Holland & Knight LLP - The Inside View

A shining Knight of the sunshine state, this Florida firm has a firm foothold across the US.  

With its North American cavalry charged up to 30 US offices, “it seems we’re always in growth mode.” Case in point, Holland & Knight completed the most high-profile post-pandemic acquisition in 2021, when it took on Texas-based Thompson & Knight. The move positioned H&K as one of the largest outfits in in Texas, and took its headcount to over 1,600. Juniors we spoke to didn't feel out of the loop: "We have a quarterly meeting where the managing partner highlights where we stand and what the firm’s goal is going to be.”

Like more and more firms in BigLaw, H&K is pivoting outside of the typical legal remit, and zeroing in on the business side of affairs, with 192 of its attorneys named in Chambers USA as leading lawyers for business in America. Holland & Knight also helps to lead the charge in several practice areas – Chambers USA bestows top ranking on the firm in healthcare, privacy & data security, and transportation, and the firm also racks up nods for food & beverages, government relations, Native American law, and oil & gas litigation among its 74 rankings in the US.  

Holland & Knight is a Top 25 firm for Associate Satisfaction in our 2023 survey.

Strategy & Future

With H&K’s recent success merging with Texas firm Thompson & Knight in 2021 it’s no surprise that it’s continued on its strategy of growth. The firm told us that 2022 saw its revenue increase by 10%, despite the uncertain economy, and it’s continued to bolster its ranks amid the turbulence. This year alone, H&K has welcomed a real estate group in California; an energy and tax team from Eversheds Sutherland; a new private equity team in Charlotte, N.C. and a new sports and entertainment team from Mintz Levin. However, though H&K has its sights set firmly on its strategic growth model, the firm also acknowledges the importance of a ground-up approach, which comes in the form of a focus on training present associates for future challenges. H&K sees technology as a priority, using its Innovation Team to look into the ways it can use tech and AI to improve workflow.

The Work  

Summers are given a work coordinator and use an online portal to hop on matters, but juniors are expected to reach out directly for work. “When you start you carry over some of the relationships you had as a summer,” one newbie told us, but beyond that “it’s more organic – partners come to me or I knock on doors.” It was pointed out that although “there would be merit in having someone more focused on distribution,” the juniors we spoke with were unanimously positive about the system: “If you have a group you’re interested in you can just get involved,” both internally and cross-office. The firm told us senior associates and partners keep track of distribution.

“There’s no case precedent for what we’re doing.”  

The firm’s litigation practice ranges from cutting-edge crypto work – “there’s no case precedent for what we’re doing” – to employment, bankruptcy, construction and general commercial work. Big class actions make up a good portion of the larger cases alongside contract disputes in employment, but associates can also work on high-profile media matters too – at the firm’s flagship Miami office “we’re fighting to unseal documents in the Jeffrey Epstein case.” Beyond this, juniors can hop onto matters dealing with creditor claims in bankruptcy, trademark IP litigation, SEC-related matters, and real estate disputes. Although newer juniors can find themselves “basically flying solo” on occasion, associates we spoke with generally had the experience of having to build up to more substantial matters. “I feel the more I work with a partner the more they trust me,” one explained: “in the beginning I was maybe starting with the research or doc review on a case, then I got to meet and confer in client calls, and eventually got brought on helping with a deposition – so it’s definitely been a natural progression to real client-facing work.”  Of course, even when leading on a case juniors should still expect a certain level of oversight, “but on the day-to-day it’s just me.”   

Litigation clients: Samsung, BNP Paribas, BurgerFi. Defended UnitedHealthcare against a $30 million claim alleging United had underpaid the plaintiff for emergency services it provided.  

Among H&K’s transactional practice we spoke with associates across corporate, real estate, and energy, within which lie several interacting specialist groups. In corporate “we bring over associates from specialist groups; people from employment, IP and government contracts for example, to consult with on purchase agreements and due diligence.” Juniors work on anything from $20 million to billion-dollar deals, but “it’s mostly middle market, $50 to $200 million.” Insiders told us they are often tasked with managing diligence, working alongside partners and senior associates. “On the sell-side there’s more work up front,” one associate explained, “so you’re getting everything together, drafting documents, getting the company ready and making sure you don’t miss anything,” while “buy-side is slow at first at the junior level; things really start moving at the due diligence stage, organizing disclosure schedules and questioning the seller.” The firm also has a significant real estate practice where newbies were keen to spell out their input, “looking at plans and highlighting major problems, there’s a lot of tangible hands-on work and I really enjoy partnering with clients with a great vision!” Overall, juniors in the transactional pool seemed to get “a lot more experience than I expected workwise – and the mentoring has been really good.”  

Transactional clients: The Carlyle Group, Brookfield Property Partners, Empire State Realty Trust. Represented Howard Hughes Corporation on affordable housing aspects of a proposed building in Lower Manhattan.  


“There are a lot of personalities of course,” one junior grinned, “but I’ve had a really positive experience.” For associates at H&K “its familial environment” was what drew them in part to the firm – and it’s a perception that’s withstood scrutiny: “If I’ve ever felt overwhelmed I’ve never felt I couldn’t speak up. They really do care about you as a person.” Juniors were positive about the supportive atmosphere reflected across the firm’s offices, where “everyone is willing to cover for you if something comes up last-minute. I’ve also asked fourth-years to go through things with me, and they always do.” Associates did say, however, that while “there were loads of events pre-COVID,” the social side has taken a bit of a hit. Juniors noted their disappointment as “the social side does suffer with remote working,” something reflected across most BigLaw firms. That said, “people staying late still go out for drinks sometimes.”  

Career Development  

“There’s a lot of informal mentoring” at H&K; juniors are all assigned a partner mentor, while first-years get an additional associate mentor. “I have a great relationship with my partner mentor,” was something we often heard among juniors: “they’re great with giving feedback, redlining why they made changes to a document, helping with client outreach, how to pitch fees – really, the career is an apprenticeship, so you need that.” When it comes to formal training “they offer a lot of courses, which are good if you have the time.” H&K also established the John Hogan Academy – a three-day retreat with an intensive run through on how trials work and the prep associates will need.

“H&K is very much a firm where making partner is a reality.” 

Beyond this, juniors were also beaming at the long-term career opportunities. “H&K is very much a firm where making partner is a reality.” A number of associates told us of more senior partners “thathave been around for like, 20, 30, 40 years!” – suffice to say associates’ long-term prospects look pretty good. This is also evident in the summer program: “Summer associate classes tend to be a bit smaller because they don’t plan on chopping everyone.”  

Hours & Compensation  

Billable hours: 2,000 target  

Associates work to a target of 2,000 hours for full bonus – 100 hours can be used for pro bono and 25 can be used for DEI initiatives. Reaching the target “can be challenging given the ebb and flow of work,” one junior admitted, “so I used all 125 creditable hours last year, which really helped.” Insiders we spoke with spoke highly of the firm’s “culture of trust and respect,” where “there’s an expectation that people have a life outside of work – that carries through to how you’re treated.” Associates told us that “it’s really rare to be asked to work on a weekend, and that’s the same for late-night stuff.” This approach also extends to the firm’s work from home approach; “we don’t have hard requirements but you’re encouraged to spend 50% of your time in the office.” One junior did liken the remote working policy to “the frog in boiling water technique. They’re slowly turning up the heat to get us into the office.” Each office and some practice groups decide when associates should be in the office.

Pro Bono    

“With billable work, you can get lost in the numbers. In pro bono, you can focus on going through clients’ emotional rollercoasters with them.” The firm pushes for associates to do 50 hours a year – “I think last year the average was 48” – but those that rack up over 50 hours get “distinction as a pro bono all-star; if you exceed 100 hours and still want to do more pro bono, you can.” Up to 100 hours can be credited toward the billing target. To get onto pro bono matters, “the firm uses a pretty good software which shows you the time requirement for the matter.” Associates can also get work directly from partners. H&K’s public and charitable service department helps to direct the firm’s pro bono, community service and charitable endeavors. including the firm’s support of Best Buddies, a program that aims to mitigate the impact of neurodivergence on individuals’ lives, and the Opening Doors for Children Program, which helps with tutoring and mentoring in socioeconomically disadvantaged neighborhoods.  

Pro bono hours   

  • For all (US) attorneys: 65,866
  • Average per (US) attorney: 40

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion  

H&K’s approach to D&I is a familiar story: “There has been an effort to attract diverse candidates at the senior level but it’s not as diverse as the junior level.” The firm is Mansfield Certified Plus in recognition of its recruiting and promoting efforts in D&I. H&K is also “recognizing that younger voices may have a better understanding! It’s something the firm knows we can be better at, so they’re putting individuals who are passionate about it in positions where they can make a difference.” The firm hosts a number of affinity groups including Asian/Pacific Islander, Black, DiverseAbility, Hispanic, LGBTQ, Native American, Veterans, and the Women’s Initiative for associates to coordinate efforts to organize events.  

Get hired

The first stage: recruitment on and off campus

OCI applicants interviewed: undisclosed

Interviewees outside OCI: undisclosed

Each year Holland & Knight conducts interviews at more than 50 law schools and job fairs across the country. Hiring committee members from various offices interview, alongside alumni of the law school. The questioning at this stage focuses on “a candidate’s intellectual, interpersonal and motivational qualities and prior relevant experience, if any,” says professional growth & development partner Deborah Bernard. Advance research of the firm’s practice areas and the interviewer’s background (if you know who will be assessing you) are essential.

Top tips for this stage:

"Be prepared, on time and familiar with the firm's practice areas. If you know the names of your interviewers, research their backgrounds. Above all, be yourself and ask thoughtful questions." – professional growth & development partner Deborah Bernard.


Applicants invited to second stage: undisclosed

As a means of getting to know Holland & Knight, applicants meet with four to six associates and partners during the callback phase. They incorporate behavioural based interview questions to help identify summer associates with “the skills, work ethic and work style needed to succeed at Holland & Knight.” Those skills include independent thinking, self-confidence, interfacing with clients and working as part of a team. Interviewers also assess each candidate’s writing sample and could discuss anything on their resume.

Top tips for this stage:

"Everything on a resume is up for discussion. Review your writing sample and be prepared to speak about it. Reflect on what you're looking for in a firm in terms of practice area, culture, training and associate support, and focus on those firms that meet your criteria and resonate with you. The firm is looking for someone with an entrepreneurial spirit, and who will be proactive when they arrive.” – professional growth & development partner Deborah Bernard.

Summer program

Offers: undisclosed

Acceptances: undisclosed

The summer program is an integral part of Holland & Knight's hiring effort, as the majority of junior associates are hired directly from the summer program. They strive to give summer associates an accurate sense of what it is like to work as a first-year associate at the firm, and hire each summer associate with the expectation that an offer for a fulltime position will be extended at the end of the summer.

The firm provides each summer associate with two mentors – usually one partner and one associate – who will guide the summer associate through the summer program experience. Mentors are available to answer questions, from how the firm operates and the stylistic preferences of various partners to the best place to go for coffee or lunch near the office. Mentors help the summer associates to create and reach their career goals, connect with colleagues, provide guidance about work assignments and teach substantive and practical legal skills through direct experience and shadowing opportunities.

Assignments are intended to showcase the summer associate’s analytical and advocacy skills while also strengthening and highlighting their writing capabilities. Feedback comes after each assignment and from mid and end-of-summer reviews. There is also a Summer Associate Training Program (SATP) which focuses on providing summer associates with both practice-specific and soft skills training. In addition, summer associates are given opportunities to work on pro bono projects.

“Be authentic and work hard,” the firm advises. “Understand that every email and written communication is another example of your writing sample.”

Notable summer events: The firm has hosted cooking classes, scavenger hunts, paint nights and trivia, both virtually and in-person. Live events also include dinners at partners' homes, sporting events and restaurant dinners.

Top tips for this stage:

“Do as much as you can experience-wise. You want to turn out good work product, but I think sitting in on client calls and following people to court and doing the shadowing that you won't get the opportunity to do while working here fulltime is invaluable. Take ownership of your work and be your own feedback manager." – professional growth & development partner Deborah Bernard.

And finally...

Each summer associate’s practice area preferences – along with business need – are taken into consideration when H&K extends offers.


Holland & Knight LLP

524 Grand Regency Blvd,
Suite 3300,,
FL 33510
Website www.hklaw.com

Main areas of work
Holland & Knight advises clients in a range of practice areas, including complex commercial litigation, corporate law, healthcare, intellectual property, private wealth services, mergers and acquisitions, real estate and zoning law, and public policy and regulatory matters. Attorneys work collaboratively across practices and teams, drawing upon their legal and industry knowledge.

Firm profile
Holland & Knight is a global firm with more than 2000 lawyers and other professionals in 34 offices in the US and internationally. Interdisciplinary practice groups and industry‐based teams provide clients with access to attorneys throughout the firm, regardless of location. Every day, clients call on Holland & Knight to understand their issues, advocate on their behalf and create solutions to accelerate their position.

Law Schools attending for OCIs in 2022:
American, Baylor, Belmont, Boston College, Boston University, Brooklyn, Columbia, Drexel, Duke, Emory, Florida State, Fordham, George Washington, Georgetown, Harvard, Hofstra, Howard, Loyola ‐ Los Angeles, New York University, Northwestern, Notre Dame, Samford, SMU Dedman School of Law, South Texas, Stanford, Stetson, Suffolk, Temple, Texas Southern, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Tulane, UC Berkeley, UC Hastings, UC Irvine, UC San Francisco, UCLA, University of Alabama. University of Chicago, University of Connecticut, University of Florida, University of Georgia, University of Houston, University of Miami, University of Michigan, University of North Carolina, University of Pennsylvania, University of Tennessee, University of Texas, USC Gould, UVA, Villanova, Wake Forest, Washington University, William & Mary and others. 

Recruitment outside OCIs:
Attracting, retaining and promoting diverse professionals and fostering an inclusive work environment are priorities at Holland & Knight. We attend various events including Bay Area Diversity Career Fair, Boston Lawyers Group Boston Diversity Job Fair, Cornell Law School New York City Job Fair, Harvard BLSA 1L, 2L and 3L Job Fairs, Lavender Law Career Fair, Loyola Patent Law Interview Program, Northeastern Black Law Students Association (NEBLSA) Job Fair, Southeastern Minority Job Fair, The Law Consortium Miami Recruitment Program, University of Connecticut School of Law Boston Job Fair, University of Pennsylvania, Carey Law School Miami Interview Program and the Western Region of the National Black Law Students Association (WRBLSA) Job Fair.

Summer associate profile:
Holland & Knight seeks students of substance from diverse backgrounds with superior academics, leadership skills, involvement in extracurricular activities and demonstrated commitment to their communities. We look for candidates who have the desire and ethical foundation to make significant contributions as lawyers to the firm, the profession and in the community. We have been very successful in hiring students who meet these criteria, and our firm as a whole reflects these values.

Summer program components:
Our summer program provides a real‐world law firm experience, with opportunities to learn how to practice law by working with experienced lawyers on complex matters for sophisticated clients; attend client meetings, depositions, hearings, trials, closings and other external events; build relationships with our attorneys through work assignments, our mentoring program, practice group meetings and events throughout the summer; work with your peers in the office and throughout the firm; meet our top leaders and learn about the history and future of the firm; improve your substantive and practical legal skills through customized training programs; and connect with associate and partner mentors who help you navigate your summer associate experience and begin your career with us.

Social media:
Recruitment website: www.hklaw.com
Linkedin: holland‐&‐knight‐llp
Twitter: @Holland_Knight
Facebook: HollandKnightLLP

This Firm's Rankings in
USA Guide, 2023

Ranked Departments

    • Bankruptcy/Restructuring (Band 2)
    • Healthcare (Band 2)
    • Litigation: General Commercial (Band 3)
    • Environment (Band 2)
    • Labor & Employment: Highly Regarded (Band 2)
    • Real Estate: Zoning/Land Use (Band 1)
    • Real Estate (Band 3)
    • Corporate/M&A (Band 2)
    • Construction (Band 2)
    • Environment (Band 4)
    • Real Estate (Band 1)
    • Antitrust (Band 2)
    • Banking & Finance (Band 1)
    • Construction (Band 3)
    • Energy & Natural Resources (Band 1)
    • Environment (Band 2)
    • Healthcare (Band 2)
    • Litigation: Appellate (Band 1)
    • Litigation: General Commercial: The Elite (Band 1)
    • Litigation: Securities (Band 1)
    • Litigation: White-Collar Crime & Government Investigations (Band 2)
    • Tax (Band 1)
    • Bankruptcy/Restructuring (Band 4)
    • Corporate/M&A & Private Equity (Band 1)
    • Real Estate (Band 1)
    • Corporate/M&A & Private Equity (Band 2)
    • Real Estate (Band 2)
    • Real Estate: Zoning/Land Use (Band 1)
    • Banking & Finance (Band 3)
    • Labor & Employment (Band 5)
    • Litigation: General Commercial (Band 3)
    • Bankruptcy/Restructuring (Band 3)
    • Construction (Band 1)
    • Energy & Natural Resources (Band 1)
    • Healthcare (Band 3)
    • Labor & Employment (Band 4)
    • Litigation: General Commercial (Band 3)
    • Real Estate (Band 4)
    • Construction (Band 3)
    • Healthcare (Band 3)
    • Labor & Employment: Highly Regarded (Band 2)
    • Real Estate: Mainly Dirt (Band 5)
    • Real Estate: Zoning/Land Use (Band 2)
    • Banking & Finance (Band 4)
    • Real Estate: Finance (Band 2)
    • Litigation: General Commercial (Band 2)
    • Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation (Band 2)
    • Labor & Employment (Band 4)
    • Corporate/M&A & Private Equity (Band 4)
    • Litigation: General Commercial (Band 4)
    • Banking & Finance (Band 1)
    • Bankruptcy/Restructuring (Band 1)
    • Construction (Band 1)
    • Corporate/M&A (Band 1)
    • Environment (Band 1)
    • Healthcare (Band 1)
    • Intellectual Property (Band 1)
    • Labor & Employment (Band 1)
    • Litigation: General Commercial (Band 1)
    • Media & Entertainment (Band 2)
    • Real Estate (Band 1)
    • Antitrust (Band 3)
    • Banking & Finance (Band 4)
    • Bankruptcy/Restructuring (Band 4)
    • Bankruptcy/Restructuring (Band 5)
    • Corporate/M&A: The Elite (Band 4)
    • Energy: State Regulatory & Litigation (Electricity) (Band 3)
    • Environment (Band 3)
    • Healthcare (Band 4)
    • Intellectual Property (Band 3)
    • Labor & Employment (Band 4)
    • Litigation: White-Collar Crime & Government Investigations (Band 2)
    • Real Estate (Band 1)
    • Tax (Band 2)
    • Litigation: General Commercial (Band 3)
    • Banking & Finance (Band 5)
    • Construction (Band 2)
    • Corporate/M&A: Highly Regarded (Band 5)
    • Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation (Band 5)
    • Energy: Oil & Gas (Transactional) (Band 3)
    • Environment (Band 4)
    • Food & Beverages: Alcohol (Band 2)
    • Government Contracts: The Elite (Band 4)
    • Government Relations: Federal (Band 2)
    • Healthcare: The Elite (Band 4)
    • Leisure & Hospitality (Band 3)
    • Native American Law (Band 2)
    • Occupational Safety and Health (Band 3)
    • Offshore Energy (Band 1)
    • Oil & Gas Litigation (Band 2)
    • Political Law (Band 4)
    • Privacy & Data Security: Highly Regarded (Band 2)
    • Real Estate (Band 4)
    • Retail (Band 3)
    • Sports Law (Band 4)
    • Tax: Controversy (Band 5)
    • Transportation: Aviation: Finance (Band 2)
    • Transportation: Aviation: Litigation (Band 2)
    • Transportation: Aviation: Regulatory (Band 2)
    • Transportation: NTSB Specialists (Band 1)
    • Transportation: Rail (for Railroads) (Band 3)
    • Transportation: Road (Carriage/Logistics) (Band 1)
    • Transportation: Shipping/Maritime: Finance (Band 3)
    • Transportation: Shipping/Maritime: Litigation (New York) (Band 2)
    • Transportation: Shipping/Maritime: Regulatory (Band 2)
    • Litigation: White-Collar Crime & Government Investigations (Band 2)
    • Corporate/M&A (Band 2)
    • Real Estate (Band 2)
    • Real Estate: Zoning/Land Use (Band 2)