Goodwin - The Inside View

Become a Goodwinner at a firm that’s “placing itself at the crossroads of innovation and disruption.”

With a history of working on early advertising regulation, campaigning to abolish capital punishment in Massachusetts, and even putting Nazis on trial at Nuremberg, Goodwin has been pushing for progress and fighting the good fight ever since two old Bostonian college buddies put $500 apiece together in 1912 and founded the firm. Fast forward a century and Goodwin is still breaking new ground. These days it’s made a name for itself representing cutting-edge technology, cannabis and healthcare companies – “this firm is placing itself at the crossroads of innovation and disruption,” juniors said. They rated Goodwin as “a place you can get as much as you give” as a young attorney, with a culture that “mirrors its casual tech clients” and adds to that rich broth “a lot of joking and camaraderie.” One Goodwin-terviewee put it simply: “It's the bomb.”

“This firm is placing itself at the crossroads of innovation and disruption.”

A forward thinker it may be, but this is a BigLaw firm and a big operation: Goodwin’s largest offices are the Boston HQ and New York, but you’ll also find juniors in San FranciscoLos Angeles, Silicon Valley, DC and Santa Monica.The firm earns a plethora of top Chambers USA rankings nationwide for its M&A, financial services litigation, private equity, REITs and startups practices. Boston is the highest-scoring office with top spots for banking, capital markets, employment, IP, litigation, tax, technology and more; but the New York, DC and California bases also earn plaudits in their markets. More might be on the horizon: the firm’s been active on the laterals market, even bringing in a five lawyer-strong consumer financial services litigation and enforcement team in New York from Hogan Lovells.

>>TOP READ: Goodwin's View on the Role of Equity in Law Firm Diversity Efforts<<

Strategy & Future

The COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t done too much to slow Goodwin’s roll. “They’ve already talked about how they’re trying to grow the California presence further,” insiders revealed. The firm’s aiming to expand its litigation offering after the 2019 Santa Monica office opening brought in a flood of technology and private equity work: “As litigation spins off from that business work, we’re going to grow the litigation department there.”New York’s disputes team is also on the hunt, building up its financial service practices: “We’ve started to poach some partners from other firms that do that.” Meanwhile, Goodwin’s healthcare practice has been expanding into COVID-related telehealth work: “The firm has really invested in furthering its life sciences practice and is placing an emphasis on making sure we’re staying on top of the field at this time.”

“They’ve already talked about how they’re trying to grow the California presence further.”

The Work

After trying litigation and business law during their summer, juniors come back as generalists in their chosen practice area to “dabble in everything Goodwin has to offer in that group.” Work assignment comes through an “even split” of partners reaching out directly, and through each office’s Attorney Development Managers. “They support you to make sure you’re progressing and doing the work you specifically want to do,” we heard.

NEW: Read about lateral recruitment at Goodwin here.

Industry-focused units in the business law group include private equity, tech, life sciences, financial institutions real estate investment and “everything else on the transactional side of the firm.” The private equity practice involves M&A for PE firms, their sponsors, add-ons and “anything needed throughout their life cycles on both the buy and sell side.” Juniors here typically manage diligence and the deal flow, and also correspond with partners, specialists and outside counsel. “Private equity gives great opportunities to do hands-on work early,” a source shared. “I’ve been able to do some purchase agreements.”

<<Read all about Goodwin's private equity practice here>>

“M&A work gives more room for intuition and creativity.”

Life sciences, tech and healthcare work all offer “a similar experience,” including helping startup companies in their initial formations, financing, working with angel investors and “exit options.That’s selling to a private equity firm, strategic buyer or with an IPO, helping with any regulatory issues along the way.” Telehealth companies have been a fruitful work stream of late, Goodwin advising on “the provision of remote medical care with the rise of changing rules in healthcare in the US” and helping clients navigate COVID-related government relief funds. Juniors helped startups with “formation documents, stock restriction agreements and assisting with diligence.” We heard IPOs tend to be “very rules-driven. M&A work gives more room for intuition and creativity.”

Business law clients: Charlesbank, Freshly, Teva Pharmaceuticals. Advised long-term client Slack in its $27.7 billion sale to Salesforce.

Litigation juniors can dip their toes in IP, appellate, product liability, white-collar, securities, antitrust, employment and more. Most pick a specialism after two years, but a recent shake-up means that anyone can continue to act as a ‘complex litigation dispute resolution’ generalist. The New York team has a “strong bench of former AUSAs,” bringing in “interesting internal investigation work – I find the massive bureaucracy fascinating.” Over in DC the practice is “heavy on consumer financial services work. A lot of it leads from mortgage lending and whether or not the institution made all the necessary disclosure.” Interviewees also handled private plaintiff cases. Across the firm, a large chunk of Goodwin’s practice comes from “spinoff litigation when things go wrong after mergers – there’s a lot of tension working on those.”

“It’s fun to see the other side squirm because of documents you found.”

Juniors found themselves doing a lot of document review and discovery. “Discovery is my fave,” one said. “You look for what will be most relevant to your case. It’s fun to see the other side squirm because of documents you found.” Deposition outlines, second-chairing depositions, talking to expert witnesses and preparing witness reports are also common duties. “If you can show with small tasks that you’re competent, you can take on a much more substantive role early on,” interviewees explained.If you’re looking for research practice, telemarketing class actions might be just the ticket: “We’re always defending on cases when people get those unwanted texts or calls. We do lots of research for motions to dismiss.”

Litigation clients: Massachusetts Institute of Technology, John Stumpf, Royal Bank of Canada. Defeated a class action against Citizens Bank for claims related to their overdraft fee program, a case that progressed to the US Supreme Court.

Career Development

Goodwin’s aforementioned Attorney Development Managers act as a “support system both personally and professionally.” Available for “checking in and making sure you’re doing well,” they also work with juniors on their “career trajectory, future goals, and what help is necessary to get them there.” Interviewees liked having “a safety net and someone to talk to.” Goodwin also allocates partner and associate advisers to newcomers. Despite the process’s formality, juniors warmed to their mentors: “It works well in practice. The relationship grows organically as advisers try to check in regularly, taking you to lunch or dinner to see how things are going.” On top of the formal mentors, “informal mentoring and guidance is really invaluable. Attorneys take the time to sit down and explain things – they’re invested in making sure you grasp what you’re doing as a piece of the puzzle.”

“Nothing would make me leave Goodwin. I will leave in retirement or death.”

Prospective career movers also received advice and guidance, even if that meant leaving Goodwin. “It’s split. A lot of people are clear they want to go in-house from the beginning. A lot also want to make partner,” associates explained. They felt the firm’s culture is to “support you wherever you go”; one interviewee suggested the only thing that could pry them away from the firm would be “winning the lotto.” Another was even more bold: “Nothing would make me leave Goodwin. I will leave in retirement or death.”


Juniors initially picked Goodwin over rival outfits because they perceived “it’s not a stuffy firm – I felt that I could feel free to be myself.” In sync with its startup and tech-y clients, the firm’s maintained an “entrepreneurial spirit” with space for friendly relationships: “My mentor consistently references TV and films like Star Wars and Real Housewives.” Another source gave us their account: “I’ve never had a meeting with anyone where we jump right into what we need to discuss. In the first ten minutes we catch up – how’s the family, your dog, that kind of thing.” That hasn’t changed since COVID-19 restrictions sent us all virtual and “people still want to hear how everyone’s day has gone, even if no one’s done anything! We say how nice it is to get together in almost every single junior associate Zoom meeting.”

“Our startup clients drive the culture.”

It’s safe to say Goodwinners are keen to reunite. Pre-pandemic, many got lunch together – “I really miss having that time with people.” It’s the Goodwin norm for attorneys to casually “walk round the office, see people and ask how things are going.” The Boston HQ is “a very cool place to be in an up-and-coming area of the city overlooking the water,” while some New Yorkers told us their office is “more relaxed and casual compared to others in NYC – our startup clients drive the culture.” We heard from DC sources about the popular softball team: “I’m the worst ever but I love to do it for fun.” Juniors in the bigger offices share an office with a partner for their first year “to acclimate and help development.”

Diversity & Inclusion

Like any big firm, the diversity numbers aren’t great,” juniors conceded. “In time it’ll improve but it’s not just a box they’re checking.” We heard that Goodwin is not only focusing on hiring diverse individuals but “making sure they stay until partner level too.” Recent steps include joining the Law Firm Anti-Racism Alliance in 2020 and engaging in more active research, asking their attorneys “what the firm can do to become a more comfortable place to work.” This led to the formation of Goodwin’s Black Anti-Racism Taskforce, bringing in consultants and adding billable credit for diversity hiring initiatives and events. Associates were pleased to see “action come out of these meetings.” The firm has also bolstered its diversity fellowship; matched purchases from black-owned businesses up to $15,000 in total in Black History Month; and is looking at ways to help diverse candidates at undergraduate level. “Goodwin cares about getting to the roots of issues to help improve things,” juniors concluded.

“In time it’ll improve but it’s not just a box they’re checking.”

Mental health has also received more focus coming out of 2020: “One of the latest additions is offering career coaches and therapy sessions for all. The leadership has been investing in making sure that we take care of our mental health during this time of tragedy.” Juniors appreciated the firm’s renewed commitment: “I’m at a firm that cares and understands there are other components to my life.”

Hours, Compensation & Pro Bono

Billable hours: 1,950 target

Most interviewees had hit and exceeded their goal, coming in at around 2,100 hours. Juniors were however split on how their last year went – some told us they’d “been extremely lucky in how busy we were. It all depended on the type of work you do, your office and class year – I was taking whatever hours I could get.” One suggested “it was good to be too busy to worry about the apocalypse.” At the height of the busy periods, interviewees told us they might be “billing 240 hours a month, and that might not be sustainable.” Weekend work can also be common. “If I do work on weekends it’s a few hours each day, one explained. “It’s not necessarily all-encompassing, you’re still able to have weekend plans.” Boston and New York have historically called for longer hours on average than DC and the California bases. The good news at Goodwin is “the more hours you bill, the higher bonus you’ll receive.”

“It was good to be too busy to worry about the apocalypse.”

The firm encourages all lawyers to hit a 50-hour pro bono target each year and allows an unlimited amount of pro bono hours toward billables. “It shows their commitment is true,” juniors proposed. “They support you in pro bono, it’s not just a check-marker.” Interviewees had completed between 100 and 200 hours apiece and told us they “never feel there’s any sort of barrier or pushback from partners.” Common cases include immigration matters, asylum and citizenship work, nonprofit mergers, class actions, education cases, civil rights issues and work with the Innocence Project and ACLU. Recent examples of the latter include challenges brought against police forces following the “excessive use of force and tear gas at protests. That was before the Black Lives Matter demonstrations in 2020…”

Pro bono hours

  • For all US: 72,480
  • Average per US attorney: 59

Get Hired

LATERAL RECRUITMENT: Find out more about lateral opportunities with Goodwin here.

The first stage: recruitment on and off campus 

OCI applicants interviewed: 1,656

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: 

“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 

“Know the firm’s strengths and weaknesses. A lot of times, candidates just look at rankings but aren’t aware of the firm’s speciality.” – a third-year associate   


Applicants invited to second stage interview: 816 

During a standard callback interview, students should expect to meet between four and six attorneys of varying seniorities. The interviews themselves are geared toward 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: 

“Be prepared for questions about anything on your resume and have questions prepared for your interviewer.” – hiring partner Emily Rapalino 

Summer program 

Offers: 321

Acceptances: 141 

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: 

“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 



100 Northern Avenue,
MA 02210

  • Largest Office: 
  • Number of domestic offices: 7
  •  Number of international offices: 6
  • Worldwide revenue: $1.4 billion
  • Partners (US): 383
  • Counsel (US): 113
  • Associates (US): 611
  • Contacts 
  • Main recruitment contact: Ashley Nelson, Managing Director, Talent Acquisition
  • See the full list of office-based recruiting contacts on our website
  • Hiring partner: Emily Rapalino, National
  • Hiring Partner Diversity officer: Laura Acosta, Managing Director, Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
  • Recruitment details 
  • Entry-level associates starting in 2021: 109
  • Clerking policy: Yes
  • Summers joining/anticipated 2021: 1Ls: 6, 2Ls: 143
  • Summers joining/anticipated 2021 split by office: Boston: 45, New York: 44, Washington, DC: 10, Los Angeles: 8, San Francisco: 23, Silicon Valley: 18, Asia Track: 1
  • Summer salary 2021: 1Ls: $3,894/week 2Ls: $3,894/week
  • Split summers offered? No
  • Can summers spend time in an overseas office? No

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).

Firm profile
At Goodwin, we partner with our clients to practice law with integrity, ingenuity, agility, and ambition. Our 1,400 lawyers across the United States, Europe, and Asia excel at complex transactions, high-stakes litigation and world-class advisory services in the technology, life sciences, real estate, private equity, and financial industries. Our unique combination of deep experience serving both the innovators and investors in a rapidly changing, technology-driven economy sets us apart. 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 2021:
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, Stanford, Suffolk, St. John’s, 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, , Yale.

Recruitment outside OCIs:
Bay Area Diversity Career Fair, Boston Lawyers Group (BLG) Job Fair, , Lavender Law Career Fair, Law Consortium (DC), Loyola Patent Law Interview Program, NEBLSA Job Fair, Southeastern Minority Job Fair, MCGC Consortium, National Law School Consortium (NLSC)
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 into the fabric of the firm.

Social media:
Recruitment website:
Twitter: @goodwinlaw
Facebook: JoinGoodwin
Instagram: join_goodwin

This Firm's Rankings in
USA Guide, 2021

Ranked Departments

    • Banking & Finance (Band 4)
    • Capital Markets: Debt & Equity (Band 2)
    • Corporate/M&A: Private Equity: The Elite (Band 4)
    • Intellectual Property: Patent Litigation (Band 5)
    • Life Sciences (Band 3)
    • Venture Capital (Band 2)
    • Tax (Band 4)
    • Corporate/M&A: The Elite (Band 3)
    • Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation (Band 3)
    • Real Estate (Band 2)
    • Corporate/M&A & Private Equity (Band 3)
    • Healthcare: Pharmaceutical/Medical Products Regulatory (Band 4)
    • Intellectual Property: Litigation (Band 4)
    • Banking & Finance (Band 3)
    • Banking & Finance: Corporate & Regulatory (Band 1)
    • Capital Markets (Band 1)
    • Corporate/M&A (Band 1)
    • E-Discovery & Information Governance (Band 1)
    • Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation (Band 1)
    • Intellectual Property (Band 1)
    • Labor & Employment (Band 3)
    • Litigation: General Commercial (Band 1)
    • Litigation: Securities (Band 2)
    • 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)
    • Real Estate: Zoning/Land Use (Band 1)
    • Tax (Band 1)
    • Technology (Band 1)
    • Corporate/M&A: Highly Regarded (Band 2)
    • Healthcare (Band 5)
    • Intellectual Property: Patent (Band 3)
    • Litigation: Securities (Band 4)
    • Litigation: White-Collar Crime & Government Investigations: The Elite (Band 2)
    • Real Estate: Mainly Corporate & Finance (Band 4)
    • Tax (Band 5)
    • Appellate Law (Band 4)
    • Capital Markets: Equity: Issuer Counsel (Band 3)
    • Capital Markets: Equity: Manager Counsel (Band 3)
    • Corporate Crime & Investigations: Highly Regarded (Band 1)
    • Corporate/M&A: The Elite (Band 5)
    • Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation (Band 5)
    • 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)
    • International Trade: CFIUS Experts (Band 4)
    • International Trade: Export Controls & Economic Sanctions (Band 5)
    • Leisure & Hospitality (Band 2)
    • Life Sciences (Band 1)
    • Private Equity: Buyouts: Mid-Market (Band 1)
    • Private Equity: Fund Formation (Band 2)
    • Product Liability & Mass Torts: Highly Regarded (Band 2)
    • Real Estate (Band 3)
    • Registered Funds (Band 3)
    • REITs (Band 1)
    • Securities: Litigation (Band 4)
    • Startups & Emerging Companies (Band 1)
    • Tax: Corporate & Finance (Band 5)

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