There's a feeling of momentum at this Boston-born firm at the moment – its specialist practices are thriving and so are associates.
SEEKING out a firm with both “great work and interesting clients” and “a supportive environment where people are collegial and collaborative” is a tricky business. Homogeneous law firm marketing doesn't help. Lucky then that those hopeful souls attracted by Goodwin's slick image of innovation and collaboration felt vindicated by their choice. “The firm culture that is visible from the outside rings true – it doesn't feel like false advertising.”
Associates saw Goodwin as an escape from the fusty corridors of the Wall Street firm stereotype. Instead, “the culture at the firm matches the culture at a lot of the tech companies we work with.” Firms often take more than dollars from their clients, and Goodwin benefits twofold from prolific work in the tech and life sciences sectors (it gets nationwide recognition from Chambers USA for the latter), as well as its skills in the animated world of venture capital and private equity. Its largest offices in Boston and New York, plus San Fran, Silicon Valley, LA and DC (all of which take a significant number of junior associates) form a network that seems intent on accessing the upstarts, major players and relevant authorities in these fields. In addition, the firm has continued to expand of late: in March 2019 Goodwin opened a new office in Santa Monica.
Unlike some techy firms, however, Goodwin has layers of goodness. First, the firm executes an impressive range of work in and around the above sectors. Teams working on related finance, capital markets, M&A, private equity, employment (especially ERISA litigation), IP, investment funds and tax are all highly ranked by Chambers USA. And second, there are wider sector strengths: Goodwin is also extremely strong in real estate – it's one of the best in the country at working on Real Estate Investment Trusts – and consumer finance regulation.
Strategy & Future
The firm is growing too. It broke $1 billion revenue for the first time in 2017, and opened offices in Frankfurt and Paris a few years back. Partner Neel Chatterjee tells us: “We will be increasing the size of our private equity practice internationally and expanding our already deep reach into the tech and life sciences community on the west coast. We might see some small tweaks to our geographical reach, but we’re not going to suddenly open five offices in China.”
Juniors start life at the firm as generalists in either litigation or the business law group. But the groups are quite different in size: the distribution of second and third-year associates in all offices shows that only one fifth of juniors are litigators. After two years as generalists, business law associates can specialize in “industry-focused business units” including private equity, tech & life sciences and real estate investment, while litigators have the options of securities and white collar, IP, appellate and antitrust (among others). Most groups have 'Attorney Development Managers' to dole out work, who associates found to be “more thoughtful than if you had a partner doing the assigning while having their own work too.”
The private equity industry supercharges companies' operations and puts money in the pocket of investors. Goodwin's lawyers explain that work in this area brings much more than financial profit. Read on >>
“Goodwin throws us into it, but we also have all the guidance we'd need.”
Those in the business law group had dabbled in everything the firm has to offer: “I got exposure to real estate in my first year, but in my second year I've concentrated my focus on tech and life science. Within that, I've worked on the whole corporate life cycle, from early stage formations to venture capital financing to IPOs.” Others described an experience that contained “plenty of M&A and private equity matters. We're usually working on acquisition financing for private equity sponsors – usually in the middle-market.” Private equity is a particularly strong facet of the corporate work in all offices. Juniors often started with tasks such as due diligence and drafting ancillary documents. “Once I'd got that stuff down, they quickly trusted me with more and more work,” said one. Specifically, sources had drafted primary financing documents like stock purchase agreements and investor agreements. “Goodwin throws us into it, but we also have all the guidance we'd need.”
Corporate clients: LaSalle Hotel Properties (an REIT); KIND (a healthy snacks company); Spark Capital (venture capital). Recently represented DCT Industrial Trust, an industrial real estate company, on its sale to Prologis for $8.4 billion.
Goodwin's famed tech & life science group is subdivided – you guessed it – into the tech side and the life sciences side. Boston, as the firm's flagship office, has a healthy chunk of both. In New York“both areas are really starting to take off – we've expanded significantly.” Sources reported less tech work in DC, but in California, despite having fewer lawyers, the firm still gets Chambers USA recognition for life sciences. Tech folk explained that “almost all of our clients are technology start-ups or venture funds that invest in those types of clients.” Many associates found that they “ended up being the point of contact with those clients.” One source even recalled “running a venture capital deal largely on my own, which was a really good opportunity.” On the life sciences side, there's a fair amount of “regulatory work related to the FDA” including “pre-market matters, advertising and promotion matters, and general compliance matters.” Unsurprisingly, this group sees “lots of pharmaceutical clients.” Both sides get stuck into the necessary diligence and ancillary documents at the junior level.
Tech & life science clients: Bain Capital Ventures, AMAG Pharmaceuticals, HubSpot (a marketing and sales software company) and iRobot. Recently represented analytics technology company Neustar in its agreement to be acquired by a private investment group led by Golden Gate Capital, for around $2.9 billion.
“I've been able to write and research full briefs myself.”
Juniors who join the general litigation pool found themselves drawn to their area of interest early. Still, the option is there to switch between some variation of white collar & securities, IP, antitrust, or labor & employment matters in most offices. In Boston, sources had worked with the firm's “very big pharma practice” which involved “basic research and doc review.” Similarly, in white-collar matters juniors felt the work was “more top-down. You’re part of the larger whole, providing updates to the team and doing daily research.” Some sources were able to branch out more on software-related cases, where associates worked with “smaller companies in high-stakes disputes with competitors or regulators. I've been able to write and research full briefs myself, attend depositions, and work on expert reports.”
Litigation clients: MIT, BNP Paribas and Teva Pharmaceuticals. Recently advised Quicken Loans – a mortgage lender – on the defense of a False Claims Act lawsuit centering on its participation in the federal Fair Housing Administration loan program.
“I think we have created a culture where it is outside the norm to not do pro bono as opposed to the reverse,” sources boasted. Goodwin has no cap on pro bono hours and encourages everyone to do at least 50 hours a year. “It counts the same as billable work and feels good too – why wouldn't you take advantage of that?!” Juniors were also encouraged by “hearing senior partners talk about their pro bono practices.” Opportunities include immigration, asylum, and prisoner rights cases, plus DACA clinics. Business folks had “a slightly harder time finding corporate pro bono” but highlighted a program aimed at helping entrepreneurs from under-served communities. In Boston, juniors had worked extensively with organizations such as KIND and the New England Innocence Project, while New Yorkers enjoyed “working with Brooklyn law students at Brooklyn Public Library, giving free legal advice to people from the local community.”
“The responsibility associates are given means we're able to become more useful to the firm more quickly.”
Pro bono hours
- For all US attorneys: 60,192
- Average per US attorney: 60
Sources appreciated having a “pretty extensive training program” aimed at junior associates (the Junior Associate Training Series, which is divided into two streams that are tailored to the needs of business and litigation associates) as well as “general training from each practice group on various topics.” Business law sources highlighted “very helpful separate sessions on each financing document.” There are also firmwide programs looking at writing and oral communication. Generally, sources also felt “the responsibility associates are given means we're able to become more useful to the firm more quickly.”
Most sources saw “a clear path for progression here.” One expanded: “I’m fairly junior at this point, but the firm’s pretty clear about the expectations of what you should be doing at each level.” Juniors also highlighted having “incredible mentors that I can go to for everything” and had faith in “the firm’s good name opening a lot of doors” should they leave.
“People are very driven and committed to their work, but at the same time very relaxed and humble. People have funny bobble heads on their desks, or might be wearing jeans, but if the client needs them to turn something around at 11pm you bet they're here.” Could you ask for a clearer description of a firm’s culture? Generally, this was consistent across the board: DC sources explained that “they definitely encourage collaboration across offices and try to promote a one-firm culture.” With associates labelling their colleagues as “friendly and authentic” it was clear Goodwin avoided any mean and scary BigLaw intensity.
But what about our socially prolific readers? Could Goodwin appeal to them? Business folks in New York described the scene as “poppin'.” Yes. Really. They highlighted various events such as trips to museums (poppin’ we’re sure), rooftop bars and karaoke which “really brought the teams together.” In Boston, juniors highlighted “monthly or bi-monthly 'pizza party'-type events, usually on a Thursday afternoon,” as well as departmental 'coffee and donuts' in the morning. Despite having plenty of museums, some felt DC was a little tamer, especially in litigation -- “it's more family-oriented, plus a lot of people have fairly long commutes.”
Diversity & Inclusion
Associates’ opinions on the firm’s diversity efforts, if not its actual diversity, were very positive. “It's a difficult thing to solve, but the intention to solve it is there.” Firm training on implicit bias was “a step in the right direction,” and there’s a women's initiative (Women at Goodwin), a diversity initiative (CRED – Committee for Racial and Ethic Diversity), and an LGBTQ initiative (Pride at Goodwin) too. Each hold events and “activities centered around how to make Goodwin a more diverse and inclusive place.” Sources also mentioned a firm-wide diversity retreat, which was held in 2017 at the National Museum of African American History and Culture in DC. In 2018 the retreat was held in New York. Associates could see genuine empathy among staff: “We don’t have people here thinking it’s ok to not be on board with these initiatives. We’re not a particularly buttoned-up law firm.”
Hours & Compensation
To add a bonus to their market salary, attorneys have a 1,950-hour billable target. That total is adjusted to account for their start dates in first year, but, especially with the unlimited pro bono hours, most had “no difficulty reaching 1,950.”Boston and New York provided the busiest daily routines. There are “weeks where you’re underwater,” but normally “the vast majority go home by 8pm” on a weekday. “And weekends aren’t terrible. It’s generally not more than a few hours.” And the firm was flexible too. When it was quiet enough, associates experienced no judgment in “going home at 6pm, having dinner, and signing back on for a few hours.” The Silicon Valley schedule isn’t far off, though the most common office hours start (8.30am) and finish (6pm) earlier. DC folks described their office as “a hidden gem” for hours, with days spent working from home, and more regular 6pm finishes.
The first stage: recruitment on and off campus
OCI applicants interviewed: 1,794
Interviewees outside OCI: n/a
Goodwin’s recruitment scope spans the US, with both on-campus interview programs and job fairs on the firm's radar. Typically, the interviews themselves are conducted by partners and members of one of the local hiring committees. Associates are usually on site as well to host hospitality suites where candidates can ask questions about the early years of practice.
During the interview, interviewers may ask “questions related to work and law school experience, what drew the candidate to law school, and what practice areas interest them.” Hiring partner Emily Rapalino explains “we are looking for intellectually curious, driven, and collaborative students with strong interpersonal skills – collegial, respectful, and those who appreciate the importance of teamwork and inclusiveness.” In addition, the firm looks to hear “how students’ experiences have shaped their career path, what interests them, and why their experiences will make them a fit for Goodwin.”
Top tips for this stage:
“Knowing your audience and preparation are key when interviewing at Goodwin. In general, students should do their due diligence and research firms and employers and get to know attorneys by attending events and programs.” – Hiring partner, Emily Rapalino.
Applicants invited to second stage interview: 768
During a standard callback interview, students should expect to meet between four and six attorneys of varying seniorities. The interviews themselves are geared towards specific competencies including “interpersonal skills, drive, and project management.” Interviewers use predetermined behavioral questions to evaluate a candidate’s potential for success at Goodwin. Students also have the option of attending ‘Super Interview Days’ which include an office tour and reception in addition to the interviews.
Top tips for this stage:
“Be prepared for questions about anything on your resume and have questions prepared for your interviewer.” – hiring partner Emily Rapalino.
Goodwin’s summer program runs for ten weeks. Students have the freedom to try any practice, rather than having to decide between corporate and litigation right away. Summers also gain exposure to trainings and practice area discussions in order to “get a more well-rounded idea of what it’s actually like to practice law in any particular field,” says Rapalino.Assignments are received both from Goodwin attorneys directly and through assignment coordinators. Students also receive mentors from day one. “The goal of our summer program is to provide summers with as much knowledge and information about our firm, practice areas, and culture so they can make an informed decision about their legal career going forward,” Rapalino concludes.
Top tips for this stage:
“There will be countless opportunities to get to know attorneys through work assignments, lunches, presentations and social events. Participate in as many of these opportunities as you are able.” – hiring partner Emily Rapalino.
Interview with Goodwin partner Neel Chatterjee
Chambers Associate: How would you describe the firm’s current market position?
Neel Chatterjee: Our market position is that we’re firing on all cylinders. It has been an incredibly strong year and the integration of our practices is driving an enormous amount of growth. We had our gross revenue jump by 16.1% last year, which was our seventh consecutive year of growth. The revenue per lawyer increased by 10.5% to $1.25 million and our profit per equity partner rose to $2.46 million.
CA: Which practices have been performing especially well recently?
NC: Private equity has been doing extremely well. Our life sciences practice and our pharmaceutical litigation have been doing extremely well. Our IPO practice – with a heavy concentration on tech IPOs – has been really out of the park. Goodwin wants to be market leaders in our sectors and even though we’re smaller than a lot of firms we view as our biggest competitors, we’re still one of the top-ranking deal advisors for tech/life sciences and private equity. We’re punching way above our weight in terms of the number of lawyers we have and getting premium deals. We also take a market leading position in biosimilars within the pharmaceutical litigation space.
We’ve also launched new things like ‘PropTech’. We have a strong real estate practice, so we’ve taken that and partnered it with our tech practice. We’re looking at how the nature of real estate is changing given the advances in technology. We’re one of the first firms to ever do something like that.
CA: Are there any broader trends that are currently shaping the volume or type of work conducted in your firm’s practices?
NC: One broader trend is the rise of private equity in the tech and life sciences sector – it is taking on much greater prominence. Things are still very active in the IPO market, plus there have been new advances both on the corporate and litigation side of life sciences. On the downward slope, nationally, technology patent litigation has been falling. We have still maintained a substantial position and our people are well-utilized, but cases are down nationally and settling faster. But we view ourselves as a premium brand, and big fights between big companies will always be around.
We’re also very committed to pro bono, and we’ve done some fairly high-profile work on that side. We’ve done sanctuary cities pro bono work for various cities during the Trump administration. We also have a number of Innocence project engagements, plus a case against ICE involving the detention of detainees and the improper treatment of detainees. We’re doing a lot of very impactful pro bono cases at the moment (including a case we won in the Supreme Court that had national implications, allowing thousands to apply for cancellation of removal).
CA: Short-term, are there any areas you have earmarked for growth over the next year?
NC: We will continue to invest in our core practices: tech and life sciences, securities (including white collar regulatory), real estate, private equity, IP litigation and financial institutions.
CA: Long-term, what do you hope the firm will look like in five years’ time?
NC: The number one thing would be being a more diverse firm in terms of LGBT people, people of color and women. We’re proud of our diversity and inclusion, but we are on a stated mission to improve it – not only for our firm, but as a market leader serving as an example to others.
In five years I don’t see us necessarily expanding our geographic reach substantially. I think we will be increasing the size of our private equity practice internationally and expanding our already deep reach into the tech and life sciences community on the west coast. We might see some small tweaks to our geographical reach, but we’re not going to suddenly open five offices in China. I see us establishing ourselves as being market-leading in tech on the west coast, and we’ve made enormous progress towards that.
CA: Coming back to diversity, what is the firm doing to address it?
NC: Internally, we have an advisory committee to the whole firm on what things we can do to improve retention. Generally, we do a reasonably good job on recruiting diverse talent, but four or five years later you start to see some attrition. We want to see more minority, women, and LGBTQ partners. We’ve been spending time trying to understand that and provide internal and external resources so that people feel there are pathways to develop their careers. We have an annual retreat for all lawyers of color – everyone flies out and there are full days of seminar, plus big events with clients and partners from all over the firm. We get in featured speakers – it’s a really big community-building event.
Firm leadership regularly articulate that diversity is important. We are certified under the Mansfield Rule, and that is made part of the consideration even with lateral hiring. Goodwin adopted the Mansfield Rule in 2017 to help facilitate a more rigorous approach to identifying, documenting, and addressing diversity-related gaps in the composition of the firm's partnership and leadership. After participating in and completing the inaugural one-year Mansfield Rule pilot, the firm achieved Mansfield Certification last year, which confirms that the firm has affirmatively considered at least 30% women and attorneys of color for leadership and governance roles, equity partner promotions, and senior lateral positions.
CA: Why is law an attractive profession for students to join today?
NC: I think law is an exciting thing to enter into now for two reasons. One is my own political bias – I’ve been a lawyer now for 25 years, and until the last two years I think lawyers generally were kind of maligned. People would say lawyers will say anything. But the best thing about being a litigator in this time is that people see the positive values that lawyers can reflect on our society. When the travel ban came down and there was utter chaos at American airports, tens of thousands of lawyers went to the airports and saw clients. The fact that lawyers were bonding together and committing resources was great. It’s often difficult to find pro bono opportunities for corporate lawyers, but we set up clinics to help Dreamers – immigrant kids brought here as small children – and something like 80% of our corporate lawyers go work at those DACA clinics. It’s so amazing to see people doing these projects.
The other reason is that the legal market is changing dramatically in the way we practice law. It’s an exciting time to be part of that innovation. Things like having an open floor plan puts everyone in a collaborative work space, which has really changed the way we practice. Plus, we’re automating a lot more functions now too
CA: What achievement are you most proud of?
NC: Fifteen years ago, in the Bay Area, I led the creation of the Bay Area Diversity Career Fair. I think people today would say that it’s the best career fair of any kind in the country for second year law students. It is a ground-breaking thing; we normally have 55-60 law firms participate, and many firms have decided not to go on campus but just increase their schedules through our program. Roughly 400 kids interview every year. I’m enormously proud of it. I was at a conference of 100 top IP lawyers, with federal judges, senators, and patent officers, and a woman walked up to me. She said 12 years ago she interviewed with me at the diversity law fair and that’s how her career started. I can’t imagine anything filling me with more pride.
CA: What’s been the most valuable lesson you’ve learned in your career?
NC: Don’t take yourself too seriously. Also, culture is everything: Some firms benchmark themselves by how much money they make, but I believe that if you build a strong culture with high-caliber people, you will outperform everyone else and clients will want to be a part of it.
100 Northern Avenue,
- Largest Office:
- Number of domestic offices: 7
- Number of international offices: 4
- Worldwide revenue: $1.198 billion
- Partners (US): 335
- Counsel (US): 105
- Associates (US): 538
- Main recruitment contact: Ashley Nelson, Director of Talent Acquisition, Legal; Associate & Professional Track Hiring
- See the full list of office-based recruiting contacts on our website
- Hiring partner: Emily Rapalino, National Hiring Partner
- Diversity officer: Bernard Guinyard, Director of Diversity & Inclusion
- Recruitment details
- Entry-level associates starting in 2019: 69
- Clerking policy: Yes
- Summers joining/anticipated 2019: 1Ls: 0, 2Ls: 89
- Summers joining/anticipated 2019 split by office: Boston: 27, New York: 30, Washington, DC: 7, Los Angeles: 3, San Francisco: 12, Silicon Valley: 9, Hong Kong: 1
- Summer salary 2019: 1Ls: $3,653.84/week 2Ls: $3,653.84/week
- Split summers offered? No
- Can summers spend time in an overseas office? Case-by-case
Main areas of work
Corporate-based practices: private equity, real estate industry (REITS, real estate capital markets, M&A), technology and life sciences, financial industry, intellectual property transactions and strategies, tax. Litigation-based practices: financial industry, securities, white collar and business litigation, speciality litigation (antitrust, appellate, energy and environmental, global trade, labor and employment, products liability and mass torts).
Goodwin is a Global 50 law firm with offices in Boston, Frankfurt, Hong Kong, London, Los Angeles, New York, Paris, San Francisco, Santa Monica, Silicon Valley and Washington, DC. Excelling at complex and sophisticated transactional work and precedent-setting, betthe company litigation, the firm combines in-depth legal knowledge with practical business experience to help clients maximize opportunities, manage risk and move their business forward. The firm hires talented, motivated people committed to excellence, innovation, collaboration and client service and believes that every lawyer and staff member deserves a supportive, meritocratic environment in which people of all backgrounds are given the opportunity to excel and thrive. Through an extensive and long-standing pro bono program, legal staff is encouraged to assist those unable to afford legal representation.
Recruitment Law Schools attending for OCIs in 2019:
American University, Berkeley, Boston College, Boston University, Brooklyn, Columbia, Cornell, Duke, Emory, Fordham, George Washington, Georgetown, Harvard, Howard, Loyola Law School (Los Angeles), McGill, Northeastern, Northwestern, NYU, Santa Clara, Stanford, Suffolk, UC Davis, UC Hastings, UCLA, UNC, University of Chicago, University of Connecticut, UC Irvine, University of Michigan, University of Pennsylvania, University of Texas, USC, UVA, Vanderbilt, Washington College of Law, William & Mary, Yale.
Recruitment outside OCIs:
Bay Area Diversity Career Fair, Boston Lawyers Group, Boston Job Fair, Lavender Law Career Fair, Law Consortium (SF of DC), Loyola Patent Law Interview Program, NEBLSA Job Fair, Southeastern Minority Job Fair. Goodwin’s Asia Track program is designed for summer associates who have a particular interest in pursuing a legal career in Asia. Native fluency in Mandarin Chinese is required. The Asia Track summer program involves spending eight to ten weeks in one of our US offices and two to three weeks in our Hong Kong office.
Summer associate profile:
Goodwin hires summer associates with exceptional academic records, demonstrated leadership abilities and excellent written, verbal and interpersonal skills.
Summer program components:
Goodwin’s summer program provides summer associates with a realistic work experience mirroring that of a junior associate. We work closely with summer associates to understand their interests and provide opportunities to work on a broad range of assignments. Summer associates are encouraged to observe client meetings, court hearings, depositions, negotiations and attend practice area meetings. We provide leading litigation and business law training programs throughout the summer. Through our adviser program, summer associates are paired with partners and associates to help them integrate.
Recruitment website: www.goodwinlaw.com/careers/law-students
This Firm's Rankings in
USA Guide, 2019
- Capital Markets: Debt & Equity (Band 2)
- Corporate/M&A: Private Equity (Band 4)
- Life Sciences (Band 4)
- Venture Capital (Band 2)
California: San Francisco, Silicon Valley & Surro
- Corporate/M&A (Band 3)
District of Columbia
- Corporate/M&A & Private Equity (Band 3)
- Intellectual Property: Litigation (Band 4)
- Banking & Finance (Band 3)
- Banking & Finance: Corporate & Regulatory (Band 1)
- Capital Markets (Band 1)
- Corporate/M&A (Band 1)
- Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation (Band 1)
- Intellectual Property (Band 1)
- Labor & Employment (Band 2)
- Litigation: General Commercial (Band 1)
- Litigation: White-Collar Crime & Government Investigations (Band 1)
- Private Equity: Buyouts (Band 2)
- Private Equity: Fund Formation (Band 2)
- Private Equity: Venture Capital Investment (Band 1)
- Real Estate (Band 1)
- Tax (Band 1)
- Technology (Band 1)
- Corporate/M&A: Highly Regarded (Band 2)
- Intellectual Property: Patent (Band 3)
- Litigation: Securities (Band 4)
- Litigation: White-Collar Crime & Government Investigations (Band 3)
- Real Estate: Mainly Corporate & Finance (Band 4)
- Tax (Band 4)
- Real Estate (Band 3)
USA - Nationwide
- Capital Markets: Equity: Issuer Representation (Band 3)
- Capital Markets: Equity: Manager Representation (Band 3)
- Corporate/M&A: Highly Regarded (Band 1)
- ERISA Litigation (Band 2)
- Financial Services Regulation: Consumer Finance (Compliance) (Band 3)
- Financial Services Regulation: Consumer Finance (Litigation) (Band 1)
- Financial Services Regulation: Financial Institutions M&A (Band 4)
- Food & Beverages: Regulatory & Litigation (Band 2)
- Intellectual Property (Band 3)
- Investment Funds: Private Equity: Fund Formation (Band 3)
- Investment Funds: Registered Funds (Band 3)
- Investment Funds: Venture Capital: Fund Formation (Band 2)
- Leisure & Hospitality (Band 2)
- Life Sciences (Band 2)
- Private Equity: Buyouts: Mid-Market (Band 1)
- Product Liability & Mass Torts (Band 5)
- Real Estate (Band 3)
- REITs (Band 1)
- Securities: Litigation (Band 4)
- Startups & Emerging Companies (Band 1)
- Tax: Corporate & Finance (Band 5)