Paul Hastings LLP - The Inside View

Grown in the Golden State, Paul Hastings houses a medley of practices across its US network.

Just over half of Paul Hastings’ domestic offices can be found in California, but its largest base actually sits in New York, firmly cementing its status as a firm with reach across the US and a proud California heritage. Add in ten more bases overseas and, as one associate put it, “Paul Hastings puts on a good show.”Chambers USA reckons so too, bestowing top national rankings for the firm’s capital markets, privacy & data, and corporate crime & investigations practices. The NY office boasts a leading litigation practice, while the Cali offices scoop a whole host of top accolades in real estate, employment, and litigation.  

Are you interested in leveraged finance? Check out our in-depth article on this practice area, which includes expert insight from lawyers at Paul Hastings >>

All eleven of the firm's offices had junior associates among the ranks, with New York housing the largest cohort, followed by DC and LA. Putting its dazzling exterior aside, associates were attracted to the “down-to-earth and approachable” natureof seniors at the firm. Multiple associates were sold during their callback interviews, with one sharing that “people acknowledged my humanity. I wasn’t viewed as just a billing robot.”

Strategy & Future

Managing partner Sherrese Smith tells us: ““We continue to be aggressive in the growth of our lateral hires – both associate and partner – as we are looking to expand and increase our market share in our elite practices including those in the area of finance, funds, capital markets, securities, and private equity groups.” This is in line with associate comments speculating that the firm was focused on growing its white-collar defense and investigations, IP litigation, privacy and cybersecurity, and entertainment law practices. Elaborating on these practices, Smith tells us that “private equity has always been a driver in our Silicon Valley, London, New York, and Chicago offices. Finance and funds have been amazingly strong, and IPOs and SPACs have been driving amazing growth in our securities and capital markets practices which no one saw coming.” Like pretty much every firm in Chambers Associate, Paul Hastings’ lateral hiring has been on the up during the pandemic, and a number of our sources commented on recent lateral partner hires in different groups. The firm recently added a lateral hire to its IP litigation practice in Northern California, and in an even bigger move, Paul Hastings hired a whole restructuring team of 43 lawyers from Stroock.

Smith also leads the firm’s Future of Work task force, which aims to “rethink how to practice law and serve clients” while “supporting our colleagues who need to work from home.” At the time of our research, associates said that there was no requirement to be in the office, though the firm was encouraging folks to come in when comfortable. 

Career Development  

Most of our junior sources were linked up with one to two formal mentors to help get them up to speed – usually one junior associate and one (slightly more) senior associate. While most associates were content with this setup, a few suggested a partner mentor would be beneficial for career progression. Nonetheless, we heard that the “general ability to access partners and ask questions to people at all levels,” as well as the feedback from partners were major plus points for many juniors. Juniors were very satisfied with the support and responsibility they were given to help them grow their skill set. “I was trusted with substantive work early on,” said a seasoned associate. “I had the opportunity to draft important sections of briefs and attend proceedings.” Others agreed that they were encouraged to make their career aspirations known to higher-ups as “they want to see us become better attorneys.”  

“There are a lot of opportunities to form connections.”

In terms of future opportunities, associates were confident. “There are a lot of opportunities to form connections,” explained a litigator. “A lot of former litigation associates have moved onto government work, joining the DOJ. There are also frequent secondment opportunities which are a pipeline to in-house positions.”However, the firm’s attractive exit options are by no means an indication of poor retention. Associates had the sense that “people stay for a while.” Our survey data showed nearly half of juniors intended to stay for up to five more years, and a quarter saw themselves staying longer than that.  

When asked about the path to partnership, associates were unsure of the trajectory, suggesting that “different people have different paths.”However, one hopeful junior was encouraged that during their time at the firm they’d seen a senior associate achieve partnership. 

Tune in to our podcast with Paul Hastings, which looks at intersectionality through the lens of ethnicity >>

The Work  

Summer associates complete two to three rotations in departments of their choice to get a feel for the type of matters they enjoy, although this varies depending on office and practice group. The largest group of associates was found in the firm's corporate practice, though large handfuls also took to litigation, real estate, and employment practices. Encouragingly, all associates who participated in our survey agreed that PH gave them a good level of responsibility as well as client and partner contact.  

“Healthcare is popping off, and the white-collar defense, securities, and commercial litigation groups are super robust.”  

The larger practice areas encompass subgroups which allow juniors to develop a niche and become experts in their chosen area. Paul Hastings’ litigation group “has a strong focus on life sciences at the moment.”We heard that “healthcare is popping off, and the white-collar defense, securities, and commercial litigation groups are super robust.” As such, “no two days are alike”as a junior litigator. Juniors are free to source their own assignments, but a staffing coordinator keeps an eye on associates’ hours. At the time of our research, the firm was busy with government investigations, and juniors found themselves staffed on defendant-side cases. On an investigation, one of our sources was tasked with building the chronology for the case, data collection, and liaising with company employees to prepare for interviews. On top of this, associates had a lot of face-to-face contact with partners and counsel through their work on doc review tasks and board presentations. One source shared their satisfaction with their chosen group: “I am confident that litigators are here for the long haul.”  

Litigation clients:GlaxoSmithKline, Royal Bank of Canada, Etsy. Represented Barclays in a putative class action lawsuit brought by bond purchasers accusing the bank and other financial institutions of a price-fixing conspiracy.  

Over in the corporategroup, there was an influx of private equity M&A deals. Corporate clients range from enormous pharmaceutical giants to big financial institutions, which appealed to juniors: “As a transactional attorney, it’s attractive to have a complicated set of clients.” Corporate associates described working on matters involving companies in the healthcare and construction industries. Day to day, they were tasked with drafting lists of documents for deals, coordinating with senior associates and specialists, speaking with clients, drafting documents, and of course, a bit of due diligence. When asked about the progression of responsibilities, we heard “that has been the best part!”As the group had been so busy recently, “partners are willing to give juniors opportunities to take on bigger roles.” One elaborated: “I’ve had the chance to run parts of deals and speak on the phone with clients. I’ve definitely progressed a lot!”  

We also heard that the group provided a lot of support to the capital markets group, which works on debt and equity offerings, as well as high-yield bonds and IPOs. Juniors were primarily staffed on bond and debt offerings in which they were able to draft documents. Of course, there was also due diligence to be done.There was an understanding that “as a first-year, you’re doing the ‘easiest’ work the firm has, but it still feels above your level.” That’s capital markets for you. 

Corporate clients: J.P. Morgan, Goldman Sachs, Citigroup. Advised NGL Energy Partners on a $2.1 billion senior secured notes offering.  

On the real estate front, there’s a lot of work going around. Associates explained that “in name, there is a work coordinator who helps you get your feet wet initially, but there’s so much on at the moment that they haven’t needed to step in.”It’s often the partners who staff the deals, and “they have their go-to people for specific tasks.”One source in the LA office explained that the team had two subgroups: hospitality and land use. Juniors were kept busy with acquisitions, sales of large real estate holdings, dispositions, financing, and joint ventures. “A lot of the time, it’s just me and a partner on the deal, so I take a first crack at complicated documents before the partner reviews them,” said an associate. “You’re basically learning on the job.” Another went further – “you learn by osmosis as you try to stay afloat!”  

Real estate clients:Morgan Stanley, Wells Fargo, Nuveen. Represented Morgan Stanley and Wells Fargo in the $475 million financing of the Oakbrook Center mall in Illinois. 

Pro Bono  

PH and pro bono go together like PB and jelly. “One aspect that drew me to the firm was its robust pro bono program,” a junior praised. The firm scored top marks across the board in our survey in regard to commitment to pro bono and associates' autonomy over the volume of pro bono they take on. Another highlighted that “there is no cap on billable hours for pro bono work.”Admittedly, interviewees were unsure of the minimum hours requirement for pro bono as everyone was well over the target! “It’s something everyone wants to do. Cases are scooped up right away!” Typically, the firm expects attorneys to do at least 25 hours of pro bono, and 75 hours or more if possible.

Our associate sources spoke of an array of pro bono they had recently worked on, including one case with a school to resecure defrauded funds. Associates got opportunities to attend court and get lots of client contact, but the work isn’t limited to litigators. Real estate associates got involved too – sources had worked on immigration cases for undocumented minors with KIND (Kids in Need of Defense), as well as nonprofit real estate matters and veterans' disability cases.  

Pro bono hours  

  • For all (US) attorneys:  71,665
  • Average per (US) attorney:  87.4

Hours & Compensation  

Billable hours:2,000 target  

Salary-wise, PH hit the mark. “I chose Paul Hastings over other BigLaw firms because the salary was transparent. A few other firms have a ‘black box’ salary system where associates aren’t paid the same.” Another source pointed out that “whatever the Cravath scale is, PH matches it.” 

“Everyone on my team feels comfortable taking vacation."

Bonuses at PH are as simple as they come: perform well and hit the target 2,000 hours and you’re eligible (the only grumble we heard was that the annual bonus was paid later than other firms). Our associate sources were well on track to hit the target. The results of our survey showed that PH associates’ weekly hours were pretty close to the market average of 55. Associates in litigation reckoned they put in 50 hours per week, with a few 75-hour weeks here and there, but our sources assured us it isn’t do-or-die. “I can communicate to my associate mentor when I’m feeling strapped,”according to a source. “Everyone on my team feels comfortable taking vacation. No-one would say no. They are understanding that we put in the hours!” 

Over in employment, a source said that “there’s been no single week where I’ve billed less than 40 hours.”Real estate associates were similarly occupied and the feeling was mutual in corporate: “Lately, our practice area has been slammed and there has been a lot of weekend work.”One even jokingly asked if we knew any corporate associates who could be sent their way!  


Interpreting firm culture is key when navigating BigLaw. This rang true with a source who “chose PH over other firms because of its culture.”One associate recalled their callback interview where they noticed the “general collaborative culture” of the firm: “There were no outlier folks who were less kind. I wanted to be around people who liked to work hard but didn’t take themselves too seriously.” Another expanded that “people are recognized as people, rather than just work machines. People know they have to get a lot of work done, but there is an understanding that there is a life outside law.”Summed up, “everyone is normal and unpretentious.” If it’s an active social life you’re looking for, our real estate interviewees reckoned they were “the most social team in our firm! We’re definitely the loudest and the most jovial, and we throw the best parties! We have a lot of big personalities.”  

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion  

The firm has a range of affinity groups known as Paul Hastings Affinity Networks (PHANs), which one interviewee likened to “educational programs for allies.” Although the firm does have various coaching and mentorship programs, one source suggested the firm could implement additional structures to support diverse associates specifically. In terms of representation, we heard that women were well represented among the majority of PH’s junior classes, but further up the ranks, interviewees observed that there were fewer women and ethnic minorities, with one commenting that “associates fall through the cracks.” This is the case across BigLaw and not unique to Paul Hastings. Encouragingly, the firm has Mansfield Certification Plus status, meaning that at least 30% of its leadership is diverse. 

TOP READ: Gender & Intersectionality – the view from Paul Hastings>>

Get Hired

The first stage: recruitment on and off campus

OCI applicants interviewed: undisclosed 

Paul Hastings interviews more than 1,500 students every year at schools and job fairs across the country. The firm may interview anywhere between 20 and 200 students at one school, depending on its size. Interviewers may range from mid-level and senior associates to partners, and managing director of talent acquisition & enrichment Cindy Hasson says, “We tend to send law school alumni to interview on campus.” Junior associates get involved in the recruitment as well: “The firm flew me out to New York for an LGBT conference at Lavender Law. We had a booth there and talked to people who came for interviews. It was a really good experience. It helps to get the firm’s name out there as an employer that values diversity.”  

“We ask our interviewers to explore the candidate’s interest in working in BigLaw and in particular at Paul Hastings,” Hasson says. “We also want to know the student’s preferred office location and practice area interests, if known. We may ask a candidate to share examples of how they are collaborative and work well on a team.”  

Top tips for this stage:  

“Before the OCI process, try to reach out to someone at the firm to get a sense of what it’s like – whether it’s someone who went to the same law school as you, or someone you have something in common with.”  a first-year junior associate  


Callbacks at Paul Hastings take approximately two and a half hours and are made up of four 30-minute interviews and an ‘informational session’ with members of the talent acquisition team. Candidates typically meet four attorneys in their preferred department. It’s a bit different in the New York office, where callbacks are conducted in a ‘super day’ format with up to 24 candidates in the office at the same time. Each student will still see four attorneys, but in a ‘round-robin’ format. There is also a lunch hosted at the office with junior associates. “Individual interview styles may vary,” Hasson says, “however, the format will generally be conversational with some behavioral questions focused on the candidate’s leadership skills, creativity, and business acumen.” But there are really no set topics to discuss, as one junior associate found out: “At one of my interviews here we talked about college basketball because I had it as an interest on my resume.”  

Top tips for this stage:  

“Consider developing your 30-second elevator pitch. If you found yourself in an elevator with a firm’s hiring manager and had only 30-seconds, what would you say?”   Cindy Hasson, managing director of talent acquisition & enrichment  

“We tend to look for applicants who are highly motivated to work hard, have an interest in the subject matter and aren’t afraid to take initiative.”a second-year associate.  

Summer program  

Anticipated acceptances: 80 

Summer Associates can expect substantive and challenging work assignments.  Work allocation varies by office, in some offices summer associates can rotate through two departments and also do an open rotation, during which they can take on work from any department. Rotations have some flexibility, so summers may also take on work outside of their assigned department. Each department has a designated work assignment attorney liaison, who works with the talent acquisition team “to provide summers with a healthy balance of meaningful assignments and shadowing opportunities,” Hasson says. Incoming summers rank the main departments before rotations are assigned, and associates said “pretty much everyone gets their top two choices to do rotations in.” IP is the exception to the rule – summers in this group are hired directly into IP: “There are ten of us in my class and almost all of us did the job interviews at patent job fairs. It’s almost like a different recruiting path.”  

The firm also provides workshops and trainings throughout the program, focusing on professional development, pro bono, legal writing, negotiation skills, and deposition skills. Summers are also assigned mentors based on department interest, law school, and background.  

Offers made at the end of the summer program are general firm offers rather than tied to a particular practice area, but Hasson says that “summer associate interest is noted at the end of the program and is taken into account when department assignments are made.”  

Top tips for this stage:  

“Make time during the summer to meet as many people as possible. Attend events, introduce yourself and network.”  Cindy Hasson, managing director of talent acquisition & enrichment   

And finally….  

Paul Hastings also offers a $25,000 diversity scholarship award open to 1L and 2L law students. 

Paul Hastings LLP

515 South Flower Street,
Twenty-Fifth Floor,
Los Angeles,
CA 90071

  • Largest Office: New York, NY
  • Number of domestic offices: 11
  • Number of international offices: 11
  • Worldwide revenue: $1,572,304,000
  • Partners (US): 248
  • Counsel (US): 76
  • Associates (US): 512
  • Contacts  
  • Main recruitment contact: Cynthia Hasson, Managing Director, Acquisition & Enrichment
  • Hiring partners: Talent Advisory Council
  • Diversity director: Karlie Ilaria-Garcia
  • Recruitment details  
  • Entry-level associates starting in 2022: 79
  • Clerking policy: Yes
  • Summers joining/anticipated 2022: 82
  • 1Ls: 5, 2Ls: 77
  • Summer salary 2022:
  • 1Ls: $4,134.61
  • 2Ls: $4,134.61
  • Split summers offered? Case by case
  • Can summers spend time in an overseas office? In special cases, we may offer the opportunity to spend two weeks in one of our offices in Asia. The summer associate must have the appropriate language skills.

Main areas of work

 We understand the imperative for innovation, efficiency and breakthrough performance facing today’s leading companies – and what it takes to help them succeed.

Our practice areas include: anticorruption and compliance, antitrust and competition, complex commercial litigation, employment, finance and restructuring, global banking and payment systems, intellectual property, investment management, mergers and acquisitions, privacy and data security, private equity, real estate, securities and capital markets, securities litigation, tax, white collar defense and investigations.

Firm profile

 At Paul Hastings, our purpose is clear — to help our clients and people navigate new paths to growth. With a strong presence throughout Asia, Europe, Latin America and the US, Paul Hastings is recognized as one of the world’s most innovative global law firms; named Vault’s Top 10 ‘Best Law Firms to Work For.’

At Paul Hastings, we are committed to the professional development and career aspirations of our associates. We hire great people and provide development programs to help associates reach their goals, whether a path to partnership, in-house with a client, or other organizations.


Law schools attending for OCIs in 2022:
Berkeley, University of Chicago, Columbia, Cornell, Duke, Emory, Fordham, Georgetown, GW, Harvard, Howard, Michigan, Northwestern, New York Law School, NYU, Penn, St. John’s, Stanford, UC Hastings, University of Houston, UC Irvine, UCLA, USC, University of San Diego, University of Texas, UVA, Vanderbilt, Yale.

Recruitment outside of OCIs:
Paul Hastings provides numerous opportunities for students to connect with our lawyers throughout the year. We sponsor student groups, host panels and events virtually and on campus and may also offer informational interviews. Students interested in learning more about our Summer Associate Program and/or Diversity Scholarship Award are encouraged to visit the Careers page of our website.

Summer associate profile:
At Paul Hastings, it’s smart business to build diverse teams rich in talent, experiences, and creativity. We seek students who exemplify the hallmarks of successful Paul Hastings associates: innovative, strong communication skills, achievement drive, interpersonal savvy, client service excellence and ability to be collaborative team members. Students should be committed to work for a dynamic law firm on complex legal matters across practices to help our clients move their business forward. Law students with outstanding academic credentials, superior writing skills, law review, and journal or Moot Court membership are preferred.

Summer program components:
Our summer program serves as a cornerstone for the recruitment of outstanding associates and the future success of our firm. We are fully committed to the professional development and advancement of each summer associate. Summer associates are given substantive and challenging work with a variety of lawyers and a realistic view of practicing law at Paul Hastings. Our summer associates observe and, when possible, assist in trials, hearings, depositions and negotiations, and participate in client meetings and closings. Summer associates can also expect exceptional training and development in a collaborative work environment.

Social media

Recruitment website:
Facebook: paulhastingsllp
Linkedin: paul-hastings

This Firm's Rankings in
USA Guide, 2022

Ranked Departments

    • Banking & Finance (Band 2)
    • Bankruptcy/Restructuring (Band 4)
    • Capital Markets: Debt & Equity (Band 4)
    • Environment (Band 1)
    • Intellectual Property: Patent Litigation (Band 4)
    • Labor & Employment: The Elite (Band 1)
    • Litigation: General Commercial: The Elite (Band 4)
    • Media & Entertainment: Litigation (Band 2)
    • Media & Entertainment: Transactional (Band 1)
    • Media & Entertainment: Transactional: Mainly Talent (Band 3)
    • Private Equity: Buyouts (Band 3)
    • Real Estate: Zoning/Land Use (Band 3)
    • Corporate/M&A: The Elite (Band 3)
    • Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation (Band 1)
    • Real Estate (Band 2)
    • Tax (Band 4)
    • Corporate/M&A (Band 2)
    • Corporate/M&A: The Elite (Band 4)
    • Real Estate (Band 1)
    • Tax (Band 3)
    • Environment: Mainly Transactional (Band 3)
    • Intellectual Property: Litigation (Band 3)
    • Intellectual Property: Patent Prosecution (Band 3)
    • Labor & Employment (Band 1)
    • Litigation: White-Collar Crime & Government Investigations (Band 2)
    • Media & Entertainment: Regulatory (Band 2)
    • Banking & Finance (Band 3)
    • Bankruptcy/Restructuring (Band 3)
    • Corporate/M&A & Private Equity (Band 2)
    • Real Estate (Band 4)
    • Banking & Finance (Band 2)
    • Bankruptcy/Restructuring: The Elite (Band 3)
    • Corporate/M&A: Highly Regarded (Band 3)
    • Intellectual Property: Patent (Band 1)
    • Labor & Employment: The Elite (Band 2)
    • Litigation: General Commercial: Highly Regarded (Band 1)
    • Litigation: Securities (Band 5)
    • Litigation: White-Collar Crime & Government Investigations: Highly Regarded (Band 1)
    • Real Estate: Mainly Corporate & Finance (Band 4)
    • Real Estate: Mainly Dirt (Band 2)
    • Tax (Band 5)
    • Banking & Finance (Band 5)
    • Banking & Finance (Band 2)
    • Bankruptcy/Restructuring: The Elite (Band 4)
    • Capital Markets: High-Yield Debt (Band 3)
    • Capital Markets: Securitization: CLOs (Band 1)
    • Corporate Crime & Investigations: Highly Regarded (Band 1)
    • Corporate/M&A: Highly Regarded (Band 2)
    • Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation (Band 5)
    • Energy Transition (Band 2)
    • Energy: Electricity (Regulatory & Litigation) (Band 5)
    • Environment (Band 3)
    • FCPA (Band 1)
    • Financial Services Regulation: Consumer Finance (Enforcement & Investigations) (Band 2)
    • Hedge Funds (Band 4)
    • Intellectual Property (Band 4)
    • International Arbitration: Highly Regarded (Band 2)
    • International Trade: CFIUS Experts (Band 4)
    • International Trade: Export Controls & Economic Sanctions: Highly Regarded (Band 1)
    • Labor & Employment (Band 1)
    • Leisure & Hospitality (Band 1)
    • Life Sciences (Band 5)
    • Privacy & Data Security: Highly Regarded (Band 2)
    • Private Equity: Fund Formation (Band 4)
    • Projects: Power (Band 3)
    • Real Estate (Band 2)
    • Registered Funds (Band 3)
    • REITs (Band 5)
    • Tax: Corporate & Finance (Band 5)

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