For a “more intimate BigLaw experience,” hit up the New Yorker that knows a wise investment when it sees one.
“I LIKED that relative to other big New York firms, Schulte felt smaller and more communal,” a cozily nestled junior began. With around 300 lawyers in just three offices (New York, DC and London), SR&Z veers toward the midsized end of the Big Apple legal scene. That doesn’t stop Schulte being “one of those names you hear a lot in law school,” and the firm’s considerable reputation – especially for all things investment funds – precedes it. Not only does Chambers USA award it a top-tier nationwide ranking for hedge funds expertise, but even Chambers Global recognizes Schulte’s prowess in the area, awarding it with top-tier worldwide kudos.
Back at home the firm also ranks nationwide in capital markets and regulatory funds and earns attention in New York for its corporate/M&A, employee benefits, real estate and tax work. In these practices and others, juniors were able to “delve into complex legal issues, but within a smaller firm environment in terms of the staffing, the collaboration and the work/life balance.” Interviewees were resoundingly impressed with “the people at the firm. Everyone seemed to be having a good time and the partners treated everyone from associates, to paralegals, to the mail room folks with respect, which left a good impression!”
The vast majority of juniors join the firm’s New York headquarters; one or two a year head for the DC base. Investment management was the most popular group for newbies to join, followed by M&A and securities. Smaller numbers were spread across groups like employment and employee benefits, finance, structured finance and derivatives, real estate, tax and litigation. Most stick to a formal work assignment system, which varies slightly depending on the practice. The investment management group, for example, has “two assigning partners who delegate the work that comes in, especially in your first and second year.” Rather than taking on individual matters, junior associates in investment management at Schulte are “typically assigned to a client, and you work with that client throughout the life of their fund or any other issues that might arise.”
“This is a place where the tasks you handle are not necessarily indicative of your class year.”
Schulte’s investment management practice deals with fund formations as well as “the ongoing operating needs of hedge funds, private equity funds and everything in between.” This often involved “negotiating with investors who want to come into the fund” or “dealing with whatever regulatory and compliance questions come up throughout the year.” Juniors felt they’d been able to get a “full view of the financial industry,” having been able to experience “a mix of both general partnership and limited partnership work.” As for their day-to-day tasks, “taking the first crack at side letter requests that come in” and “reviewing investors’ changes to documents” were common to start with. Our interviewees swiftly moved on to more “substantive” drafting, including for private placement memorandums, limited partnership agreements and investment management agreements. Sources admitted that “you start learning exponentially faster, and there’s a certain stress level that comes with that.” Those we spoke to agreed “Schulte is a place where the tasks you handle are not necessarily indicative of your class year – it’s about how much you’re able to handle.”
Investment management clients: The Blackstone Group, Centerbridge, Cerberus. Represented Pantera Capital Management in the structuring and formation of multiple funds investing in cryptocurrencies and digital assets.
Litigation attorneys covered a range of complex commercial litigation, securities disputes and regulatory matters like white-collar investigations. Although most disputes juniors were based in New York (which has a sizable litigation department), sources noted that DC is “more focused on litigious and regulatory work” proportionally. Across the firm, juniors were getting stuck into “a lot of research and writing.” One source in particular highlighted: “Within two months at the firm I was able to write a brief.” Another source noted that “there’s not so much document review to do after the first year. We move to a supervisory role, overseeing contract attorneys reviewing documents.” Even in litigation there's no escaping private equity and hedge funds, which make up a hefty chunk of the client roster.
Litigation clients: Veritas Capital, National Bank of Canada, KPMG. Represented hedge fund manager Jeffrey Smith and his firm Starboard Value in a securities class action.
Newbies at Schulte enroll in a training bootcamp, involving “a series of lectures from different specialists.” These continue through associates’ first few years but become “less frequent once you're past the first year.” Attorneys also get associate and partner mentors with whom they can “have an open dialog.” Those we spoke to enjoyed informal biweekly lunches where groups get together “for lunch, and someone will speak on a topic for around 30 minutes.” Some reckoned “the firm does a good job of developing junior associates into mid-levels, but the path to partnership is kind of opaque.” Interviewees were nonetheless confident that if they decided to move on, they will have been well prepared by the firm. “The name Schulte does hold some weight, especially if you’re looking at going in-house.”
“The firm does a good job of developing junior associates into mid-levels.”
Participation levels varied across the firm, but most interviewees agreed “pro bono opportunities are always available if you want them.” The firm has a full-time coordinator (a special counsel) to dish out pro bono matters, and sources appreciated the variety on offer: “Some of my colleagues are more litigation-focused, so they do more litigious pro bono. For someone like myself who is more transactional, the coordinator tries to find different opportunities so you’re still able to participate.” Our transactional-side interviewees had negotiated and drafted rental agreements for nonprofits while their litigator colleagues worked on custody cases. Another source described “helping people in the process of gender reassignment or changing their name.” Schulte also works with organizations including Sanctuaries for Families and the Innocence Project.
Pro bono hours
- For all (US) attorneys: 13,067
- Average per (US) attorney: 39
Hours & Compensation
Billing hours: 2,000 target
Interviewees felt confident in reaching this goal, which earns associates their bonus; it helps that 200 hours can include work on pro bono, business development, and recruiting. One source recalled they “took two lengthy vacations and were still able to achieve it.” There are extra bonuses for associates who hit 2,300 and 2,500 hours respectively, but sources admitted “that’s more of a rare occurrence – it’s more to provide that extra boost to those who do do it.”
“Some months I never have to work on the weekend.”
Our associate sample was inconsistent on when they got into the office (8:30am for some, 10:30 for others), but most averaged a “ten to 12-hour day on most occasions. There’s a certain expectation that you’re here during normal business hours from 9:30am to 6:30pm, but after that the firm is pretty flexible in terms of facetime. If I have to log on from home I will.” Juniors admitted that being an associate at Schulte “is a tough job that requires you put in hours” but felt they “mostly” had time for a private life outside work. One admitted: “Some months there’s work every weekend. But some months I never have to work on the weekend.”
When the workday is over, Schulte ensures there are opportunities for attorneys to let their hair down. These include group-specific events; sources highlighted that “the women’s group is really good about putting together breakfasts or tastings at female-owned restaurants. We even recently had a games night where we learned to play poker.” Like at many firms, the peak of the social calendar is summer associate season: “The program is very decadent. There's a welcome party for summers, then happy hours for first and second-years to get to know each other.” Juniors also appreciated regular opportunities to socialize with clients at various events and “build those relationships.”
“Even within my class we’re all very different, but we all get along very well.”
“I’ve met some of my best life friends through Schulte,” juniors reflected. They may share interests and enjoying sharing their time, but the firm’s attorneys aren’t identikit. One explained: “I don’t think there’s a specific personality that Schulte attracts. Even within my class, we’re all very different but we all get along very well.” A “laid-back and welcoming” attitude pervades the firm; one source noted that “contact with senior associates and partners is commonplace. I feel comfortable going into their office to ask questions.”
Diversity & Inclusion
Insiders also felt comfortable saying: “Schulte’s done a good job recruiting junior associates of diverse backgrounds. That just hasn’t translated to the partnership yet, the numbers tilt toward men as you go up through the ranks.” Despite these issues, common to the law, female juniors in investment management revealed that “one of the most important partners in the practice is female. Although there are more male partners, we do have mentors to look up to.” Interviewees felt Schulte “is making an effort to change” and highlighted various initiatives including mandatory implicit bias training for all attorneys; multiple affinity groups; and the recent hiring of a director of diversity & inclusion.
Strategy & Future
At the time of research, the firm’s management was preparing to hand over the reins to a new generation. “We’re going through a six-month transition period,” executive committee chair Alan Waldenberg explains. “We’re all really excited about handing the keys over to Marc Elovitz and David Efron who will be co-managing partners and will drive the strategic direction of the firm and its culture going forward.” While acknowledging that the new appointees “have great ideas on improving culture and the workplace environment,” Waldenberg doesn’t expect much to change in Schulte’s business philosophy: “We don’t want to be all things to all people but we do want to do all things for our core clientele.”
“We want to do all things for our core clientele.”
The first stage: recruitment on and off campus
Schulte conducts OCIs at more than 15 schools and two 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 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
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 2020: 50
- Clerking policy: Yes
- Summers joining/anticipated 2020: 2Ls: 48
- Summers joining/anticipated 2020 split by office: NY: 48
- Summer salary 2020: 2Ls: $3,654/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, 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, 2020
District of Columbia
- Litigation: White-Collar Crime & Government Investigations (Band 4)
- Bankruptcy/Restructuring (Band 5)
- Corporate/M&A: Highly Regarded (Band 4)
- Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation (Band 4)
- Real Estate: Mainly Corporate & Finance (Band 4)
- Tax (Band 3)
USA - Nationwide
- Bankruptcy/Restructuring (Band 5)
- Capital Markets: Securitisation (Band 3)
- Investment Funds: Hedge Funds (Band 1)
- Investment Funds: Regulatory & Compliance (Band 1)
Visit Schulte's careers page for more information.