In North Philadelphia, born and raised: this smaller firm offers a variety of litigation work, a growing transactional arm and a commitment to preserving a work/life balance.
HANGLEY may be pocket-sized, but thanks to its savvy navigation of the litigation scene in Pennsylvania it’s gained a strong foothold in the region. Our associate interviewees beamed: “Because of our smaller size and more competitive rates we're able to take on litigations of various sizes. As a result, we routinely go against big firms in Philly and nationally, as well as taking on smaller matters that are equally important to us and the client, which may be a small business or an individual.” A recent highlight for the firm saw its lawyers beavering away on its defense of the Philadelphia Beverage Tax, which generates tens of millions of dollars annually. In July 2018 the Pennsylvania Supreme Court declared the tax lawful, following two years of widely publicized litigation.
All of that hard work has certainly paid off: the firm's named shareholders Hangley, Aronchick and Schiller are among the best litigators in the state, while the firm as a whole picks up a high ranking for its general commercial litigation expertise in Eastern Pennsylvania. It also receives praise for its insurance, bankruptcy/restructuring and transactional real estate practices (yes, it's not all about litigation at Hangley; there's also a corporate & transactions group, as well as transactional elements in other practices at the firm).
Sources assured us that the firm’s success hasn’t gone to its head, describing “a down-to-earth culture where people are concerned with doing the best work we can while maintaining a sense of humor and humanity.” Juniors also drew attention to Hangley’s work with its community: “I wanted to be somewhere I could connect with the city beyond the firm.” One example of Hangley’s philanthropic influence is the firm’s recent success in securing relief of habeas corpus for an individual convicted of murder in 1996, in a pro bono case run by two shareholders.
“Hangley really values pro bono and lets you take on any matter you’re interested in,” we learned. The set up is rather informal, however, with sources explaining that “it's a little harder to find opportunities, as we don't have someone at the firm lining them up for us; you have to find an organization and get involved, or attend external trainings and get the work.” This didn't put off Hangley's lawyers from sourcing pro bono work though: “I would say the vast majority of people are involved in substantive pro bono matters.” We heard of juniors working on a variety of matters, including habeas petitions and prisoners' rights cases, as well as assignments for the Innocence Project and the Philadelphia VIP – an organization that provides legal services for low-income residents of the city.
Pro bono hours
- For all attorneys: undisclosed
- Average per attorney: undisclosed
Strategy & Future
“We have younger attorneys building practices.”
At a practice area level, CEO David Pudlin tells us that he expects “our insurance coverage, environmental and family work to grow – those three areas are growing at a very nice pace.” Another practice that's gaining traction is real estate: “We're now representing a couple of retail chains, and we'll be doing all of their leasing work for them.” There's also an entrepreneurial buzz at Hangley at the moment, according to Pudlin: “One of our lawyers, Bonnie Hoffman, is building an education law practice focused on representing school districts and dealing with family issues. The younger tier of our partnership is starting to make strides in business development, and we have younger attorneys building practices.”
Incoming juniors tend to start off as generalist litigators, but can specialize in a more specific area (options include antitrust, insurance coverage, environmental, bankruptcy, appellate and education) as they gain more experience. There’s a staffing shareholder – partners are called shareholders at Hangley – who monitors associates’ workloads. Our sources generally found this person to be “great at helping me, especially when it comes to taking on something new or balancing different cases. He makes sure you have enough work and not too much.” Others added that there's still the opportunity to “sometimes get work more organically” from shareholders. They also flagged that matters are staffed leanly; often cases involve just one associate working with one or two shareholders.
“...everything is really interesting and very complex.”
Clients, we heard, include “government entities, private companies and individuals.” General litigators told us that “we litigate all aspects of cases but what distinguishes us from other firms is that we always take on cases with an eye toward going to trial, despite the fact that many nowadays end in settlement.” On the more generalist side, tasks included overseeing “a lot of discovery processes, but also writing a lot of motions and briefs, like motions to dismiss and summary judgments.” One source had been able to “take and defend depositions, and if it's not me taking the deposition, then I'm prepping the shareholder who is, by writing the outline and talking about strategy.” Others highlighted that they enjoyed getting to work with the different types of clients that Hangley attracts, and utilizing different skills depending on who they were representing: “It's very different if your client is an individual as opposed to a corporation.”
Those who had dabbled in more specialist insurance matters had encountered “bad faith cases, breaches of contract and liability insurance issues – everything is really interesting and very complex.” The experience involved a lot of legal research tasks, but also the chance to “draft interrogatories and provide coverage analysis for clients, where we look into whether to approve or deny coverage.” Sources also noted that on the antitrust side the cases tend to be larger, complex class actions, sometimes for pharmaceutical clients. On the whole, our interviewees agreed that the atmosphere and pace at Hangley is “very dynamic, because we're in such small groups.” This did bode well for early responsibility, with this associate enthusiastically telling us that “I'll be taking my own depositions early in comparison to my peers at other firms.”
Litigation clients: Pennsylvania Governor Thomas Wolf and members of his administration; Allied World Assurance Company (US); and the City of Philadelphia. Represented the latter during the successful defense of the Philadelphia Beverage Tax, which was argued from the trial court up to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.
“There’s not as much of an organized development program compared to what you might find at other firms,” sources commented, but this approach didn't bother them. Instead, the emphasis here is on “hands-on learning,” which this interviewee found to be “actually better than being at a larger firm and having weekly lunchtime meetings, which sound great but actually don't provide that much information!” While associates have to adopt a more “self-guided” approach to development, they nonetheless found that “it's great how hands-on everyone is – everyone is available for questions. You're not thrown in without help.” An associate mentor is also available to assist for a junior's first couple of years, and then they are replaced by a shareholder mentor.
“...you have a better chance of developing business and finding your own clients.”
“They encourage you to take ownership and a stake in the firm,” interviewees went on to explain. “There's an associate on every committee at the firm, as well as an associate as a board observer, so we feel that we're contributing to the bottom line instead of just billing.” Again the firm's size, status and streamlined associate intake (just one or two newbies tend to join each year) were raised as positive factors that influenced career development: “Because of our rates and our place in the market you feel like you have a better chance of developing business and finding your own clients, which it’s hard to envisage doing at a much larger firm.” Juniors acknowledged that people do leave the firm, but it's often because they've “found something they really want to do or for personal reasons – it doesn't seem like people leave because their career has stalled. The firm doesn't hire a lot of people, which means there's a lot of internal growth.” We heard that if people do leave Hangley, then it's often because they've gained a position with the USAO.
“They don't hire right out of law school; it's usually those who are one or two years out and have good experience from another firm, a non-profit or via a clerkship. I know they look really hard at clerkships – it's not a requirement but I can tell it's something they really value.” Find out more about the hiring process by clicking on the 'Bonus Features' tab above.
“There’s a real camaraderie here,” associates agreed. They attributed this atmosphere to the intentions of Hangley's founding shareholders, who “wanted to create a firm where there's a great work/life balance, where attorneys could have lives. It's a top-down approach.” While that sense of camaraderie was in part enabled by the firm's size (“there are only ten or so associates, so you really get to know other people”), sources felt that Hangley's management from the top was more responsible for the pleasant vibe at the firm: “It is a unique place. I looked at other small firms, and some of those had lost a sense of collegiality and could make it all about billing.” Interviewees insisted that “management is very transparent about how the firm operates and how it’s doing. As an associate you see everybody’s hours on a monthly basis, as well as minutes from board meetings.”
“...management is very transparent about how the firm operates.”
Hours & Compensation
Juniors reported aiming for a “soft target” of 1,800 billable hours each year. “People are understanding that your ability to reach that is work-dependent; if you're working hard and doing good work that's more important.” Associates generally described an average working day of around 8.30am to 6.30pm, with provision to work remotely or from home when necessary. We heard: “Everyone has reasonable expectations. You work hard when you’re busy, especially in litigation, but there’s no emphasis on being in the office for the sake of it.”
In addition, associates reported being “encouraged to take” their four weeks of vacation, and emphasized the importance of “giving back to the community outside of work. It reflects the ethos of the firm as somewhere that wants good lawyers who are committed to society beyond their narrow practice.” Hangley’s compensation sits below the new market heights set by the New York elite – as is the lockstep bonus system – but associates were in agreement that “the tradeoff of not being paid top dollar is that you get a much better work life balance. For me it’s been well worth it.”
Diversity & Inclusion
“It's a little more challenging for a smaller firm,” one source stated when ruminating on D&I at Hangley. “We don't have the firmwide initiatives or the affinity groups that a bigger firm would. We've traditionally only hired one or two people a year, so it's tougher to achieve the level of diversity that we would like to.” Sources were in agreement that the firm “could do better in terms of ethnic diversity,” but also united in their praise for Hangley's track record of “making an effort to hire women and promote them to the partnership.” One said that “the one striking difference is the amount of women shareholders and of counsel that we have here. It's really great to see that at a firm like Hangley women can become shareholders and still have families.”
You won’t see Hangley on your campus during OCI season, as all junior associates are recruited through interviews at the firm’s offices. But the firm is unlikely to interview candidates who are straight out of law school. One associate told us “the bar is pretty high in terms of achievements,” and reckoned most candidates are “usually a year or two out” out of law school with “good experience at a well-known firm, or they may have done a clerkship, or worked at a nonprofit.” They added that the firm is “flexible” on what a candidate’s prior experience might be, but “they’re looking for someone who’s made the most of it.”
Candidates typically undergo four interviews in the firm’s office, each with two attorneys. Michele Fenkel and Rebecca Melley are co-chairs of the firm’s hiring committee. They told us: “We ask a full range of questions about the candidate’s background and experience. We also ask situational questions at this stage.”
“They look for someone who will fit with the culture of the firm: someone who works hard and takes work seriously, but is also easygoing.” – a junior associate
“Be prepared and clearly articulate why you would be a good fit for the position, both in terms of your legal skills and as a colleague.” – Michele Fenkel and Rebecca Melley, co-chairs of the hiring committee
Hangley does not have a formal summer program, but Fenkel and Melley tell us “extraordinary” candidates are occasionally considered for summer employment.
Hangley Aronchick Segal Pudlin & Schiller
One Logan Square,
18th & Cherry Streets, 27th Floor,
- Head Office: Philadelphia, PA
- Number of domestic offices: 4
- Partners (US): 30
- Associates (US): 12
- Of Counsel (US): 5
- Main recruitment contact: Michele Fenkel (email@example.com)
- Rebecca Melley (firstname.lastname@example.org)
- Hiring Partner: Michele Fenkel, Rebecca Melley
- Diversity officer: Sharon McKee
- Recruitment details
- Entry-level associates starting in 2019: 1
- Clerking policy: Yes
Main areas of work
Hangley Aronchick Segal Pudlin & Schiller is a multi-faceted law firm that offers specialized legal solutions to a broad range of local, regional, and national clients. The firm is highly regarded nationally for its quality work, innovative strategies, and excellent results. With offices in Philadelphia, Harrisburg, and Norristown, Pennsylvania, and Cherry Hill, New Jersey, Hangley Aronchick offers a suite of diverse legal services, including litigation, business and corporate, insurance coverage, real estate, bankruptcy, education, antitrust, environmental, family law, and tax and estate planning services.
Hangley Aronchick Segal Pudlin & Schiller is consistently recognized for excellence in legal practice, as well as for its ability to recruit talented attorneys. Founded in 1994, the firm is known for the sophistication of its matters, the roster of its clients and the quality of its work. In the Delaware Valley, the firm is unparalleled in its ability to attract the most highly qualified attorneys, both at the entry level and laterally. The firm includes a former Philadelphia City Solicitor; Fellows of the American College of Trial Lawyers, and the American College of Real Estate Lawyers; members of judicial advisory committees; members of the American Law Institute; and adjunct faculty members at area law schools.
For further information on the firm’s practice areas and outstanding lawyers, readers are invited to visit the firm’s website www.hangley.com
Hangley Aronchick does not participate in OCI. Qualified applicants are encouraged to send their resumes directly to the firm at any time.
Please see www.hangley.com/careers for more details.
Hangley Aronchick Segal Pudlin & Schiller does not have a formal summer associate program, though the firm will consider extraordinary candidates for summer employment on occasion.
Recruitment website: www.hangley.com/careers/
This Firm's Rankings in
USA Guide, 2019
- Insurance (Band 2)
- Real Estate (Band 4)
Pennsylvania: Philadelphia & Surrounds
- Litigation: General Commercial (Band 2)