Greenberg Traurig, PA - The Inside View

GT’s recent spate of office openings gives it more US offices than any other AmLaw top 50 firm – and that’s just the tip of this mighty ’berg… 

IT'S been a busy year for Greenberg Traurig. With three office openings under its belt in 2019 (Minneapolis, Nashville and Milan), the Miami-born titan doesn’t look set to slow down. GT now has 31 flags firmly planted throughout the US, and its recent excursion into Italy serves as the firm’s tenth overseas base. And that’s not all – in 2019 the firm boosted its headcount by 133 in just 12 months (including one of the prosecutors in the Mueller investigation, Kyle Freeny). This trend has continued into 2020, with big-name lateral hires in practices including M&A, government law & policy, labor & employment, and litigation.  

“I was really impressed by the people who interviewed me."

On its Floridian home turf, sources pointed out that “there aren’t many other firms of this scale here.” Here the firm rakes in Chambers USA rankings for areas such as real estate, banking & finance, corporate/M&A, environment, and litigation. Of course, GT’s presence and reputation extends beyond Florida: the firm achieves top-notch nationwide kudos for its retail, gaming & licensing, Native American law, and leisure & hospitality expertise. New York’s attorneys were equally well regarded among sources: “I was really impressed by the people who interviewed me: it was clear then and it’s still clear now that GT values people who really understand clients.” This may be the reason one particularly loved-up associate declared: “I want to stay here forever.”  

Strategy & Future   



We asked co-president Brad Kaufman why the firm chose to open up in Nashville. "Although known as the music capital of the world, it is also the fastest-growing business community in the US," Kaufman says, pointing to the city's healthcare and financial services sectors in particular. "As a global firm we can offer a unique platform and array of valuable service to the Nashville business community while also providing bespoke representation of the music industry as well." It’s not just about geographical growth at Greenberg, but the growth of its associates – “the human side” – too. For more from Kaufman on this, see our full interview with him by going to the Bonus Features tab above. 

The Work 



Around a quarter of associates on our list joined the firm’s Big Apple base, followed by MiamiAtlantaChicago and LA. The remainder were spread far and wide, across 21 other offices. Corporate and litigation were equally popular areas, closely followed by real estate. Groups like IP, healthcare, tax, and labor & employment each drew a handful of newbies. Work assignment differs based on which group you’re in. In real estate, “shareholders just ring you up with work” (partners are known as shareholders at GT), while corporate associates are typically staffed according to availability. Some New York rookies felt “it should be a more formal process,” though others admitted “you get a say to some extent because we have so much deal flow.” Litigators consider themselves “LeBron James-style free agents,” meaning juniors “can choose to work with whoever we want to” (for basketball novices, ‘free agents’ aren’t contracted to a specific team). Either way, “we’re all about entrepreneurial spirit, so they love it if you say ‘give it to me, give it to me.’”  

Within corporate, private equity and healthcare-related transactions are growing specialties in the Big Apple, but there’s still a variety of work on offer including typical mergers, securities work, IP deals and corporate governance. Folks in Fort Lauderdale busied themselves with mostly private equity buy-side M&A, but sources noticed a trend toward more representations and warranties insurance deals worth “anywhere upwards of $5 million – we spend half our time on the phone with insurers about our diligence.” One interviewee reminisced: “I had more of an administrative role in my first couple of months and was just on the sideline, but now it’s more about understanding the law, so I always do the first draft of agreements and generate negotiations.” The most common task we heard of was coordinating the firm’s network of specialists: “We break deals down into groups like IP and labor. Those attorneys are based all over, so it’s the junior’s job to make sure they’re aware of deadlines and receiving docs as they come in.” There are the usual diligence tasks, but sources assured us: “You’re never doing something too boring for too long.” 

Corporate clients: ClareMedica Health Partners, Palm Ventures LLC, Replay Acquisition Corp. Represented WeWork in its acquisition of Euclid.   

Litigation “isn’t very team-based in the sense that you can do an employment assignment and white-collar assignment in the same week without trouble.” Juniors reckoned “you probably have to buckle down and specialize as you get more senior.” Miami is home to a “small, budding class action group,” while the flourishing construction industry downtown means “we work with the real estate department if something goes south.” Rookies are expected to draft interrogatory questions, refine pretrial reports “and talk with vendors during discovery to make sure we’re getting everything.” One was also able to “draft a whole section of an argument, which got revised, but they let me take the first stab which was cool.”  

Litigation clients: Marriott Ownership Resorts, Dr Reddy’s Laboratories, HSBC. Defended Whole Foods in a class action alleging they intentionally mislabeled products to overcharge customers.  

The real estate team “is known as the elite group nationally”: these folks “do pretty much everything real estate, except residential,” ranging from joint ventures and acquisitions to sales and financings. “Half of my work is for New York, but the other half is elsewhere in the US; we have people in so many markets.” The real estate, land use, and government law & policy departments “operate closely together” (it helps that the teams are all on the same floor in New York, meaning associates had also dabbled in the regulatory aspects of deals). “We act as either transactional attorneys or land use attorneys if there’s an issue pertaining to the Department of City Planning or other agencies. We also advise on general zoning matters.”  

Real estate clients: Starwood Capital, Albertson’s, Kimco Realty. Represented Fifteen Group in its project to convert the First Church of Christ, Miami, into a residential tower.  

Diversity & Inclusion  



Reviews were mixed on GT’s approach toward diversity: overall, interviewees felt the firm’s diversity efforts were “consistent with the competition.” New York’s real estate group “has been making a noble effort” to hire several female laterals over the past few years, and you can find “men, women, different religions and ages” among the practice’s leadership. On the representation of ethnic minorities, sources felt the numbers “need to be improved.” The corporate group fared better, with “many Asian partners,” and we heard the firm is willing to send attorneys to ethnic minority Bar Association conferences. The Miami office is home to “lots of Hispanic and Latino people, given the city we’re in” but sources noted that “there aren’t many female partners.” That said, this source recognized this was more a product of BigLaw than of GT itself.  

When it came to mental health, there were some frustrations surrounding the firm’s approach: “It’s only discussed in a perfunctory way. I don’t think anything will change until the folks in charge are people who grew up in a more sensitive environment.” However, the firm has recently appointed a new wellness manager who'll work across offices to develop current well-being initiatives and implement new ones. The firm also offers a support helpline for employees impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. In one office, “they brought in puppies to relieve stress once, which was fun!” 

Pro Bono  



Associates had no trouble hitting the firm’s 25-hour pro bono requirement: “It’s really easy, frankly; I clocked over 65 last year and if you do over 50 you get a certificate.” Cute. Attorneys can count 100 hours toward their billables, though this source added that “they don’t tell you to stop once you’ve hit 100 – they understand you have a duty to the client if the case ends up taking longer.” If you exceed 100, the firm will “take it into consideration for the bonus.”  

“If you do over 50, you get a certificate.” 

The firm’s New York-based global chair of pro bono publicizes opportunities throughout the firm “at least three times a week, and her team are very eager to help” if you’ve found your own matter independently. Each office also has a pro bono liaison to help associates source opportunities. Sources highlighted a whole host of immigration-related work, especially “focusing on helping asylum seekers stuck in a limbo as a result of policy changes.” Elsewhere, transactional attorneys got involved in helping form nonprofits and working on their bylaws: “We work with the tax team to get them tax-exempt status and with the IP team if the nonprofit wants a trademark.” And what’s more, in the spirit of giving back, GT also deducts $500 from each lawyer’s annual paycheck and gives it to charities (though attorneys can opt out).  

Pro bono hours 

  • For all US attorneys: 39,034.9
  • Average per US attorney: undisclosed

Hours & Compensation 



While there isn’t an official billing target, sources revealed real estate and corporate lawyers usually aim to hit 2,000 hours to be bonus-eligible, while litigators shoot for 1,900. Bonus allocation is largely discretionary, so although you can “get away with 1,800, it certainly affects your ability to advance in the firm.” However, not all was lost when work slowed down; sources appreciated that they “got the chance to learn in a way that wasn’t overwhelming.” New York’s salary is in line with the market rate, but GT pays slightly less than peer firms in Florida, though it’s possible to make up the difference if you get a bonus.  Regardless of office, attorneys typically rock up by 9:30am but finish at varying times. The corporate bunch endure periods “working past 9pm for weeks, but it’s never for months on end,” plus the trade-off is the ability to put in your hours from your sofa: “No one cares where you are so long as you’re available.” It’s a different story for real estate newbies: “We work closely with government bodies which are closed in the evening, so we usually leave at half six.” Juniors emphasized that “nobody will hold your hand and nobody will tell you when something’s due – in their mind it’s due ASAP,” so if you’ve got a heavy workload it’s possible you might not make it home for dinner. Associates said these folks are hot on face time too, but on the plus side some felt that this produced a “very close-knit” culture.   

Culture 



Despite being the firm's founding office, Miami is more “casual  compared to other offices; people dress a little more casually and everyone has their door open.” Sources enjoyed “eating lunch together in our little kitchenette,” and emphasized that “the associates are definitely my friends outside work.”  New Yorkers, on the other hand, admitted: “We all have our own offices, so the fallback is to retreat to it and lock the door.” That said, sources caveated that “people are respectful of each other. It’s not an office of yellers.”  

“...the associates are definitely my friends outside work.” 

Although interviewees reckoned socializing wasn’t Greenberg’s strongest suit, there were still a few things to get involved in: New York sources highlighted trivia nights for example. Interviewees also attended “charity events that the firm supports. As associates we’re encouraged to attend those and represent the firm.” Elsewhere, juniors noticed “it’s boom, boom, boom with events when the summers are here but people do their own thing for the rest of the year.” People who “prefer personal and professional to be separate” weren’t bothered by this, especially those who “want to go home and spend time with family.”  

Career Development  



"GT absolutely invests in us; the evidence is that if you make it clear you want to become an entry-level shareholder and do the requisite steps, you will become one.” Each office has a designated career development liaison, who assists with training and learning programs. Associates praised the firm-wide ‘Meet the Rainmaker’ series, which sees partners who’ve brought in lots of business share their wisdom with associates. Fort Lauderdale folk were keen to emphasize that “one thing we do really well is mentorship.” Newbies are assigned either a shareholder or counsel mentor and have mentor-mentee dinners throughout the year. Some thought “because we’re so junior and they’re so senior there’s a huge divide.” As such, several interviewees had sourced informal mentors, finding that “the less senior ones are better because they relate to what it’s like to be a junior associate.” Mentorship isn’t restricted to your home office either, as a source pointed out: “This is a global firm, so you will always find someone to help you. We have the world at our fingertips.”  

Covid-19 Updates



  • Having canceled its 2020 summer program, Greenberg Traurig offered all would-be summer associates the opportunity to start as first-year associates in either September 2021 or January 2022. These students will receive a $10,000 advance against their first-year salary.
  • They were also invited to join the firm's 2021 summer program. These students will receive a $5,000 advance against their summer 2021 salary.

 

Get Hired



The first stage: recruitment on and off campus 

OCI applicants interviewed: 655 

Interviewees outside OCI:61 

Greenberg Traurig interviews at schools that are nationally ranked or well represented with alumni in the current attorney population. It also attends job fairs and hires judicial clerks. In 2019 it interviewed at 38 law schools and had 28 resume collections. 

If students do not make the interview schedule because their school uses a random lottery system, “we encourage students to contact the recruiting manager for the office in which they are interested,” says global chair of professional development and integration Brad D. Kaufman. OCIs are conducted by shareholders (this is what Greenberg calls its partners) and sometimes another attorney. Interviewers look for top academic performance, and a balance of interests in and out of law school. Kaufman adds: “We look at why the candidate is interested in our firm and ask them about practice area interests, because that will determine who the candidate should meet if there is a callback interview.” 

Top tips for this stage: 

“Share something you’re passionate about, whether that’s at law school or an extracurricular activity. We really want to find that extra interesting reason for what drives someone.”  a first-year junior associate 

“It is critical that they show that they know the firm, the local office and the attorneys who are interviewing them. Today, this is easier than ever.” – global chair of professional development and integration Brad D. Kaufman 

 

Callbacks 

Applicants invited to second stage interview: 316 

Candidates meet shareholders and associates throughout the callback. Each interview is 20 to 30 minutes long. Kaufman tells us: “We focus on whether the candidate can thrive in our firm culture,” so candidates should expect questions about working in smaller teams and showing initiative. 

Top tips for this stage: 

“People who do well are people who’re comfortable and capable of cracking a joke.”  a first-year junior associate 

“Make sure to read the biographies of the attorneys who will be interviewing you and try and show genuine interest in their practice.”  global chair of professional development and integration Brad D. Kaufman 

 

Summer program 

Offers: 117 

Acceptances: 51 

Summer associates’ projects are usually assigned by an associate. These projects are based on the firm’s needs, so summers will likely get exposure to different areas of law. The exception is patent prosecution as the firm hires summers directly into this group. Kaufman says: “You should have a few projects on your plate at any given time, but do not volunteer for every project so it spreads you thin and affects the quality of your work.” Associates are given a shareholder and an associate mentor to help navigate the program. 

“They do the great activities – baseball games, cocktail events – where you meet all the practice groups,” a first-year associate recalled. “That’s really fun and can be just as grueling as the work!” 

The firm makes offers to specific practice areas. 

Top tips for this stage: 

“Take the time to learn from key professional staff, including legal assistants/secretaries, as they are often critical to the workflows of the practices.” – global chair of professional development and integration Brad D. Kaufman 

And finally…. 

Kaufman adds: “We value diversity and individuality, so be yourself!” 

 

Interview with co-president Brad Kaufman



Chambers Associate: Why did the firm decide to open up in Nashville?  

Brad Kaufman: Although known as the music capital of the world, it is also the fastest-growing business community in the US. Nashville is not simply focused on entertainment – the business of Nashville includes an amazing healthcare sector, financial services, etc. and as a global firm we can offer a unique platform and array of valuable services to the Nashville business community while also providing bespoke representation of the music industry as well. I know of no other firm with those attributes. 

CA: How would you differentiate Greenberg Traurig from peer firms?    

BK: As global hiring partner, I oversee the promotion process where attorneys matriculate to shareholders. One of our key distinguishing points is every single associate we hire, we hire based on the hope and expectation they will become shareholders here. I do not believe any peer firm can truly say that. Consistent with that expectation, from the moment an associate joins us we offer clear guidance on what they need to do and accomplish at every stage of their associate career. That guidance includes not only specific substantive milestones as articulated by their practice group and office leadership, but also the expectations for pro bono work, community involvement and business development.  

CA: Have you got any changes planned for the next year?  

BK: Personally, I am more interested in the human side of our firm. This industry generally talks to associates rather than listening to them, so for the next 12 months me and my senior colleagues will spend a lot of time in each office listening to the associates to understand what challenges they see and what they think we can be doing better.  

CA: What achievement are you most proud of?  

BK: I had the rare opportunity to appear in the United States Supreme Court as co-counsel with a former US Solicitor General. I flew my parents to Washington, DC so they could come and observe the oral arguments. My folks were hard-working salt of the earth types completely unaccustomed to being in that setting. After oral arguments, my famous co-counsel hosted a big event at his office with lots of important, well-known figures from the DC legal and political communities. My parents were invited as well. My co-counsel gave a toast to start the event. He said that whenever he had the opportunity to appear at the country’s highest court he hosted a celebration both to recognize the importance of such an opportunity as well as to honor a special guest. Then, without any notice to me, he said: “Those people are Brad’s mom and dad.” My parents were so thrilled, my mom started to cry... quite a scene. A photograph was taken as he handed my parents a gift, and that photograph remained on my parent’s fireplace mantel until they both passed away. 

CA: How do you think the profession has changed since you started out practicing as a lawyer and what’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learned?   

BK: I have two daughters who are both in law school so this is a very personal topic for me. How we do what we do has changed dramatically. When I was a young associate we did not have computers; we had a phone and a dictation machine. We would spend hours with casebooks in the library and spoke to people in person. When we left the office our professional lives, for the most part, stopped and our personal lives took over. That separation has become greatly complicated because you can do almost anything anywhere, you don’t have to be in the office. While that creates a vast virtual workspace it also means that you are giving up direct personal contact with the people who are critical to your success. No matter how complex the issue, there is always a human being involved. Never, ever lose sight of the human impact of things you are doing. 

Greenberg Traurig, PA

  • Head Office: Global
  • Number of domestic offices: 30
  • Number of international offices: 10
  • Worldwide revenue: $1,641,790,000.00
  • Partners (US): 917
  • Associates (US): 839
  • Contacts  
  • Main recruitment contact: Kerry Jean Moore (moorek@gtlaw.com)
  • Hiring partner: Brad Kaufman
  • Diversity officer: Nikki Lewis Simon
  • Recruitment details  
  • Entry-level associates starting in 2019: 51
  • Clerking policy: Yes
  • Summers joining/anticipated 2019: 
  • 1Ls: 7, 2Ls: 39
  • Split summers offered? Case-by-case
  • Can summers spend time in an overseas office? Case-by-case

Main areas of work
Banking and financial services; blockchain; corporate; cybersecurity and privacy; emerging technology; energy and natural resources; entertainment and media; environmental; food, beverage and agribusiness; franchise and distribution; gaming; government contracts; government law and policy; health care and FDA practice; hospitality; immigration and compliance; infrastructure; insurance; intellectual property and technology; international trade; labor and employment; Latin American and Iberian practice; life sciences and medical technology; litigation; marketing, advertising, sweepstakes and promotions law; pharmaceutical, medical device and health care; private wealth services; public finance; real estate; regulatory and compliance; restructuring and bankruptcy; retail; tax; technology, telecommunications; transportation and automotive.

Firm profile
Greenberg Traurig, LLP (GT) has more than 2,200 attorneys in 41 offices in the US, Latin America, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. GT has been recognized for its philanthropic giving, diversity, and innovation, and is consistently among the largest firms in the US on the Law360 400 and among the Top 20 on the Am Law Global 100.

Recruitment
HISTORIC LIST OF OCI Law Schools:
Law schools and programs at: Boston College; Boston U.; Brooklyn Law School; Chicago-Kent College of Law; Columbia Law School; Cornell Law School; Duke Law School; Emory Law School; Florida International University College of Law; Fordham Law School; George Washington University Law School; Georgetown University Law Center; Georgia State University; Howard University; Indiana University Walkaround Program; Loyola Law School, Los Angeles; New York University School of Law; Northeastern University; Northwestern University Law School; Notre Dame Law School; University of California, Davis School of Law; University of California, Los Angeles - School of Law; University of Chicago Law School; University of Florida - Levin College of Law; University of Georgia; University of Miami School of Law; University of Michigan Law School; University of Pacific, McGeorge; University of Pennsylvania Law School; University of Southern California - Gould School of Law; University of Virginia; Vanderbilt Law School Walkaround Program

HISTORIC LIST OF Recruitment outside OCIs: Job Fairs: Boston Lawyers Group (BLG); Boston Fair for Law Students of Color”; Cook County Minority Job Fair; IP Job Fair; Lavender Law Fair; Midwest-California Consortium; SEMJF Resume Collects: Law schools and programs at: Cornell; Duke; Emory; Florida International University; Fordham; Florida State University; George Washington University; Georgetown University; Harvard; New York University; Northwestern University; Pepperdine; St. Thomas; Stanford; Stetson; Thurgood Marshall; University of California, Berkeley; University of Chicago; University of Florida; University of Miami; University of Michigan; University of Pennsylvania; University of Texas; University of Virginia; Yale

Summer associate program profile: An important goal of the program is to help summer associates with the transition from law student to practicing lawyers and future leaders by including them on client matters. We look for attorneys who have an entrepreneurial spirit, initiative, willingness to assume responsibility, and leadership skills. Components of the program include: corporate deal simulation; exposure to innovative technology; conflict resolution training; litigation training, such as oral advocacy presentation; visit to appeals court and Q&A session with a judge; and firsthand exposure to in-house counsel and their interaction with law firms. We are proud that several firm leaders started their careers as a summer associate at the firm.

Social media:
Recruitment website: www.gtlaw.com/careers/
Linkedin: greenberg-traurig-llp
Twitter: @GT_Law
Facebook: GreenbergTraurigLLP
Instagram: @gt_law

This Firm's Rankings in
USA Guide, 2020

Ranked Departments

    • Corporate/M&A (Band 1)
    • Real Estate (Band 3)
    • Tax (Band 4)
    • Real Estate (Band 4)
    • Corporate/M&A (Band 4)
    • Environment (Band 3)
    • Litigation: General Commercial (Band 3)
    • Real Estate (Band 3)
    • Immigration (Band 1)
    • Banking & Finance (Band 1)
    • Construction (Band 3)
    • Environment (Band 1)
    • Insurance (Band 3)
    • Labor & Employment (Band 2)
    • Litigation: Appellate (Band 1)
    • Litigation: General Commercial (Band 2)
    • Litigation: White-Collar Crime & Government Investigations (Band 2)
    • Tax (Band 1)
    • Real Estate (Band 1)
    • Real Estate: Zoning/Land Use (Band 2)
    • Bankruptcy/Restructuring (Band 2)
    • Corporate/M&A & Private Equity (Band 1)
    • Real Estate (Band 1)
    • Real Estate: Zoning/Land Use (Band 1)
    • Banking & Finance (Band 3)
    • Bankruptcy/Restructuring (Band 2)
    • Corporate/M&A (Band 4)
    • Intellectual Property (Band 4)
    • Labor & Employment (Band 4)
    • Litigation: General Commercial (Band 3)
    • Bankruptcy/Restructuring (Band 3)
    • Corporate/M&A & Private Equity (Band 4)
    • Intellectual Property (Band 4)
    • Litigation: General Commercial (Band 4)
    • Litigation: White-Collar Crime & Government Investigations (Band 3)
    • Real Estate (Band 2)
    • Banking & Finance: Public Finance (Band 2)
    • Labor & Employment (Band 4)
    • Corporate/Commercial (Band 1)
    • Gaming & Licensing (Band 2)
    • Litigation: General Commercial (Band 3)
    • Real Estate (Band 1)
    • Construction (Band 1)
    • Intellectual Property (Band 2)
    • Labor & Employment (Band 3)
    • Litigation: General Commercial (Band 1)
    • Real Estate (Band 3)
    • Corporate/M&A: Highly Regarded (Band 5)
    • Environment (Band 3)
    • Healthcare (Band 3)
    • Litigation: General Commercial: Highly Regarded (Band 3)
    • Real Estate: Mainly Dirt (Band 1)
    • Environment (Band 2)
    • Healthcare (Band 4)
    • Litigation: Appellate (Band 3)
    • Real Estate (Band 2)
    • Bankruptcy/Restructuring (Band 5)
    • Corporate/M&A: Highly Regarded (Band 4)
    • Energy: Oil & Gas (Regulatory & Litigation) (Band 4)
    • Environment (Band 4)
    • Franchising (Band 4)
    • Gaming & Licensing (Band 1)
    • Immigration (Band 3)
    • Leisure & Hospitality (Band 2)
    • Native American Law (Band 2)
    • Product Liability & Mass Torts (Band 3)
    • Real Estate (Band 1)
    • Retail (Band 1)
    • Corporate/M&A (Band 3)