Fresh from a major merger, this Richmond-born firm is on the hunt for its next generation of “thought leaders” in core areas like energy, financial services and real estate.
IT may have Southern roots dating back to 1901, but don't go thinking that Hunton is stuck in the past. “Law firms have to innovate,” global managing partner Wally Martinez tells us, “and that means making better use of technology and offering cross-disciplinary solutions. We have broken team lines to bring those solutions to bear.” Such remedies are focused on four key industries: financial services, energy, retail & consumer products, and real estate investment & finance. “75% of our revenue comes from those areas,” Martinez points out, adding that the firm's industry focuses “allow us to become thought leaders – our lawyers are expected to host talks on and publish articles about those areas. Anyone joining the firm can expect to be integrated into one of those industry areas right off the bat.”
Innovation in 2018 came in the form of a merger with Andrews Kurth, which aims to, as Martinez puts it, "strike a bolder geographic footprint in key markets and establish ourselves as a powerhouse in Texas."
“You have to look broadly at the world and ascertain what the future will be.”
The opportunity to get early involvement in such matters was a draw for our associate sources, as was Hunton's reputation in both mainstream and more niche practice areas: real estate, corporate, environment and privacy and cybersecurity were all mentioned as areas of particular interest. All of these practices come highly recommended in Chambers USA, where the firm picks up its biggest haul of rankings in its home state of Virginia, but also receives accolades for its work in Texas, DC, Florida, Georgia and North Carolina. Other notable strengths include IP, capital markets, bankruptcy/restructuring, labor & employment and climate change matters.
Strategy & Future
“You have to look broadly at the world and ascertain what the future will be,” Martinez explains. So what has appeared in Hunton's crystal ball recently? “There's been a lot of talk in the US about implementing the European public-private partnership model, but we've already taken a leaf out of the UK's book on that as we saw it coming – you look at things that will be coming in and you adapt.”
Hunton currently has 14 domestic offices dotting both coasts and the Texas market, as well as five international bases across Europe and Asia. Will it be adding to its ranks any time soon? Martinez reveals nothing concrete: “We like to follow the flow of business; you see clients focusing on certain jurisdictions and you realize that in order to get the work done you will need to expand. But expansion for us does not mean just planting a flag and hoping people rally around it.”
The Work & Offices
After sampling three practice areas as summers, associates "talk with the hiring partners to establish what you are interested in. They then look at which practice groups have a need." The process "definitely pinholes you right off the bat, which is great if that’s what you want to do." Of the pinholes available, Hunton's litigation group took the largest share of the juniors on our list, followed by corporate and then corporate finance and real estate. A small number joined Hunton's administrative law, labor & employment and energy and infrastructure groups.
But where do they complete this work? Richmond, being the biggest office, sheltered the most associates (around a third) and was deemed “a fairly typical office building – I don't know if there's anything to brag about, but it's very nice!” DC and Dallas took on a similar number (around a fifth each); the latter “is in a diamond-shaped building that was designed by a famous architect – we recently renovated our floors and now all the offices have slick and modern glass paneling.” Hunton's Park Avenue perch in New York is “absolutely beautiful. I went to a lot of interviews with various firms and this office is the best. It's also attached to Grand Central Station so most people don't have to walk outside if they don't want to!” The firm's LA, McLean, Miami and Atlanta offices nabbed a couple of associates each as well.
The newly merged firm will add Dubai and Silicon Valley to its network, but elsewhere – Texas, DC, NY, North Carolina and internationally – the two firms will be bolstering their legacy footprints.
“I've already taken 35 full depositions and defended 12 of them.”
Junior litigators “occasionally filed on behalf of plaintiffs, but 90% of the work has been on the defense side.” There are sub-groups to delve into, including teams dedicated to retail and consumer products, securities, environment and energy matters.Those in Richmond found that while "every now and again we have to pitch in on document review, the partners feel that our time is better spent getting more practical experience." This included opportunities to travel and take depositions; one associate had "already taken 35 full depositions and defended 12 of them." Sources in some of the smaller offices "basically do everything: I've done discovery work, case management, drafted motions, communicated with opposing counsel…" The size of these offices allowed associates to "enjoy a varied workload, but at the same time there aren't a lot of people here to share the responsibility, so you have to be able to multitask and put in a lot of hours."
The corporate finance and real estate group "represents developers, buyers and sellers – especially in the New York market – as well as banks that are making loans to large companies.” Associates were certainly kept busy: “The deals operate on short timeframes – typically three months – and you're often juggling seven at a time!" As for tasks, “the more senior attorneys are in charge of the loan documents, so juniors do things like getting opinion letters, reviewing title reports and agreements affecting the property, and taking care of zoning stuff.” Sources praised the group “for throwing us in early – you're on the phone all day with clients and the other side." Those hungry for more responsibility were not disappointed, as "very quickly you get to do more senior stuff,” like running smaller deals where "you draft the sale and purchase agreement and monitor the transaction till closing."
“The deals operate on short timeframes.”
Over in Richmond, corporate associates had encountered "a large variety of matters, from acquisitions to capital markets stuff to general financing to corporate governance.” Those in Dallas were also impressed with the available mix: "We handle private equity transactions, fund formations and M&A.” Across the offices, what juniors did depended “a lot of where in the life-cycle the deal was." Most found themselves "doing first drafts of primary documents, such as the asset purchase agreement, as well as the key ancillaries. Then there's also the more junior associate things like reviewing contracts, doing due diligence and formulating schedules."
Training & Development
Hunton's 'client service curriculum' consists of “sit-down events for associates that cover a breadth of topics, such as the firm's finances and how to interact with staff, to more legal-focused sessions on things like how to craft an argument for a brief.” Other courses include project management and budgeting. Here's the deal: “You take what you want to take – they often occur over lunch and are particularly useful if you are about to get exposure to something that you haven't done on the job before.”
The extent of informal feedback was partner-dependent, but we heard from plenty of sourcesthat had had this experience: “Oftentimes a partner will come back to me with mark-ups of a document I've drafted to show me the style they prefer – they take the time to explain the changes, which is critical for improvement.” The formal review process was spoken about positively: “We write a self-assessment in March, then the partners and counsel we've worked with write up their reviews in April, and in June we have our sit-down review meeting. All the feedback is attributed, so we know exactly who said what and what they think of you!”
Juniors were wary of overplaying the 'Southern vibe' (“We're Southern to the extent that Southern means hospitality and geniality”) and identified Hunton's caring side as the most discernible strand in its culture. "Even when I interviewed at the firm I felt like people cared about me – in fact, my interviewers reached out to me beforehand to take the time to talk to me – and that’s been consistent throughout my experience."
“...Southern to the extent that Southern means hospitality and geniality.”
How does this care manifest itself? Well, sources generally felt Hunton's senior lawyers were keen mentors. One junior recalled: "There was an issue that I didn’t quite understand and I went to one of the partners and they sat me down and ran me through the relevant concepts." Insiders put this kind of behavior down to Hunton consisting of “people who had the credentials to go to any firm they wanted but decided to come here. Some of our senior lawyers have known one another for 30 years and they're invested – they want the same thing for young associates.”
Judging by the number of social activities we heard about, it certainly sounds like Hunton's lawyers like spending time together: practice group lunches, happy hours, events for big football games, cooking classes and “gatherings to celebrate people's birthdays and weddings” were all highlighted in our interviews. “We're not doing anything wild but it all produces a good atmosphere!”
Hours & Compensation
Both the corporate and corporate finance and real estate groups came with highly variable hours. During quieter periods associates could be working between 9:30am and 5pm, but as deals ramp they could be toiling away until 2am for a week. Litigators regularly worked nine to ten-hour days, but also experienced lengthier stints: “On the day of a trial I got into the office at 6am to ensure everything was ready, and was back in the office after court until midnight as we had a conference with the client.” Thoughts on how achievable the 2,000-hour billing target is varied depending on practice area. Those in the administrative group in particular found it to be “a high number – it's something I'm concerned about.”
Associates felt “appropriately compensated” but did find “the payment structure a little obscure.” Juniors start on a market-rate lockstep salary, but at around the 8th year associates transition to a “performance based, case-by-case system.” With bonuses, sources understood that hitting the 2,000 hours target made them bonus eligible, but also spoke of “rumors that you need someone to advocate for you as well,” which the firm emphasized was more procedural than it sounds: to keep it performance-related, a case it made to the associates' committee. “While we don’t publish a scale of salaries, we offer total compensation that is competitive," says corporate finance partner (and former hiring partner) Tom Hiner. "Each associate’s total compensation is determined based on quality of work, economic performance and overall contribution to the firm, as well as market factors.”
Associates can count 50 hours of pro bono toward their billing target: “The informal expectation is that you'll do that 50. If you don't, you won't get penalized but they do track people who aren't doing it and send them emails with opportunities.” Sources estimated that “around 30% of associates will do more than 100 hours,” and if they do, they become proud recipients of an award named after the firm's cofounder E. Randolph Williams.
“...around 30% of associates will do more than 100 hours.”
"There's not really a central person you go to for assignment,” sources revealed, “as there's a variety of people who are involved in different areas.” Our interviewees had “leapt right in” on custody matters, veteran issues, eviction lawsuits and animal abuse work. Juniors can also secure “a lot of work” from Hunton's two 'neighborhood pro bono offices' in Charlottesville and the Church Hill area of Richmond. The latter “does a lot of landlord/tenant cases, while Charlottesville is known for immigration and domestic violence work.”
Pro bono hours
- For all US attorneys: 41,964
- Average per US attorney: 63
“I think the population of diverse candidates that want to be in Richmond is quite low – often we lose them to firms in DC and New York,” one junior posited. Another agreed that perceptions of Richmond might have an effect: “If you're not familiar with Richmond then you might be concerned about it being an old-fashioned Southern city and not a welcoming environment – which is 100% wrong!” Still, in other offices the location had yielded more diversity. One junior who'd spent time in the Miami office told us “it's diverse from an ethnicity perspective, with Hispanic lawyers choosing to come here.”
Overall, juniors felt that Hunton “is making a conscious effort to invest in diversity,” and frequently pointed to the firm's 1L summer associate diversity program, where “we take on diverse 1Ls in Richmond and Dallas – the hope is that we get them to return as 2Ls.” In addition, female sources had attended “women in law events, which were held for the firm's clients as well as its female attorneys.” We also heard of “informational events that explore different cultures” and “partners talking about diversity efforts during lunchtime seminars.”
Firmwide hiring partners Kim MacLeod and Tom Hiner highlight that they "like to hear about collaboration and collegiality. These are key components of our culture at Hunton, and we are looking for people who buy into the team ethos.” MacLeod notes that "we like to ask our candidates to talk about challenging situations they have experienced – situations where they have had to step up and provide leadership." Overconfidence, however, can often be a pitfall, especially “when someone comes in and comes across as arrogant.” Juniors reiterated this, describing how “sometimes people come to interview with an ego. That's not a good route to take – we can spot it a mile away. We want to maintain our jovial culture.” When it comes to standing out, “we notice candidates who show exceptional maturity and poise, because they will be better prepared to interact with our clients immediately upon arriving at the firm," MacLeod explains.
“One of those questions we ask is 'Why here at Hunton?' and that becomes easier when you understand, for the office or the firm, the type of work they actually do” one junior explained. Another advised to “just be natural and honest – those are two big things here.” Lastly, one source explained that the firm is essentially looking for “someone who is going to go above and beyond expectations.”
OCI applicants interviewed: 595
Interviewees outside OCI: 15
Applicants invited to 2nd stage interview: 279
Notable summer events: The firm hosts a two-day orientation session in our Washington office for all of our summer associates across the firm. Then, each office holds a variety of social events to provide an opportunity for our summer associates to get to know as many of our lawyers and staff as possible. Examples include wine and beer tastings, poker and bowling nights, city tours, sporting events, happy hours, team dinners and community service events.
Neighborhood-based Pro Bono Offices
Unlike any other law firm, Hunton & Williams runs neighborhood-based pro bono offices run entirely by firm lawyers and dedicated to legal aid in local communities in Richmond and Charlottesville, Va. Serving more than 500 clients a year, Hunton lawyers provide services including: family and housing law, guardianships, immigration, and domestic violence legal services. The neighborhood offices allow firm lawyers to provide legal assistance to low-income clients in a personal way. Also unique, the firm independently maintains two-year pro bono fellowships - one in Richmond and one in New York - for lawyers who support local legal aid organizations and the firm’s neighborhood offices full time. The program, created in 1996, is an opportunity for young lawyers pursuing a career in public service.
Supporting Local Legal Aid
We steadfastly believe that the most important pro bono work our lawyers can provide is to individuals in our local communities who need it most. The firm dedicates the largest portion of its pro bono practice to serve the basic legal needs of low-income individuals by assisting local legal aid organizations with their case overload in each of the firm’s 14 US office locations. Unique in the legal industry, the firm has two neighborhood-based pro bono offices in Richmond and Charlottesville, Va., run entirely by firm lawyers with the sole purpose of helping with the overflow of legal aid clients in central Virginia and assisting more than 500 clients a year. Lawyers assist legal aid clients with a variety of matters including uncontested divorces, landlord/tenant and housing law cases, protective orders for victims of domestic violence, and consults and clinics.
Vince Gilmer Clemency Petition
Hunton represented Dr. Vince Gilmer on his clemency petition in a prominent case that was featured on “This American Life,” and the firm’s lead lawyer also was interviewed by CNN. Gilmer was a well-respected doctor who killed his father in 2004, shocking his family and entire community. He was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison. In 2013, he was diagnosed with Huntington’s disease. Based on this new evidence, Hunton prepared a clemency petition that included three independent expert opinions that Gilmer was symptomatic for HD at the time he killed his father, and that his disease contributed directly to his act. Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe denied Gilmer clemency, but the firm is researching clemency options under new governor Ralph Northam. Gilmer has requested a conditional release to a secure psychiatric hospital, where he’d receive treatment unavailable in prison.
Prisoner Wrongful Death Suit - Work for Southern Center for Human Rights
In 2017 alone, the firm dedicated more than 1,000 hours to Southern Center for Human Rights cases, including representing the family of Randall Davison, a 50-year-old inmate in the Georgia prison system who died after failing to receive the medical treatment he had requested for an infection while he was incarcerated. The federal lawsuit alleges that prison medical officials were deliberately indifferent to Davison’s medical needs, a violation of his civil rights. Hunton lawyers have long represented and dedicated thousands of hours to prisoners in Georgia in civil rights cases. SCHR represents clients in death penalty cases, impact litigation, prisoner’s rights cases and policy advocacy in an effort to eliminate criminal justice practices.
Coast Guard Partnership
A group of cases makes up the significant work the firm did for the US Coast Guard – resulting in the firm receiving the US Coast Guard Meritorious Public Service Award last February, the 2nd-highest civilian award the USCG gives. Unlike the other military services with significant legal assistance, the USCG has only 10 civilian legal assistance lawyers for the entire US. In keeping with its dedication to the underserved, in 2012 the firm began assisting Coast Guard members and their families with legal issues involving real estate, estate planning, bankruptcy, immigration and other matters. The partnership has involved about 30 of the firm’s lawyers who have contributed more than 2,000 hours in five states.
Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP
2200 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW,
- Head Office: Washington, DC
- Number of domestic offices: 15
- Number of international offices: 5
- Partners (US): 387
- Counsel (US): 127
- Associates (US): 372
- Main recruitment contact: Becky Chavez
- Hiring partners: Alexis J. Gomez, Rudene Mercer Haynes and Alan J. Marcuis
- Diversity co-heads: A. Todd Brown, Gustavo J. Membiela, Shemin V. Proctor and Emily Burkhardt Vicente
- Recruitment details
- Entry-level associates starting in 2018: 41
- Clerking policy: Yes
- Summers joining/anticipated 2018: 50 1Ls: 14, 2Ls: 36
- Summers joining/anticipated 2018 split by office: Dallas: 8, Houston: 15, Los Angeles: 2, Miami: 2, New York: 5, Richmond: 11, San Francisco: 1, Washington, DC: 6
- Summer salary 2018: 1Ls and 2Ls: $3,500/week (major markets) or $3,100/week
- Split summers offered? No
- Can summers spend time in an overseas office? No
On April 2, 2018, Hunton & Williams LLP and Andrews Kurth Kenyon LLP combined to become Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP.
Main areas of work
• George Washington
• South Texas
• UC Berkeley
• University of Houston
• University of Michigan
• University of Pennsylvania
• University of Richmond
• University of Texas
• Washington & Lee
• Washington University in St. Louis
• William & Mary
Recruitment outside OCIs:
Hunton Andrews Kurth recruits at several diversity-related job fairs each year. Candidates also may apply via the firm’s website.
Summer associate profile:
Hunton Andrews Kurth seeks high performing, team-oriented and problem-solving law students. In addition to strong academic credentials and excellent communication skills, applicants should have a solid record of success and leadership. Prior work/professional experience and advanced degrees also are valued.
Summer program components:
Hunton Andrews Kurth’s Summer Program is a ten-week immersion in the real-world practice of law. Customized for each summer associate, it generally includes leadership, business development and client service training; career mentoring; client interaction; practical experience; pro bono opportunities; judicial clerkship counseling; and work projects in practice areas of interest.
This Firm's Rankings in
Chambers USA Guide 2017
- Environment (Band 4)
District of Columbia
- Environment (Band 1)
- Banking & Finance (Band 3)
- Corporate/M&A & Private Equity (Band 5)
- Labor & Employment (Band 3)
- Latin American Investment (Band 3)
- Litigation: General Commercial (Band 3)
- Banking & Finance (Band 3)
- Intellectual Property: Patent (Band 4)
- Environment (Band 3)
- Real Estate (Band 2)
- Corporate/M&A (Band 1)
- Intellectual Property (Band 1)
- Real Estate (Band 1)
- Banking & Finance (Band 3)
- Bankruptcy/Restructuring (Band 3)
- Capital Markets: Debt & Equity (Band 2)
- Corporate/M&A (Band 2)
- Environment (Band 5)
- Litigation: General Commercial Recognised Practitioner
- Real Estate (Band 1)
- Tax (Band 2)
USA - Nationwide
- Capital Markets: Securitisation (Band 2)
- Climate Change (Band 1)
- Energy: Electricity (Regulatory & Litigation) (Band 5)
- Energy: Oil & Gas (Regulatory & Litigation) (Band 3)
- Energy: Oil & Gas (Transactional) (Band 2)
- Environment (Band 1)
- Outsourcing (Band 3)
- Privacy & Data Security (Band 2)
- Projects: Power (Band 4)
- Projects: Renewables & Alternative Energy (Band 3)
- REITs (Band 3)
- Retail (Band 2)
- Bankruptcy/Restructuring (Band 1)
- Environment (Band 1)
- Labor & Employment (Band 1)
- Litigation: General Commercial (Band 1)