This firm full of “fun people who enjoy getting to know everyone” doesn’t shy away from a challenge.
“When interviewing, I was in a hallway and a partner started telling me how he was in a prank war with an associate. That’s what it’s like here. Our partners aren’t super formal with associates; they’re fun people who enjoy getting to know everyone.” This 300-or-so strong firm doesn’t mind showing off its quirky side (we can't help wondering if the prank war is still waging), but don't be fooled. As well as its fun-loving partners, Schulte takes on cases that showcase the “really innovative legal work that we love to do.” Co-managing partner Marc Elovitz tells us the firm’s case taking on Exxon for investment firm Engine No. 1 is “an incredible David and Goliath story.” The firm took on the oil behemoth and “this shareholder activism campaign resulted in the appointment of three new directors to the Exxon board, to move this giant oil company into the decarbonizing world.”
"Growing focus on cutting-edge areas of law such as blockchain/crypto and data privacy."
It's not necessarily the kind of work you’d expect from a firm that’s top-ranked in Chambers Global for its multijurisdictional work in hedge fund investment management work. It's the “kind of challenge that we as a firm don’t shy away from,” Elovitz tells us. “We’re not constrained by the way things have always been [...] And it's gratifying that throughout the firm – from summer associates to partners – we’re working on cutting-edge matters like these that have global impact." Junior associate interviewees told us they were attracted to the firm’s “growing focus on cutting-edge areas of law such as blockchain/crypto and data privacy within its niche of working with financial industry clients.”
As well as its ranking mentioned above, the firm is noted in Chambers USA for its work in hedge funds, investment funds regulatory and compliance, CLO and ABS securitization capital markets, fund formation and elite bankruptcy/restructuring. In DC, it gains a further ranking in white-collar crime & government investigations work while the New York office is highlighted for its corporate/M&A (especially shareholder activism), tax, real estate, employment and bankruptcy/restructuring work.
Strategy & Future
Co-managing partner David Efron tells us that as the firm is “entrepreneurial and creative,” Schulte is able to “embrace the flexibility” of growing markets: “We don’t have rigid bureaucracy baggage.” Financial services is an area the firm is focusing on, as it’s “constantly evolving – it’s dynamic. Our clients want us to partner together with them to create and leverage opportunities, not simply react to demands. They value our ability to be proactive and advise them on developments in the market and the issues of the day. We’re seeing that in digital assets and crypto – spaces that are just exploding – it’s uncharted territory and our clients expect us to get on that path with them."
Another area of focus for Schulte is ESG, as it’s “permeating many aspects of the financial world – not just disclosure, but various aspects of our clients' businesses. It’s changing the dialogue between investors and corporate boards. We’re helping our clients navigate this uncharted landscape.”
Most juniors on our list were based in the firm’s New York HQ, with a handful operating out of DC and one lone junior associate in London. The investment management group took almost half of juniors, with litigation taking a good chunk of the rest. The remaining associates were spread across broker-dealer regulatory & enforcement, business reorganization, M&A and securities, employment & employee benefits, individual client services, real estate, finance & derivatives, and tax. Though each department varies its approach slightly, those in investment management told us general work assignment happens through an assigning partner “who checks up on exactly how many hours each associate is working to make sure that there’s a level playing field. The idea is no one gets too much or not enough work.” Juniors were happy with the system – “you can say who you want to work with and what type of work you want to do.”
"There’s more bespoke language and transactions that are occurring, so you get to learn more expertise on that.”
The investment management team deals with hedge funds and private equity funds “from launch until they wind down – we deal with fund launches, dissolutions, updates, transferring interests between investors, anything in the life of a fund, you name it.” Work comes in both the general partners (GP) and legal partners (LP) spaces. GP work involves creating the documents for fund managers from scratch. The LP work is “more of them filling out and reviewing those documents themselves. But a lot of that work is filling out questionnaires and the client not being able to do it on their own, so that’s where we come in and use our expertise.” LP work was regarded as “a little more boring but they’re still interesting matters.” Interviewees liked that their clients spanned from huge funds to “mom ’n’ pop shops. It’s the same thing but on a smaller scale – it means there’s more bespoke language and transactions that are occurring, so you get to learn more expertise on that.” Project management is a big aspect of the job for juniors in this group – “making sure the documents are moving and keeping track of where they are.” They also mark up changes in documents, email clients directly and get to draft “initial short form documents.” Juniors take charge of side letter compendiums – “small ones can have around 50 provisions, but for a big fund it can be hundreds and hundreds to keep track of.”
Investment management clients: Engine No. 1, and Murchinson. Advised Birch Grove Capital on the regulatory and compliance aspects on its merger with Ascribe Capital, with the combined entity totaling $5 billion.
“If it’s new and novel, we learn about it and do it.”
As the firm specializes in doing investment management work for financial services businesses, “that’s our specialty in litigationtoo. We handle any contentious issues that arise for those clients.” Of course, they’re not exclusively limited to that, but it does make up “the vast majority of clients and revenue in the team.” We heard of enforcement, securities, and regulatory work as well as civil and commercial disputes including trademark and IP infringement matters. Usually “everything has a financial component. And if it’s new and novel, we learn about it and do it.” We heard that the partners here are “top notch and have a vast wealth of experience. Their experience has made them capable of handling any sort of litigation matter.” The juniors here tackle some “very administrative” work like coordinating with the document services department and “gatekeeping the facts and logistics.” They also get to handle initial drafting on memos to the client and answers to complaints – “my work made it into the brief, which was great to see.”
Litigation clients: The Children’s Investment Master Fund, Hamburg Commercial Bank, and SpeedCast. Represented cryptocurrency investment fund manager Pantera Capital Management in a securities matter involving $280 million in Bitcoin.
Up to 200 pro bono hours can be counted as billable, “but exceptions are made if you go above that – you just have to ask for it.” Partners and management at Schulte “stress the value of pro bono. Partners are happy to see associates doing pro bono work and it’s positively reinforced.” Anyone who does over 200 hours gets recognized as a pro bono VIP. “One of the best parts about Schulte is how encouraged pro bono is and how seriously we take it. We treat it like they’re paying clients.”
“It’s so popular that it’s hard to get staffed on the best cases!”
Emails are “constantly” sent out to attorneys about the matters on offer – “it’s so popular that it’s hard to get staffed on the best cases!” We heard of work in immigration, asylum, citizenship, criminal matters, domestic violence cases and research for reports to Congress. The firm also has a program where one associate per year is sent to a pro bono client to “dedicate themselves to that cause for a year.”
One main pro bono matter for the firm is worth mentioning. “We're also working on an incredible pro bono case related to the 1929 Tulsa Race Massacre, where we are seeking justice for the survivors of that massacre and from the continuing harm to that community that followed. This is the kind of case a lot of firms wouldn’t take on, but we’re not afraid to do so,” Elovitz tells us. Efron adds that “this is an event largely ignored by history books. So we were able to spread a lot of awareness.” Associates told us that the firm “puts a lot of pride, effort, and money into this case.”
Pro bono hours
- For all US attorneys: 24,038
- Average per US attorney: 73
The firm’s mentor program sees each junior assigned a partner mentor, a senior associate mentor and a few junior associate mentors referred to as ‘buddies’. “They’re put in place for any initial questions you have about the firm or how one would go about doing a particular thing – there’s always an open line of communication there.” When juniors first get there, the robust mentoring system “helps cushion you in the transition to BigLaw life – it’s good to know there are many people to talk to.” Mentoring is so engrained in the culture at Schulte that juniors were already telling us they’re “excited to be a buddy myself and pay that forward.”
“It’s a testament to the firm and the tools they put in place for us to be successful.”
Schulte was described as a firm that “feels like a place you can stay a long time.” Some told us that they “see no reason to leave here – it’s a testament to the firm and the tools they put in place for us to be successful.” Others acknowledged that they’re currently in a “unique and hot lateral market – some people have left for other big firms recently.” Historically though, “it’s super common for associates to go work for clients.” For those that want to leave, the firm hosts panels with alumni who “have left the firm and done other things – they’re open about not wanting to hold you back and help you take the next step in your career path if it’s not staying at Schulte.”
Hours & Compensation
Billable hours: 2,000 target
Schulte’s 2,000-hour full bonus target can include the 200 (or maybe more) pro bono hours mentioned above. A market lockstep salary and bonus left interviewees “satisfied. We can also get more if we go over,” with tiered bonuses at 2,300 and 2,500 hours. The incoming first-years had their hours prorated from 2,000 to 1,000 after a COVID-related start date delay of three months. “It’s very generous of them. It takes that pressure off.” Knowing the high-billing stress was off meant that juniors found it “much easier to take a couple extra minutes to read up on the handbook, or research things slowly to understand them better.” Those not in that class found the 2,000 hours “reachable if you don’t think about vacation days. Then you only have to bill seven hours a day, which I find normal and reasonable.”
Though some told us they “aren’t working crazy hours – I usually finish by 6pm,” others “can’t remember the last day I ended before midnight.” In our associate survey, juniors told us they worked an average of 47.6 hours in the past week. Some departments such as investment management “expect you to be responsive in the night.” But across the board, “people go out their way to prevent weekend work. Partners are apologetic when you do have to do it.”
“There isn't a culture to conform to here. Everyone has their own lives and hobbies outside of work.” Individualism is rife at Schulte. We heard of offices being “decorated with pictures of families and art on the walls,” partners with “neon signs” and “espadrilles with bicycles on them,” which all served as “big green flags” for our interviewees. Attorneys felt they were “allowed to be ourselves. It seems laid back, but there’s still a community feel and genuine care for the people that work here.”
“If I run into a partner, they ask to grab a coffee and make it a point to make time to socialize in the office."
In-office working was different across our interviewees. Some were going in once or twice per week though some “haven’t been to offices since I was a summer associate.” We were told that moving forward, the firm is moving to a hybrid model where associates are expected to come in three days a week. Those working primarily from home say that “the mentors I’ve been dealing with on phone and Zoom have been really helpful remotely – everyone makes themselves available to assist.” Those going into the office found the amenities at New York HQ “really impressive. The office space was redone just before COVID and is modern and comfortable. I came into my office for the first time and it made me feel cool.” Office culture is still being maintained despite the pandemic: “if I run into a partner, they ask to grab a coffee and make it a point to make time to socialize in the office. It’s great for mental health. I’m so happy when I go in – it’s so great seeing my co-workers.”
Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
In 2020, the firm created their Task Force for Racial Justice, giving weekly seminars that provided readings and a discussion. “They’re very well attended – over 100 people on each Zoom.” Associates rated the initiative favorably as “an open line for anyone to speak their mind. From an educational standpoint it was eye-opening to hear about how others experience the world.” This initiative was praised as being “real – not just a press release. They don’t mind us spending an hour of our day talking about critical race theory.” Though we heard that “some diverse people can get tired of it – it’s exhausting.” The firm also conducts implicit bias training.
Though “Schulte is genuinely trying to retain and hire more diverse associates,” the reality is that “the success has only been OK.” Efron tells us that “four out of the six partners we promoted this year are women. We’re focusing on growing internally and not just through the lateral market. We’re also proud that our summer class this year is one of our most diverse ever.” When it comes to mental health, the firm offers free counseling, an anonymous call line, and Zoom yoga classes. “It was a big focus in our orientation – it’s something firm doesn’t take lightly.”
The first stage: recruitment on and off campus
Schulte conducts OCIs at more than 15 schools and several New York based job fairs. Candidates simply sending in a resume and cover letter are also welcome. Interviews are normally conducted with partners. Hiring sources at the firm inform us the OCIs are “designed to evaluate the candidate’s ability to communicate effectively and to make a preliminary assessment of the candidate’s potential to contribute to our firm’s success.” Candidates should be ready for questions about anything on their résumé, “including aspects of your college experience and your hobbies and interests.”
Top tips for this stage:
“It's so important to clearly convey your reasons for wanting to join our firm. Why us over one of our competitors? Even at this initial stage, we want to get a strong sense of your motivations.”– A second-year associate
“This is a great opportunity to let the interviewer know about any of our firm's on campus programs or 1L receptions that you attended throughout the year.”– Hiring sources at the firm
Associates face interviews with two partners and a further two to three associates and may include a coffee or lunch meeting. The whole process takes up to three hours. As callbacks are a chance for deeper probing, interviewers “ask questions that allow the student to demonstrate their analytical and problem-solving skills” according to hiring sources at the firm. Alongside this, interviewers also focus “on evaluating whether the candidate would succeed in our firm’s dynamic and entrepreneurial environment.” Sources told us that “it’s very much a friendly interview – they want to know if you are a friendly down-to-earth person as well as whether you can express yourself in a professional manner.”
Top tips for this stage:
“At this point they want to know if they will enjoy spending time with you for 12 to 15 hours a day!” – A third-year associate
“Most importantly, be yourself and be respectful of everyone you meet in the process.” – Hiring sources at the firm
Schulte’s 11-week summer program got a lot of praise from associates we spoke to. “It was a lot of fun!” chirped one. “There was one big event and one or two smaller events every week. People were partied out by the end!” Previous events have included the musical Hamilton, a Beyoncé concert, and a Mets game from a “luxury box.” How fancy! Social events are dotted throughout to give participants a chance to unwind, alongside lunches and networking events organized by the firm’s Diversity, Equity & and Inclusion committee and affinity groups.
Still, there’s plenty of work to do. The program is held only in the New York office and summers choose two practice areas to focus on (they can still pick up assignments from elsewhere). A mock negotiation program is on offer to sharpen transactional skills, along with trial advocacy training and legal writing and business of law training programs. Sessions with different practice areas are also available to help summers get a better grasp on them. A junior associate mentor, a mid-level associate mentor, and a partner advisor are on standby to help summers navigate the program. The firm tells us almost all summers return as first-year associates, and are placed into practice groups by individual preference and the needs of the firm.
Notable summer events: Broadway shows including Hamilton, Beyoncé and Ariana Grande concerts, a Mets Game, The Magician at The NoMad, Shakespeare in the Park, and cookery classes.
Top tips for this stage:
“We offer summer associates opportunities to make substantive contributions to our work, and we expect our summer associates to demonstrate a professional commitment to their assignments over the course of the summer. They are part of our team in every sense.” – Hiring sources at the firm
Interview with co-managing partners David Efron and Marc Elovitz
Chambers Associate: What are some highlights for Schulte in the past 12 months?
Marc Elovitz: We've had a number of high-profile, world changing matters that the firm has worked on – both client and pro bono matters. These matters say a lot about the firm. One in particular has been in the press a lot, and rightfully so – the campaign involving Exxon and our client, an investment firm called Engine No. 1. It’s an incredible David and Goliath story. We-advised this small investment firm as it took on Exxon, saying to the Exxon board ‘we think you can do better.’ And this shareholder activism campaign resulted in the appointment of three new directors to the Exxon board, to move this giant oil company into the decarbonizing world. It’s an example of the really innovative legal work that we love to do, and the kind of challenge that we as a firm don’t shy away from. We’re not constrained by the way things have always been. In this matter we achieved a great victory for the little guy in terms of addressing some of the pressing environmental issues we’re all thinking about. And it's gratifying that throughout the firm - from summer associates to partners – we’re working on cutting edge matters like these that have global impact.
We're also working on an incredible pro bono case related to the 1929 Tulsa Race Massacre, where we are seeking justice for the survivors of that massacre and from the continuing harm to that community that followed. This is the kind of case a lot of firms wouldn’t take on, but we’re not afraid to do so. We’ve got a team of associates and partners that are doing great precedent-setting legal work . This really is long overdue in the fight for justice.
David Efron: Last year marked the 100 year anniversary of the Tulsa race massacre and this is an event largely ignored by history books. So we were able to spread a lot of awareness.
On the client side, we’ve added a lot of quality, scale and depth to key areas. We added two very expert M&A partners and brought in a new co-head of litigation, and a very experienced partner in finance and derivatives. We’re all very excited about growth in all these areas of the firm.
In terms of diversity, four out of the six partners we promoted this year are women. We’re focusing on growing internally and not just through the lateral market. We’re also proud that our summer class this year is one of our most diverse ever. So we’re really happy with where things are headed there.
CA: What is the current attitude to office-working at Schulte?
ME: We are excited about being able to have more people spend more time in the office – especially because we all like working and being together so much. It seems conditions are headed in that direction, which is wonderful.
We’re also very focused on flexibility when it comes to our personnel. The past two years have taught us we can thrive by being respectful, collaborative and flexible with each other. We strongly believe that we will soon be spending much more time together both in and out the office, with our clients and getting back to in person events, but we’ve proven we can operate really effectively by being flexible, and that’s something we look forward to incorporating into our regular work going forward.
DE: This flexibility is an outgrowth of our culture. We’re entrepreneurial and creative – to embrace the flexibility needed to be successful over the last two years has been a lot easier for us than other firms that don’t have that entrepreneurial spirit we have. We don’t have rigid bureaucracy baggage.
ME: That's right. We’ve always been less formal than other firms. We’re 50 years old, not 250 years old. We’ve never adopted a formal stuffy approach. We’re always focused on the excitement of the work we do with our clients. So our entrepreneurial approach has served us well – during this period and for what's next.
CA: What are Schulte’s main focuses going forward?
DE: The financial services world is constantly evolving – it’s dynamic. Our clients want us to partner together with them to create and leverage opportunities, not simply react to demands. They value our ability to be proactive and advise them on developments in the market and the issues of the day. We’re seeing that in digital assets and crypto – spaces that are just exploding – it’s uncharted territory and our clients expect us to get on that path with them.
Another area of focus is ESG, which is permeating many aspects of the financial world – not just disclosure, but various aspects of our clients' businesses. It’s changing the dialogue between investors and corporate boards. We’re helping our clients navigate this uncharted landscape.
ME: I’d add that some of the stuff that’s worked really well for us in the last two years is going to be with us even more significantly in the future, particularly with respect to how we operate as a firm in terms of transparency and engagement. It’s a little counterintuitive, but being outside the office has led to much more deliberate transparency. We’ve institutionalized it. We have firmwide town hall meetings on a bi-weekly basis. And those bring both a sense of community at the firm and transparency. Sometimes in Big Law you can feel like a cog in the wheel – at a busy firm, it's good to know you're a part of things. The engagement we want and thrive on is when attorneys at every level, from summers all the way up, are engaged and in tune with the issues we're helping our clients with – when you consider issues like ESG – that’s something law students know as much about as current lawyers – and they probably know more about things like NFTs! So we need our newer lawyers to be a big part of the firm. The transparency and engagement are already hallmarks for us but we see that increasing even more.
Schulte Roth & Zabel LLP
919 Third Avenue,
- Head Office: New York
- Number of domestic offices: 2
- Number of international offices: 1
- Worldwide revenue: $471,363,00465 (2022)
- Partners (US): 89
- Other lawyers (US): 251
- Main recruitment contact: Alissa K Golden (firstname.lastname@example.org)
- Hiring partners: William H. Gussman, Taleah E. Jennings, Kara Kuchar, Kristine Manoukian, Julian Wise and Heather Wyckoff.
- Diversity officer: Rachel Simmonds-Watson
- Recruitment details:
- Entry-level associates starting in 2022: 38
- Clerking policy: Yes
- Summers joining/anticipated 2022: 2Ls: 48; 1Ls: 6
- Summers joining/anticipated 2022 split by office: NY: 54
- Summer salary 2022: 2Ls: $4,134.62/week
- Split summers offered? No
- Can summers spend time in an overseas office? No
Main areas of work
Cardozo, Columbia, Cornell, Duke, Emory, Fordham, George Washington, Georgetown, Harvard, Howard, Michigan, NYLS, NYU, Penn, Rutgers, Texus, Tulane, UVA.
Recruitment outside OCIs: Harvard BLSA Career Fair, Lavender Law, Midwest-California-Georgia-Consortium, National Law School Consortium, NEBLSA Job Fair, NYC Metro Area LGBT Legal Career Fair, resume collections from Syracuse, UCLA/USC New York Walk-Around, interview write-in candidates from many additional law schools.
Summer associate profile: SRZ seeks to hire candidates with outstanding academic and non-academic achievements, strong interpersonal skills and those who share our values in fostering a diverse and inclusive culture. SRZ recruits candidates who are enthusiastic, collaborative, entrepeneurial and eager to develop a deep understanding of our clients and their businesses.
Summer program components: Our summer associate program allows students to receive substantive assignments from practice groups of their choice during two assigning periods. Summer associates have interaction with our clients, attend meetings and depositions and work on complex projects. Training and feedback are emphasized through regular departmental training sessions, a writing seminar, a corporate negotiation workshop, a trial advocacy program, and a pro bono week. These experiences are all designed to allow students to explore various areas of interest, get immersed in the firm culture and gain first-hand knowledge of what they will see as a junior associate. In addition to our top-notch training programs and hands-on work experience, we offer fun and exciting social activities that allow summer associates to spend time with their associate and partner mentors, develop relationships with our attorneys and get to know everyone outside of the office.
Linkedin: Schulte Roth & Zabel LLP
This Firm's Rankings in
USA Guide, 2022
District of Columbia
- Litigation: White-Collar Crime & Government Investigations (Band 5)
- Bankruptcy/Restructuring: The Elite (Band 6)
- Corporate/M&A: Highly Regarded (Band 5)
- Corporate/M&A: Shareholder Activism (Band 1)
- Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation (Band 3)
- Litigation: General Commercial: Highly Regarded (Band 5)
- Real Estate: Mainly Corporate & Finance (Band 4)
- Tax (Band 3)
USA - Nationwide
- Bankruptcy/Restructuring: The Elite (Band 5)
- Capital Markets: Securitization: ABS (Band 3)
- Capital Markets: Securitization: CLOs (Band 2)
- Financial Services Regulation: Broker Dealer (Compliance & Enforcement) (Band 4)
- Hedge Funds (Band 1)
- Investment Funds: Regulatory & Compliance (Band 1)
- Private Equity: Fund Formation (Band 4)
Visit Schulte's careers page for more information.