Goodwin - The Inside View

Looking for a modern firm doing good work with a winning spread of specialist practices? Tech this out…

SOME firms attract talent with decades-old prestige and a plethora of historical achievements. Boston-born Goodwin has its fair share of those – litigating after the sinking of the Titanic, appearing against Nazis in the Nuremberg Trials, and appointing the first female chairperson and managing partner of an AmLaw100 firm – but in 2020 it stands out from the crowd with an ultra-modern practice. “A lot of tech-leaning firms are based in Silicon Valley,  but Goodwin has grown its practice in the last ten years to compete with those firms – it’s pretty impressive,” a junior remarked. Goodwin-terviewees based in the Valley were also bowled over: “I came out of office after the callback and was ready to start the next day.”

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

The firm’s largest offices are in Boston and New York; you’ll also find Goodwin attorneys in San Francisco, Silicon Valley, Los Angeles, DC and, as of 2019, Santa Monica. “It’s been interesting to see the evolution of the practice in California. The tech work at Goodwin comes with a very different culture to finance-focused firms,” we heard. Chambers USA awards Goodwin strong nationwide rankings for life sciences and emerging companies work, but tech’s not the whole story – the firm also shines for corporate, financial services regulation, investment funds, and leisure and hospitality. Boston’s HQis the best state-level performer, scoring top rankings in Massachusetts for banking, corporate/M&A, employment, IP, litigation, private equity, real estate, and tax.

Strategy & Future

Goodwin is “constantly looking toward the next emerging trend,” interviewees told us. “They like their cutting-edge discoveries, which have recently included cannabis law and biosimilar litigation.” The firm has also kept things fresh on the branding front – after shaving off the ‘Procter’ from its letterhead in 2016, “they adopted the appearance of a cooler and more modern tech firm as opposed to an old and stodgy BigLaw outfit.” Part three of the drive to the future has been international expansion: following successful 2015 openings in Frankfurt and Paris, Goodwin set up shop in Luxembourg and English university city Cambridge in 2019. Follow our social media for the latest updates: we're on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook.

TOP READ: Becoming a life sciences lawyer: Four associates from Goodwin share their views on what it takes to become a successful life sciences lawyer.

“…constantly looking toward the next emerging trend.”

The Work

Junior associates start life at Goodwin as generalists in litigation or the business law group. Business law associates typically take two years to decide where to specialize; it’s often three years for litigators. All the firm’s offices have Attorney Development Managers “to act as a conduit between incoming assignments and junior and mid-level associates. They’re in charge of divvying out assignments and managing workflow.” Over time, associates build relationships with partners and can take more work directly from them.

Industry-focused units in the business law group include private equity, tech and life sciences, and real estate investment. “Tech is a huge part of all the practices, especially in the Silicon Valley office,” insiders said. Generalists were over the moon “working on different matters every day across different practices every couple of months. Whether you’re junior or mid-level, Goodwin trains you to become a deal life-cycle attorney.”  New York is more finance-facing than other bases; one junior who’d focused on capital markets described their time spent on “formations of new companies, venture capital work, IPOs and general day-to-day corporate governance.” Another outlined their progression over time: “The first year is spent learning how things work, for example on due diligence and document review. In the second year, you then start to draft financing documents and get more challenging matters to work on.” That said, sources said: “Even within the first year, we have contact with the clients – we’re not just pushing paper.”

“Even within the first year, we have contact with the clients – we’re not just pushing paper.”

The tech and life sciences group, making up a hefty chunk of the transactional practice in its own right, splits into two sides – no prizes for guessing those are a tech side and a life sciences side. Boston does a fair bit of both, as does New York and the California offices – expect to do more life sciences in DC, especially from a regulatory perspective. Goodwin’s business law department is generally “trying to adapt and get ahead of trends in the market.” Recent examples include working on direct listings (alternatives to IPOs) and the creation of incubators to keep up with the latest hot practices, like cannabis law.

Business law clients: Slack Technologies, Frazier Healthcare, Brightcove. Advised experience management firm Qualtrics on its $8 billion sale to European software giant SAP.

TOP READ: Becoming a private equity lawyer: Goodwin's lawyers explain that work in this area brings much more than financial profit.

Litigators can dip their toes into anything from white-collar litigation and general commercial disputes to “financial consumer services, IP and appellate cases.” Interviewees in New York alone dabbled in the “securities and white-collar groups, IP litigation and specialty litigation – under which falls employment, appellate and product liability. There are also antitrust, global trade, financial institutions (FIN) and energy and environment practices.” There’s a similar variety on offer in Boston, albeit with more pharmaceutical clients – juniors worked on FIN cases, employment and contract disputes, derivatives suits and even litigation arising from problems with hip implants. Heading into 2020, expect the biosimilar litigation practice to grow – “it’s anticipated to be the next big wave of litigation.” Goodwin’s reputation attracts top-ticket pharmaceutical and tech clients, and juniors pointed out that “big rich companies don’t pay to speak to second or third years.” Our sources instead focused on drafting “a range of documents, from summary judgments to motions.” Restrictions on client contact didn’t leave them too disappointed: “We do get involved in really interesting cases and work on cross-office deals.”

Litigation clients: President and Fellows of Harvard College, Citibank N.A, Gillette. Represented the Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur, in $75 million+ trade secret and commercial litigation proceedings related to foreign sovereign immunity and Indian contract law.

Career Development

When it came to career development and training at Goodwin, interviewees mostly talked about the Junior Associate Training Series – for better or worse. “They reviewed the training recently after juniors raised a couple of grievances, and it’s now actually quite useful for a first year with intensive sessions,” sources in Boston said. “The training then slows down and picks back up around fourth and fifth year.” The Series is divided into two streams tailored to the needs of business and litigation associates respectively; we heard that some group-specific training is not mandatory and “once you’ve been here six months, you can get too busy. People do stop going.” Some stuck with it: “I’ve done helpful sessions,” one said, “such as training from a writing coach twice every year.” Introductory sessions for first years are followed by more intensive tutorials with senior associates and partners. Goodwin also runs a popular leadership training development program for attorneys who are stepping into management roles as they become more senior.

“There have been some helpful sessions, such as training from a writing coach twice every year.”

Interviewees also praised partners for providing support and encouragement for career movers, even if that meant leaving Goodwin. “The vast majority of exits are to in-house roles at clients,” which helps explain why “partners are super encouraging and vouch for you to go. Associates also go into government, often with the Department of Justice, but we don’t see many people lateraling to other BigLaw firms.”


“The culture and atmosphere” were crucial parts of the Goodwin glue that kept associates eager to stick around. What this means in practice came down to a simple motto: “We’re humble, but we hustle.” Examples from juniors included occasional phone calls from a partner to an associate, directly praising them for a good job done. Juniors were roundly impressed with the attitudes of senior attorneys: “One thing that stands out is that partners will roll up their sleeves and get to work with you. They’re more than happy to get on with completing site checks while juniors are busy with filings, that’s exemplary behavior.” Feedback from Silicon Valley chimed with voices in New York and Boston: Californians told us: “It doesn’t matter that Goodwin is an East Coast-founded firm, the culture is consistent throughout.”

Each office finds the time amid the hard work to let their hair down, whether that’s for “coffee and doughnuts with the head of the practice group in Bostonor monthly pizza parties. One litigator reminisced of “getting a great order back on a preliminary injunction, and to celebrate, the office went out on a field trip for celebratory cocktails in the summer. We were told to take off for the day – it was so uplifting.” If you happen to be a sucker for karaoke, we hear that New York is the place to be…

Diversity & Inclusion

Firm-wide feedback on diversity was largely positive. Building upon the women’s initiative (Women at Goodwin), CRED (Committee for Racial and Ethnic Diversity) and LGBTQ initiative (Pride at Goodwin), the firm joined the newly-founded Move the Needle Fund. “It’s a big deal: just a handful of firms are working together with in-house counsel to develop certain goals which are then supposed to be met in five years’ time.” The overall focus of the movement is addressing the disparity between the diversity of graduating law school classes and equity partnerships at firms. Interviewees reckoned the program “is ambitious, but I think we’re heading in the right direction and it’s an exciting time to be at Goodwin.”

“Senior leadership is involved… and they really want to hear what’s going on at the bottom.”

There’s also been more focus put on well-being at the firm, and our sources appreciated the introduction of a reverse mentoring program. “Senior leadership is involved in this, and they really want to listen and hear what’s going on at the bottom,” one said. “My mentor asked me what changes needs to be made to make a diverse attorney feel comfortable in a working environment.” Goodwin has also recently adopted an unlimited vacation policy for associates; “we’re highly encouraged to take a two-week consecutive vacation.”

Hours & Compensation

Billable hours: 1,950 target

Unlimited pro bono counts, as does 25 hours set aside for educational opportunities like “attending a trial or shadowing a cross-examination.” The majority of juniors reckoned it’s “easy to hit 1,950 based on our current workloads, and teams are leanly staffed so there’s more than enough work to go around for the year.” Goodwinners praised their firm “for always keeping to market salaries and communicating well with associates about increases,” but some were less enthusiastic about how bonuses are handled. “It’s a very mysterious process: the firm has to see how many people hit the target and analyzes the firm’s income before deciding how much to hand out,” they explained. “Nobody knows how much you need to go over the target to get an additional bonus, but if you hit 1,950 you definitely get the listed bonus.”

“…easy to hit 1,950 based on our current workloads.”

As at other firms, the Boston and NewYork offices come with busier timetables, and if you’re looking for earlier finishes, look to DC or the West Coast. “The worst possible case scenario is that I get in around 7:30am and don’t leave the office till 11:30pm,” a Bostonian told us. “Normally I’ll come in at 8am and log off by 6pm.” Remote working to keep on top of things is common, as is moving between Goodwin’s offices in California. “Attorneys often move to and from San Francisco and Silicon Valley– they’re really treated as just one office.”

Pro Bono

Goodwin encourages all its attorneys to log 50 pro bono hours a year – put that together with unlimited pro bono toward billables, and you get enthusiastic juniors. Opportunities range from expunging rap sheets, immigration and asylum cases to monthly DACA clinics. New Yorkers worked with organizations advising transgender clients on name changes and gender status on legal documents; “we also help the New England Innocence Project to revive petitions for the wrongfully imprisoned as well as writing amicus briefs opposing challenges brought against Obamacare.” Over in Boston, associates worked with the Massachusetts-based Chelsea Collaborative helping Latinx immigrants settle into everyday life. “We also collaborate with national organizations like Kids in Need of Defense and the ACLU,” they said. “It’s interesting to do pro bono work from outside of your own practice.”

Pro bono hours

  • For all US attorneys: 70,832
  • Average per US attorney: 65.5

Get Hired 

The first stage: recruitment on and off campus 

OCI applicants interviewed: 1,780

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: 755 

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: 236

Acceptances: 83 

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 

Becoming a life sciences lawyer

Interested in life sciences? Find out how to thrive as a lawyer in this sector here.

Becoming a private equity lawyer

The world of private equity is fast-paced and multifaceted. Let Goodwin's expert lawyers guide you on how to become a private equity lawyer here.

Becoming a technology lawyer

Tech is changing every sector. As a lawyer, the opportunities are endless. Here Goodwin's attorneys give us the inside scoop on what it takes to excel as a technology lawyer.


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 2020: 69
  • Clerking policy: Yes
  • Summers joining/anticipated 2020: 1Ls: 0, 2Ls: 89
  • Summers joining/anticipated 2020 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 2020: 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 2020:
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, 2020

Ranked Departments

    • Capital Markets: Debt & Equity (Band 2)
    • Corporate/M&A: Private Equity (Band 4)
    • Life Sciences (Band 4)
    • Venture Capital (Band 2)
    • Tax (Band 4)
    • Corporate/M&A (Band 3)
    • Real Estate (Band 3)
    • 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)
    • Capital Markets: Equity: Issuer Counsel (Band 3)
    • Capital Markets: Equity: Manager Counsel (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)

Get the latest from Goodwin: