Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP - The Inside View

Still standing strong in the US and worldwide, Morgan Lewis offers “interconnectivity” alongside a gentler BigLaw culture.

REACHING $2 billion in annual revenue isn’t easy. Not much is when your firm is 2,000 lawyers strong and armed with 17 domestic and 14 international offices; clearly, Morgan Lewis doesn’t shy away from facing the world head-on. This far-reaching footprint hasn't stretched the firm’s cohesion and juniors raved about the “interconnectivity of the firm as a whole. I get to meet so many different people and learn all kinds of things from them.” Morgan Lewis earns nationwide Chambers USA rankings for capital markets, energy, ERISA litigation and retail; it’s also recognized in eight states and as a top firm nationwide for labor & employment. Zeroing in by office, the California bases have a penchant for environment work; DC gets a gold star for immigration law; and Boston boasts an excellent hedge and mutual funds practice. 

“I felt I wasn’t going to be a number here; Morgan Lewis is all about finding diverse ways of looking at things.”

As one of the largest firms in the world, the Morgan Lewis name comes with plenty of prestige attached (“in my area of interest, we do some of the best work in the country here,” a junior noted), but more important for many was the firm’s rep for “not working associates to the bone, I felt I wasn’t going to be a number here. Morgan Lewis is all about finding diverse ways of looking at things and finding people with unique vision.” 

Strategy & Future



Making more than $2 billion once again in 2019, Morgan Lewis also expanded its network with an Abu Dhabi office in February of that year by grabbing a 15-strong team from Squire Patton Boggs’ offices in the UAE and the USA. Back on home soil, the bankruptcy team has been bolstered following three lateral partner hires in New York.

The Work



A quarter of juniors on our list were based in New York, with Philadelphia and DC taking a good chunk too; the rest were split across 12 other offices from Boston to San Francisco. Litigation, corporate and labor & employment are the most popular practice groups followed by finance, IP and antitrust. Though there’s a formal assignment system, interviewees told us that “partners often approach you directly and then inform the assignment partner about it afterwards.” The combo of both methods means that juniors “have the opportunity to control the matters and partners you work with.” Cross-office staffing is far from unusual: “I’m sometimes the only one on a case from this office – somehow it doesn’t feel strange!” 

“It was quite scary, but really important experience.” 

The labor & employment team at Morgan Lewis covers three main areas of work: single-plaintiff litigation, “traditional BigLaw disputes” and nonlitigious employment work. The first of those involves former employees suing companies for unlawful termination or discrimination, which are “very small money for a firm of our size. Cases reach around $100,000 at the most.” That means high responsibility for juniors, who typically draft all the necessary motions: “It’s a great way to learn everything about a case from the cradle to the grave and take ownership of it.” ERISA litigation and wage disputes are the big bucks matters, but these require juniors to “manage calls, do document review and send emails. It’s not the most intellectual work but it’s different and exciting to be part of a big team.” While working on the employment side of M&A deals, general litigation avoidance and regulatory compliance, juniors revise handbooks and conduct research. Interviewees were generally happy that “you get to interact with clients a lot – you can build good relationships and they end up asking for specific associates. That helps you build up your practice.” 

Labor and employment clients: Google, Uber, Best Buy. Lead counsel to Amazon in multiple employment status, hours and compensation class action cases brought by delivery drivers. 

Litigators usually stay generalists until at least their third year. In this section of ML you’ll find class actions, securities, antitrust, white-collar, contract disputes and even a little environmental litigation. Juniors here described the department as “exhausting. But it’s also a ton of fun!” Those we spoke to got their teeth into depositions, drafting outlines, motions, requests and responses and the odd bit of trial work. “I got to work on cross-examinations in the trial,” one shared. “It was quite scary, but really important experience.” Of course, given the size of the cases that Morgan Lewis takes on there’s no escaping “a fair amount of document review and other repetitive tasks. The better stuff makes it worth it!” 

Litigation clients: Dr Pepper, National Gas & Electric, Deutsche. Represented Premium Point Investments in an $80 million fraud suit brought by investors after the collapse of a hedge fund. 

M&A, capital markets, private equity and more can be found in the corporate practice. Tech startup finance is common in San Francisco, whereas East Coast juniors are more likely to work with Fortune 500 companies on buyer and seller-side M&A. Morgan Lewis fares strongest in the corporate mid-market with clients spanning healthcare, technology, life sciences, energy and financial services. 

Diversity & Inclusion



Inclusion at Morgan Lewis “starts from the top. Our managing partner is a woman and that’s reflective of an attitude that trickles all the way down.” We heard that ML is “really serious about inclusion. They’re spending a lot of time and money on it.” Employment juniors highlighted the firm’s common-sense approach: “When we’re counseling clients, we’re telling them that we know what helps businesses, and it’s diversity. We know that firms that aren’t diverse are at a loss and it’d be silly to not take our own advice!” Morgan Lewis affinity groups hold meetings and host events; interviewees noted that the firm’s programs aren’t just for diverse attorneys but allies too. “There was an event for male allies on how men can help their female co-workers: how to be inclusive in conversation, checking implicit bias and taking time to be cognitive of being inclusive.” 

“They’re making sure we’re taking care of ourselves emotionally, physically, mentally and spiritually.” 

The ‘ML Well’ employee wellness program began in 2019, launched by the newly installed Director of Employee Wellbeing. “They’re making sure we’re taking care of ourselves emotionally, physically, mentally and spiritually,” sources declared. The program includes events, talks, online resources and training. Tutorials for new arrivals involve “a whole series where they talk to us about potential dangers to lawyers including substance abuse,” we heard. “They’re providing resources to remove the stigma of such things and help those affected do something about it.” 

Career Development



All new starters convene in Philadelphia for a junior lawyers academy; the ones we spoke to found it “useful because here you work with offices all across the country. Because I met those people in first year, when we chat on Skype it’s less weird.” From there, Morgan Lewis lays out “subsequent touch points for developing to the next steps.” Though all juniors get a formal associate and partner mentor, we heard that many “end up working with a lot of informal mentors, as well as people asking you about your aspirations.” 

Interviewees found partners were always ready to help “no matter how busy they are. Not once has anyone told me they're too busy to help; that’s teaching me to be a good leader later on.” They also found the path to partnership was “very transparent from the start,” encouraging sources to make long-term plans at Morgan Lewis. “Leaving here would just be shortsighted of me,” one declared. “Partnership seems like a great and achievable option.” If it’s not an option that a junior wants to aim for, Morgan Lewis’ alumni network helps career development outside the firm. “As long as I practice law, I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else,” one loyal source insisted. “Morgan Lewis just treats you so well!” 

Culture



“I didn’t even want to stay in BigLaw, but I’m still at Morgan Lewis because of the culture here,” another junior declared. As at many firms, buzzwords like “collaborative,” “friendly” and “approachable” littered our interview transcripts, all linked to a “culture of gratitude. In partners’ evaluations they don’t talk about themselves, they talk about everyone who’s helped them over the year. We promote and elevate each other.” Any competitiveness among our junior sources was put to good use. “Everyone wants to do well and look good,” they pointed out. “You can do that without it being at the expense of others, we help each other out whenever we can.” 

“We don’t have a lot of razzle and dazzle... we don’t wear suits.”

Attorneys in smaller offices were especially close: from one we heard that “twice a week, we all eat a free lunch together. It’s nice to sit and chat to friends in other groups.” Los Angeles insiders felt that “there’s an effort to bring people together face to face. Our group leader recently invited everyone and their families over for a holiday party at her house.” Over in New York, many were keen to distance Morgan Lewis from NYC legal practice stereotypes. “We don’t have a lot of razzle and dazzle; we don’t have the sexiest offices; and we don’t wear suits,” one spelled out for us. “If you want to be treated like an individual in an elite firm in New York but without that bad aroma around, you’ll be happy here.” We’ve heard from juniors over several years that the firm’s Philadelphia roots play a big role in its less intense culture. 

TOP READ: Spotlight on Philadelphia: Firm chair Jami McKeon explains why her global firm treasures its Philly roots.

Hours & Compensation



That doesn’t mean Morgan Lewis juniors avoid all the intensity of BigLaw. “There are some very long hours,” we heard. “I don’t exactly wake up singing a song at 6am every day.” Though most interviewees got out of the office by 7:30pm on average, some reported a handful of grueling 16-hour days and weekends spent working. The firm’s work from home policy helps to ease the pressure a little: from third year onwards, associates can work remotely twice a week. They told us that “makes it easier to handle the rigors and pressures of the job. I can also buckle down and do solitary activities like brief writing and document review.” 

“I don’t exactly wake up singing a song at 6am every day.” 

Though the firm doesn't have an official billing target, many of our interviewees aimed for 1,900 hours. “It's a catch-all figure and associates in some groups struggle to hit it, especially in some transactional departments.” In litigation, labor and employment, interviewees suggested that “if you’re at 1,900, you’re considered low and the firm wouldn’t be happy.” In those groups, interviewees were more likely to average between 2,000 and 2,400 hours. Some felt confused by it all, especially as “you only get reviewed once a year so it can take twelve months to hear from supervisors that you’re below the average. It’d be helpful to know as we go along.” The good news is that every associate that hits 1,900 hours gets their bonus, no matter which practice group they’re in. 

Pro Bono



Associates can also count 100% of their pro bono work toward the goal, “there’s no cap and it’s wonderful that they encourage it.” There’s also a 20 hour minimum – “I completed it in the first month,” a source boasted. “100% of the firm hit the target last year, which shows they're willing to put action behind what they say.” Most interviewees had completed between 50 and 200 hours of pro bono in the past year; juniors rated the attitude of partners toward it. “It’s treated the same as client work – you'll never be told to drop anything, you work around it." Labor and employment juniors liked that as pro bono projects “tend to be similar to the billable work, it reinforces day-to-day learning.” Others liked the opportunity to “learn a whole different area beyond my practice group, and work with new partners too." Chicago and Los Angeles sources worked on immigration and asylum matters; juniors in New York told us about State Court clashes over school funding. 

Pro bono hours

  • For all US attorneys: 120,787
  • Average per US attorney: 69

Get Hired



The first stage: recruitment on and off campus

OCI applicants interviewed: 1,521

Interviewees outside OCI: 50

Morgan Lewis takes part in on-campus interviews at around 44 law schools and 15 regional job fairs across the country. Hiring partner Christina Melendi explains: “We have developed relationships with certain law schools that we have identified as having both an abundant alumni presence, as well as representing exceptional and diverse students.”

The interviews on campus are usually conducted by a partner and an associate team, and collectively they represent the various offices and practice groups.  “We like our potential recruits to see the relationship dynamic between our partners and associates, one that we feel is both instructive and collegiate.” Questions are aimed at “identifying behaviors that align with the culture and values of Morgan Lewis. We are looking for students who exemplify client service, on-the-spot problem-solving, collaboration, and a commitment to diversity and inclusion.”

Top tips for this stage:

“Be yourself! We understand that interviews are stressful, and love to see candidates’ personalities shine though – it is the best way to develop an organic connection during the on-campus interview process.” – hiring partner Christina Melendi

Callbacks

Applicants invited to second stage interview: 719

Successful candidates can expect to spend between two and three hours at the firm, meeting with a combination of partners, associates and hiring committee members. “If a student has expressed specific interests prior to their visit, we aim to select interviewers who can speak to that interest or practice.” At this point, the questions focus on behaviorial interview questions based around core competencies used in annual associate evaluations: “This allows us to evaluate future performance at the firm, while giving the students insight into what makes a successful Morgan Lewis associate,” Melendi explains. Interviewers also tend to ask about a students’ connection to the location they interview for, in order to find a good match geographically. Extracurricular, community or volunteer activities may also come up to help demonstrate “what is driving them to achieve” and “what have been their greatest accomplishments and challenges,” adds Melendi.

Top tips for this stage:

“I am always impressed when a candidate has connected with our associates or past summer associates ahead of the callback. This shows that the candidate is proactive and enthusiastic about the firm. Students who demonstrate ownership of their careers, the ability to build relationships on campus and in the community, as well as excellence in client service typically stand out among their peers.” – hiring partner Christina Melendi

Summer program

Offers: 268

Acceptances: 85

Morgan Lewis’ summer program runs for ten weeks and kicks off with a firmwide multiday gathering of summer associates, hiring partners, firm leaders and select associates. It involves “on-your-feet learning, including working with real clients on pro bono projects.” Back in their home offices, the summer program continues with the firm’s ‘Summer Academy’ in which summers receive training in legal writing, client service and presentation skills. Summers are “exposed to a variety of practice areas, including areas in which they expressed interest, and have the opportunity to collaborate with partners in advising clients,” Melendi summarizes. Summers also have the option to spend up to four weeks in-house at a community service organization.

Top tips for this stage:

“The relationships built by being present are the best way to get to know the firm and to the let the firm get to know you! In every interaction, show enthusiasm for the work and appreciation for the time the lawyers spend training you.” – hiring partner, Christina Melendi

Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP

1701 Market Street,
Philadelphia,
PA 19103-2921
Website www.morganlewis.com

  • Head Office: Philadelphia, PA
  • Number of domestic offices: 17
  • Number of international offices: 14
  • Partners (US): 640
  • Associates (US): 783
  • Contacts 
  • Main recruitment contact: Noelani Walser (noelani.walser@morganlewis.com)
  • Hiring partner: Christina Edling Melendi
  • Diversity officer: MaLora McCullough
  • Recruitment details 
  • Entry-level associates starting in 2020: 76
  • Clerking policy: Yes
  • Summers joining/anticipated 2020: 1Ls: 12, 2Ls: 85
  • Summers joining/anticipated 2020 split by office: Boston: 8; Chicago: 5; Houston: 2; Hartford: 1; Los Angeles: 6; New York: 24; Orange County: 3; Philadelphia: 14; San Francisco: 10; Silicon Valley: 7; Washington, DC: 17
  • Summer salary 2020: 1Ls: $3,650/week
  • 2Ls: $3,650/week
  • Split summers offered? Case by case
  • Can summers spend time in an overseas office? No

Main areas of work



 At Morgan Lewis, we provide a dynamic range of services that fall into four broad categories: Corporate, Finance & Investment Management; Intellectual Property; Labor, Employment & Benefits; and Litigation, Regulation & Investigations. Our global team of lawyers and other specialists support clients across a range of industries, including energy, banking, investment funds, insurance, healthcare, life sciences, retail and ecommerce, sports, technology, and transportation.

Firm profile



 Morgan Lewis is recognized for exceptional client service, legal innovation, and commitment to its communities. Our global depth reaches across North America, Asia, Europe, and the Middle East with the collaboration of more than 2,200 lawyers and specialists, who provide elite legal services across industry sectors for multinational corporations and startups. A commitment to diversity and inclusion is one of our core values; it influences how we service clients, collaborate with colleagues, and recruit prospective lawyers. We are also committed to serving our communities through our innovative, award-winning pro bono practice, where we provide more than 137,000 hours annually, and achieved 100% participation in 2018. Additionally, the firm launched a well-being program in 2019 with the appointment of a Chief Engagement Officer and the hiring of a Director of Employee Well-being. 

Recruitment



 Law Schools attending for OCIs in 2020:
Alabama, American, BC, Berkeley, BU, Catholic, Cardozo, Chicago, Columbia, Cornell, Davis, Duke, Fordham, GW, Georgetown, Harvard, Hastings, Houston, Howard, Illinois, Indiana, Irvine, Loyola — Chicago, Michigan, New England, NYU, Northeastern, Northwestern, Pennsylvania, Rutgers, Santa Clara, Stanford, Temple, Texas, Tulane, UCLA, USC, USF, UVA, Villanova, and Yale

Recruitment outside OCIs:
The firm participates in a number of diversity and practice-related job fairs.

Summer associate profile:
Highly motivated individuals from diverse backgrounds who have a record of outstanding academic achievement; superior writing and analytical skills; a commitment to client service; initiative; and an ability to succeed in a challenging, collaborative workplace.

Summer program components:
Our program provides insight into Morgan Lewis, its practices, and culture through professional and social experiences. The summer program kicks off by bringing summer associates from all offices together with firm leaders, partners, and associates. Summer associates have the unique opportunity to tailor their experiences with the option of either spending the entire summer at the firm, or spending a portion of the summer working onsite with a public interest organization. While at the firm, summer associates work on matters typically assigned to firstyear associates and participate in a generous mix of training opportunities to hone skills, such as legal writing and presentation style. After joining the firm full time, associates are offered Student Loan Repayment services, an innovative Remote Working Program, and a Ramp– Up Program that includes a reduced hours expectation for associates returning from an approved extended leave of absence.

Social media



Recruitment website:www.morganlewis.com
Linkedin:Morgan Lewis
Twitter:@MorganLewisLaw@mlrecruit
Facebook:Morgan Lewis
Instagram: @mlrecruit

This Firm's Rankings in
USA Guide, 2020

Ranked Departments

    • Antitrust (Band 3)
    • Banking & Finance (Band 4)
    • Corporate/M&A: Private Equity (Band 4)
    • Environment (Band 1)
    • Insurance: Policyholder (Band 2)
    • Intellectual Property (Band 4)
    • Intellectual Property: Patent Prosecution (Band 2)
    • Labor & Employment (Band 2)
    • Life Sciences (Band 4)
    • Litigation: General Commercial (Band 4)
    • Litigation: Securities (Band 3)
    • Tax (Band 3)
    • Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation (Band 2)
    • Antitrust (Band 5)
    • Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation (Band 2)
    • Environment (Band 4)
    • Healthcare (Band 3)
    • Immigration (Band 1)
    • Insurance: Policyholder (Band 3)
    • Labor & Employment (Band 1)
    • Tax (Band 1)
    • Telecom, Broadcast & Satellite (Band 3)
    • Labor & Employment (Band 3)
    • Litigation: General Commercial (Band 4)
    • Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation (Band 1)
    • Intellectual Property (Band 4)
    • Labor & Employment (Band 2)
    • Antitrust (Band 1)
    • Banking & Finance (Band 2)
    • Bankruptcy/Restructuring (Band 2)
    • Corporate/M&A (Band 3)
    • Hedge & Mutual Funds (Band 1)
    • Insurance (Band 3)
    • Litigation: General Commercial (Band 2)
    • Tax (Band 2)
    • Corporate/M&A (Band 1)
    • Environment (Band 3)
    • Labor & Employment (Band 1)
    • Antitrust (Band 4)
    • Corporate/M&A: Highly Regarded (Band 1)
    • Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation (Band 3)
    • Labor & Employment (Band 2)
    • Tax (Band 4)
    • Technology & Outsourcing (Band 3)
    • Antitrust (Band 3)
    • Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation (Band 1)
    • Environment (Band 4)
    • Intellectual Property (Band 4)
    • Labor & Employment (Band 1)
    • Litigation: White-Collar Crime & Government Investigations (Band 1)
    • Real Estate (Band 3)
    • Tax (Band 1)
    • Corporate/M&A & Private Equity (Band 1)
    • Litigation: General Commercial (Band 1)
    • Healthcare (Band 2)
    • Intellectual Property (Band 4)
    • Labor & Employment (Band 1)
    • Litigation: General Commercial (Band 4)
    • Capital Markets: Securitisation (Band 1)
    • Corporate/M&A: Highly Regarded (Band 1)
    • E-Discovery & Information Governance (Band 2)
    • Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation (Band 1)
    • Energy: Electricity (Regulatory & Litigation) (Band 2)
    • Energy: Electricity (Transactional) (Band 3)
    • Energy: Nuclear (Regulatory & Litigation) (Band 1)
    • Energy: Oil & Gas (Regulatory & Litigation) (Band 4)
    • Environment (Band 2)
    • ERISA Litigation (Band 1)
    • Financial Services Regulation: Broker Dealer (Compliance & Enforcement) (Band 2)
    • Healthcare (Band 4)
    • Immigration (Band 2)
    • Insurance: Dispute Resolution: Policyholder (Band 3)
    • Investment Funds: Hedge Funds (Band 3)
    • Investment Funds: Investor Representation (Band 1)
    • Investment Funds: Registered Funds (Band 2)
    • Labor & Employment (Band 1)
    • Life Sciences (Band 4)
    • Outsourcing (Band 2)
    • Product Liability & Mass Torts (Band 5)
    • Projects: Power (Band 2)
    • Projects: Power & Renewables: Transactional (Band 1)
    • Projects: Renewables & Alternative Energy (Band 3)
    • Retail (Band 1)
    • Retail: Corporate & Transactional (Band 2)
    • Startups & Emerging Companies (Band 4)
    • Tax: Controversy (Band 1)
    • Tax: Corporate & Finance (Band 3)