Invest in your lawyerly future at New York’s Schulte – a firm that dominates the funds space in every way, shape and form.
“It’s everything I could’ve ever wanted,” beamed one junior when asked why Schulte? If everything you ever wanted consists of “friendly associates, a great atmosphere and a strong reputation in the investment management area,” then this New York-headquartered midsizer is the law firm to end your search. With around 300 lawyers spread across New York, DC and London, Schulte handles the big names in pretty much all the funds spaces, from hedge to private equity to regulated. What's more, due to its smaller size, “there’s plenty of work and responsibility to go around” for incoming juniors. For all you techy types out there, you may be interested to know that Schulte does a lot of work in the fintech and cryptocurrency arenas.
If you search Schulte on Chambers.com, you’ll find that it is the premier law firm for hedge funds work in Chambers Global. Alongside this world-dominating standing, you’ll also see that on domestic soil the firm’s regulatory and compliance work for funds is nation-beating, while its securitization and bankruptcy/restructuring expertise is also flagged in the Chambers USA nationwide rankings. In DC, Schulte’s white-collar and government investigations work comes to fore, while in New York, its corporate/M&A, real estate, tax and employee benefits & exec compensation capabilities also pick up nods.
Most juniors join the firm’s New York headquarters, while one or two a year head for the DC base. Investment management was the most popular group on our list for newbies to join, followed by M&A and securities. The remaining juniors were spread across groups such as employment and employee benefits; finance and derivatives; real estate; tax; and litigation. Work assignment follows a hybrid pattern across Schulte’s bases and practice areas. Those in investment management noted having a “75% structured approach and 25% free-market system. At least for the first year, you get assigned a set of clients, and you pretty much stay on with those clients. You can also be asked by partners to attend to new clients.” Litigators found that “at the end of the day, around 60–70% of our work comes through more informal avenues with the partners. We also have a neutral assigning partner who monitors people’s hours and makes sure the work is being spread equally in both New York and DC."
“We work in all areas: hedge funds, private equity style funds and hybrid funds,” an investment management source told us. Fund formation is a big part of the work here, but alongside transactional deals, Schulte’s lawyers also work on the regulatory aspects of fund activity. The practice has increasingly been working on closed-end funds in the cryptocurrency and blockchain tech spaces. Associates usually have around “eight to ten clients” that keep them busy with everything from “creating different entities, drafting agreements for those entities, and then – once the fund is launched – negotiating with the investors.” On hedge fund matters, “we work with their legal counsel in forming different partnership agreements and drafting offering memorandums.” The regulatory side consists of keeping up to speed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and taking a lead on client management activities: “50% of what I do involves coordinating with people in the group and making sure it all goes to plan. It isn’t as substantive as other work, but it’s definitely useful in showing you how businesses are run and helps you grow,” one junior explained. As for the typical day-to-day tasks, these increase “gradually in responsibility. Juniors are expected to handle the checklist and make sure the docs are complete, starting off with the formation documents, which is the standard stuff. We also act as the liaison between the different parties, so we can collect and implement comments.”
Investment management clients:Black Diamond Capital Management, GoldenTree Asset Management, ArrowMark Partners. Advised Bitcoin investment firm Pantera Capital Management on the launch of ten fintech-oriented funds over the past eight years.
There’s plenty of funds-oriented work in Schulte’s litigation practice. The team handles complex commercial litigation, securities disputes and regulatory matters around the likes of white-collar investigations. The latter is more prevalent in DC, whereas the civil and commercial disputes are more the reserve of the New York group. We heard bankruptcy litigation is a growth area, which has required more general litigators to hop on and assist with the volume of cases. “Everyone remains a generalist for at least four to five years, so there’s a lot of fluidity in the types of matters you get to see. No lines are delineated – even partners work on a variety of things," explained a junior. Another went on to highlight the good level of experience they’d been able to get: “Several of the matters are staffed leanly and there’s a lot of responsibility put on juniors as far as managing the cases goes. I’ve participated in the final deliveries to the SEC and clients, but have also done lots of legal research and drafting.”
Litigation clients:Hudson Bay Capital, KPMG, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China. Recently defended Veritas Capital and its portfolio company, Cambium Learning, against claims from a rival bidder that it had used improper means to acquire a target company.
Whether they had plans to stay on the generalist route or carve out a niche, our interviewees felt Schulte had them covered with a bunch of training programs and mentorshipsupport. To begin with, newbies are enrolled onto a training bootcamp that includes several lectures on the different areas covered within the firm’s departments. “We also have weekly Monday ‘lunch and learns’ and meetings with partners, who then tell us about the stuff they’re working on and any issues they’re encountered,” said one funds junior in New York.
Many of our sources spoke of “the curse of the special counsel role. Basically, there are quite a few senior associates who were promoted to special counsel, and some have stayed in that position for almost ten years. The firm hires a lot of lateral partners.” The firm tells us that at Schulte, special counsel can be a career role in itself, or it can be a stepping stone to partnership. We also heard from associates that “an effort is being made to promote home-grown partners.”
Interviewees did feel supported if they decided to move on: “Even within our first year, we were told that if we want to move in-house or need help getting a government job, then the firm would be happy to help.”We heard that litigators have gone to government agencies and departments like the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Department of Justice and the US Attorneys Office.
“You get 200 ‘target A’ hours to put toward your billable target, and that can include anything tied to marketing and recruitment, but pro bono is the main way they get used,” a junior explained. However, we also heard of associates doing a lot more – in some cases beyond 400 hours. Going this high isn't the typical experience though, and to do so, associates need to get sign off from the executive committee with the support of a partner. The firm has a special counsel who devotes their time to handing out pro bono opportunities across the offices. Their efforts have clearly paid off: “This past year we’ve done so much more in this area. A lot of our recent efforts have been related to racial justice and we’ve been able to interview some clients on their experience of police brutality in the US.” In 2020, the firm also joined the historic Tulsa Race Massacre lawsuit alongside attorney Damario Solomon-Simmons, which demands justice and reparations for the destruction caused in the Greenwood district in 1921 by a large white mob. “It’s a big endeavor to take this on as a BigLaw firm,” commented one source. “It’s super interesting as it is in multistate stages of litigation and there’s a lot of interesting legal theory involved. The entire firm has the ability to get involved in some capacity, whether that’s calling upon transactional lawyers or having business staff to help track down descendants.”
Pro bono hours
- For all US attorneys: 16,134
- Average per US attorney: 58
Hours & Compensation
Billable hours: 2,000 target
“The firm has been pretty generous during the pandemic and decided to lower the target to 1,800,” a source confirmed. Bonus thresholds had also been lowered, so if associates reached 1,600 hours, “you still get half the bonus.” Hitting 2,000 hours got attorneys the standard bonus, and there were additional rewards in place for those who hit 2,300 and 2,500 hours. Associates were equally pleased with their base compensation and agreed that Schulte is “certainly at the top end of the market.”
“...certainly at the top end of the market.”
Our sources in the Big Apple usually got set up by 9am, but in DC “it’s usually a 10am start, as no one gets in before 9:30am at the earliest.” Late nights are common at Schulte and although “it’s something that is appreciated, it can be seen as a general expectation too.”Juniors in investment managementmentioned that “there are fewer fire drills in the team, so you can plan out your weekend a little better, which is pretty nice. At the same time, I would say there’s probably some work to do for around half of my weekends.”
Sources also reported that there’s plenty of time to devote to Schulte’s social activities, which include frequent happy hours; virtual escape rooms; puzzle gatherings; and Friday ‘toast to the weekend’ get together that’s informally organized by a partner. One junior jokingly recalled having “spilt cocktails” over their computer “during a virtual mixology event.” Spills and computer corrosion damage aside, our sources tended to agree that Schulte’s culture is “the definite shining gem of the firm. It’s the thing that keeps people here. People genuinely like each other and it isn’t a stuffy environment.” Another added: “The smaller teams mean there’s better communication compared to larger firms. There’s less of a feeling of ‘invisibility’ that one may feel at bigger firms.”
“People genuinely like each other and it isn’t a stuffy environment.”
Litigators could certainly speak to this as they have a tradition of “grabbing a salad and meeting in the big conference room for lunch, so everyone has a chance to catch up with each other. We’d also pass along the duty of setting out a cart full of snacks and drinks for the happy hours!”
Diversity & Inclusion
“We have a good representation of women in the associate and senior associate ranks, but the representation of ethnically diverse candidates is lacking,” a source summarized. We heard “the firm is making a conscious effort to work on this.”On one front, “they’re trying to combat and educate people on implicit bias and these concepts that people may not understand.” On another, Schulte recently created a taskforce across the firm to focus on racial justice initiatives following the killing of George Floyd. One initiative of the taskforce is the introduction of 'target C' hours, allocating associates 50 hours "that we can specifically devote to D&I, equity training, volunteer work or specifically racially focused pro bono work,” explained one junior.
“The firm is expanding its recruitment to schools outside the traditional top T14.”
The taskforce provides recommendations to the firm's D&I committee, and is also working on broadening its outreach to include all staff, associates and special counsel to “help push major initiatives through mentoring programs." We also heard the firm is expanding its recruitment reach "to law schools outside the traditional top T14. Howard has become a great source of our recruitment focus,”one interviewee informed us.
An informal approach is preferred among Schulte juniors when it comes to their mental health and wellbeing: “It’s a casual discussion. We know we all work a lot and we accept it, but we frequently inform others if we’re taking a mental health day off and there’s no taboo in doing so.”
Strategy & Future
Associates are given "the numbers" at town hall meetings every other week. “The managing partners recently made it clear that they don’t intend to expand our business beyond our current clientele, unlike some peer firms.”However, litigators did report a certain “growth mentality,” especially in DC: “There’s been a focus on making our group more predominant in the firm by bringing in new hires, and we’ve been exploring new areas" – the firm recently hired a bankruptcy specialist, for example. Investment management has also seen “further growth in the M&A and finance area.” Additional lateral hires have been made; a former Jones Day partner recently joined the M&A and securities group in New York, for example.
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: How would you describe the firm’s market position in three sentences or less?
David Efron: The firm has been very successful because we know who we are and what we do best. We focus on the financial services sector, and within that, we focus on the financial services sector including investment management, finance, M&A, litigation and other financial services related practice groups. We have a team oriented approach as we work together across different groups to service our common clients. That goes to one of our core values which is collaboration.
Marc Elovitz: I would just add that our focus strategically is carried over in our size and our locations. So, we are based in New York, and we have smaller more targeted offices in London and in Washington, DC. Although there are three different offices, we work seamlessly together, but in the offices, those are not satellite offices or people doing things that are very different than the rest of us. We all work very closely together.
CA: The firm clearly has a very targeted approach in New York, with DC focusing heavily in litigation and of course London with their tax expertise. Are there any plans of either nationwide or international expansion in the future?
ME: We are always thinking strategically and looking at it strategically. As David said, we want to be the best at what we do and in the past where that has made sense in terms of expansion, we have done so. We moved to London not just because we felt like having a place to stop by, but because it made sense in terms of our client base and the work that we were doing. Similarly, with DC in terms of the regulatory practice. So, I would predict that we will continue to look strategically again, not opening other offices for the sake of opening other offices, but doing so where it is consistent with being the best at serving our clients and doing the specialized work that we do.
DE: It's about opportunistically adding practice groups when it's truly synergistic to our focus on the financial services sector. We're not going to add "Bolt Ons" that have nothing to do with that strategic focus.
CA: Are there any developments which have taken place at the firm in the last 12 months which you think our readers should be aware about?
ME: I think there are two different aspects of this. One is the management change, which is that you know David and I became co-managing partners a year ago and so that has been a generational shift. We also took it as a real opportunity to evaluate our strategy and we became really determined to focus on being the best version of our firm for our clients. Consistent with that is the growth we have. We made seven partners this year internally from our associate and special counsel ranks and we are going to continue to grow internally but also strategically with lateral hires. We brought in a co-head of our litigation group, Gayle Klein, and we’re very excited about having a first chair, woman litigator co-heading our litigation department. We also just brought in an M&A partner, Jeff Symons from Jones Day; we brought in a bankruptcy partner and a funds partner, so we have made strategic lateral acquisitions of partners, again, fitting in with our areas of strength where we want to continue to grow.
CA: Which sectors/practice areas have been most affected by the pandemic?
DE: Well, most affected in a positive way, our investment management practice has done quite well. When the pandemic started, many of our investment management clients saw opportunities . With the volatility and dislocation in the markets, and many set up vehicles to capitalize on these opportunities, which has continued throughout the entire crisis. The area that had been somewhat soft would be commercial real estate, but we are now seeing increased activity in that area.
CA: What cultural changes have come about as a result of the pandemic?
DE: Schulte has always had a really strong sense of community. If there's a silver lining on the pandemic, it’s been that the sense of community has really been brought out and it’s been truly amazing how everyone has supported each other and joined together under difficult and challenging circumstances. Since the beginning of the pandemic, we have instituted town hall meetings with all of the staff and the attorneys, on a bi-weekly basis, and that has really helped foster the sense of community and has been very well received.
CA: What cultural changes have come about as a result of the social unrest in the country since last year and what steps has the firm taken to address those issues?
ME: We have been very active in addressing the issues affecting our country. We’re a part of the cities we live in, the countries we live in and the society we live in. We established a racial justice taskforce this last spring following the George Floyd killing and a lot of the protests that came after that. That task force has been very active and we have really bolstered our Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Committee at the firm. We are working on a number of fronts to increase our efforts internally and externally. We most recently have taken on a really significant pro bono case seeking justice for people affected by the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre and that is a huge undertaking for the firm, but consistent with our values and our commitment to racial justice and our commitment to pro bono work as lawyers and to associate training and development.
CA: Does the firm have any set targets with regards to diversity?
ME: We don't have numerical targets. We absolutely have a target of doing much better in terms of diversity in our demographics. We, like other big law firms, are not where we know that we need to be and so we are doubling down on our efforts in this area, to think creatively, work creatively, to address what has been a really systemic problem in big law. These are critically important issues and we're committed to improving. We have realized that as part of the recruiting effort there needs to be much more outreach. You can't sit back and just hope that the right people will come to you because they may not have the information or the ability to get there, so you have to go out and find talented people at a variety of schools in a variety of different campus groups and organizations and particularly underrepresented groups. We're launching two new affinity groups and those new affinity groups are seeking to expand the groups that we reach out to; it includes an affinity group for first generation professionals, and an affinity group for people with military or veteran backgrounds.
CA: What advice would you give to students who are interested in applying to Schulte?
DE: The advice that I give to law students is to take the classes that you want to take, to find your interest and passion. Don’t worry about the Bar exam, you’ll have a course to take for that, but find the thing that you enjoy the most, because when I think about the attorneys that truly excel, it’s the ones that really like what they’re doing. Finding that practice area that you enjoy and that you're passionate about will go a long way in terms of achieving success.
ME: What I would say is consistent with that which is, be true to yourself and remember that you don’t have to follow the herd. If you want to go to a firm which you feel like will sync with you and the opportunities you want and the values that you have, then go for it. Don’t listen to what others say about what the safe thing to do is. We're a very entrepreneurial place and we like to find law students who are really well suited to our environment and that's what we're looking for and it works out really well when you find people who share those values and have that entrepreneurial spirit and go with their gut.
Schulte Roth & Zabel LLP
919 Third Avenue,
- Head Office: New York
- Number of domestic offices: 2
- Number of international offices: 1
- Worldwide revenue: $465,176,800 (2019)
- Partners (US): 79
- Other lawyers (US): 250
- Main recruitment contact: Alissa K Golden (firstname.lastname@example.org)
- Hiring partners: William H Gussman, Jr, Taleah E Jennings
- Diversity officer: Rachel Simmonds-Watson
- Recruitment details:
- Entry-level associates starting in 2021: 47
- Clerking policy: Yes
- Summers joining/anticipated 2021: 2Ls: 40; 1Ls: 4
- Summers joining/anticipated 2021 split by office: NY: 44
- Summer salary 2021: 2Ls: $3,654/week
- Split summers offered? No
- Can summers spend time in an overseas office? No
Main areas of work
Brooklyn, Cardozo, Columbia, Cornell, Duke, Emory, Fordham, George Washington, Georgetown, Harvard, Howard, Michigan, NYLS, NYU, Penn, Rutgers, Tulane, UVA, Washington and Lee, Wash U., William & Mary.
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, 2021
District of Columbia
- Litigation: White-Collar Crime & Government Investigations (Band 4)
- Bankruptcy/Restructuring: The Elite (Band 6)
- Corporate/M&A: Highly Regarded (Band 4)
- Corporate/M&A: Shareholder Activism (Band 1)
- Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation (Band 4)
- 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)
- Hedge Funds (Band 1)
- Investment Funds: Regulatory & Compliance (Band 1)
- Private Equity: Fund Formation (Band 4)
Visit Schulte's careers page for more information.