Goulston & Storrs - The Inside View

If you’re in the market for a three-office mid-sizer with real estate prowess and good partnership prospects, we recommend snapping up Goulston upon a first viewing. 

“Even at law school, I knew about Goulston’s presence in the real estate space,” one of our associate sources recalled. Yes, real estate is certainly the jewel in this mid-sizer's crown, with Chambers USA awarding it top-tier accolades in Bostonfor this practice. However, “we really have four core areas,” says co-managing director Bill Dillon. “Real estate, litigation, corporate and private client – the single biggest area is real estate, but all four are significant practices for us.” Further Chambers USA rankings in general commercial litigation, labor & employment, and banking & finance reveal Goulston’s broader scope, while high-flying nods in private wealth law in Chambers High Net Worth demonstrate the depth of Goulston’s expertise in personal legal services. 

“...it was clear that Goulston had a different approach to training and longevity with its partnership track.” 

With three offices to its name (in Boston, DC, and New York), Goulston’s size attracted our interviewees: “Its appeal is that it has a collegial work environment while also providing the resources and matters that you would find at bigger firms.” Those mid-sized dimensions were also felt to boost the prospect of staying at the firm long-term, with this source explaining that “much smaller summer and associate classes translate into better training and more investment in us – if we want to stay, we can. When I interviewed, it was clear that Goulston had a different approach to training and longevity with its partnership track.” Dillon flags the firm’s one-tier partnership structure (where partners are referred to as ‘directors’) and tells us that “the process for evaluating folks for partnership is one that is highly personal and based on interactions and skills rather than numbers. We’re low leverage, so there’s not a need for a winnowing of classes as they progress through the associate ranks.”  

Goulston & Storrs is a Top 25 firm for Associate Satisfaction and a Top 10 firm for retention in our 2023 survey.

Strategy & Future  

“It’s been a busy year for us,” confirms Dillon, “and we’ve been focused on getting the work done for clients – we've been in a steady state.” He adds that transactional work has slowed down “because of the interest rate environment and the natural slowdown in the macroeconomic environment,” but explains that Goulston is in a good countercyclical position: “We do have a nice mix of litigation and private client work, so that’s been a ballast for some of the slowdown and we do have a number of real estate and corporate clients who are countercyclical.” Dillon is also optimistic about the months ahead: “There will come a point later this year when the interest rate environment will stabilize, and we anticipate a very steep resurgence in transactional deal flow – so we want to be ready for that.” 

The Work  

When the summer is over, newbies rank their practice area preferences and normally get their first choice if it aligns with business need. Most of the associates on our list were working in either the real estate or litigation practices, but a few were also placed in corporate. Each group has work allocators and “all the partners funnel work through them. They have a sense of how busy each associate is and will distribute work to those who have better capacity. If a work allocator reaches out to you and you don’t have time to complete a project, they won’t pressure you to take it on.” 

“...working with architects and engineers to put together applications.” 

Goulston’s real estate department is “divided into land use, transactional and finance permitting matters, but you’re never under any pressure to specialize early on and can take on work in all areas.” Another source enthused about “getting to see the full breadth of practice: I’ve represented a developer as they sought a permit for a project and have also helped out on acquisitions where I’ve had the chance to draft documents and keep everything in the deal organized.” Development projects often involve the likes of hospitals, hotels, and condo blocks. “You’re also supporting the directors as they go back and forth on finance and purchase agreements,” an interviewee noted. On the land use side, juniors found themselves “working with architects and engineers to put together applications and tracking all the elements involved to ensure deadlines are met.”  

Real estate clients: New England Development, Beacon Capital Partners, WS Development Associates. Represented New England Development on the multi-million redevelopment of the CambridgeSide site in Massachusetts to add office, lab, retail, and residential spaces.   

“Most of my cases have involved just me and a director.” 

“You get everything,” said a junior litigator. “You are trained as a generalist, but there are subgroups in areas like labor and employment, antitrust, and legal malpractice, which is a growing area. As you progress you can move into a more specific area.” As you might expect, “there’s lots of real estate litigation, where we’re representing major developers and builders, but we also do things like probate and fiduciary litigation where we represent high net worth individuals and trustees.” This source explained: “Most of my cases have involved just me and a director. There’s definitely a lot of research into case law and precedent relevance, as well as general fact-gathering and review.” Others had drafted briefs, while employment matters involved “drafting settlement agreements following mediations you’ve attended.” It’s also worth highlighting that quite a few juniors had joined the litigation department after completing clerkships. 

Litigation clients: Sogou, Mersen USA EP Corp. Represented a joint venture against two proceedings that sought to block a large infrastructure project. 


Size matters when it comes to culture. With a humble array of offices and a recent summer intake of nine, the firm was felt to maintain a personable feel. This goes some way to bolster an associate’s sense of development and longevity at the firm: “They told me in an interview that they wanted me to have a career here and their actions since have demonstrated this.” Size also affects the camaraderie between junior associates, as “there’s no huge associate pool where you’re all fighting for limited partnership positions – here we band together and support each other, as that layer of competition is removed.”  

“The firm respects work/life boundaries and isn’t focused on getting people drinking every week.” 

Some BigLaw firms get a rep for promoting a ‘work hard, play hard’ culture, but our sources said Goulston “attracts and hires non-traditional law school people – people aren’t working 70 hours and then going to get drinks. People here like to go home to their families and see their kids! The firm respects work/life boundaries and isn’t focused on getting people drinking every week.” That’s not to suggest “there’s no in-office culture – we certainly get rallied around for lunches and dinners!” Another interviewee explained that “we definitely have a program of social events and just this week a group of us from different practice groups went to see a local Boston team play a game, which was positive and refreshing.” We’ll bring the foam finger!  

Career Development  

“There are lots of internal structures within the firm that emphasize mentorship,” a source noted. “From the get-go we receive a partner mentor and a mid-level 'sibling', who both help us to get acquainted with the firm. There are also affinity group lunches that provide mentorship opportunities, plus my mentors have connected me to external events to help with my development.” Overall, the firm “does take to heart the responsibility to train us. Right now, I have the best teacher who will take those five minutes to sit me down and explain something – that's where most of the training takes place.” 

“...we have formal group trainings on areas like case lifecycles and persuasive writing.” 

There are formal training programs and resources in place, too: “The firm has certain subscription providers we can access, and we’re encouraged to attend external events.” This junior was glad for the “professional development service I accessed where I could watch video-on-subscription pages – I'd never done them before, and it was super helpful!” In litigation, “we have formal group trainings on areas like case life cycles and persuasive writing – I've been happy with the sessions so far.” Formal sessions are also available for other practice areas via the Goulston & Storrs University.Looking ahead, a resounding 81% of our survey respondents felt that gaining partnership was achievable – a whopping 28% higher than the market average we record. 

Hours & Compensation  

Billable hours: 1,850 target  

“I’m 0% worried about it,” said one confident litigator when discussing Goulston’s hours target. “The group has been busy, and I’m currently on track – I would like a little less work actually!” We were told that this target is very much a ‘soft’ one and came about a couple of years ago after associates asked for some more formal guidance on how much they should be billing. “I don’t think about it,” confirmed one junior. “If you’re doing the work and doing it well, you’re fine.” Another said that “in real estate the target isn’t even mentioned, which is wild!” Goulston doesn’t pay out bonuses, which for most of our interviewees was accepted as a trade-off for a better work/life balance. However, the odd one or two found “the lack of bonus frustrating if you’ve been working more than expected.”  

“The trade-off is the lifestyle and being able to get a good night’s sleep, which is absolutely worth it!” 

“They don’t want us to burn out,” another source explained. “The trade-off is the lifestyle and being able to get a good night’s sleep, which is absolutely worth it! Money is great, but not at the cost of having to stay up in the middle of the night and not being able to take vacation.” There are “busy seasons and weeks,” but “those periods don’t last long!” With a market-rate base salary paid out over the first three years, most associates felt they had landed on their feet: “It’s quite amazing! We make what everyone else makes at a base level in this sphere and the lack of a bonus keeps our hours saner.”   

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion  

“It’s not as diverse as I would like it to be, but it’s no worse than other law firms – it's just that BigLaw has been slow to diversify,” an interviewee commented. The general feeling from our sources was that “the firm is taking the steps it needs to take to become the firm it needs to be.” That has included “a real commitment to remedying the lack of diversity by investing in people of color and connecting them with training opportunities and events to assist with their development.” We also heard that “they removed GPA and identifying information from people’s resumes a couple of years ago before the callback stage and we have seen a significant increase in gender and racial/ethnic diversity.” 

“...all but one of the promotions have been awarded to women.” 

When it comes to retaining and promoting diverse candidates, the firm's Senior D&I director, Ayeshah Johnson, received praise for “sitting in on any meeting where placements and promotions are discussed. She challenges and nudges if she hears any unconscious bias.” There are “a handful of affinity groups, some of which are fairly inactive,” but we were told repeatedly that “the women’s affinity group is taking shape – today I’m going to a lunch for new women associates, for example.” This interviewee concluded that “they are doing a good job from a gender perspective – in the last two partnership promotion cycles in litigation all but one of the promotions have been awarded to women. As a woman it’s inspiring to see someone like me attain that promotion.”  

Pro Bono  

Goulston’s associates were proud of the firm's attitude towards pro bono, which was reportedly set from the top: “We have partners who are heavily committed to areas of pro bono. If a partner is working hard on pro bono, it means that no one will be concerned if an associate is as well!” Sources felt that pro bono was further incentivized by the lack of any cap on how much they could do and the fact that all pro bono is counted as billable. “That really goes to show the level of commitment – most of our associates do well over 50 hours a year,” an interviewee commented. 

“...sometimes you get assigned cases and you didn’t even realize they were pro bono cases!” 

Other sources had “jumped in with both feet” and got involved with a variety of affordable housing, immigration, asylum, veterans, and reproductive rights matters. There was also the chance to assist “local non-profits on matters where you are the firm’s front person – you get support, but you’re there answering the day-to-day questions and it’s great to have that level of direct client contact and responsibility.” If associates want to shake it up and try something new, then “the firm is receptive to junior associates raising their hand and bringing in their own client.” This junior quipped that pro bono is so engrained at Goulston that “sometimes you get assigned cases and you didn’t even realize they were pro bono cases!” 

Pro bono hours  

  • For all US attorneys: 15,092 
  • Average per US attorney: 71.9 

Get Hired

The first stage: recruitment on and off campus

Goulston & Storrs participate in OCIs with schools in the geographic areas of their offices (Boston, NY and DC) as well and more broadly at the University of Chicago, University of Michigan, University of Virginia and Yale. G&S also participate in two diversity job fairs; The Boston Lawyers Group Job Fair and Lavender Law Career Fair. A member of the hiring committee meeting or law school alum usually conducts the OCIs

The firm tends to ask questions surrounding students who understand the firm’s emphasis on quality and culture tend to succeed. The questions are designed to yield a sense of the candidate’s engagement with the law and interest in our firm.

Top tips for the stage:

“Know who we are and have a sense of why our firm might be the right place for you to develop as a lawyer.”- hiring partner, Joshua Davis


During callbacks, each candidate will meet with four to six of the firm’s lawyers, partners and associates. The majority of interviews are conducted by members of the hiring committee. Each candidate meets, at least briefly, with one of the hiring partners. At this point, G&S ask questions about areas of interest, life experiences, and career hopes and expectations. The interviews are conversational in nature, so candidates can expect to have a real sense of the people they meet.

Top tips for this stage:

“Be thoughtful in your answers and in your preparation. We value that quality in our colleagues and we look for it in those who hope to join us.” - hiring partner, Joshua Davis

Summer Program

The summer program consists of educational seminars, social events, client meetings and work assignments. Summers get assignments in all practice areas, so they have a chance to learn about the work G&S does and have the opportunity to be exposed to as many attorneys as possible. According to hiring sources at the firm: “Virtually all summers end up joining the firm.” Yet, as the program is very small, early expressions of interest often prove useful, according to hiring sources. At the end of the summer, summers are asked to rank practice areas in order of preference and, barring some business reason, they are assigned to one of their top choices.

Top tips for this stage:

“Our lawyers are engaged in our practice and in the life of the firm. We urge our summer associates to be as well. Ask questions, engage with your colleagues and take the time to get to know us as we will take the time to get to know you.” - hiring partner, Joshua Davis


Goulston & Storrs

400 Atlantic Avenue,
MA 02110-3333
Website www.goulstonstorrs.com

Main areas of work
Real estate, litigation, tax, private clients and trusts, capital markets, bankruptcy, corporate, employment, banking and finance, environmental, intellectual property.

Firm profile
Goulston & Storrs is an Am Law 200 law firm, with offices in Boston, New York and Washington, DC. With over 200 attorneys across multiple disciplines, Goulston & Storrs is nationally recognized for its real estate practice, leading-edge corporate, capital markets and finance, litigation, and private client and trust practices. Our lawyers employ a proven team approach that values client outcomes over individual recognition. The firm’s dedication to providing prompt, practical legal advice, cost-efficiently and tailored to our clients’ business needs, has resulted in Goulston & Storrs being acknowledged for excellence by Chambers USA, BTI’s A-Team for Client Service, Best Lawyers in America and other leading industry rankings.

Law Schools attending for OCIs in 2022:
University of Chicago, University of Michigan, Harvard, Georgetown University, Columbia University, Northeastern University, New York University, Boston College, Boston University, Suffolk University, Howard University School of Law

Recruitment outside OCIs:
We participate in a number of networking events at local law schools; invite students to our office for resume review and mock interviews. We also host a rising 2L reception every June so students from outside Boston can learn more about G&S in advance of OCI. We participate in two diversity recruiting events; the Boston Lawyers Group Job Fair and the Lavender Law Career Fair.

Summer associate profile:
We attract and hire people who: seek a sophisticated and challenging legal practice; are concerned about team success; are willing to work hard.

Summer program components:
As a summer associate, you have a unique opportunity to learn about the legal profession and the Boston area. Expect to live the law firm experience with direct partner and client exposure. Work assignments are substantive and include research and writing assignments, client meetings, conference calls, depositions and attending hearings. Your summer with Goulston & Storrs offers amazing work opportunities throughout several practice areas, assisting the firm’s attorneys.

Social media:
Recruitment website: www.goulstonstorrs.com
Linkedin: goulston-&-storrs
Twitter: @goulstonstorrs
Facebook: GoulstonStorrs

This Firm's Rankings in
USA Guide, 2023

Ranked Departments

    • Real Estate (Band 2)
    • Banking & Finance (Band 3)
    • Bankruptcy/Restructuring (Band 2)
    • Environment (Band 2)
    • Labor & Employment (Band 4)
    • Litigation: General Commercial (Band 2)
    • Real Estate (Band 1)
    • Real Estate: Zoning/Land Use (Band 1)
    • Leisure & Hospitality (Band 3)
    • Real Estate (Band 5)
    • Retail (Band 3)

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