Paul Hastings LLP - The Inside View

This LA native has Paul-ished its performance across its global network, working like a well-oiled machine without making its associates feel like cogs in the wheel.

Paul-of-all-trades isn’t a phrase that’s quite caught on yet, but considering the range of work Paul Hastings has to hand, we think it could work pretty well. As global managing partner Sherrese Smith explains, “while most firms might be heavier in either litigation or corporate, we’ve been good about being diversified in both.” So, contrary to the second half of the phrase, PH is certainly not a master of none. Case in point: the firm earns an array of top billings from Chambers USA, such as an elite Californian labor & employment ranking, and further top recognition in general commercial and white-collar litigation in New York. Nationwide, PH receives kudos in capital markets, FCPA, international trade & sanctions, corporate crime & investigations, and leisure & hospitality. Long story short, whether litigious or transactional, PH has it covered. “I knew I would get immediate exposure to the highest end of litigation,” one litigator evidenced, while a corporate associate raved about how “it’s so cool to see the work you’re doing in the news.”  

“I could really feel that they were excited about the work they were doing and seemed so down-to-earth.”  

Even with such a sprawling international network – 23 offices worldwide and counting – PH’s associates appreciated how they were able to connect with people at the firm from day one. “When I went to networking events, I was immediately attracted to the genuine excitement from people here,” a junior enthused. “I could really feel that they were excited about the work they were doing and seemed so down-to-earth.” Meanwhile, another associate in PH’s LA hometown was impressed at how the firm has maintained a “cultural fit,” they explained that “even through the pandemic, last year’s volatility and with a bunch of lateral partners and associates coming in, our office hasn’t shifted too much. We’ve just been growing, so much so that the Century City office is getting another floor!”

Strategy & Future

Smith describes PH as “a bit of a disruptor in the market. We’re the little engine that could!” Specifically, she explains that the firm has been focusing on lateral growth, which has resulted in growing practices and increased financial success. Smith tells us how much of this success is thanks to the firm’s balance of transactional and contentious practices, which meant it fared well even when corporate practices took a hit. Earlier this year, PH took on eight global finance partners in its Houston office, though Smith is keen to emphasize how this is just one example of PH's firmwide development. Restructuring, private equity and FinTech are other areas in which PH has added more lawyers, but the firm has been hiring laterally across a variety of its practices in the past year. What's more, the firm has recently added two new bases in Dallas and Boston, and is growing its existing DC and New York offices, so growth across all measures certainly seems to be on the menu for PH going forward. However, while the firm expands, maintaining its culture will continue to be a focus, as Smith elaborates: “if our metrics are great but our people are unhappy, that’s not a win. We approach things as a squad, not individual stars.”  

The Work  

Most associates were based in PH’s largest office in New York. The DC base took on a sizeable chunk of juniors on our list, while the firm’s Chicago, Houston and Californiaoffices each took on a handful more. Corporate and litigation were the largest groups on our list, followed by real estate, employment and tax. Sources agreed that work assignment across these groups was mostly informal, though there’s still a formal system with practice group managers, so “people who join the firm can rely on them while they build connections and develop work streams.” Typically, most juniors found work through their relationships with senior members of the team: “the partners in my group are more than happy to bring you in on matters if you ask to join. You can be vocal about the types of cases you’re interested in.”  

The firm’s corporate practice encompasses a range of M&A, private equity, capital markets and finance work. As broad as the range of matters is the range of industries. LA associates in particular take advantage of “being in the heart of Hollywood and entertainment, working with different studios and streaming services. We have a lot of clients in the beauty and wellness spaces, which are often celebrity-led products and companies.” This meant that associates here could try out a bunch of different cases as they are “not expected to necessarily specialize.” Other associates along the west coast had the chance to bask in the glory of all the tech, crypto and AI opportunities the area has to offer, while east coast juniors made the most of being close to the major names in finance.  

Corporate clients: Barnes & Noble Education, Nokia, Hewlett Packard. PH advised Primary Wave Music Publishing on the acquisition of IP rights in connection to artists such as Whitney Houston and Bob Marley, and recently represented the company on its $1.7 billion investment from Brookfield.  

“If they see you can lead the charge, they’ll put you face-to-face with the client.”  

Corporate interviewees in New York had indeed worked on a variety of finance matters, including leveraged finance, private credit, CLOs, securities and capital markets. “I’ve been able to try a little bit of everything,” said one associate in capital markets. “You’re not siloed in our subgroup and can branch out to try emerging companies and venture capital, lending work and the like.” Sources explained that “juniors are the quarterbacks of transactions, making sure that everything is falling into place and that partners know where the deal is at.” So, we heard that junior associates typically review and draft ancillary documents, look at legal precedents and liaise with clients and other parties. Juniors working on CLOs in particular felt that they could take on higher levels of responsibility as the timelines are so short: “you quickly get to a point where you’re quite efficient at doing them and might be on five or six at a time. We rarely have to do legal research as the firm has done so many of these transactions, so you can usually message someone and get any answers in about three seconds!” However, interviewees explained that partners take note of their progress and are happy to give increased responsibility when the time is right. As one source evidenced, “if they see you can lead the charge, they’ll put you face-to-face with the client.”   

Finance clients: Barclays, Morgan Stanley, Wells Fargo. Assisted the Republic of Peru in issuing a total of $4.4 billion in Sol-Denominated sovereign bonds.  

Meanwhile, over in litigation, associates had experienced a whole host of matters, from IP, complex litigation and data privacy to antitrust, arbitration and global trade. Sources explained how “partners bring different skillsets and case focuses, so you can work on a range of cases.” Once again, associates appreciated how each office has a different angle, with lots of entertainment and tech work coming from the west coast, and plenty of life sciences and government-centric work on the east. Although responsibilities could vary depending on the specifics of the case, interviewees were clear that “seniority exists, but you’re not restricted by hierarchy. I’ve been able to do mid-level work as a junior because I was ready to take it on.” However, a few typical tasks for newer associates include legal research, discovery, some doc review and plenty of first drafts of various documents, from memos to motions. Some had even had the opportunity to go to trial, while others ran calls, strategized with partners and worked closely with clients. An associate working in sanctions enjoyed the intellectual challenges of the job, explaining how “a lot of the work we do is on the margins. Many of our bigger clients have sophisticated counsel with a strong understanding of sanctions, so the questions that make it to us are real head-scratchers.”  

Litigation clients: Nike, Activision Blizzard, AT&T. Represented boxer Ryan Garcia in a $50 million contract dispute with Golden Boy Promotions.  

Pro Bono  

“Pro bono here isn’t just lip service, it’s impactful,” led one interviewee. They added that “we get to do volunteer work as well, helping students in the Bronx or reading with elementary school kids.” When it comes to strictly legal pro bono, associates had the chance to support causes that they were passionate about, regardless of their practice group. According to one transactional interviewee, “it’s more issue- than skill-based, so I can still go to court. It’s a bit nerve-wracking, but that’s what makes it interesting.” Matters related to veterans, immigration and asylum pop up frequently according to our sources, though they were keen to highlight additional opportunities to assist the elderly, children and victims of domestic violence.

However, some were disappointed at the fact that the firm recently moved from unlimited pro bono to a 100-hour cap, sharing how “it factors in differently for billables now which is frustrating, but I still feel a lot of support from the partners I work with.” So, although some felt that this may lead to a dip in the firm’s pro bono output, insiders were reassured by the fact that associates can get an extension on the allotted 100 hours with permission. Furthermore, the firm encourages all its associates to hit at least 20 hours of pro bono, and associates “get frequent emails with pro bono cases for us to jump on. They come to you if you need the hours.”

Pro bono hours

  • For all US attorneys: 42,569
  • Average per US attorney: 45.8

“Associates can be creative with their workload…”  

Hours & Compensation  

Billable hours: 2,000 target 

Though the target is slightly higher than its peer firms, PH keeps up with the market when it comes to salary. “The firm is transparent on compensation,” said one junior. “When Cravath announced its new pay scale, we matched it within an hour.” Interviewees also appreciated that there’s generally enough work going around for people to hit their targets, yet also acknowledged that “reduced pro bono hours make us a little more susceptible to the market flows.” Juniors in transactional groups – which are notorious for being a bit more unpredictable across the market – found that “associates can be creative with their workload by helping out on corporate-adjacent matters, such as FinTech, restructuring or funds.” Sources also explained that support staff will reach out to people who may need more work to check in and make sure they’re on pace.  

Interviewees felt this sense of support from their teams day to day, noting how “associates and partners care about everyone else’s wellbeing. There’s recognition when things are busy, and they evaluate whether they might need to hire another person to improve the support.” According to sources, hours could vary dramatically when things get busy, with corporate associates explaining how it “could be zero to 20 hours in a day, but you typically have a sense of what hours are coming up. There are rarely urgent calls at weekends saying ‘we need you now.’” Their litigation counterparts felt hours were especially intense in the lead up to and during trials, where “it’s pretty around the clock – you start work at 8am and go to bed around midnight,” but appreciated the support they can get during these more challenging periods. An interviewee even went so far as to say that “those are the golden memories looking back. It was intense in the moment, but I look back fondly as I know we achieved something and it’s become a story in my career.”  

“I’ve got lifelong friends in the DC, New York, San Francisco and LA offices. The culture really does run cross-office!” 


Although most of our interviewees had joined the firm while things were still online, they appreciated the chance to “form relationships through the ether and connect with attorneys virtually.” Now people are getting back into the office, juniors were making the most of the various get-togethers on offer: “the nature of the work can be very individualized in transactional groups, so we try to add social elements like weekly lunches.” More formally, the firm hosts cocktail hours a few times a month, so attorneys can socialize and attend a speaker event or firm discussion. However, sources were clear that “there’s no requirement to be super social outside of work, and no need to spread yourself thin to show face.” In fact, associates appreciated how their colleagues encourage them to take time off and will make sure to support team members on vacation. “Partners in my group always speak up to tell us to plan to take time away,” an associate reflected. “They know it’s vacation time, so even though it might be good that we’re contactable, they’re clear that we don’t need to always be on.” For these reasons, many were quick to highlight how friendly and collaborative the culture is across offices. As one junior evidenced, “I’ve got lifelong friends in the DC, New York, San Francisco and LA offices. The culture really does run cross-office!”  

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion  

Associates appreciated how support at the firm meant that many could maintain a sustainable lifestyle, “so we have partners at all different stages of life making it work. There are also associates here with young kids.” Representation of women was one of the stronger facets of the firm according to interviewees, who also praised the firm for its support of female associates: “I’m in a dinner group with women of all levels, and we go to quarterly dinners together. We also have women’s meetings which are a safe and supportive place to discuss mindfulness and career growth.” Sources also lauded the firm for “striving to put women and attorneys of color in leadership roles,” though wanted to see more diversity across the partner ranks. However, juniors were reassured at the firm’s efforts and openness to discussing DEI, highlighting various speaker events related to diversity in the workplace. For instance, Smith hosted a View from the Top speaker series, while there have also been several talks on anti-hate which addressed topics such as anti-Asian hate and antisemitism. As one interviewee summed up, “I feel very supported in my career. I appreciate how the firm has welcomed open conversations on topics such as reasons why women may go in-house because they want to support and retain those lawyers.”  

Career Development  

“I’m never lost in the crowd here,” quipped one interviewee on development at PH, while others were keen to share stories on support they had received from the firm. For instance, some had been offered opportunities to go on secondment with clients, while others took advantage of the mentoring offered by partners. While all incoming associates are paired with associate and partner mentors, many were quick to praise the informal mentoring on offer: “there’s an open-door policy so you can pretty much always go into partners’ offices to ask questions and chat.”  

“I’m doing the things I wanted to do in the first couple of years in my career.”  

While partnership was highlighted as an achievable goal by one interviewee, others would have liked to see some more transparency on the topic. That said, sources appreciated the supportgiven by the firm. One told us that “I’m doing the things I wanted to do in the first couple of years in my career.” A few interviewees had noticed trends of associates leaving the firm but, despite this, were clear that “there’s no sense that the firm feels associates will just leave in the future so it shouldn’t spend money on us.”For instance, sources highlighted training as an example of the firm’s investment into associates, noting how “the sessions supplement the natural training from working on matters and getting feedback. Senior attorneys often walk through the substance of the work we’re doing, boiling information down so it is more accessible than just being given a task.” 

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. Junior associates get involved in the recruitment as well: “I genuinely enjoy getting to know students as they embark on the next chapter of their career, and I welcome the opportunity to speak more about my practice and Paul Hastings. I will always do my best to help students get the answers they need to make informed decisions. I have had such a great experience at Paul Hastings and am truly excited for others to experience the same.”

“At Paul Hastings, we want to identify candidates who will be a great addition to our team. We're looking for those who are passionate about their work, exceptional in their execution, and confident in their ability to grow and learn with the firm. I think it’s important to keep this in mind while interviewing – consider what you would like to see in a colleague and how can you be an asset to the team.” Amy Fredenburg, Managing Director, Talent Acquisition

Top tips for this stage:

“Before formal interview programs, reach out to law school alumni practicing at Paul Hastings for introductory, informational phone calls. These calls will help you get a sense of what it’s like to practice at the firm as a junior associate. Learning more about the firm before interviewing is a great way to demonstrate your interest.” a junior associate


Callbacks at Paul Hastings take approximately two and a half hours and are usually 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 interviewing at the same time. Each student will still meet four attorneys, but in a ‘round-robin’ format.  “Individual interview styles may vary,” Fredenburg says, “but the format will generally be conversational with some behavioral questions focused on the candidate’s leadership skills, creativity, and business acumen.”

Top tips for this stage:

“In today’s world of transformative change, leading companies require lawyers who are both legal and business advisors. We seek high-performing, business-minded law students with diverse backgrounds and strong leadership skills.  We also invite those who have achieved success in other disciplines or careers to explore opportunities at our firm,” says Fredenburg.

Summer program

Anticipated acceptances: 85

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 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,” Fredenburg says.

Incoming summers rank their department preferences before rotations are assigned, and associates said “pretty much everyone gets their top two choices for rotations.” IP is the exception to the rule as summers in this group are hired directly into IP.

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 Fredenburg says that “summer associate interest is noted at the end of the program and taken into account when department assignments are made.”

Top tips for this stage:

“At Paul Hastings, we aim to provide you with a realistic view of practicing law and from day one, give you the tools to take ownership of your career. Take time over the summer to get to know as many people as possible. Your cohort will be your colleagues for years to come and creating strong relationships with the attorneys in your office will help you hit the ground running as an incoming associate.”

“Make time during the summer to meet as many people as possible. Participate in trainings, attend social events, introduce yourself and network,” says Fredenburg.

And finally….    

Paul Hastings also offers a $50,000 diversity scholarship award open to 1L and 2L law students.

Paul Hastings LLP

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

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.

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 2024:
Berkeley, Columbia, Cornell, Duke, Fordham, George Washington, Georgetown, Harvard, Howard, Michigan, New York Law School, Northwestern, NYU, Penn, St. John’s, Stanford, UC Law San Francisco, UCLA, USC, University of Chicago, University of Houston, University of Texas, University of Virginia, Vanderbilt, Yale.

We also will be attending the Bay Area Diversity Career Fair, Cook County Bar Association Minority Job Fair, Lavender Law Career Fair and The Loyola Patent Law Interview Program. 

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, 2023

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)