H&B is a boone for those seeking a healthier BigLaw balance, Texas prestige, and an ever-growing remit beyond state borders.
In the cult-classic series Friday Night Lights, set in Dillon, Texas, football coach Eric Taylor wins state championships with both the heralded Dillon Panthers, and then later with the underdog team, the East Dillon Lions. Both titles are won off the back of strong leadership, a lack of ego, an ethic of care, teamwork and – in the case of the latter – a willingness to beat the odds. Coach Taylor could hire for Texas titan Haynes and Boone. “If you have an ego, you don’t last long from what I’ve heard and witnessed,” one junior associate at the firm eulogized. “It’s not a self-promotion type of place. We’re a team and we’re determined,” they added. “We do a lot of things that you’d maybe think a bigger firm would do – we figure it out and do it!”
“It’s not a self-promotion type of place. We’re a team and we’re determined.”
Like the Panthers and the Lions, HB is proudly Texan, with seven offices and a host of rankings from Chambers USA in the Longhorn State, which include championship rings for bankruptcy and restructuring, insurance, appellate, white-collar crime & government investigations, and employee benefits & executive compensation. Like the show, HB’s influence extends well beyond state borders. The firm has eight other offices in the US and three international outposts in Shanghai, London and Mexico City. The majority of the juniors on our list were located in HB’s Dallas HQ, but the firm’s New York and Houston offices also took on a fair few. Lone stars could be found in Austin, Orange County, San Francisco and Washington, DC.
For our interviewees, the firm’s “location, sterling reputation in Dallas and Texas more broadly, the quality of work” and “specific culture of open-mindedness and acceptance” were all hugely appealing.
Strategy & Future
"Our focus on developing and broadening core practice strengths in energy, technology, financial services and private equity industry sectors has been an important ingredient to our success in recent years," says managing partner Taylor Wilson. "These areas have proven to be significant drivers in each of our markets."
HB has been focused on different ways in which to grow, and Wilson adds: "We have had great success in this area, with 59 lateral hires in 2021 (including 13 new partners) and 32 entry-level associates."
While Wilson points to laterals coming in, the vast majority of juniors on our list came through the summer program. “As a summer you have access to everything,” enthused one. “I could work on whatever I wanted and with whomever I wanted, to see what my preference was.” Our jubilant junior had “worked in multiple practice areas” during their summer. At the end of this period, summers can submit multiple preferences for which group they’d like to settle into. Most departments have a free-market assignment system in place, butwe heard “there’s an attorney in the development team who coordinates workflows for outliers on either end” (those who have too much and those who have too little work). However, warned our sources, the juiciest assignments don’t necessarily come from the coordinator, “so I go straight to the partners.”
The firm’s transactional practices include banking & finance; corporate M&A; bankruptcy & restructuring; derivatives; energy; technology; and real estate among others. HB’s bankruptcy & restructuring practice “primarily does transactional work – around 70% – and some litigious work,” sources said. On the transactional side, “we help distressed companies at various stages of insolvency: those on the verge of bankruptcy or those just considering bankruptcy.” The firm is top-ranked for a reason, and “generally works on matters where there’s over $100 million of debt, so quite large,” one source revealed. This means “having a lot of responsibility; I’ve been working with opposing counsel and I don’t even need to get sign-off on terms unless I feel uncomfortable.” Putting its reputation where its ranking is, the firm successfully reorganized Tuesday Morning Corporation, securing $125 million worth of loans for the home goods retailer.
Finance, meanwhile, was described by sources as being “more hierarchical. I receive instructions and guidance about what my role is and who I should be asking questions of and who will be giving me my tasks.” However, rather than a point of dissatisfaction, this interviewee explained that they understood “why that’s the case. There are so many people involved in deals, so it helps to have a point person.” Our finance sources universally agreed that they had good responsibility, and client and partner contact.
“A number of clients who are interested in new and quickly developing areas like blockchain, IoT (Internet of Things) and so on.”
HB’s corporate M&A practice thrives in the energy and private equity spaces. The group recently represented Trive Capital in its sale of AEVEX Aerospace to Madison Dearborn Partners and CoVant Management. The firm’s highly ranked IPpractice, meanwhile, handles things like licensing and outsourcing agreements, and development, software, and data use and processing agreements. Wilson notes that the firm has “a number of clients who are interested in new and quickly developing areas like blockchain, IoT (Internet of Things) and so on.”
Corporate M&A clients: American Airlines; Chief Oil and Gas; Stream Energy; and Commercial Metals Company. HB represented dining, hospitality, entertainment and gaming corporation Landry’s in a matter that resulted in the sale of online casino Golden Nugget Online Gaming for $745 million.
In litigation, the firm is lauded for its appellate, white-collar crime & government investigations, and insurance practices. In appellate, HB specializes in high-stakes litigation and “represents a wide variety of clients, including individuals who have ended up in bad situations and companies. It really varies.” The firm’s white-collar crime & government investigations practice, meanwhile, focuses on antitrust violations; environmental issues; whistleblower matters; securities and Foreign Corrupt Practices Act violations; and fraud and abuse cases in the healthcare sector. Doctors and healthcare companies dot the client list, alongside companies like AT&T.
Some of our interviewees were in the insurance recovery group (IRG), “which is all plaintiff side.” Sources explained that IRG is “specialized, but part of business litigation, so there’s a crossover with general commercial litigation.” But, what is insurance recovery? “Property claims are the easiest to understand for people who aren’t involved,” one told us. “Think of hurricane Irma.” Businesses whose properties were damaged submitted a claim to their insurer, which was denied. A dispute ensues. Cue HB’s involvement. No matter what your main area, sources said they could reach out for, or be tasked on, more general commercial litigation, such as “energy, corporate, or commercial matters. Really anything,” mused one. “There’s franchise litigation, and we also do lease and real estate stuff. Really anything.”
“You can do doc reviews for a couple of weeks, but also draft summary judgments and pleadings. I feel there’s a good balance.”
Responsibility was another thing that varied. Over in IRG “it depends on the size of the matter,” and can “go from matters where I’ve been given the entire runway and discretion to operate, to other matters where I fit into a team and coordinate research and drafting.” Another junior noted “you can do doc reviews for a couple of weeks, but also draft summary judgments and pleadings. I feel there’s a good balance.” Over in appellate, one source told us that they’d “drafted significant sections of a substantive document. I have done doc review, but it’s not the bulk of what I do!”
IRG clients: XTO Energy; Clinical Pathology and Sonic Healthcare USA; Landry’s; and Riverside Engineering. The firm represented the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) in insurance recovery matters related to ongoing litigation against the BSA related to sexual abuse claims, valued at over $1 billion.
Hours & Compensation
Billable hours: 2,000 target
HB is not looking to offer the typical BigLaw experience, says Wilson, and this was echoed by trainees. The firm takes the “balance between your personal and professional life” incredibly seriously, says Wilson. The firm’s surveyed hours, which averaged at just over 50 a week, was below the market average that we record. “I cannot think of a firm that more strongly encourages a work-life balance,” gushed one junior.
Juniors were also happy with the salary, highlighting that “it’s the same as most other comparable firms” and were confident that HB “will match” market rates (they were right). The trade-off for having a better work-life balance was felt to be a less robust benefits package. Sources were divided on HB’s approach to caregiver leave, with one insisting that “parental leave is good” and another calling for a more generous secondary caregiver leave policy (it currently includes one month of paid leave but is currently under review also).
The firm’s culture is “something we work hard at,” and was praised by our sources. “Everyone’s extremely friendly!” noted one associate. “And it’s not surface-level.” Sources who started during COVID had been “worried about having a lack of interpersonal interaction.” However, we heard that juniors were “able to develop close connections regardless of location.”
“The firm is considerate without even asking. Kind and considerate.”
But what is the culture? “The firm is considerate without even asking. Kind and considerate,” a source said. “And it’s the same across all the offices.” One interviewee highlighted how HB had tweaked its summer program agenda to make it more inclusive for a Muslim colleague who was fasting at the time (a museum visit was arranged instead of a lunch). “We’re very careful not to step on each other’s time off,” another source noted, adding that HB was a place where “a lot of people have families and have been able to stay and make it work. You can go part-time after you’ve been here for a while – people do that and aren’t penalized for it.”
With any period of lateral growth, concerns can arise about how a firm will preserve its culture. At HB, a source mentioned that there were a couple of laterals “who delight in having things like calls at 9am on a Sunday… for no reason!” On the whole though, “there’s a lot of good people – you don’t run into horror stories about people who are completely awful!”
Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
As our former examples highlight, HB takes its DE&I seriously and ranks in the top half of all the firms we survey for both gender and ethnic minority partners. Some juniors felt the firm was “making incredible strides,” while others thought “they do the best job they can, given the market. We’re in Dallas, which is not the most diverse place in general!” Special acknowledgement was given to the firm’s finance group for having “a lot of diverse partners, including women and women of color.”
In the past 12 months, the firm has also formally established 10 new inclusion networks, under the leadership of the Attorney Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee (ADEIC) including the Asian American/Pacific Islander Network; Black/African American Network; Hispanic/Latinx Network; LGBTQ+ Network; and Women’s Initiative Network. In addition, the firm recently hired Sharon Jones as both a partner and the firm’s first chief DE&I officer, something some juniors highlighted as a positive step.
The sense we got from our interviewees was that pro bono is “definitely promoted” and “very much encouraged,” but finding the time to do it can be tricky: “I don’t think it’s not a priority, but I think we’re all staffed on things that require a lot of attention.”
Incentives are in place: associates can count up to 100 pro bono hours toward their billable target, “but I’m aware of circumstances where people went over that and those hours were all counted.” Sources told us that “every couple of weeks we hear about opportunities and clinics we can attend.” Our interviewees mostly spoke about opportunities to take on asylum work, though the firm collaborates with many organizations and programs, including Kids in Need of Defense (KIND), the Houston Volunteer Lawyer Program, and the Human Rights Initiative of North Texas.
Pro bono hours
- For all (US) attorneys: 11,277
- Average per (US) attorney: 22
For those looking at HB and wondering about the future, the firm outperformed the market in our survey when it came to associates’ intention to make partner and the perceived achievability of that goal. Of those surveyed, over a third intended to make partner, and felt there was a strong chance of doing so. To aid juniors’ career development, “there’s a formal mentoring process,” we heard. “Everyone’s given at least one mentor. You usually have a supervisor, who’s a partner, and a mentor who’s a senior associate.” This interviewee added that “mentoring comes from a lot of different places and people in my group, and I’m surprised by the level of effort they put in.”
LATERAL RECRUITMENT: Find out more about lateral opportunities with Haynes and Boone here.
The first stage: recruitment on and off campus
OCI applicants interviewed: 204
Interviewees outside OCI: 33
Around 70% of 2L summers have completed either a 1L summer or other work experience at the firm before their 2L summer. The other 30% are found through OCIs, job fairs, resume collects, and direct applications.
Attorneys (one partner and one associate) typically see around 20 candidates a day at OCIs and represent each office running a summer program. Brad Holdbrook, the firm's hiring partner for entry-level hires, tells us that interviewers will be looking for candidates to demonstrate “effective communication skills, acting as a willing and effective member and leader of teams, leadership potential, commitment to community service, and an established motivation to succeed.” Typical inquiries of interviewees include requests to describe their accomplishments, motivations, why they are interested in Haynes and Boone, and how they could add to the firm’s culture.
Top tips for this stage:
“Come prepared to discuss why our firm/practice areas are a fit for your skills, ask specific questions that relate to the firm or our clients, and explain how you can add to the culture at Haynes and Boone.” – entry-level hiring partner, Brad Holdbrook
Applicants invited to second stage interview: 46 from OCI + 33 interviews outside of OCI
Callbacks consist of two to four 20-minute interview sessions, with the candidate meeting with two attorneys in each interview session. Holdbrook tells us that during the callback process, the firm is “particularly interested in a candidate’s reason for interest in our firm, the chosen city for which they are interviewing, and any practice areas the candidate may be interested in.” As such, during callbacks, candidates can expect the questions and conversation to be more focused on specific practice areas and markets.
Top tips for this stage:
"Be able to articulate your interest in the firm and office location. Describe your specific interest in, or ask questions about, practice areas in the office in which you are interviewing.” – entry-level hiring partner Brad Holdbrook
Offers: 19 offers extended out of Fall/Spring Recruiting in addition to 25 returning 1Ls
Acceptances: 7/19 accepted
Summer associates tend to sample one or two practice areas in which they are interested. They are involved in client meetings, closings, negotiations, depositions, trials, and hearings. Typical tasks include drafting research memos, motions and briefs, and sampling a “broad range of transactional documents.” Holdbrook tells us that the firm has a “well-rounded approach to our summer programs that enables each summer associate to demonstrate their analytical, advocacy, and writing skills.”
The firm assigns each summer associate a partner supervisor, who oversees their work. Each summer associate also receives an associate mentor to “help answer questions and navigate the clerkship.” Summers also get to experience pro bono work, presentations, a public speaking seminar, CLEs, and training. Around 90% of summer associates are given offers to join as associates and offers are usually extended for a specific department.
Notable summer events: dinners, events, and outings. “Social events throughout the summer are designed so the summer associates can meet a broad array of the lawyers in their office and fully experience the city in which they are clerking.”
Top tips for this stage:
“Take advantage of the resources provided by the firm, including the many attorneys that will make themselves available to you for guidance and mentorship. Ask questions and pay attention to detail on assignments. Finally, pay attention to the way attorneys in your office interact with each other and the clients of the firm; that will give you invaluable insight into a “day in the life” of a future at Haynes and Boone.” – entry-level hiring partner Brad Holdbrook
Interview with managing partner Taylor Wilson
Chambers Associate: How would you describe the firm’s current market position?
We are a national firm with a strategic international presence. The firm launched in 1970 in Dallas, Texas, and we now have 18 offices worldwide (three international) and more than 600 lawyers. Across the United States, our coverage is far and wide with offices on both coasts and in the central part of the country. Our newest office is in San Francisco, which we opened in 2020.
We offer a broad range of transactional and litigation practices to our clients. Our focus on developing and broadening core practice strengths in energy, technology, financial services and private equity industry sectors has been an important ingredient to our success in recent years. These areas have proven to be significant drivers in each of our markets.
CA: In previous interviews, you’ve mentioned the firm’s 2025 strategy. Could you tell us a bit more about those goals and if the firm is on track to meet them?
In 2018, our firm adopted a strategic plan that we refer to as our 2025 Plan. This long-term plan, like those we have adopted and implemented in the past, creates a vision for us in 2025. Each practice group, section, department and office has incorporated these goals into their respective business plans and is well on its way to achieving these goals. In fact, we found that having this plan was quite helpful and stabilizing during the uncertain times presented by the pandemic.
CA: How is the firm changing to accommodate the needs/expectations of the next generation of lawyers?
Two key cornerstones of our culture at Haynes Boone are teamwork and training. Through a strong attorney development program, we have seen lower levels of attrition than most large firms, much of we attribute to strong mentoring and training programs aimed at helping the next generation of lawyers develop their careers. This has been more challenging during the pandemic, and we are excited to be back in our offices again working together in person.
CA: What is the greatest challenge facing the firm in the next decade?
Without question, the greatest challenge over the next decade is the competitive landscape around us. I’m confident that our strong culture and relentless focus on client service will help us meet this challenge. Our strategic growth across multiple offices, both through entry-level and lateral hiring, also is allowing us to perform at a very high level.
CA: We’ve heard from other firms that keeping and attracting talent is one of the key challenges in the next decade, is it the same for you?
Attracting and retaining talent is absolutely a key challenge and differentiator among large firms. We have had great success in this area, with 59 lateral hires in 2021 (including 13 new partners) and 32 entry-level associates. Our attrition rate also is relatively low. In addition to a strong culture, we believe that our significant advancement opportunities are important to ensuring high retention levels. We announced the promotion of 13 outstanding new partners in 2022.
CA: How has the rise in legal technology affected the firm? Are you implementing any specific programs/initiatives with regards to technology?
Consistent with our firm culture, our goal with the use of legal technology is to provide excellent client service. Each year, we invest heavily in legal technology and look for ways to enhance and complement our delivery of legal services to our clients. In terms of new programs and initiatives, our IT department has expanded training of attorneys and staff to ensure that we are taking full advantage of this investment. We also have dedicated extensive resources to cyber-security, which is of great importance to our firm and clients.
CA: Does the firm have any set targets with regards to diversity?
An important part of our 2025 Plan focuses on diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I). Our goal is to be a market leader in this area. The imperative to have a diverse workforce has never been greater, and our percentages of women, racially or ethnically diverse lawyers, or members of the LGBTQ+ community continue to grow.
In 2020 we launched a new task force aimed at Racial Equality Advancement in Law (REAL), which established specific recommendations for improvements in various areas such as recruiting, training, mentoring, work allocation, and feedback. These recommendations have been very well-received, and we are already seeing important progress in these areas.
CA: Any advice for those about to enter the legal industry?
It’s an exciting time and one that is filled with change. In addition to strong levels of client demand and plenty of work for new layers, there are fascinating new areas of law to explore. Our firm encourages an entrepreneurial spirit in our newest lawyers, and we look forward to watching them succeed. We also emphasize the importance of wellness and balance and have established programs to establish both of these as priorities.
Haynes and Boone, LLP
2323 Victory Avenue,
- Head Office: Dallas, TX
- Number of domestic offices: 15
- Number of international offices: 3
- Partners (US): 243
- Associates (US): 314 (including other attorneys)
- Recruitment details
- Main recruitment contact: Audrey Kerr, Manager of Entry-Level
- Recruiting Hiring partner: Brad Holdbrook, Firmwide Entry-level
- Hiring Partner Diversity officer: Sharon Jones, Chief Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Officer
- Recruitment details
- Entry-level associates starting in 2022: 35
- Clerking policy: Yes
- Summers joining/anticipated 2022: 1Ls: 26, 2Ls: 32
- 1Ls:2Ls:Summers joining/anticipated 2022 split by office: Charlotte – 1; Dallas - 7; Dallas-North - 2; Houston - 7; New York - 5; Orange County - 1; San Francisco - 1; Washington, D.C. - 2 Charlotte -1; Dallas - 18; Dallas-North - 2; Houston - 5; New York - 3; Orange County - 1; San Antonio - 1; Washington, D.C. - 1
- Summer salary 2022: 1Ls: 4,135/week 2Ls: $4,135/week
- Split summers offered? CBC
- Can summers spend time in an overseas office? TBD
Main areas of work
We have a client-first philosophy, defining success as providing exceptional value to our clients and making real, tangible, and often remarkable contributions to their businesses.
We are dedicated to continuing the heritage of excellence in the legal profession. We will stay focused on the long-term success of our clients, and we remain bound by our teamwork culture.
Recruitment outside OCIs: Loyola Patent Law Interview Program, Lavender Law Career Fair, Southeastern Minority Job Fair, Sunbelt Diversity Recruitment Fair, Virtual Southern Legal Interview Program, American, Baylor, Brooklyn, BYU, Cardozo, Columbia, Cornell, Duke, Emory, Fordham, George Mason, George Washington, Georgetown, Howard, Loyola (LA), NYU, Northwestern Santa Clara, South Carolina, South Texas, St. John’s, St. Mary’s, Texas A&M, Texas Southern, Texas Tech, Tulane, UC Davis, UC Hastings, UCLA, University of Chicago, University of Michigan, University of Pennsylvania, USC, Vanderbilt, and Washington University.
Summer associate profile: To sustain what we feel is a blend of culture and sophistication of practice that is unmatched in the market, Haynes Boone is looking for internally driven law students with a personality that would augment our firm’s commitment to teamwork and a long-term approach to the practice of law.
Summer program components: Our summer associates spend nine to ten weeks (depending on office) with us working in one or more of our practice areas. Each summer associate is given a mentor and supervisor who assign them work. They are also able to attend client meetings, negotiations, hearings, etc. Feedback is provided throughout the summer as well as through the mid-clerkship review. Our summer associates also enjoy several social events designed to get to know our attorneys.
This Firm's Rankings in
USA Guide, 2022
- Intellectual Property: Patent Prosecution (Band 3)
- Corporate/M&A (Band 4)
- Real Estate: Mainly Corporate & Finance (Band 5)
- Banking & Finance (Band 5)
- Banking & Finance (Band 2)
- Bankruptcy/Restructuring (Band 1)
- Corporate/M&A: The Elite (Band 4)
- Energy: State Regulatory & Litigation (Electricity) (Band 3)
- Environment (Band 2)
- Healthcare (Band 3)
- Insurance (Band 1)
- Intellectual Property (Band 2)
- Intellectual Property: Trademark, Copyright & Trade Secrets (Band 1)
- Labor & Employment (Band 3)
- Litigation: Appellate (Band 1)
- Litigation: White-Collar Crime & Government Investigations (Band 1)
- Real Estate (Band 2)
- Technology: Corporate & Commercial (Band 3)
Texas: Austin & Surrounds
- Litigation: General Commercial (Band 2)
Texas: Dallas, Fort Worth & Surrounds
- Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation (Band 1)
Texas: Houston & Surrounds
- Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation (Band 2)
USA - Nationwide
- Derivatives (Band 3)
- Financial Services Regulation: Banking (Compliance) (Band 4)
- Franchising (Band 3)
- Oil & Gas Litigation (Band 2)