Ka-ching! This LA hotshot has entered the billion-dollar club thanks to its energetic growth strategy and ever-expanding reach in Texas.
It’s been just over two years since O’Melveny made its entrance to the Texas market. And it was a grand entrance to say the least: the firm started off with an Austin office, before announcing a Dallas outpost just weeks later. Most recently, in 2022, the firm opened up a Houston base, forming its tactful Texan trio. “Texas is growing, and growing quickly,” an associate enthused, “so it’s fun to jump on that boat!” With more lateral partner hires than we can count, it comes as no surprise that in just two years the firm’s Texas presence has already snagged a top-tierChambers USA accolade for its state regulatory & litigious energy expertise.
This accolade is but another notch on O’Melveny’s already well-decorated belt; the firm has a further 40 ranked departments, including its top-tier New York litigation (general commercial and white-collar crime & government investigations) department, and nationwide corporate crime & investigations and ERISA (Employee Retirement Income Security Act) litigation teams. Other notable mentions include the firm’s Californian media & entertainment litigation and tax groups, as well as its nationwide antitrust cartel, insurance litigation, IP, product liability, and PPP (public-private partnership) projects expertise.
"Despite a challenging legal market, we reached new heights."
To top it all off, the firm joined the billion-dollar revenue club last year. Firm chair Bradley Butwin tells us: “I believe 2022 was the best year in O’Melveny’s storied 137-year history. Despite a challenging legal market, we reached new heights - it was our eighth consecutive year of record financial performance, and we surpassed the billion-dollar revenue mark for the first time. " And it’s not growth at the expense of firm culture, as Butwin explains: “In a year of tremendous market, political, and COVID-related challenges, our lawyers and business professionals stuck to our strategy and our values and we proved that you can have terrific financial success without sacrificing culture.” Our sources would definitely agree, with one enthusing: “Based on my knowledge, our culture might be the best it can be in BigLaw!”
Strategy & Future
“Once a quarter the firm’s chair will do a recap presentation on what the firm’s working on and what the future looks like,” a source explained. So, what does the future look like? For O’Melveny, much of the focus is on expansion. Associates told us: “We’re expanding our client base and entering new industries.” The key is “adapting to cities that are growing and becoming more popular with businesses in those areas.” Butwin points out that “much of our strong 2022 performance was driven by successfully integrating our legacy strengths with our new lateral partners, broadened service offerings, and new markets.” And it’s full steam ahead. In April 2023, it was announced that President Biden’s ex-chief of staff Ron Klain has returned to the firm to lead its strategic counseling and crisis management practice in DC and New York. Klain will also join O’Melveny’s executive committee.
Our associate sources were happy to report that the firm’s “mixed system” of work assignment worked well across the practices. “There’s a partner assigned to every office as a work adviser, including one for litigation and one for corporate,” a junior explained, “so there’s someone who knows about your practice, and they can advise you on who best to reach out to.” Partners can also make requests for associates, but for the most part associates reach out for matters they’re interested in. This ‘choose your own journey’ approach is also reflected in the generalist role juniors play across practices: “You start as a first-year in litigation or corporate, but you have a few years before you have to declare a focus on a practice group.”
O’Melveny’s broad litigation practice consists of several subgroups including general commercial, white collar & investigations, antitrust, bankruptcy, IP & technology, media & entertainment, and labor & employment groups – the latter has seen “a lot of insurance cases and consumer class actions this year!” This side of the firm works with clients in industries ranging from aerospace to healthcare. The media & entertainment group in particular serves a large client base in LA, while the IP & technology group works with clients like Google and Samsung in San Francisco, as well as startups in Silicon Valley. However, our sources were keen to note that location was no hindrance to the matters they were staffed on: “Every case I’ve been on has been staffed cross-office. You get a balance of working with people in your own office and across the firm.”
“Partners are willing to give you some of that external client visibility.”
Team size, however, does play a significant role in juniors’ day-to-day tasks. “Of course, I do doc review!” one junior laughed, while another noted: “I have experienced the typical grunt work.” On larger securities matters, juniors noted that “you don’t get as much of the big picture,” though all our sources were also staffed on smaller matters on which they had greater responsibility. On these cases, juniors were often drafting motions to dismiss, assisting with research tasks, and helping out with client pitches. One interviewee stated: “I’ve been able to directly communicate with clients and be on calls. Partners are willing to give you some of that external client visibility.”
Litigation clients: American Airlines, Johnson & Johnson, TikTok, Planned Parenthood Federation of America. Helped secure a victory for Google at the Federal Circuit, unanimously reversing a district court’s judgment against the tech giant concerning three patents that plaintiffs asserted against the Chrome web browser.
Matters tackled by the firm’s corporate department are similarly cross-staffed and involve clients that range anywhere between startups and publicly listed companies. “I do most of my work out of my office,” one junior detailed, “but a lot of my work comes from the East and West Coasts.” More on the concentration of work: insiders told us that “New York debt finance is great and we’ve recently brought on more practitioners there. LA has a great private equity group, and San Francisco is good for venture capital.”
“You’re expected to learn something and then know how to do it the next time.”
Juniors’ day-to-day tasks are reportedly “pretty standard” across the various subgroups, though sources were keen to highlight that “not everything falls down to the junior!” Most teams are staffed rather leanly, but “massive M&A deals that come with lots of diligence are staffed heavily” to ensure juniors aren’t inundated. Corporate governance matters, on the other hand, tend to give juniors a “pretty hands-on” role, where they can communicate directly with the client. Generally, newbies will “start with drafting ancillary documents, then move on to something like purchase agreements. You get incremental add-ons as you progress,” one junior explained. “You’re expected to learn something and then know how to do it the next time.”
Corporate clients: AT&T, Broadcom, The Walt Disney Co., 3D Medicines. Advised Disney's Marvel Studios on a 20-year licensing deal with Stan Lee Universe, giving Disney/Marvel a variety of rights to use Stan Lee’s name, likeness, voice, signature, and more in films, television, and digital content, as well as in theme parks.
Beyond on-the-job learning, training is pretty structured, “particularly when you’re new to the firm.” Sources explained that “in the Silicon Valley office there’s a series of trainings for corporate juniors covering things you need to know for M&A, tax, venture capital and more.” There's also a firm-wide 'Basics of a Deal' series for all first-year corporate associates. Overall, interviewees felt positive about the firm’s approach to training, which also includes a database of training videos that can be accessed under the O’Melveny University banner. What’s more, there's a firm-wide training manager: “At the start of the year, they host a roundtable for trainings we think would be helpful, and once that’s over they start to create those.”
Interviewees were also keen to point out the firm’s focus on mentoring and involving juniors in client-facing work. Of course, “clients will have concerns if there are five lawyers attending a deposition,” one junior chuckled, “but as it’s good experience, partners will write the times off the bills, so the clients don’t freak out! They make an effort to involve you, so you can see the bigger picture when handling the matter.” Others highlighted the firm’s career development coach. “They care about our career development, even if you’re intending to go elsewhere.” So, “if you wanted a change in career, they’d guide you on the available resources. The firm’s also got a tight alumni network, so you can talk to one of them if that would be helpful.”
“Despite the recent growth, they’re actually very picky!” juniors told us, when discussing the firm’s recruitment process. “You’re expected to be smart, but also a reasonable person” – something that’s carried through from the top down. Though this sentiment is true across the firm’s network of offices, there are some slight regional nuances (as with any BigLaw firm). One Texan associate declared that “we have the greatest in-office presence by far!” Though we can’t confirm or deny, they did note that “because the office is relatively new, everyone’s trying to get to know each other better. We have an in-office lunch every Wednesday that includes everyone from secretaries to partners, as well as monthly happy hours. Texas has this startup feel.”
Both coasts also come with their own differences. “In DC, there are a lot of parents with family duties, so we don’t have huge social parties,” one source explained. San Francisco, on the other hand, is “very laid back. There’s no particular way you need to act!” Regardless of location, one message was clear: “With remote working on the rise, they’ve really made an effort to get juniors to meet people in the office with lunches and happy hours, and they’ve asked people to be in for summer events, talks and meetings.” At the time of writing, juniors were asked to be in the office 50% of the time.
Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
A number of associates explained that the firm’s employee networks (known as affinity groups at other places) have become more active over the years and now play a large part in shaping the firm’s social events: “The groups definitely have an active voice and put on a lot of events for Black History Month and Asian-Pacific heritage awareness.” Recently, the firm started a “first-gen lawyers’ group for people who come from families without other attorneys. It definitely feels inclusive,” a source added. O’Melveny’s diversity conference was also a big plus for our interviewees: “For two days we had workshops on mental health and attrition rates.” Juniors agreed that “the workshops reflect the firm’s efforts to learn from us,” and they were grateful for the opportunity “to really connect with other attorneys of color,” with a source adding: “They recently started a mentorship program for different affinity groups to help people connect.”
“As long as you get your work done, nobody cares when you sign in and sign off!”
Hours & Compensation
Billable hours: 1,900 target
Associates can bill up to 50 hours of training and mentorship activities alongside an unlimited amount of pro bono to their billable target of 1,900 hours. “The compensation structure is pretty transparent,” sources were pleased to report, adding that the target “is doable!” Even in practices where workloads ebb and flow, juniors found themselves comfortably hitting their billables as “when you get busy, you get really busy! This month I’ve been hitting ten hours pretty much every day.” Of course, there are high expectations of any associate, though our sources did note that there is flexibility; parents, for example, often ‘sign off’ for parent duties and resume work later in the day. Ultimately, “as long as you get your work done, nobody cares when you sign in and sign off!”
All attorneys are “required to do at least 20 hours of pro bono a year,” and while “they’d certainly ask questions if you came in with 1,200 pro bono hours,” there is technically no cap! The firm sends out weekly updates on new matters associates can get involved in, but “they do also staff intentionally, so they’ll reach out if they know you’re interested in something.” As is typical, “it’s always going to be harder to find corporate-aligned pro bono opportunities,” but associates told us the firm’s Texas office had a few “deep ties through The Lawyers Alliance,” allowing associates to experience a few pro bono mergers as well as helping lower income individuals form companies. Otherwise, “there are definitely a lot of immigration and asylum cases” for juniors to take on, as well as LGBTQ+ matters like assisting name change clinics and handling racial justice matters.
Pro bono hours
- For all US attorneys: 63,971
- Average per US attorney: 91
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 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 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 indications of community involvement – whether that be with “student organizations, community services groups, or volunteer organizations.”
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 formalized 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 the fact 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
Berkeley, Chapman, Chicago, Columbia, Duke, Fordham, Georgetown, George Washington, Harvard, UC Law San Francisco, 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, 2023
- 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)