Oh my(ers)! This disputes dynamo is bringing Cali cool to the red-hot Texas market.
It’s been a busy year for litigation maestro O’Melveny, which has added a further three offices to its US network, bringing its total up to 10. In June 2021, O’Melveny announced the opening of its Texas hub in Austin, announcing the Dallas move just a few weeks after that, causing quite the stir among its associates: “It’s the first new domestic office in many, many years and everyone is very excited about the opportunities it will bring.” Since June 2021, the firm has added 15 partners to the Austin office alone focused on corporate, energy, M&A, and tax law. In 2022, the firm went on to open a third Texas office in the form of a Houston outpost. The added transactional muscle adds balance to a firm historically known for its litigation expertise.
“It’s the first new domestic office in many, many years and everyone is very excited about the opportunities it will bring.”
Nationwide, the firm’s ERISA litigation and corporate crime & investigations are considered market-leading by Chambers USA; in New York, its commercial litigation and white-collar and teams are top-ranked; and in its home state of California, the firm attracts a range of rankings spanning IP, antitrust, and media & entertainment law. OMM is known for its strong presence in the Asian market, with bases in Beijing, Hong Kong, Seoul, Shanghai, Singapore and Tokyo. Chambers Globalconsiders the firm’s M&A team in China to be among the best of any international firm. Its presence in Europe is more modest with outposts in London and Brussels.
The firm may be pedal to the metal in growth mode, but our interviewees made clear it hadn’t come at the cost of its culture which, sources agreed “the firm works hard to protect.” One source elaborated: “As far as BigLaw goes, O’Melveny has a great culture – the firm works hard to keep the atmosphere light and the relations close.” Most associates on our list were roughly distributed between DC, San Francisco, LA, New York, and Century City, with the firm’s Silicon Valley and Newport Beach offices also taking on a handful of newbies. The firm’s Austin office currently takes on just two associates a year.
Strategy & Future
Capitalizing on favorable market conditions, OMM clearly looks set to be pursuing a policy of expansion, having opened three new offices in Texas alone in the last ten months at the time of writing. Sources also flagged New York as another key area where the firm has set its sight on growth. Firmwide, a hefty 33 lateral partners have joined the firm since 2021. OMM's net income also rose 12.2% to $457.3 million in 2021, while its profits per equity partner increased by 10.2%.
Whether they join corporate or litigation, newbies are free to explore all corners of their practice for their first few years before specializing around the third-year mark. The exception is corporate juniors in New York, who tend to specialize in their second year. Dedicated assignment coordinators are at hand to help assign trainees’ first projects, but sources mentioned that “you are also free to reach to partners you are specifically interested in working with.”
“Advising all the big players in the financial industry!”
Within OMM's expansive litigation department, practice groups include IP, financial services, employment, antitrust, media and entertainment, and general commercial. When in financial services litigation, associates mingle with banks, investment managers and advisers, generally spending their time “advising all the big players in the financial industry!” One associate gave us the run-down of a typical banking dispute: “When the client is sued for a violation breach, we then step in and defend them. As an associate, I am able to respond to the complaint, go through the discovery process, and assist with depositions and summary judgment hearings.” Another source told us: “I’ve also been interested in the writing aspect of the job and on antitrust cases I’ve been able to draft complaints on the plaintiff side as well as discovery requests.” In general, commercial sources do a mixture of research, writing and preparing motions for client: “The work is very substantiative – most of my cases were in trial.”
Litigation clients: 20th Century Fox, Google and Walt Disney. OMM represented The Walt Disney Company in a lawsuit filed by Scarlett Johansson regarding the distribution of the motion picture Black Widow.
OMM's real estate team, known as PDRE (project development and real estate) represents a range of institutional investors, developers, and government agencies on infrastructure and development projects across the country. We spoke to one source who described their time as “60% more regulatory-focused work and 40% corporate-focused work.” On the regulatory side, sources described monitoring public filings, advocating for new legislation, and attending utility hearings. On the corporate side, they described reviewing power purchase agreements and limited liability agreements with the intention to “flag any issues of significance to the client.” One junior in Texas also described attending “a lot of regular monthly meetings where we represent trade groups.” An associate enthused: “I love electric law, it’s a niche field and is developing really fast – if you navigate this well you can be a huge asset to clients.”
Real estate clients: California High Speed Rail Authority, American Plastics and VOALA. OMM recently represented a subsidiary of Tishman Speyer Properties in connection with its purchase of the Mazza Gallerie shopping center.
Within the corporateworld, associates can handle deals spanning M&A, capital markets, corporate finance, restructuring, and debt finance. Juniors’ role here focused on project management including taking charge of the due diligence process. However, they were also able to rack up significant drafting experience in the form of board resolutions and merger agreements. We also heard there’s plenty of international work with the firm’s offices in Asia and Europe.
Corporate clients: Clean Energy Fuels, Houzz, 24 Hour Fitness. Represented Remington Outdoor Company in Chapter 11 bankruptcy cases in Alabama.
“When I look back over my career and what I’ve learnt, my mentors have done a great job at facilitating my professional development.”
Upon arrival, juniors are assigned a partner and associate mentor to help them navigate their first few years at the firm. “We can reach out to our mentors with any questions or meet over lunch,” sources explained.Juniors felt their mentors had a positive impact on their professional development. As one junior shared: “When I look back over my career and what I’ve learnt, my mentors have done a great job at facilitating my professional development and encouraging us to stay connected to alumni.”
OMM kicks off first-years' training schedule with a training event in California with more ad-hoc sessions throughout the year including those put on by the firm’s Leadership Academy. Sessions cover topics, like writing seminars and discovery training. One insider told us: “During my first year I was just focused on being good at my job! The training has really helped, and more senior attorneys have been good at providing feedback.” When associates are put up for partnership varies by individual, but most felt that around the eighth year was typical. To hit partnership, associates need “a combination of sustainable relationships at the firm, and the ability to interact with clients and bring in business.”
Being founded in Cali, our insiders felt that OMM radiated a relaxed vibe, with the overwhelming consensus that “the people here are laidback, supportive and friendly.” Although the DC office is a little smaller than the NY and LA offices, associates didn’t notice too many cultural differences. NY was described as “a little more high-strung… but still cool and friendly!” In San Francisco, the atmosphere was noted by interviewees to be open and hard-working: “The partners are very inclusive and always have their doors open for more junior associates. Everyone is passionate about the job and willing to put in the effort.”
“Larger firms get a bad rep for being mechanical, O’Melveny avoids this by being warm and familial.”
Those in the newly established Austin office were equally forward with praise: “There’s a real buzz. It’s very high energy, and the general feeling is that it’s an exciting time to be in Texas!” The overall feeling was that OMM strove to keep its boots firmly grounded: “Larger firms get a bad rep for being mechanical, O’Melveny avoids this by being warm and familial.” On the social side the firm puts on lunches, happy hours, dinners, and a leadership conference. For the leadership conference, all members of staff go to California HQ to learn about the firm.
Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
OMM maintains a variety of diversity networks, covering gender, ethnicity, religion, race, sexual orientation, parenting and age. Associates reveled in the representation of women in their office: “The firm does a great job at hiring and promoting women. On some matters all the partners, counsel and associates are women!” Some did feel the firm had a way to go on racial diversity, citing that “there are a limited number of African Americans. However, the numbers are slowly progressing though, which is encouraging to see.”
The firm is trying to make progress through its many diversity initiatives, which as well as meeting regularly, put on various events throughout the year. For example, during Black History Month, sources highlighted that "the firm invited a group of different Black film-makers to come in and give presentations on their work.” To boost attorneys' wellbeing, the firm also puts on a variety of mental health initiatives, such as guided meditation sessions, a mental health hotline, and an on-site health professional.
Hours & Compensation
Billable hours: 1,900 target
Associates' hours were a bit of a mixed bag depending on practice group and location, but for most of our interviewees, the average day ran from 9am to 7pm. In LA, hours were reported to be a little heavier, with attorneys finishing closer to 8pm. Many of our interviewees appreciated the added flexibility that came from remote working, as exemplified by one insider: “I have young kids, and senior management are super understanding if I disappear for an hour or so and tend to them; the firm is pretty flexible.” Some juniors did note that work/life balance was strained at times, with one source reporting experiences of “senior counsel sometimes expecting answers late at night.” However, most put this pressure down to the nature of the beast and the experience was far from universal.
To get their bonus, associates need to hit the 1,900 hours target: “We’re a pretty busy firm so it's easy to hit!” Aside from hours, the firm considers quality of work, recruitment activities, business development and firm citizenship toward bonus eligibility. Aside from all the cash-money, rookies were pleasantly surprised with OMM's perks scheme which includes discounts on tech, healthcare, and life insurance.
“Pro bono is an important part of the firm's culture,” sources agreed, citing its uncapped hours policy as evidence. Newbies are introduced to the firm's dedicated pro bono representative during their orientation, where it's emphasized “that pro bono is given the same respect as regular billable work.” OMM's practice covers a wide range of projects, including women's rights, foster care, jail reform, and marriage equality. In DC, associates focused on immigration and family disputes.
“I’ve taken up interesting cases that have had a real impact on society.”
Associates are also able to bring in their own projects upon approval. Litigators found lots of parallels between regular work and pro bono: “It’s very similar to a typical litigation case. We're able to research, write, talk with clients and go to court independently.” One junior added: “I’ve taken up interesting cases that have had a real impact on society.”
Pro bono hours
- For all US attorneys: 67,652
- Average per US attorney: 105
The first stage: recruitment on and off campus
O’Melveny recruited at over 30 schools last year; the firm also attends job fairs and accepts applications through resume collections and direct submissions. O’Melveny recruits from a range of top national schools and more regional schools “that are important to our individual offices.” The number of attorneys interviewing at each school varies, as does the number of students. Two attorneys – of varying seniority, practice areas, and experience levels - usually conduct each interview, with the firm striving to include alumni from that law school in the interview process.
Through a broad range of questions, interviewers are encouraged to ask questions “to allow us to get to know each candidate,” and their strengths. This stage also allows for students to learn about the firm, including “our distinctive culture, cutting-edge client work, commitment to pro bono, and thoughtful approach to diversity, inclusion, and wellbeing.” Questions – such as “’Tell me about a successful team effort and why the team was effective’” – allow for students to demonstrate how they might handle a situation. Beyond academic achievement, O’Melveny is looking for enthusiasm for the firm, extracurricular activities (like journal work and moot court), prior work experience, and “candidates with a diverse set of experiences.”
Top tips for this stage:
“Students stand out for a variety of reasons. One thing they all have in common, however, is a keen interest in O’Melveny — our practices, our culture, our attorneys. We want our future summer associates to be enthusiastic about us and help us understand why they think O’Melveny will be a successful place to begin their legal career.”- O’Melveny hiring source.
The firm tells us the callback interviews are a “deeper dive into getting to know the candidate.” As such, students generally meet several attorneys during their callback interview. Alongside a variety of practice areas and expertise, O’Melveny often includes members of the local office employment committee, including the hiring partner. Students should be prepared to clearly demonstrate what differentiates them from other candidates. The firm wants to hear from students about their “interest in O’Melveny, why they went to law school, their writing experiences and skills,” occasions when challenges were overcome, or leadership positions assumed, as well as indication of community involvement – whether that be with “student organisations, community services groups, or volunteer organisations.”
O’Melveny also uses a software tool called Pymetrics in order to reduce implicit bias in the hiring process. “By assessing candidates’ social, cognitive, and emotional traits,” the firm tells us, “Pymetrics provides an objective data point for us to consider along with resumes, grades, and interviewer feedback.”
Top tips for this stage:
“Our attorneys appreciate candidates who are prepared with questions about the firm, our practices, and our summer program. We are also particularly impressed with excellent writing skills as they are critical to every lawyer’s professional development. Writing is a craft that we continue to hone throughout our careers. We encourage students to seek out opportunities that enable them to improve their writing skills, including joining a journal or participating in moot court.”– O’Melveny hiring source
During the summer program, summer associates witness “an inside look at what it is like to practice at O’Melveny.” As such, summers work on “major cases and deals,” support ongoing pro bono matters, and “join in social events to get to know our attorneys.” Alongside experiential training highlights – such as Advocacy Institute or Mock Deal Program – summer associates participate in deal closings, client meetings, depositions, and court appearances. The firm also hosts cross-office training programs– such as brief writing and oral advocacy arguments. Summer associates receive work through formal allocation systems, and have formalised midsummer and final reviews to “help our summer associates make the most of their experiences.”
Beyond “hard work,” opportunities to connect with colleagues are also to be found. A smattering of social events allows for summer associates to “engage with partners and associates through a variety of social activities.” Past highlights include cooking classes and attending sporting events.
Top tips for this stage:
“Successful summer associates do great work and make an effort to get to know our attorneys and staff. Our summer class sizes allow summer associates to build a rewarding career and create lasting connections with each other and with the attorneys and staff in each office. Summer associates are able to tackle new challenges while feeling appreciated, included, and supported.”– O’Melveny hiring source
The firm expresses pride in that “the vast majority of our summer associates return to the firm as junior associates. Generally, attorneys narrow their preferences for practice groups after two years at the firm and these are based on a variety of factors including the interests of the junior associate and business needs of the firm.”
O'Melveny & Myers LLP
400 South Hope Street,
Main areas of work
For a complete listing of our client services and locations, visit omm.com
Berkeley, Chapman, Chicago, Columbia, Duke, Fordham, Georgetown, George Washington, Harvard, Hastings, Howard, Loyola, Maryland, Michigan, Northwestern, NYU, Penn, Rutgers, Santa Clara, Stanford, UCI, UCLA, USC, UVA, Vanderbilt, University of Texas, Washington University, Yale.
Recruitment outside OCIs: We aim to strike a balance between recruiting at national schools and regional schools within our various markets. We also participate in diversity career fairs and initiatives, such as Bay Area Diversity Career Fair and veteran recruiting events. We connect with a variety of law student organizations to host presentations, networking events, and sponsorships.
Summer associate profile: We look for candidates who are enthusiastic about O’Melveny and want to dedicate themselves to our values. We consider a variety of criteria when making hiring decisions. We consider candidates who we believe will be well suited based on interests, personality, and credentials. We also look for high academic achievement, extracurricular activities like journal work and moot court, prior professional work experience, and candidates with a diverse set of experiences.
Summer program components: Our summer program offers an inside look at what it is like to practice at O’Melveny. Our summer associates work on major cases and deals, support ongoing pro bono matters, participate in targeted training and development programs, and attend social events to get to know our attorneys. Experiential training includes our Advocacy Institute, Mock Deal Program, and opportunities to accompany O’Melveny lawyers to deal closings, client meetings, depositions, and court appearances. In addition to hard work, we ensure our summer associates have the opportunity to engage with partners and associates through a variety of social activities such as sporting events, cooking and art classes, trivia nights and more. Our work coordination system ensures our summers are exposed to a variety of practice areas, attorneys, and types of work. Partner and associate mentors, ongoing feedback, and a midsummer and final review help our summer associates make the most of their experiences.
This Firm's Rankings in
USA Guide, 2022
- Antitrust (Band 3)
- Bankruptcy/Restructuring (Band 5)
- Capital Markets: Debt & Equity (Band 3)
- Healthcare (Band 5)
- Insurance: Insurer (Band 4)
- Intellectual Property: Patent Litigation (Band 3)
- Intellectual Property: Trademark, Copyright & Trade Secrets (Band 3)
- Labor & Employment: The Elite (Band 3)
- Litigation: General Commercial: The Elite (Band 3)
- Litigation: Securities (Band 3)
- Litigation: White-Collar Crime & Government Investigations (Band 3)
- Media & Entertainment: Litigation (Band 1)
- Media & Entertainment: Transactional (Band 3)
California: Los Angeles & Surrounds
- Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation (Band 3)
- Tax (Band 2)
District of Columbia
- Antitrust (Band 5)
- Litigation: General Commercial: The Elite (Band 4)
- Litigation: White-Collar Crime & Government Investigations (Band 5)
- Bankruptcy/Restructuring: The Elite (Band 5)
- Environment: Mainly Transactional (Band 3)
- Insurance: Dispute Resolution: Insurer (Band 3)
- Litigation: General Commercial: Highly Regarded (Band 1)
- Litigation: Securities (Band 4)
- Litigation: White-Collar Crime & Government Investigations: Highly Regarded (Band 1)
- Energy: State Regulatory & Litigation (Electricity) (Band 1)
USA - Nationwide
- Antitrust: Cartel (Band 2)
- Appellate Law (Band 3)
- Bankruptcy/Restructuring: The Elite (Band 5)
- Corporate Crime & Investigations: Highly Regarded (Band 2)
- ERISA Litigation (Band 1)
- Insurance: Dispute Resolution: Insurer (Band 2)
- Intellectual Property: Trademark, Copyright & Trade Secrets (Band 2)
- International Trade: CFIUS Experts (Band 4)
- International Trade: Export Controls & Economic Sanctions: The Elite (Band 4)
- International Trade: Intellectual Property (Section 337) (Band 5)
- Product Liability & Mass Torts: The Elite (Band 3)
- Projects: PPP (Band 2)
- Projects: Renewables & Alternative Energy (Band 5)
- Securities: Litigation (Band 5)
- Sports Law (Band 3)
- State Attorneys General (Band 3)
More from O'Melveny:
Visit the firm's careers page.
Listen to The O'Melveny Podcast with firmwide hiring partner Allen Burton on iTunes, Soundcloud or Spotify.
More videos and podcasts on O'Melveny's website.
Brochure: O'Melveny's CSR review.
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