Richards, Layton & Finger PA - The Inside View

Small but mighty, Richards, Layton & Finger packs a punch as the go-to BigLaw firm in Delaware.

For associates at RLF, the firm’s status in Delaware made it a no-brainer. Not only is the firm one of the biggest in the state, but it has a “Delaware-only practice, so it’s not a satellite office.” Delaware itself is a key player in the corporate market and, for a firm that’s been focused on driving that practice for over a century, it should come as no surprise that it sits at the top of the totem in the state. Chambers USA awards Richards top-tier accolades in corporate & alternative entities, Chancery, bankruptcy & restructuring, IP and real estate

“Anyone in law here knows who you are.” 

Even with just one base in Wilmington, sources had lots to say on the firm’s reputation: “Anyone in law here knows who you are,” said one, while another told us how “recruiters are calling all the time!” But, despite this status, interviewees also felt at home with the people at the firm, explaining how “everyone is really friendly and open, so it’s easy to walk into someone’s office.” In addition to this, the firm’s pro bono practice really sealed the deal for many and, as a bonus for one junior at least, “the money goes much further in Delaware!” 

Strategy & Future 

Associates were pretty positive about the firm’s future; 93% of our survey respondents felt confident about the firm’s trajectory, and one junior stated: “I don’t worry if the firm is going to exist in six months or even in ten years. It’s a well-oiled machine.” Though 43% of those surveyed felt that decision-making processes were transparent, the majority thought that management strategy was well-communicated, and half of respondents felt they’d built strong connections at the firm. We also heard that the firm is looking to stick to its core competencies, and will be keeping up with IP's expansion in Delaware. 

The Work 

The firm is split into four broad departments: corporate, which includes corporate litigation and corporate advisory; business, which is split into five sub-groups; litigation, which includes IP and complex commercial; and bankruptcy, the smallest of the four. Summers typically split their time equally between two of these departments. For associates in corporate, work is allocated by partners who lead separate sub-teams. Juniors typically pick up work from the head of their team, which usually consists of a partner, one or two seniors and one or two juniors. “You can ask other teams for work if you’re slow,” one junior told us, and those we spoke with were positive about the system as “you get to know the partner you’re working with very well.” 

“They don’t want you to just be satisfied as a junior!” 

Corporate litigation covers “primarily chancery” alongside federal cases in various state courts. “You’re half working as counsel with big law firms,” one interviewee outlined, “but you’re sometimes sole counsel” on cases ranging from work with individuals and smaller companies to high-stakes litigation. As such, “you’re growing at an accelerated pace, and the partners have high expectations of you… they don’t want you to just be satisfied as a junior!” We heard that “you’re included on strategy meetings and calls with counsel from the start,” but juniors also get to work on first drafts of briefs and motions, help prepare for hearings and can second-chair depositions. Of course, newbies do get their fair share of the typical document review and discovery, but insiders found it helpful to “get really close to the facts and understand the case at a deeper level.” Juniors direct some admin, too, “making sure that every important document is seen by everyone,” but they also get to go to “big hearings or trials when everything comes together, which is very exciting.” 

Corporate litigation clients: Oracle Corporation, Level 4 Yoga, Reynolds American. Defended Fox News in a $1.6 billion defamation suit from voting machine company Dominion.  

Corporate advisory covers transactional matters, typically to do with aspects specifically related to Delaware law. “We’re often working on merger agreements where we’ll have co-counsel at a large firm,” one insider explained, “so they’ll draft the merger agreement, then we’ll review it and see if it would work under Delaware law.” The group also does this across stockholder agreements and stock repurchases, among other things, while also working “more directly with clients, making amendments for bylaws.” The firm’s clients in this space include both public companies and smaller private companies where “we’re sole counsel – I’d say that’s about 25% of the work.” On the daily, we heard that juniors will often take the first crack at making comments on documents or drafting amendments, with partners and seniors providing ample oversight and feedback. First-years typically focus on research projects, but also draft memos and get a little more client face time once they reach their third year. “We typically don’t get as much interaction with clients because we’re usually co-counsel,” an associate explained, “so the firm is sensitive to having too many people on the call… but sometimes you will sit in on a call in a partner’s office instead of being on the actual call.” 

Corporate clients: Veritiv, Change Healthcare, Energy Harbor. Has acted as special Delaware counsel to Mercedes Benz in relation to a $10 billion securitization of auto loans and receivables. 

The firm’s business practice is split over four groups: alternative entities; corporate trust & agency services; general transactions; and real estate. Associates in corporate trust explained that the group represents banks, “specifically national banking associates or trust companies which we represent in securitization transactions for the most part.” For juniors, this means “a lot of mini tasks, micro-managing logistics and giving input to associates above to vet before going to the client.” Over in real estate, most of the clients are developers, so “day to day, you’re doing anything from commercial leases to financings or closings of refinancings of new constructions.” A lot of the time, juniors will find themselves reviewing and handling such closings, but “as a newer associate, you’re also doing a lot more research, so I get appointed when there are novel questions.” 

Real estate clients: 9th Street Development Company, Artisans Bank, DuPont Country Club. Assisted residential company Schell Brothers in negotiating a $250 million revolving credit facility with Wells Fargo Bank. 


Across the board, the associates we spoke to were brimming with praise for the firm’s culture. “Interactions have all been great,” one junior beamed, highlighting positive experiences with everyone from peers to partners and support staff. Insiders felt comfortable speaking with colleagues about both work and personal matters, with everyone being “extremely willing to help and share knowledge” without it being “over the top.” Even though “there is a big focus on having everyone in the office to ensure associates get face time,” we also heard that “people understand if I need to leave. If you get the work done, that’s all that matters.” 

“The firm loves to wine and dine its recruits.” 

On the social side, “I’ve noticed a lot more associate lunches, bowling and things like that this past year,” one junior mused, so “there are lots of social events, especially over the summer. The firm loves to wine and dine its recruits.” We also heard the firm has sports teams which associates are “very much encouraged to join,” such as football and softball. A few associates also mentioned how the firm hosts socials with clients, including practice group holiday parties and a firmwide holiday party where associates can bring plus-ones. Throughout the year, the firm puts on various gatherings, which might be “like once a month, and are usually oriented around food!” 

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion 

“We’re definitely working on it,” one junior told us, and insiders were generally positive about the firm’s efforts, particularly when it comes to gender. “There are a lot of female partners with children,” we heard, and multiple associates told us that the firm’s Women’s Initiative is very active: “there’s usually one meeting a month and they’ll do specific events once in a while. It’s good to get the perspective of female partners at those.” We did hear concerns from some associates regarding interactions where ethnicity was concerned, but juniors also told us that the firm’s DEI Network is “very active.” Insiders assured that “there is a huge genuine effort” even beyond the formal network, stressing that this approach applies on a personal level. For example, mentorship was also seen as an important part of the firm’s approach to DEI as juniors can meet quarterly with their formal mentors. However, sources explained that “there are informal mentorship opportunities as well. You get to make connections with people you feel comfortable reaching out to, and the firm helps you make those connections.” 

“We’re focused on local community issues in Delaware.” 

Pro Bono 

Our interviewees felt that all pro bono counting towards billable hours indicated that it is “super supportedandrespected. If I have to take time off for pro bono, people haven’t been mad.” We heard that, from the outset, “the firm was great about making us aware of the different pro bono opportunities, and it’s a big part of orientation when you first start. They help you understand the different cases you can get involved in, and it’s really easy to take part.” Associates told us that the firm has a pro bono coordinator who lets people know about upcoming opportunities with mass emails. “When someone responds, they’ll check for any conflicts,” one junior outlined, “then you’ll have a partner or counsel supervisor when you take on a matter.” Richards also promotes trainings for pro bono, such as sessions on child advocacy and various ways to get involved in the community. Indeed, as a number of juniors outlined, “we’re focused on local community issues in Delaware,” which comes with “a lot of opportunities in family law.” 

Pro bono hours 

  • For all US attorneys: undisclosed 
  • Average per US attorney: undisclosed 

Hours & Compensation 

Billable hours: no requirement 

As is typical for BigLaw, Richards associates explained that hours may shift across practices, but there was a general expectation that juniors hit at least 1,800 hours a year: “you don’t get a bonus if you don’t hit it, but it’s very achievable as pro bono counts.” However, we were told that the target isn’t a formal requirement so, even if you don’t reach it, “there are no consequences.” Though associates may be under no official pressure to bill as many hours as possible, an interviewee reflected, “you still feel the need to work as many as you can.” We heard that this could be down to associates having two reviews per year where, as one insider shared, “I don’t think they’d actually fire you if you didn’t hit the hours, but they’ll definitely say something!” 

“Having a life is seen as a priority...” 

Overall, our interviewees felt well-compensated in line with the Delaware market, particularly given the firm’s less intense approach to hours. So, even though local satellite offices of other firms seemed to be paying the higher, New York rate, associates were still satisfied with the setup as “you might make less, but you get a good work-life balance in exchange.” That being said, Richards recently increased its starting associate salary to $210,000, a 20k pay bump for any incoming juniors! Still, associates explained that “having a life is seen as a priorityand the partners share that view so, while there is some nighttime work every now and then, people tend to leave around six.” There is a requirement to be in the office from Monday to Thursday, but juniors weren’t too concerned about it as “there’s an understanding when things like family or doctor’s appointments crop up.” 

Career Development 

While there isn’t an official training program for all juniors across the firm, the general sentiment from our sources was that “they go out of their way to teach you.” According to interviewees, training generally varies across practices, but juniors in real estate explained that “they encourage us to take online CLEs if we have the time.” Meanwhile, the business group goes to any conferences that might be “helpful,” but members of the department explained that “trainings for first- and second-years in the group are not optional.” In addition, juniors across the board told us that partners and seniors “take a huge interest in your development, and they really take the time to give great feedback.” Then, on the business development side, for juniors at least there’s apparently “not as much of that, but that might be because of our business model. We take a lot of work from other firms, but we do get to help partners present updates to big firms.”

In terms of attrition, juniors did raise the fact that associates may be “jumping ship because of the pay gap.” However, this didn’t seem to be much of a concern as sources noted that “a lot of people seem to stay for a very long time.” And for those looking to make partner, there’s a clear eight-year minimum track, and “whether you’re on track or not is related honestly, so it definitely feels attainable.” 

Get Hired

The first stage: recruitment on and off campus 

Richards Layton and Finger casts a net across up to 20 law schools each year for its OCI interviews, alongside attending job fairs each year to actively solicit applicants. These are conducted by attorneys who are members of the firm’s Hiring Committee and on-campus interviewers are often alumni of the law school. The firm emphasises the need for applicants to demonstrate enthusiasm for the firm’s practice and a strong work ethic; to do this, students should share stories illustrating their work ethic in class, on a journal, or in another challenging situation.

Top tips for this stage: 

"Spend time researching our firm and our practice areas. Be prepared to answer questions about your practice area interests and your interest in Delaware."  Director and Chair of Hiring, Kevin M. Gallagher. 


During the callback process candidates meet with four or five attorneys from the Hiring Committee. Members from the department the candidate is interested in will be included. The interview schedules usually include lunch with two associates and candidates are encouraged to ask questions to each of their interviewers throughout the process. For the questions the interviewers will ask of the candidate, focus is typically given to the candidate’s seriousness about developing their career in Delaware.

Top tips for this stage: 

"Do your homework. Research the firm’s practice areas and be able to articulate why you are interested in Venable specifically and why you’re interested in the market in which you’re interviewing (if it’s not obvious from your resume). Be genuine, candid, and don’t hesitate to ask questions."  Director and Chair of Hiring, Kevin M. Gallagher. 

Summer program 

Prior to their arrival in May, summers rank their practice area preferences which they will rotate through across the period. Summers are paired with a director and an associate in each department they work in who are responsible for coordinating and assigning work for them. This work is usually of the same level work and responsibility of a full-time associate, but summers will also partake in informal seminars, lunches, and weekly social events. These events introduce summer associates to Wilmington and the surrounding areas and have included dinners at the directors’ homes and a community service event benefitting the local Ronald McDonald House.

Top tips for this stage: 

"Take advantage of every opportunity presented to you during the summer. Our attorneys and staff are excited to get to know you, and we want you to get to know us too. Give each assignment your best effort and demonstrate to the attorneys that you put thoroughness and care into your work." — Director and Chair of Hiring, Kevin M. Gallagher. 

And finally: 

“Wilmington is a small city with a lot to offer for a fulfilling personal and professional life. Ask questions of everyone you encounter about their journey to the firm and the practice they built here. We work hard and hold ourselves to a standard of excellence; at the same time, we have close relationships with each other outside of the office. I would encourage anyone interested in RLF to research our firm, research our practices, and get to know our attorneys. Be yourself throughout the interview process and demonstrate your enthusiasm.”  - Director and Chair of Hiring, Kevin M. Gallagher. 


Richards, Layton & Finger PA

Main areas of work:
- Bankruptcy & Corporate Restructuring
- Commercial Litigation
- Commercial Transactions
- Corporate & Chancery Litigation
- Corporate Governance, Corporate Transactions, Mergers & Acquisitions
- Corporate Trust & Agency Services, Structured Finance
- Intellectual Property
- Limited Liability Company & Partnership Advisory

Firm Profile:
Richards Layton offers attorneys the unique opportunity to work on globally significant matters at a firm that feels more like a small town. With a partner to associate ratio of about 1:1, our junior attorneys receive personal attention, intellectual challenge, and early responsibility. The firm has participated in many of the groundbreaking cases defining Delaware corporate law, and its lawyers have long played crucial roles in drafting and amending the state’s influential business statutes. The firm understands the importance of pro bono work, and our pro bono program gives attorneys the opportunity to use their time and talents to enrich others as well as themselves. Our associates are encouraged to join the firm’s pro bono teams in their first year. Diversity and inclusion are core institutional commitments at Richards Layton. The firm participates in and supports a variety of local organizations that share our dedication to advancing underrepresented groups in the legal profession.

Law schools attended for OCI in 2024:
BYU, Cornell, Columbia, Delaware Diversity Job Fair, Penn State Dickinson, Drexel, Duke, Georgetown, George Mason, GW, Howard, University of Iowa, University of Michigan, University of Maryland, Notre Dame, UNC, University of Pennsylvania, Penn State, Southeastern Law School Consortium, Temple, Tulane, Vanderbilt, Villanova, UVA, Wake Forest, Washington & Lee, Widener University Delaware Law School, William & Mary

Recruitment outside OCIs:
We are accepting applications from rising second year law students for summer associate positions in 2025. Please visit our application portal to apply.

We will be participating in On-Campus Interviews at several law schools and participating in multiple job fairs in summer 2024. Please see the “On-Campus Interviews” section above for the full list. If we conduct OCI at your school, please apply according to the instructions provided by your Office of Career Services. If you choose to, in addition to applying during OCI, you are welcome to submit application materials directly in advance. If we attend a job fair in which you are interested and eligible, please apply according to the job fair’s instructions. We invite you to apply to the firm through both OCI and a job fair, if applicable.

We will begin reviewing applications on a rolling basis in March 2024. You are welcome to apply before your second semester law school transcript is available. If the transcript has not been released at the time you submit your other application materials, please provide your unofficial transcript when it becomes available.

Please contact Samantha Stern, Hiring Manager, at with questions.

All new summer associate and attorney hires must be legally entitled to work in the U.S. and not now or in the future require sponsorship for employment visa status. 

Summer associate profile:
Richards, Layton & Finger seeks candidates with strong academics, Law Review/Journal experience and/or moot court who are motivated and responsible. We look for those with initiative and passion for the law, and who are willing and eager to take ownership of assigned matters. We like to see those in leadership roles. 

Summer program components:
Summer associates rank their practice area preferences prior to their arrival in May. Midway through the summer, everyone changes departments. Two designated assigning attorneys – one director and one associate – coordinate and assign work. Summer associates are routinely given the same level of work and responsibility as full-time associates. Informal seminars, luncheons, and weekly social events introduce summer associates to the firm as well as to all that Wilmington and the surrounding areas have to offer.

Social Media:

This Firm's Rankings in
USA Guide, 2023

Ranked Departments

    • Bankruptcy/Restructuring (Band 1)
    • Chancery (Band 1)
    • Corporate/M&A & Alternative Entities (Band 1)
    • Intellectual Property (Band 1)
    • Labor & Employment (Band 3)
    • Real Estate (Band 1)

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