Goodwin - The Inside View

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.”

The Work

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.


Becoming a tech lawyer: Goodwin's specialist tech lawyers tell us all about becoming a lawyer in their fast-paced sector. Read on >>

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.”

Four associates from Goodwin share their views on what it takes to become a successful life sciences lawyer. Read on >>

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.

Pro Bono

“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

Career Development

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.

Get Hired

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.

Summer program

Offers: 279

Acceptances: 89

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

Coming soon...


100 Northern Avenue,
MA 02210

  • 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
  • Contacts 
  • 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).

Firm profile
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.

Social media:
Recruitment website:
LinkedIn: company/goodwin-law
Twitter: @goodwinlaw
Facebook: JoinGoodwin
Instagram: join_goodwin

This Firm's Rankings in
USA Guide, 2019

Ranked Departments

    • Capital Markets: Debt & Equity (Band 2)
    • Corporate/M&A: Private Equity Recognised Practitioner
    • Life Sciences (Band 4)
    • Litigation: Securities (Band 4)
    • Venture Capital (Band 2)
    • Corporate/M&A & Private Equity (Band 3)
    • Environment (Band 4)
    • Intellectual Property: Litigation (Band 4)
    • Banking & Finance (Band 3)
    • Banking & Finance: Corporate & Regulatory (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)
    • 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 2)
    • Corporate/M&A: Highly Regarded (Band 3)
    • Intellectual Property: Patent (Band 3)
    • Litigation: Securities (Band 4)
    • Litigation: White-Collar Crime & Government Investigations (Band 3)
    • Real Estate: Mainly Corporate & Finance (Band 4)
    • Corporate/M&A (Band 4)
    • Tax Recognised Practitioner
    • Real Estate (Band 3)
    • 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 & Litigation) (Band 2)
    • Food & Beverages: Regulatory & Litigation (Band 3)
    • Intellectual Property (Band 3)
    • International Trade: Export Controls & Economic Sanctions Recognised Practitioner
    • Investment Funds: Private Equity: Fund Formation (Band 4)
    • Investment Funds: Registered Funds (Band 3)
    • Investment Funds: Venture Capital: Fund Formation (Band 2)
    • Leisure & Hospitality (Band 2)
    • Life Sciences (Band 2)
    • Privacy & Data Security Recognised Practitioner
    • Private Equity: Buyouts (Band 4)
    • 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 Recognised Practitioner