Seyfarth Shaw LLP - The Inside View

Not to labor on the point, but Chicago-born Seyfarth knows a thing or two about employment law, balancing a global network with a “sense of community.”

If you love a main character with an interesting backstory, let us introduce you to Seyfarth. Once a labor & employment specialist in Chicago, the firm now has expanded far beyond the Midwest, with 13 offices around the country, four in the Asia-Pacific region and one across the pond in London. The firm made its start in 1945 after working with the National War Labor Board during World War II and has largely stuck to these roots 80 years on. Nowadays, it boasts a full-service offering but is still known as a powerhouse in anything to do with employment law. Our colleagues over at Chambers USA can certainly attest to this, awarding the firm top-tier rankings in employment in Georgia, Illinois, Massachusetts and nationwide. However, Seyfarth's reach spreads beyond this, and is also top-rated in construction, immigration and retail across states.  

“Partners at Bar events pull their junior associates out of conversations to introduce them to people.” 

Perhaps unsurprisingly, many associates were drawn to Seyfarth’s star-studded labor & employment practice, and were more than happy to explain how they were struck by its “pretty impressive clients” and the chance to get “great hands-on experience and exposure right away.” Juniors also cited the firm’s friendliness when discussing their reasons for joining, noting how they’d seen “partners at Bar events pull their junior associates out of conversations to introduce them to people.” In fact, these types of partners were described as “a game-changer” for one junior, as those they’d met at interviews “exemplified that kind of calm demeanor you’d want to see in a hectic and stressful environment.” 

The Work 

More than half of the associates on our list worked in Seyfarth’s labor & employment group, with the rest spread across litigation, real estate, corporate and employee benefits. Juniors were spread across nine of the firm’s US offices, with the New York, DC, Chicago, and LA offices each taking on a handful of second- and third-years. 

Seyfarth hires directly into practice groups, so summer associates work with the department they apply to and “kind of get to dive right in and build your experience from there.” Once settled at the firm, work is generally allocated through a free market system, which we heard works better for some associates than others. Associates praised the system as it means “you can really build relationships with partners that you like working with,” but did acknowledge that “when things are slow, you’re chasing people.” There are safeguards in place, though, including support from the firm’s “strong development department which tries to make sure that they reach out to prop up associates when they’re struggling.” 

“Juniors could be asked to do anything from writing briefs to taking depositions and arguing motions.” 

Juniors working in labor & employment told us that their work includes mostly single-plaintiff litigation, with matters relating to discrimination, harassment and equal pay violation under state, federal and local laws. So there’s certainly range, and the same can be said for the associate tasks on offer. According to one interviewee, their day-to-day includes “negotiating, advising on contracts and responding to unfair labor practice charges.” We also heard that “juniorscould be asked to do anything from writing briefs to taking depositions and arguing motions.” While typical early responsibilities include document review, discovery, witness lists and “getting the ground ready to start preparing for litigation should that come,” sources were clear that this was by no means the limit. In fact, as one associate explained: “If you’re somebody who really wants the opportunity to take ownership over cases as a junior, Seyfarth is a great option. If you genuinely do get it, you’re the person on the case.” 

Sources in the group felt respected and supported by their seniors as “the partners aren’t scared to put associates up for depositions if appropriate.” One insider also shared how “most matters will be just me and a partner, working together on whatever needs to be done.” Clients in labor & employment range from big names to smaller businesses, a balance which appealed to one junior in particular: “the big clients are great and popular, but oftentimes the small clients need more help. It’s sometimes more rewarding to help a small business owner get through tough points of employee or labor relations.” It’s worth noting here that associates often get to work with attorneys across the firm, and an LA associate was pleased to tell us: “Every single day I’m talking to attorneys in New York, Boston, Texas, Charlotte and across California. It’s cool that I can build relationships with attorneys in other states.” 

Labor & employment clients: Nike, Delta Air Lines, Verizon. Assisted Lowe’s Home Centers in successfully dismissing a class action lawsuit which alleged that the company had improperly paid thousands of its workers. 

Junior litigators told us that there’s a good amount of variety in their work, with one associate explaining how their work ranges from “very large multimillion-dollar projects with lots of parties involved and where I’m handling smaller stuff” to smaller matters with “the chance to take charge and run with it.” One source shared that the department’s clients “tend to be companies who operate in the government sphere, or commercial businesses interested in capitalizing on the sheer amount of funding that the US has in relation to its governments.” Juniors told us that typical tasks include discovery, document review and drafting various requests and responses. Even alongside these tasks, rookie litigators still felt that they were “getting to do a lot of the heavy lifting and research,” with the opportunity to be “really hands-on with clients.” 

Litigation clients: Prudential Financial, AAC Holdings, Assurance. Represented First Student in a breach of contract lawsuit against the San Francisco Unified School District, and in a subsequent $100 million False Claims Act cross-claim from the defendant. 

“I don’t feel like I’m at the bottom rung of the ladder, even though it can be easy to feel that way so early on in your career.” 

Career Development 

Associates appreciated how partners at the firm “care about us becoming better attorneys and invest a lot of time in doing so.” Though it was too early to be thinking about partnership for many of our junior interviewees, we heard that “if you want to be a partner at Seyfarth, there’s a lot of transparency around what people have done to get there.” Another junior felt they had great role models at the firm, noting how “I can Frankenstein them together into what looks best for me.” Although some associates felt that career development may not be consistent across the firm – as “sometimes it feels like everyone is so busy that they don’t have time to sit with you and go through comments on a brief, or something like that” – one source appreciated how they were “taken really seriously at such a junior stage. I don’t feel like I’m at the bottom rung of the ladder, even though it can be easy to feel that way so early on in your career.” 

“I know the names of my colleagues’ family members, and they know mine.” 


Associates described Seyfarth as a firm with a “good, collaborative culture,” with another telling us about how “someone from the Chicago office will often send a blast out about an event or pro bono opportunity. It creates a sense of community even though we are so large.” Insiders suggested that social events are typically “few and far between, with a cocktail hour or a meet-and-greet every now and then,” but there are weekly luncheons hosted by the firm. That said, juniors can still get to know their colleagues, with one interviewee explaining how “people care about your families. I know the names of my colleagues’ family members, and they know mine.”  

Juniors also told us that the firm is the kind of place where “people seem to respect things like honeymoons and vacations, but that doesn’t mean you won’t sometimes get a Friday night email about something due on Monday.” This meant that associates were reassured by having such “accommodating and supportive” colleagues who “are very human and sensitive to associates. When we’re ramping up to closings, people are constantly checking in to make sure I’m not too overwhelmed and to see if they need to bring others in on the matter.”  

Hours & Compensation 

Billable hours: 1,950 hours 

Many felt that the 1,950-hour target was achievable, with interviewees taking advantage of various sources of work to hit it more comfortably. For instance, associates can find additional work with colleagues across offices, and can also bill time for things like pro bono, client meetings and forums. Interviewees acknowledged that, while the firm’s free market system means it can take time to build up to a consistent workload, it’s still possible for many to hit the target as first-years. However, one sore point for our interviewees was the compensation, with insiders agreeing that it’s “not at market – there are people at other firms doing the same work, working the same amount of hours and getting much more than we are.” Others also spoke about the firm’s box system for calculating hour targets and pay, highlighting how “it means it’s not truly lockstep as your pay increases are tied to your billable hours, not to your class year.”  That being said, pro bono hours, quality of work and business development are all considered when deciding whether associates move up a box. Despite this, a junior recognized that it is still “livable, and I am comfortable,” while others appreciated how the work-life balance is “nicer than some of my friends at other large firms.” 

When it comes to day-to-day hours, some noted that “it’s not always predictable” – a common experience across BigLaw – but the project-deadline structure of labor & employment provided some respite for those in the group. As one associate reflected, “as long as I get my assignments in when I’m supposed to, there’s a lot of flexibility. I don’t feel heat about being glued to my emails.” That being said, we heard that some weekend work may be inevitable when matters get busy, but this is not necessarily the norm: “We don’t expect people to work weekends unless there’s a true need,” a source assured, while another shared, “I’m usually off my computer by 7pm, which is really nice.” 

Pro Bono 

We heard that pro bono is viewed positively at Seyfarth, with the “sense that it’s both practical and just really important. It feels like it’s part of the ethics of the firm.” One junior even went so far as to position pro bono as “one of the highlights of my experience at Seyfarth.” Associates told us about a variety of pro bono matters they’d taken part in, including working with transgender individuals on name changes, support for first amendment groups, and a range of adoption and asylum cases thanks to the firm’s “ton of relationships with charitable organizations.” 

Juniors told us that doing pro bono at the start of their career was a nice introduction to more substantive responsibility and “a great way to get experience that you wouldn’t necessarily get on a billed matter.” While associates can count unlimited pro bono hours towards their billable hours requirement, only 60 of them count towards the target needed to unlock a bonus. Some felt that this system was “not the greatestyou can hit your annual goal without getting your bonus as your pro bono hours put you over the top.” Despite this, we heard that the capped bonus-eligible pro bono comes with “no expectation that you stop doing it. It’s meant to be a supplement to the billable work that you’re doing.” 

Pro bono hours 

  • For all (US) attorneys: 18,957 
  • Average per (US) attorney: 20.8  

“There’s something different about having someone in a mentor or leadership position who looks like you, sees your interests and empowers you.”

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion 

Associates appreciated feeling represented at the firm, with one sharing how “there’s something different about having someone in a mentor or leadership position who looks like you, sees your interests and empowers you.” Another interviewee praised the firm for its diversity efforts at the associate level in particular, noting how “whether race or gender, it’s represented.” One source also rated the firm’s DEI resources on offer, enjoying the fact that “the firm understands and values my experience as a human being here.” We heard that there’s a decent spread of affinity groups which are “well-supported” and may often host events and lunches. More generally, interviewees were keen to highlight “a huge awareness of and push for DEI” at the firm, with the aim of having more “openness and conversation” around the topic. Case in point: the firm has recently hired a new chief DEI officer to lead the charge. 

Strategy & Future 

Seyfarth elected its first female chair and managing partner, Lorie Almon, at the end of 2022, and associates felt that “it’s an exciting time!” A junior also explained how the firm is “working with associates and partners on goals to reflect our status as a top-tier law firm. It’s taken on some initiatives to incorporate changes to our recruiting, client outreach and other projects that will hopefully improve our status and keep the firm moving forward.”

Get Hired  

 The first stage: recruitment on and off campus  

OCI applicants interviewed: 281  

Seyfarth participates in OCIs at a number of schools in the regions where the firm hosts summer associate programs, like Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, LA and New York. The firm also attends job fairs, including diversity-focused fairs.  

Partners, counsel and associates all conduct OCI interviews, which cover interviewees' past experiences, school experiences, why they're interested in Seyfarth and its practice groups, plus some behavioral questions.  

Top tips for this stage:  

"Take advantage of opportunities to practice interviewing, whether through mock interviews, with your family and peers, career services or in front of a mirror. You should come prepared with some examples but also prepare yourself on how you will respond to questions. You should be your authentic self - you want to be able to tell your story. It's also important to be proactive by attending outreach events and/or utilizing your alumni network helps to create various touchpoints leading into the recruiting season to further showcase your interest. The connections you make are also helpful to keep as you progress in your career. Finally, be gracious - how you handle rejection is important because you never know what opportunities may open up down the line." - national senior director of talent development Kelly Wing  


There is just one callback round: this includes four to five interviews with four to eight lawyers in the practice group the candidate is applying for - usually partners, counsel and associates.  

The interview questions are similar to those at OCIs, but are tailored to whatever feedback was provided by the OCI interviewer. Callbacks are more detailed since OCI interviews are usually only about 20 minutes long. The firm feels that callbacks allow for more conversations and more opportunities for questions from both the interviewers and the candidates, and also provides an opportunity to determine cultural fit within the office, firm and practice group.  

Top tips for this stage:  

"Send an email to your interviewers when you receive your schedule letting them know you’re looking forward to meeting them. Hone in on why you’re interested in a particular practice group. Keep in mind that thank you messages go a long way, especially if you incorporate specifics from your interview." - national senior director of talent development Kelly Wing  

 Summer program  

Offers:  35  

Acceptances: 17  

 Summer Associates are typically assigned to a specific practice group, ie, Labor & Employment, Employee Benefits, Real Estate, Litigation, Corporate and primarily work with attorneys in that group. Each practice group has a work assignment coordinator who assists in providing work assignments and unique opportunities throughout the summer. Additionally, Summer Associates are assigned a partner and associate mentor who provide individualized feedback and coaching. During Fall recruiting, Seyfarth interviews for specific practice areas and summers are placed in a specific practice area on day one of their summer which carries over when they become first-year associates.  

During the summer program, summer associates are given the opportunity to develop robust, hands-on skills that build upon and complement their formal law school education through:  

• A specialized training curriculum, including substantive seminars on important legal topics  

• Training in ethics, client service, marketing, legal writing, communications, and finance taught by leading practitioners from throughout the firm  

• Practical learning opportunities, including attending depositions, court appearances and client meetings  

• Cutting-edge legal work on active cases and client projects  

Top tips for this stage:  

"Take good notes when receiving an assignment; ask questions; communicate, communicate, communicate! Keep lawyers updated on the status of your work and let them know well ahead of time if you need an extension. It's also important to be respectful of everyone and to get to know assistants and paralegals. Participate in activities and events and, finally, be on time - or early!"- national senior director of talent development Kelly Wing  

 Lateral hiring  

Roughly 65% of associates are lateral hires. The firm hires from a variety of areas, but tends to favor AmLaw 200 firms, and focuses on more experienced associates This is because Seyfarth likes to hire junior associates who have participated in the Summer Program. Looking to the next 12 months, Kelly Wing said the firm will be hiring into all practice areas including Corporate, Real Estate, Labor & Employment, Litigation and Employee Benefits.  

And Finally...  

"Do your homework about the firm - know how to answer 'Why Seyfarth?'”- national senior director of talent development Kelly Wing  


Seyfarth Shaw LLP

Main areas of work
Seyfarth offers a full portfolio of practices in advisory, litigation, and transactional legal services to companies around the world.

Firm profile
Seyfarth is home to high-performing, dedicated attorneys and allied professionals who embody the firm’s core values of excellence, inclusion, teamwork, client service, innovation, and commitment in everything. Working together, we have created a forward-thinking talent story, allowing those who exceed expectations to advance on their own terms. For attorneys, we do this by offering a unique set of tools, resources, and pathways to serve as a platform for your success. If you want to be a part of a team that has the freedom to grow at a firm that is invested in your future, we want to hear from you. 

Law Schools attending for OCIs in 2024:
Boston College, Boston University, Cardozo School of Law, Chicago-Kent College of Law, Columbia University, DePaul University, Emory, Fordham University, George Washington University, Georgetown University, Georgia State, Howard University, Loyola University - Chicago, Loyola Law School (LA), New York University, Northeastern University, Northwestern University, St. John’s University, UC-Berkeley, UC-Davis, UC-Irvine, UC-Hastings, UCLA, USC, University of Georgia, University of North Carolina, University of Virginia, University of Seattle, and University of Washington

Recruitment outside OCIs: We attend several diversity job fairs, including Lavender Law, Boston Lawyers Group (BLG) and the Bay Area Diversity Fair, as well as regional fairs. We also consider write-in applicants.

Summer associate profile: Demonstrated academic achievement is important, but we highly value diverse backgrounds and experiences and students with strong analytical and communication skills. 

Summer program components: Our program is one where summers are assigned practice groups before joining, so they know the scope of the work they will be given. This approach allows for customized training and assignments based on the area of practice in which the summer has chosen, so the training begins well before the first year of full-time work. We offer a specialized training curriculum, including substantive seminars on important legal topics; training in ethics, client service, marketing, legal writing, communications, and finance taught by leading practitioners from throughout the firm. Summers are also afforded practical learning opportunities, including attending depositions, court appearances, and client meetings. And our summers do real work, for real clients, collaborating with Seyfarth attorneys on cutting-edge legal work on active cases and client projects.

Social Media

This Firm's Rankings in
USA Guide, 2023

Ranked Departments

    • Construction (Band 4)
    • Immigration (Band 3)
    • Labor & Employment: The Elite (Band 3)
    • Real Estate (Band 4)
    • Construction (Band 1)
    • Immigration (Band 3)
    • Labor & Employment (Band 2)
    • Immigration (Band 1)
    • Labor & Employment (Band 1)
    • Real Estate (Band 3)
    • Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation (Band 2)
    • Environment (Band 3)
    • Labor & Employment: The Elite (Band 1)
    • Real Estate (Band 3)
    • Antitrust (Band 2)
    • Immigration (Band 1)
    • Labor & Employment (Band 1)
    • Real Estate (Band 3)
    • Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation (Band 3)
    • Labor & Employment: The Elite (Band 3)
    • Litigation: Securities (Band 5)
    • Real Estate: Mainly Dirt (Band 5)
    • Healthcare (Band 4)
    • Labor & Employment (Band 2)
    • Construction (Band 3)
    • E-Discovery & Information Governance (Band 4)
    • Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation (Band 4)
    • ERISA Litigation (Band 4)
    • Government Contracts: The Elite (Band 4)
    • Immigration (Band 2)
    • Labor & Employment (Band 1)
    • Real Estate (Band 5)
    • Retail (Band 1)
    • Transportation: Road (Automotive) (Band 3)
    • Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation (Band 2)
    • Real Estate (Band 3)

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