening of our Brussels office further highlights our commitment to building our profile in Europe and enhances our ability to represent clients with competition issues in Europe. Fried Frank continues to be a place of growth, excellence, and change in the face of this unprecedented pandemic.
CA: What would you say are the greatest challenges facing law firms at the moment and in the foreseeable future?
DG: Our Firm’s strong financial performance and growth over the past few years reflect the experience of many of our peers in the legal market. The notable growth in the size of firms have facilitated a hotly competitive market for both winning client work and securing talent. The variety of pressures in this market will challenge my firm and our peers. These pressures include recruiting and retaining talent; delivering premier services and creative solutions to clients; and achieving strong financial performance.
CA: Do you have any advice for those who are about to enter the legal industry?
DG: First of all, in my career, I have practiced law both in Big Law and on the client side. My 20 years of experience at Goldman Sachs gave me insights into what clients want from their outside counsel as well as what it means to manage and lead a business. My time on the client side has proven to be highly influential in shaping my current practice and role at the Firm. I learned how crucial it is for attorneys to communicate clearly and succinctly to general counsel with advice and key recommendations. It is equally important to keep clients apprised of critical issues in a timely manner. These lessons gained on the client side guide the skills and messages I emphasize at all levels - from more junior attorneys to my fellow senior partners. Keeping a client’s objectives at the forefront is critically important and will make the difference in terms of a successful outcome.
Second, remember that your law school graduation is not the end of your educational journey; rather, it is the beginning of a lifelong learning endeavor. Since the law is constantly changing as well as the markets and industries we work in, your willingness to learn and step outside of your intellectual comfort zone can reap incredible benefits in this profession. This is especially true at the outset of your career.
Third, it is important to remember that you are in a client service business. Strong client development and interpersonal skills are key. The need to be service-minded, to communicate effectively, and to be commercially astute will always be paramount in your career. Likewise, lawyers in the future will continue to need to take a long-term perspective of their role, responsibilities, and commitment to represent the best interests of the client and their firm.
Finally, find a mentor that can share advice and who is invested in your success. My mentor, Arthur Fleischer, has guided me throughout my career. When I was asked to return to Fried Frank as chairman, I turned to Arthur for advice. At the time, I was working in Goldman Sachs’ legal department and I was not sure if returning to my former firm was the right decision for me – or for Fried Frank. I reached out to Arthur because I trusted him to give me honest advice. Arthur explained why the opportunity was a natural, positive next step in my career and why it was my duty and responsibility to take on the leadership of the Firm. His advice convinced me that this position was the best move for me in my career at the time and – as always – he was right.
Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP
One New York Plaza,
- Head Office: New York, NY
- Number of domestic offices: 2
- Number of international offices: 3
- Worldwide revenue: $951.3million
- Partners (US): 154
- Associates (US): 337
- Main recruitment contact: Nancy Parker (firstname.lastname@example.org)
- Hiring partners: Randi Lally and Mark Hayek (NY); Matt Howard and Brad Lucas (DC)
- Diversity officer: Stephanie Quappe
- Recruitment details
- Entry-level associates starting in 2022: 75
- Clerking policy: Yes
- Summers joining/anticipated 2022: 92 1Ls: 12, 2Ls: 80, SEO: 2
- Summers joining/anticipated 2022 split by office: NY: 76; DC: 16
- Summer salary 2022: 2Ls: $8,958.33/semi-monthly
- Split summers offered? Case by case
- Can summers spend time in an overseas office? 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.
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 2022:
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; Texas; UVA
Recruitment outside OCIs:
Lavender Law; NEBLSA; SEMJF
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.
Recruitment website: www.friedfrank.com/careers
Linkedin: Fried Frank
This Firm's Rankings in
USA Guide, 2022
District of Columbia
- Corporate/M&A & Private Equity (Band 2)
- Litigation: General Commercial: Highly Regarded (Band 1)
- Real Estate (Band 3)
- Tax (Band 2)
- Banking & Finance (Band 4)
- Corporate/M&A: The Elite (Band 4)
- Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation (Band 3)
- 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 3)
- Real Estate: Mainly Dirt (Band 1)
- Real Estate: Zoning/Land Use (Band 1)
- Tax (Band 2)
- Technology (Band 3)
USA - Nationwide
- 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)
- Corporate Crime & Investigations: Highly Regarded (Band 2)
- Corporate/M&A: The Elite (Band 4)
- Derivatives (Band 3)
- Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation (Band 4)
- Government Contracts: The Elite (Band 4)
- 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)