Proskauer Rose LLP - The Inside View

Sports smarts and employment expertise keep this rose growing strong, but there's more keeping Prokauer Rose rooted in success.

The COVID-19 pandemic presented law firms with many previously unimaginable challenges. But for Proskauer chairman Steve Ellis, these challenges became opportunities. “I've always said that I wanted us to come out from the pandemic stronger and, without any question, we have,” he says.Be it financial growth or career progression, signs from the firm are positive. Ellis explains that "it was an extremely successful year for the firm with spectacular revenue and profit, but what I’m most proud of are other elements of our firm and how our people responded." He adds that "in terms of our talent, we promoted more people than any year in our history. 26 lawyers were promoted: 14 to partner and 12 to senior counsel. 13 laterals were also brought on."

The secret behind the success? Ellis points to the firm’s practices that are “best-in-class,” and which he highlights are working “on innovative, game-changing matters in healthcare, sports, asset management, and hospitality.” Don’t just take his word for it. Our colleagues at Chambers USAalso confirm the strength of the firm’s work, with it being only one of three firms to get top nationwide rankings for both its labor & employment and sports work. Ellis reiterates that “you simply can’t talk about Proskauer without talking about sports,” a point evidenced by the fact that the firm advises nearly all the major sports leagues in the US. Proskauer is also the principal outside counsel and strategic adviser to Los Angeles 2028, the nonprofit organization that will host the 2028 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

The firm has a slew of other top rankings to its name including for its employee benefits, healthcare, and labor & employment work in New York, banking and private equity in Boston, and infrastructure and dispute resolution in Chicago. Behind the rankings are 800-plus lawyers based in 12 offices across the globe, with key international bases in London, Hong Kong, and Beijing. Most junior associates find home in corporate, followed by litigation, and then tax and real estate which welcome an even spread of juniors.

The Work



Across Proskauer’s US offices, most juniors join New York, then Boston, with Boca Raton, Chicago, LA, New Orleans, and DC all welcoming a handful of new recruits. We’re told there’s “generally an even spread” of work across the offices, although the firm does have some specific regional strengths. The Boston office,for example, has a focus on private investment funds, and LA is home to a “large product liability practice.” Geography isn’t a barrier to access however, with a central staffing system in place that allows juniors “to take on cases from anywhere,” sources highlighted. One junior added: “As you get more connections, it’s a balance of people reaching out to you for work and you reaching out to them.”Summer associates are unassigned and can source work from various groups before electing for a specific practice.

Asset management, bankruptcy, M&A, fundraising, and debt work all fall under the firm’s corporate banner. We’re told New York does more public company M&A and multibillion-dollar deals, with Boston tending to handle smaller, mid-market private M&A, plus debt and funds work. In 2021, Ellis tells us, “our private credit team closed over 300 deals valued at $85 billion.”

“I’ve done a lot of work in the hospitality space, plus lots of healthcare deals this year."

As generalists, there’s lots of variety on offer for juniors. Our insiders had worked on “smaller private equity, co-investment deals” where they could take advantage of “more client contact and a more central role,” as well as larger, “massive-in-scope” M&A deals that typically extend over many months. “I’ve done a lot of work in the hospitality space, plus lots of healthcare deals this year,” one source shared. Another told us: “I recently worked on a deal for a huge live performance company, rewriting by-laws and helping on general corporate compliance.” Other “more bespoke deals with interesting clients” cropped up for others, including work with “clients specializing in lumber. Lumber financing is cool!” We’ll have to take their word on that. Typical tasks like running disclosure schedules and managing deal flows also coupled with more substantive work such as “working through provisions, and updating term sheets."

Corporate clients: Discovery, Blackstone Strategic Partners, Morgan Stanley. Represented Stamps.com in its acquisition $6.6 billion by Thoma Brava.

The firm’slitigation group is similarly broad, and covers media and entertainment, antitrust, IP, white-collar investigations, commercial disputes, product liability, and more. Ellis tells us: “We have worked on lots of bet-the-company, best-in-class type matters," and adds that “we have more trials going on than ever in the firm.” That’s no surprise considering the group consists of many former senior government officials and prosecutors. Sources we spoke with had worked on everything ranging from large product liability matters, insurance spats, and IP disputes to entertainment disputes and white-collar investigations. “There’s also lots of general litigation work for clients in the sports industry,” one source confirmed, who was also eager to communicate the value of the firm’s lean approach to staffing: “I really like being given the responsibility without much micromanaging and oversight. We’re trusted to do the work, but seniors are also supportive when you need help.” Another confident junior chimed in: “I am regularly doing things that a fifth-year associate might do during a trial.” These responsibilities included work on witness outlines, cross and direct examination outlines, and helping the “day to day management of witness prep.”

Litigation clients: The Recording Academy, T-Mobile, Bed Bath & Beyond, Archdiocese of New York. Served as lead outside counsel to the Financial Oversight Board of Puerto Rico to oversee the restructuring of the country’s finances in the largest ever municipal restructuring in the US.

No conversation of Proskauer’s work is complete without mentioning thelabor and employmentgroup. Its purview is broad, covering the full range of labor and employment work including: class actions; employee benefits; employment litigation; ERISA litigation; and labor-management relations, all across a range of sectors. The firm’s expertise shone in the pandemic when the group launched the ProTrack COVID-19 portal which allowed employers to readily find related regulatory requirements. Work for juniors varies from “traditional labor unions and bargaining collectives,” to employment litigation, “dealing with age and gender discrimination issues,” as well as further investigations and audits that go to trial. “At the end of the year they reach out and ask if you want specialize in a particular field,” according to one source.Juniors work on “lots of one-off research for cases going to trial,” document review, as well as helping during depositions and post-hearing briefs. “I’m actually helping the senior associates prep witnesses for trial now,” one source said.

Labor and employment clients: Citigroup, J.P. Morgan, NFL. Represented the GRAMMY organization in an ongoing dispute between it and its former president/CEO.

 

Career Development



The pandemic prevented all first-year associates from attending the two-week Proskauer Institute training bootcamp in person. “It shifted to a series of Zoom sessions instead,” one source said. “That then turned into on-the-job training with supplementary Zoom sessions.” Another added: “I’ve learned most from being on the job and speaking directly with associates. It can be hard to understand what’s going on in Zoom training.” Sources also highlighted “constant CLEs,” as well as a “very responsive” knowledge group. “I get the impression that they’re very invested in developing us,” one junior reflected, adding that “informally, it feels like partners are invested in me, including my interests, and how my work fits into the larger picture.”

“There’s clarity regarding the partnership track.”

Looking longer-term, sources found that “there’s clarity regarding the partnership track,” with one insider highlighting that “we recently had a helpful presentation about how the process works, with markers set out.” Our survey results indicate that not all associates thought making partner was an achievable prospect, although many agreed that the chances of making senior counsel were “very high.” One source reflected that “although it’s not a huge firm with massive partner classes each year, many groups are growing with regular spaces for new partners.”

Hours & Compensation



Across BigLaw and most other industries, the pandemic impacted everyone’s work/life balance, something our sources were quick to note. For some, “work-life balance has been good and better than expected.” Conversely, others found things a touch more all-consuming. As exemplified by one source: “During a super busy trial, I was pretty much always on for months on end.” Collectively though, sources said weekend time was respected and that lives can be had outside the office. Our survey data shows that the average numbers of hours worked by respondents in a given week was 51.8 hours,marginally lower than the market average of 53.8. Juniors don’t have a formal billing target, most aiming to bill somewhere between 1,900 and 2,200 hours for the year. “I think we’re very well compensated when looking at our work/life balance,” one junior said. “Bonuses are lockstep and not hour-dependent, which is nice as a junior.”

Pro Bono



“There’s a huge emphasis on pro bono here,” sources agreed. “We get emails at least twice a week with different opportunities.” The firm has two dedicated coordinators that associates “can reach out to any time.” Another shared that “it’s great as a junior to get experience on these types of matters.” Time permitting, most associates had worked on various projects and the firm has a “rough” expectation that each junior will do 50 hours a year. However, that experience wasn’t universal. As one candid source revealed: “Personally, I just haven’t had the time to do that much.” Others had found work on entertainment matters in work with Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts; helped draft employment contracts and NDAs, internal audits, as well as employee handbooks.

Pro bono hours

  • For all (US) attorneys: 56,474
  • Average per (US) attorney: 72

Culture



Culture is often hard to pin down for a firm whose presence spans the globe. But for our sources, it proved one of the most compelling reasons they applied. “It was apparent from the off that the people here are compassionate, and care about me as a person, rather than just my work output.” Another added: “It’s a collegial firm. There’s a real family atmosphere here.” And like all good families, shared and varied interests are key. “Everyone has interests outside the law, things that they really care about. This was really important to me.”

“…they care about me as a person rather than just my work output.”

And while work from home mandates may have prevented much in-person socializing, sources were quick to mention how keen colleagues are to connect. “It’s just very cordial,” one source said. “People hang out with each other outside work hours too.” Even in the pandemic age, “the firm put a really big effort into keeping things social.” Virtual events like dumpling making lessons – where each associate got sent a kit and they made dumplings over Zoom – or virtual tours of the Met Museum and wine tasting evenings kept connections high.

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion



BigLaw, like society, at large has a long way to go. “But I think diversity and inclusion is definitely taken seriously here,” one source told us. “The diversity and inclusion team brought in big heavy hitters to speak about white supremacy and the firm did not shrink away.” A former senior adviser to President Obama, Valarie Jarrett, was one of the speakers, as was Princeton professor and “brilliant Black scholar” Eddie Glaude. “Even the pro bono work we do has a diversity element,” one source said, pointing to voting rights matters, adding that "I feel received in this space.” As part of the firm's focus on the diversity pipeline through to partnership, more senior diverse associates are assigned a sponsor to help support them in their careers. In addition, all associates are free to join a number of networks such as the Latino lawyer and Black lawyer affinity groups.

Strategy & Future



Looking ahead, Ellis tells us: “The strategy has always been really simple but it is also quite bold.” How simple? How bold? “I have always said we want to be the best place to work, not just the best law firm. So that means providing pro bono opportunities, opportunities for CSR, listening to talent and making sure people are valued and their desires are fulfilled, because our clients demand the best talent."

One associate added: “From my perspective, the firm is doing really well financially and will continue to grow organically. I trust the firm not to grow too fast.” This is a note Ellis attests to when coming back to preserving the Proskauer culture: “I've said in the past and will say again our culture is special. There’s a decency here, a rapport, and entrepreneurial spirit. People come here to make their mark. That’s one of the reasons we do cutting-edge and best-in-class work, while having a blast and working with really smart people collaboratively; it is just so important and must continue."

Get Hired



The first stage: recruitment on and off campus

OCI applicants interviewed: undisclosed

Interviewees outside OCI: undisclosed

Proskauer Rose traditionally recruits from a wide range of OCIs and job fairs, though write-in applications from outside the net are also accepted. While the firm does recruit from a wide range of schools, Proskauer’s hiring committee chair, Michael Mervis, notes that “most of our summer class is drawn from schools that are ranked in the US News top 20.”

According to Mervis the firm interviews between 20 and 100 students per school, where interviews are “usually conducted by partners on the hiring committee and, whenever possible, alumni of the law school.” Mervis says interviewees should expect “questions that go beyond the resume. Our goal is to determine whether the person has characteristics and traits that have proven to be successful at the firm.”

Top tips for this stage:

“Let your personality show. On-campus interviews tend to be only 20 minutes long, so candidates who do well are those who convey a sense of who they are and why they are considering joining Proskauer.” – Michael Mervis, hiring committee chair.

Callbacks

Applicants invited to second stage interview: undisclosed

If you make it back through to the callback phase, expect to do “a deeper dive into what was initially discussed at OCI,” Mervis says. Interviews are conducted by a combination of members of the hiring committee, partners, associates, and a member of the recruitment department. Mervis says that if a candidate “has expressed an interest in a specific department or practice area, we try and gauge the depth of her or his interest and learn about experiences she or he have had that might be helpful to the practice.”

Top tips for this stage:

“We recommend using the same approach for callbacks as we do for OCI interviews. Candidates should make sure they have done research on the firm and are prepared with thoughtful questions.” – Michael Mervis.

Summer program

Offers: undisclosed

Acceptances: 57 anticipated

Proskauer’s summer associates can “work in a number of departments and gain exposure through assignments, workshops and shadowing without the constraint of a formal rotation process,” Mervis says. Work is distributed either by the legal recruiting department.

Top tips for this stage:

“Treat the program like a real job (because it is). Be enthusiastic, on time and participate in the various aspects of the program. While the work is important, so are the other components. Participate in social events, be a good firm citizen and take every opportunity to get to know your colleagues.” – Michael Mervis.

And finally…

Mervis says “don’t wait until July/August to start getting to know firms. Your research should start in the spring semester of your 1L year. At the beginning of your job search, determine what firm characteristics are most important to you (e.g., practice, location, prestige, culture) and keep that in mind throughout the process, which we fully understand can be hectic and stressful.”

Interview with chairman Steve Ellis



Chambers Associate: Last year you spoke about the practice diversification serving you well and navigating your first term as chairman, but how has the year gone?

On one level it was an extremely successful year for the firm with spectacular revenue and profit. But, what I’m most proud of are other elements of our firm and how our people responded. I've always said that I wanted us to come out from the pandemic stronger and, without any question, we have. We came together as a firm and supported each other and celebrated our successes. The fact that we came out stronger says a lot about our firm – we do hard well.

In terms of our talent, we promoted more people than any year in our history. 26 lawyers were promoted: 14 to partner and 12 to senior counsel. 13 laterals were also brought on. I've always said we need to scale and scale with excellence – and we are doing just that.

Our practice areas were also exceptionally busy. I’m so proud of our work this year – lots of high-profile matters. We’re representing Blade, the first Urban Air mobility company, as well as Stamps.com during its $6.6 billion acquisition by Thoma Bravo. Leading asset manager, Ares, raised billions in commitments in a debt fund and our private credit team closed over 300 deals valued at $85 billion. We've had an exceptionally huge year with clients seeking us out more than ever.

We are proud that our practices are best-in-class and we work on innovative, game-changing matters in healthcare, sports, asset management and hospitality. We work in growth sectors that continuously need help with highly complex matters. There are simply not that many firms that are able to do what we do. We are also working on more trials than ever, and you simply can't talk about Proskauer without talking about sports – representing the likes of Major League Baseball and the NFL, as well as working with the Washington Nationals in a sponsorship agreement.

We have worked on lots of bet-the-company, best-in-class type matters. It's just been really successful this year.

CA: Last year you spoke about growth in corporate practices – is that still the case going forward? 

The strategy has always been really simple but is also quite bold. We've been clear about staying laser focused on our most successful practice areas and industry sectors. For example, we are here to serve asset managers and ensure that we offer all they need at the very highest level. In London, we have made significant investments in growing our private equity, investment funds, and private credit offerings and meeting our core strategy to serve asset managers across the entire platform.

We are also trial lawyers and have more trials going on than ever in the firm, and we will see more of this work in the future. We have the premier labor and employment practice in the market and it has been that way since our firm began. Looking forward, we will continue to leverage that strength and increase our market share – there are definitely more opportunities to take on.

CA: How has Proskauer navigated the competitive lateral market as law firms across the industry scramble for talent?

We continued to grow laterally in 2021 and most of our laterals were transactional – in capital markets, M&A, and private funds. We had four partners join in London too, which, as I mentioned, we’re clearly focused on growing. We also brought in some litigation laterals.

CA: What is the greatest challenge facing the firm in the next decade? How about the legal market more generally? 

Everyone will have to navigate the challenge of talent management. The legal community’s competitive culture for top-tier talent is more acute than ever before. Appreciating that people coming in, working every day, turning off lights, and going back home is just not enough. It's about having a fulfilling well-rounded career with flexible opportunities and the ability to give back. I have always said we want to be the best place to work, not just the best law firm. So that means providing pro bono opportunities, opportunities for CSR, listening to talent and making sure people are valued and their desires are fulfilled, because our clients demand the best talent. We have to be a place where people can thrive, prosper, and succeed beyond just doing their hours; it should be about more than just work.

CA: For the firm generally, what are some of the lessons learned from the pandemic that you’ll carry forward?

The most important thing, and the reason why Proskauer is different from many other firms, is our culture. I've said in the past and will say again our culture is special. There’s a decency here, a rapport, and entrepreneurial spirit. People come here to make their mark. That’s one of the reasons we do cutting-edge and best-in-class work, while having a blast and working with really smart people collaboratively; it is just so important and must continue.

We’re proud of our culture, but we need to continue to talk about it, challenge it, articulate what our culture means, and address the things that differentiate us and will drive our success. That was emphasized by the pandemic and highlighted by the need for people to feel valued; we don't define success in box ticking. Everyone defines success in different ways. People come here to do great things but they are able to define what those things are. These are the fundamental truths that became the load bearing beams in our community.

CA: What is Proskauer’s approach to DE&I like? 

We came together soon after the George Floyd murder and took a deep look at what we could do to foster change. Our “special sauce” culture really helped, but the Collaboration for Change project (to educate, participate, and communicate around racial justice) was about the need for change and open conversation. We are not just leaders in the legal community but also leaders in the business community as well. We introduced a new speaker series, increased the amount of pro bono hours we do, and put our money where our mouth is and contributed to racial justice non-profit efforts. Our community really came together, but we realise that we will be judged on how we do every year rather than just one year. Big Law is starting to wake up to these conversations and have made a good start but there is always more to be done.

 

Proskauer Rose LLP

Eleven Times Square,
(Eighth Avenue & 41st Street),
New York,
NY 10036-8299
Website www.proskauer.com

  • Head Office: New York, NY
  • Number of domestic offices: 7
  • Number of international offices: 5
  • Worldwide revenue: $1,168,371,000
  • Partners (US): 228
  • Associates (US): 370
  • Contacts  
  • Main recruitment contact: Rachel L Kleiner
  • Hiring partner: Michael T Mervis
  • Diversity officer: Peter Wilson, Jr.
  • Recruitment details 
  • Entry-level associates starting in 2022: 54
  • Clerking policy: Yes
  •  Summers joining/anticipated 2022: 1Ls: 9, 2Ls: 58, SEOs: 2
  • Summers joining/anticipated 2022 split by office: Boston: 12, Chicago: 3, LA: 7, New Orleans: 2, New York: 31, Washington, DC: 3
  • Summer salary 2022: 1Ls: $3,654/week (except Boca Raton and New Orleans)
  • 2Ls: 2Ls: $4,135/week
  • Split summers offered? Case by case
  • Can summers spend time in an overseas office? No

Main areas of work



 Private equity; corporate finance and securities; mergers and acquisitions; capital markets; litigation, trials and dispute resolution; white collar defense and investigations; intellectual property; labor and employment; employee benefits and executive compensation; real estate; privacy and cybersecurity; bankruptcy and restructuring; and wealth management. The firm also has significant industry-focused experience across many fields, including asset management; health care; financial institutions; technology, media and telecommunications; private equity real estate; life sciences; sports; and media and entertainment.

Firm profile



 We are 725+ lawyers serving clients from 12 offices located in the leading financial and business centers in North and South America, Europe and Asia. The world’s leading organizations, companies and corporations choose us to be their representatives in their most critical situations. We work with alternative capital providers, major sports leagues, Fortune 500 companies, entertainment industry legends, many of the world’s most successful asset managers and other industry-redefining companies.

Recruitment



Law schools attending for OCIs in 2022: Boston College, Boston University, Brooklyn, Cardozo, Columbia, Cornell, DePaul, Duke, Emory, Fordham, George Washington University, Georgetown, Harvard, Hofstra, Howard, Indiana University (Maurer), Louisiana State, Loyola - Chicago, Loyola - New Orleans, New York University, Northwestern, Notre Dame, Stanford, Suffolk, Tulane, University of California (Berkeley, Los Angeles), University of Chicago, University of Connecticut, University of Iowa, University of Michigan, University of Minnesota, University of Pennsylvania, University of Southern California, University of Texas, University of Virginia, University of Wisconsin, Vanderbilt, Washington University in St Louis, Yale. If we do not visit your law school, or you are unable to participate in one of the many career fairs in which we participate, please submit your cover letter, resume and transcript directly to the recruiting mailbox of the office in which you are interested.

Summer associate profile:
We look for well-rounded students who have demonstrated academic excellence, leadership, community service, intellectual curiosity, maturity and strong motivation to succeed. Our environment is challenging, rewarding, entrepreneurial and inclusive. Associates receive early exposure to high levels of responsibility, so the people who thrive here are those who can engage with clients, have a sense of humor, and some worldliness.

Summer program components: Our summer program is designed to replicate, as closely as possible, the experience of being a lawyer at Proskauer. You will work on challenging matters alongside some of the top lawyers in the field while building relationships with your colleagues. You might find yourself attending a deposition, courtroom argument or administrative hearing. Or being at the table in a labor arbitration. You might help in the formation of companies or be part of a team handling a merger or acquisition. Every day of your time with us represents part of your training – as you work with experienced professionals on client matters and gain their real-time feedback and direction. You will also have the chance to up your game in key areas through partner-led, interactive training workshops throughout your summer. You will have many opportunities to join in social, cultural and recreational activities to get better acquainted with your fellow summers and lawyers at Proskauer.

Social media



Recruitment website: www.proskauer.com/careers/
Twitter: @proskauer
Facebook: proskauerlife
Instagram: @proskauer_rose
Linkedin: proskauer-rose-llp

This Firm's Rankings in
USA Guide, 2022

Ranked Departments

    • Banking & Finance (Band 3)
    • Labor & Employment: The Elite (Band 3)
    • Life Sciences (Band 4)
    • Litigation: General Commercial: The Elite (Band 4)
    • Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation (Band 2)
    • Tax (Band 4)
    • Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation (Band 2)
    • Bankruptcy/Restructuring (Band 3)
    • Insurance: Dispute Resolution: Policyholder (Band 2)
    • Labor & Employment: The Elite (Band 5)
    • Labor & Employment (Band 3)
    • Banking & Finance (Band 1)
    • Bankruptcy/Restructuring (Band 4)
    • Intellectual Property (Band 4)
    • Labor & Employment (Band 1)
    • Litigation: General Commercial (Band 3)
    • Private Equity: Fund Formation (Band 1)
    • Real Estate (Band 3)
    • Tax (Band 2)
    • Banking & Finance (Band 5)
    • Bankruptcy/Restructuring: The Elite (Band 3)
    • Corporate/M&A: Highly Regarded (Band 3)
    • Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation (Band 1)
    • Environment: Mainly Transactional (Band 3)
    • Healthcare (Band 1)
    • Insurance: Dispute Resolution: Policyholder (Band 2)
    • Labor & Employment: The Elite (Band 1)
    • Litigation: General Commercial: Highly Regarded (Band 1)
    • Litigation: White-Collar Crime & Government Investigations: The Elite (Band 4)
    • Media & Entertainment: Corporate (Band 3)
    • Media & Entertainment: Litigation (Band 3)
    • Outsourcing (Band 3)
    • Real Estate: Mainly Corporate & Finance (Band 4)
    • Real Estate: Mainly Dirt (Band 4)
    • Tax (Band 3)
    • Technology (Band 3)
    • Advertising: Litigation (Band 2)
    • Banking & Finance (Band 3)
    • Bankruptcy/Restructuring: The Elite (Band 3)
    • Corporate/M&A: Highly Regarded (Band 3)
    • Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation (Band 1)
    • ERISA Litigation (Band 2)
    • Healthcare: Highly Regarded (Band 1)
    • Hedge Funds (Band 4)
    • Insurance: Dispute Resolution: Policyholder (Band 4)
    • International Arbitration: Enforcement Spotlight Table
    • Investment Funds: Investor Representation (Band 2)
    • Labor & Employment (Band 1)
    • Leisure & Hospitality (Band 4)
    • Private Equity: Fund Formation (Band 2)
    • Real Estate (Band 4)
    • Registered Funds (Band 3)
    • REITs (Band 4)
    • Sports Law (Band 1)
    • Tax: Corporate & Finance (Band 4)