Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP - The Inside View

Slytherins Keep Out: “It’s a bunch of Hufflepuffs and Ravenclaws” at Morgan Lewis, with some Gryffindors thrown in for good measure.

“The distinguishing feature of our firm,” according to Morgan Lewis chair Jami McKeon, “is that we’ve maintained a broad footprint across 15 practices, so we are not one of those firms which is over- or underweighted in one area. We don’t have to go out and build a labor and employment practice, for example, because we already have it at a very high level.” So high, in fact, that it was a big draw for associates like this one: “I knew I wanted to do labor and employment work, and Morgan Lewis is one of the best.”

The firm is ranked top nationally by Chambers USA for labor & employment, but that’s not all that’s on offer. It gets more top national rankings for capital markets securitization, corporate/M&A, employee benefits & executive compensation, nuclear regulatory & litigation, ERISA litigation, investor funds, projects, retail, and tax. Regionally it picks up top marks for environment in California, immigration in DC, antitrust and hedge funds in Massachusetts, and white-collar crime and government investigations in Pennsylvania. Insiders happily told us they found the firm’s culture “much more relaxed” than they were expecting for a firm of its size (over 2,000 lawyers and 31 offices worldwide). Juniors are recruited into almost all 17 US offices, with DC taking the largest cohort in 2020, followed by the Philly HQ and New York.

Strategy & Future



McKeon tells us that ML’s spread of 15 practices “meant we were prepared for some groups being stronger than others” throughout COVID-19. She continues: “We’ve added some outstanding talent across the firm during the pandemic,” highlighting key hires in London, Frankfurt, New York and Philadelphia in life sciences, IP, and investment funds. The firm also established a new education team this year, bringing its total number of sector-focused groups to 11.

The Work



Newbies were split across the firm’s many practices, but litigation took in the biggest chunk of juniors, followed by labor and employment and corporate business transactions. The labor and employment practice is usually litigation-heavy, “but since COVID-19 there’s been a big shift toward counseling work because employers are obviously unsure how to handle this unprecedented situation.” This has been good news for juniors, as “second-years don’t usually do much counseling, but I’ve done loads because of the demand.” Advisory work entailed helping employers navigate complaints, policy reviews, and human rights laws in different cities.Queries often concern new regulations from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

“Be it gender, age, disability or pregnancy discrimination, I’ve seen it all.”

Pandemic aside, the practice covers everything from trade secrets and whistleblower claims to wage and hour litigation, class actions and discrimination claims. “Be it gender, age, disability or pregnancy discrimination, I’ve seen it all,” one wizened junior shared. Newbies got a lot of drafting experience on motions to dismiss and motions for summary judgment. Associates often work one-to-one with partners, “although most of the time they just forward me work that needs doing, I do it, they review, and it carries on like that.” Rookies were surprised by their level of client contact: “I deal with clients all the time, but it can be exhausting once they get your email address!”

Labor and employment clients: WeWork,United States Soccer Federation,Amazon. Defended Uber against multiple allegations that it had violated the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The corporate business transactions group covers M&A, securities, real estate, project finance and e-data. First- to third-years operate as generalists but can focus on one or two areas if they like. Toward the end of 2020, folks were busy with election-related matters. “Companies were envisioning tax changes as a result of the change in Administration,” associates explained, “so they were trying to get deals done under the current tax arrangements.” Project finance comes up “all over the place,” often in renewable energy. Juniors found this work “a little complicated, but it’s so cool!” One described their experience as “majoring in five different topics, like tax, so you get to jump around and learn lots.” Rookies had also enjoyed “learning loads from a business perspective.” They got to grips with leases and government regulations, “plus there’s loads of research, which is awesome.” On the M&A side, some had written reports and agreements, but most juniors were putting together signature pages, flagging issues they spotted, keeping track of checklists, handling due diligence and participating in disclosure schedules – “juniors always do that.”

Corporate clients: Apollo Global Management, Nasdaq, Platinum Equity, media company Pearson. Advised PTC Therapeutics on its $325 million acquisition of Censa Pharmaceuticals. 

Commercial  disputes are the cornerstone of the firm’s litigation group, but class actions, securities, antitrust, white-collar, contract disputes and environmental litigation also feature. “We’ve got a lot of work in the finance sector so most of our clients are large banks which have various investment issues,” one explained. Juniors do a bit of the universally disliked doc review, “but we don’t have to do loads of it, and it’s a good way to learn about cases.” Responsibility varied depending on the size of the matter. “On leanly staffed cases I handle all the document production, taking first crack at drafting motions and doing substantive research projects,” one explained, “but on the larger, nine-figure matters I mainly dot the i’s and cross the t’s.” Others had conducted witness interviews, prepared depositions, and drafted preliminary injunctions and appellate briefs. 

Litigation clients: Dr Pepper Snapple Group, Rite Aid, pharmaceutical company Covance, Zyla Life Sciences. Defended medical device company Zimmer Biomet in a gender discrimination and constructive discharge case brought by a plaintiff seeking $14 million in damages.

“In the words of Britney, my answer was always ‘gimme more.’”

Assignment coordinators dish out work in most groups, “but they always ask if you have time.” It’s important to be realistic when taking on new assignments. “I started out saying yes to all work,” one warned. “In the words of Britney, my answer was always ‘gimme more,’” but such an approach can get toxic pretty fast, “so you have to be clear about your workload.” Fortunately, “I’ve never had pushback if I’ve had to turn down work.” Associates added that Morgan Lewis is “very particular about not letting your location be a deciding factor in where your work comes from. You’re a citizen of the firm, not just a practice group.”

Culture



Interviewees described a “humane” culture at Morgan Lewis. “It’s kinda amazing how much time people take to help each other,” one reflected. “Since working remotely, it’s become clear that sentiment extends across all our offices.” Even in big bad New York, “our dress code is business-casual, and it’s not like you have to sit at your desk until someone tells you to go home.” Another helpfully summarized “it’s a bunch of Hufflepuffs and Ravenclaws: people that want a feel-good firm.” And in case you’re wondering, “our firm leaders would be in Gryffindor.” They probably need a bit of bravery to deal with this lot: “Partners actually appreciate it if you rib them back! They have a sense of humor.”

Pre-pandemic, the firm put on weekly happy hours complete with “really nice catered food” and an open bar, which has continued virtually (though less regularly) among some groups. On the topic of tech, associates pointed out “we’ve had a remote program for a couple years where we could work from home a couple of days a week,” meaning the shift to remote working was pretty straightforward. “It comes with the price of always being available.” For one, that pressure was mitigated by the fact that “my team is full of people who have my back.” Similarly, another said “people here are my good friends in and out of work, and that support is helpful when we work long hours.”

Hours and Compensation



Billable hours: 1,900 target

According to our survey, associates put in roughly 53 hours a week, but of course there are practice area variations: “Transactional groups have ebbs and flows but labor and employment is consistently busy.” Morgan Lewis doesn’t have a formal billing requirement, but most said they shoot for 1,900 (when bonus eligibility starts) or 2,000 hours (which the firm encourages). Associates across offices are compensated by the Milbank scale. Like most BigLaw firms though, Morgan Lewis handed out an additional ‘COVID-19 bonus’ this year, “just as an expression of gratitude.”

Career Development



All new ML lawyers worldwide – including laterals – take part in the three-day New Lawyers Academy: “There are loads of talks about the firm and practice areas – speakers come from all over the world.” In 2020, the program was run virtually. Each newbie is also assigned an associate and partner mentor: “Associate mentors are really valuable in your first couple of months when you don’t know what you’re doing!” Partner mentors don’t necessarily work directly with juniors. “I’m not on any matters with mine,” one said. “We just chat. During lockdown we’ve had weekly half-hour calls, which have been super great.”

Another told us “I’ve not met a single person who’s been averse to becoming my unofficial mentor! My group is especially good at giving feedback and my ideas are welcomed.” Not everyone had the same experience: “Often the work I complete floats off into the darkness, never to be commented on.” Most were “very impressed at the level of support for professional development.” The firm’s alumni network is at hand to support associates’ career development beyond the firm. Some also found the pro bono team to be an unexpected source of support: “They’ve worked with me to figure out which matters fit my professional development goals.”

Pro Bono



A pro bono coordinator matches attorneys with cases they’re interested in. “You can do things outside your practice group,” one associate confirmed. “I mentioned in passing that I’m interested in housing work and the pro bono counsel reached out to me with a housing matter. That was cool.” Attorneys can bill every pro bono hour to their annual total and are expected to do at least 20, but many go well beyond that. “I had a death penalty case which took loads of time,” one shared, “but our chair emailed everyone on the case saying how appreciative she was.” Some of our interviewees had actually put in hundreds of hours: “My billable work slowed down during the pandemic and the head of my group told me it was fine to do loads of pro bono instead.”

“Our chair emailed everyone on the case saying how appreciative she was.”

Immigration cases, COVID-19 advice and setting up nonprofits were all common matters. Morgan Lewis partners with several organizations, like the National Veterans Legal Service Program. McKeon also highlights “we’ve amassed over $1 million from our partners’ own pockets to contribute to racial justice issues worldwide. Once again, 100% of our attorneys devoted more than 20 hours to pro bono.”

Pro bono hours

  • For all US attorneys: 122,920
  • Average per US attorney: 79.5

Diversity & Inclusion



One interviewee told us about their first encounter with Morgan Lewis. “One of the hiring partners did practice interviews with the LGBTQ+ group at my law school,” they said. “I knew immediately they cared about diversity.” This wasn’t the only anecdote of its ilk. Another recalled that “during my callback, one of the partners explained how they really try to weed out implicit bias and make sure everyone gets equal opportunity.” Jami McKeon celebrates the firm's most recent summer program as “our most diverse ever: nearly two thirds of the summers identified as multiracial or LGBT.”

In its efforts to address mental health in the legal profession, Morgan Lewis appointed Krista Larson as its first director of employee wellbeing a couple of years ago. Among other initiatives, Larson leads the ‘ML Well’ program. Morgan Lewis also recently partnered with a fitness company which provides classes for attorneys and their kids.

Beyond internal efforts, associates wanted to highlight “we’re an outward-looking firm – our chair recently rolled out 21 initiatives outlining what we can do to address inequality across the universe.” In response to the summer of racial injustice in the US, for example, the firm created a Mobilizing for Equality taskforce (co-led by Jami McKeon) with subgroups focused on different issues, like economic investment in Black-owned business. McKeon tells us “the taskforce just launched a firmwide program called Equality Begins at Home, which is a series of games attorneys can play with their children to help transform the next generation.”

Get Hired



The first stage: recruitment on and off campus

OCI applicants interviewed: 1470

Interviewees outside OCI: 192

Morgan Lewis takes part in on-campus interviews at 34 law schools and numerous job fairs across the country. Firmwide hiring partner Christina Melendi explains, “We have developed relationships with certain law schools that have an exceptional and diverse student body and an abundant alumni presence at our firm.”

The interviews on campus are conducted by a partner and associate team, and collectively they represent our 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.” – Christina Melendi

Callbacks

Applicants invited to second stage interview: 487

Successful candidates can expect to meet 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.” We work to align our candidates’ interests with our hiring needs. At this point, the meetings include behavioral 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. Particularly in this remote working environment, interviewers also ask about a students’ connection to the location they interview for, in order to find a good match geographically. Prior work experience and extracurricular, community or volunteer activities are also considered 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.” – Christina Melendi

Summer program

Offers: 172 (2L)

Acceptances: 63 (2L)

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 attorneys. Our program provides a clear sense of firm culture, market-leading practices and our commitment to well-being, diversity and inclusion and pro bono. In addition to providing interesting and challenging work assignments throughout the program, our Summer Academy training curriculum will include a balance of practice training as well as broader professional skills and development programming. “We also build in many fun and engaging social activities so that summer associates can interact with our lawyers and each other. Relationships are key at Morgan Lewis.”

Amid the pandemic, the firm pivoted to a virtual program, providing substantive training, challenging client work, and multiple social touchpoints with attorneys across all offices. A robust mentorship component of the summer program, including connections with partners on the firm’s Diversity & Inclusion committee and affinity group networks, helped summer associates feel linked to the firm while not being physically in the office.

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.” – 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 
  • Hillary Maropis hillary.maropis@morganlewis.com
  • Hiring partner: Christina Melendi, Firmwide Hiring Partner
  • Recruitment website: morganlewis.com/careers
  • Diversity officer: Malaika Lindo, Senior Director of Diversity & Inclusion
  • Recruitment details 
  • Entry-level associates starting in 2021: 91
  • Clerking policy: Yes
  • Summers joining/anticipated 2021: 14 1Ls , 63 2Ls , 1 SEO
  • Number of summers joining/anticipated 2021 split by office: BO – 8, CH – 2, HO – 3, LA – 5, NY – 15, OC – 3, PH – 12, SF – 8, SV – 7, WA - 14
  • Summer salary 2021:
  • 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



 We provide a dynamic range of services that fall into four broad categories: corporate, finance and investment management; intellectual property; labor, employment and benefits; and litigation, regulation and investigations. Our teams support clients across a range of industries, including energy, banking, investment funds, insurance, healthcare, life sciences, retail and ecommerce, sports, technology, education 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 over 2,000 lawyers and specialists, who provide elite legal services across industry sectors for multinational corporations and start-ups. 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 award-winning pro bono practice. Every year, 100% of our lawyers record time to pro bono matters. And, for the past three years, 100% of attorneys have met our Pro Bono Challenge to record 20 or more hours to pro bono, however, our attorneys average closer to 60 pro bono hours a year. The firm also has both a Chief Engagement Office and Director of Well-being dedicated to the overall welfare of their employees and the legal industry.  

Recruitment



 Law Schools attending for OCIs in 2021:
American University, Boston College, Boston University, Catholic University, Columbia, Duke, Fordham, Georgetown, George Washington, Harvard, Howard, Loyola-Chicago, New York University, Northeastern, Northwestern, Santa Clara, Stanford, Temple, UC Berkeley, UC Davis, UC Hastings, UC Irvine, UC Los Angeles, University of Chicago, University of Houston, University of Illinois, University of Michigan, University of Pennsylvania, University of San Francisco, University of Southern California, University of Texas, University of Virginia, Villanova, 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 community and client service; initiative; and an ability to succeed in a challenging, collaborative workplace.

Summer program components:
Our program provides summer associates a clear sense of our unique culture, market-leading practices and commitment to well-being, diversity and inclusion, pro bono and professional development through a variety of professional and social experiences. The program kicks off with a multiday gathering, bringing together summer associates from all offices with firm leaders, partners, and associates. Our Summer Academy training curriculum includes a balance of practice training as well as broader professional skills and development programming to hone skills, such as legal writing and presentation style. While at the firm, summer associates work on interesting and challenging client matters typically assigned to first-year associates. Amid the pandemic, the firm seamlessly pivoted to a virtual program, providing substantive training, challenging client work, and multiple social touchpoints with attorneys across all offices. A robust mentorship component of the summer program, including connections with partners on the firm’s Diversity & Inclusion Committee and Affinity Groups, ensured summer associates felt linked to the firm while not being physically in the office. The training continues once associates join the firm full-time – we provide level-based, professional skills training series and multiday associate academies with a curriculum based on expectations for your class level. Associates can also expect benefits such as innovative flexible working arrangements, and a Return to Work program to provide support and hours assistance prior to and following an approved extended leave of absence.

Social media



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

This Firm's Rankings in
USA Guide, 2021

Ranked Departments

    • Antitrust (Band 3)
    • Banking & Finance (Band 4)
    • Corporate/M&A: Private Equity: The Elite (Band 4)
    • Energy: State Regulatory & Litigation (Band 2)
    • Environment (Band 1)
    • Healthcare (Band 5)
    • Insurance: Policyholder (Band 3)
    • Intellectual Property: Patent Litigation (Band 4)
    • Intellectual Property: Patent Prosecution (Band 2)
    • Intellectual Property: Trademark, Copyright & Trade Secrets (Band 3)
    • Labor & Employment (Band 2)
    • Life Sciences (Band 4)
    • Litigation: General Commercial: Highly Regarded (Band 2)
    • Litigation: Securities (Band 3)
    • Tax (Band 2)
    • Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation (Band 2)
    • Antitrust (Band 5)
    • Corporate/M&A & Private Equity (Band 4)
    • Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation (Band 2)
    • Environment (Band 4)
    • Healthcare (Band 3)
    • Healthcare: Pharmaceutical/Medical Products Regulatory (Band 4)
    • Immigration (Band 1)
    • Insurance: Policyholder (Band 3)
    • Intellectual Property: Patent Prosecution (Band 3)
    • Labor & Employment (Band 1)
    • Tax (Band 1)
    • Telecom, Broadcast & Satellite (Band 3)
    • Labor & Employment (Band 3)
    • Litigation: General Commercial: Highly Regarded (Band 1)
    • Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation (Band 1)
    • Intellectual Property (Band 4)
    • Labor & Employment: The Elite (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)
    • Intellectual Property (Band 4)
    • Litigation: General Commercial (Band 2)
    • Litigation: Securities (Band 2)
    • Private Equity: Venture Capital Investment (Band 3)
    • Tax (Band 3)
    • Corporate/M&A (Band 1)
    • Environment (Band 3)
    • Labor & Employment (Band 1)
    • Antitrust (Band 4)
    • Bankruptcy/Restructuring: Highly Regarded (Band 1)
    • Corporate/M&A: Highly Regarded (Band 1)
    • Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation (Band 3)
    • Labor & Employment: The Elite (Band 2)
    • Litigation: General Commercial: Highly Regarded (Band 5)
    • Outsourcing (Band 3)
    • Tax (Band 4)
    • Antitrust (Band 2)
    • Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation (Band 1)
    • Environment (Band 4)
    • Intellectual Property (Band 4)
    • Labor & Employment (Band 1)
    • Litigation: Securities (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)
    • Corporate/M&A: Highly Regarded (Band 2)
    • Healthcare (Band 1)
    • Intellectual Property (Band 4)
    • Labor & Employment (Band 1)
    • Litigation: General Commercial (Band 4)
    • Antitrust (Band 3)
    • Banking & Finance (Band 5)
    • Bankruptcy/Restructuring: Highly Regarded (Band 2)
    • Capital Markets: Securitization: ABS (Band 1)
    • Capital Markets: Securitization: RMBS (Band 2)
    • Corporate Crime & Investigations: Highly Regarded (Band 1)
    • Corporate/M&A: Highly Regarded (Band 1)
    • E-Discovery & Information Governance (Band 2)
    • Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation (Band 1)
    • Energy: Electricity (Finance) (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: The Elite (Band 4)
    • Hedge Funds (Band 3)
    • Immigration (Band 2)
    • Insurance: Dispute Resolution: Policyholder (Band 4)
    • Intellectual Property (Band 5)
    • Investment Funds: Investor Representation (Band 1)
    • Investment Funds: Regulatory & Compliance (Band 2)
    • Labor & Employment (Band 1)
    • Life Sciences (Band 4)
    • Outsourcing (Band 2)
    • Product Liability & Mass Torts: Highly Regarded (Band 2)
    • Projects: Power (Band 2)
    • Projects: Power & Renewables: Transactional (Band 2)
    • Projects: Renewables & Alternative Energy (Band 3)
    • Registered Funds (Band 2)
    • Retail (Band 1)
    • Retail: Corporate & Transactional (Band 2)
    • Startups & Emerging Companies (Band 4)
    • Tax: Controversy (Band 1)
    • Tax: Corporate & Finance (Band 3)