New York giant Simpson Thacher delivers elite corporate work worldwide without the ego.
In the world of Big Apple BigLaw, Simpson Thacher stands out for its mega clients and hefty transactional weight. STB has been awarded ‘elite’ status by Chambers USA for its corporate/M&A work, and this reputation was certainly attractive to associates. “In terms of high-level corporate work, Simpson would be at the top,” one interviewee explained. “We have continued to advise on some of the market’s largest transactions and disputes,” Executive Committee Chair Alden Millard tells us, reflecting on the past year. “For instance, in the highly publicized Twitter-Elon Musk transaction, we represented Twitter’s board on both corporate and litigation matters. We were also counsel on Change Healthcare’s widely reported nearly $14 billion merger with UnitedHealth Group.”
That merger was beset by the DOJ’s decision to try and block the transaction in court. “We were able to ultimately achieve a successful result because our corporate and litigation teams worked so closely together from the outset of the deal. Our antitrust team secured a groundbreaking result in obtaining a decision that rejected the DOJ’s challenge,” Millard reflects.The outcome shows that STB is no one-trick pony and can handle a variety of complex litigious matters, too. Strengths on this side of the coin include securities litigation, insurance cases, and corporate crime and investigations – all of which come with top-tier nationwide approval in Chambers USA. “The world today is a thicket of regulatory scrutiny,” Millard observes. “To be able to provide sophisticated advice to a range of multinational clients is key.”
Strategy & Future
“We’re living in interesting times!” says Millard. “There are a number of macroeconomic and geopolitical factors that are impacting companies around the globe.” However, Millard anticipates that the markets will begin to stabilize in 2023: “While we may continue to see a bumpy deal market, companies are still looking to grow, and we expect that M&A and finance transactions that support that growth will continue." He adds that “our strategy has always been geared towards the longer term. We are relentlessly focused on the needs of our clients and ensuring we have the right mix of capabilities to serve them.”
The majority of STB’s associates were based in the New York HQ, with the rest spread across the Palo Alto, DC, Houston and Los Angeles offices. Most of the associates on our list were in the corporate group, followed by litigation and real estate. Other areas with a handful of juniors included tax and executive compensation & employee benefits. Work at STB is assigned centrally, with a staffing manager or coordinator in each practice who keeps an eye on attorneys’ hours to evenly distribute tasks. “During weekly calls, the coordinator asks if you’re available to take something on, and for the most part they try to respect that,” one associate explained in more detail. “There’s a lot of diversity in the type of work we do because we get to work with a lot of different partners.” Smaller, specialist groups can be the exception here, as corporate support matters lead to repeat assignments for juniors: “Sometimes there’ll be a repeat deal, or you’ll have worked on a similar deal, so a partner reaches out to you. I’m in control of my workload.” However, all groups do use the central staffing system at the firm.
“...that exposure to different practice areas has helped me become a better lawyer.”
Corporate juniors start their careers with two nine-month rotations and can choose from areas such as M&A, capital markets, banking and credits, real estate, or funds. “You get a wide range of matters even as a junior,” we were told, “and that exposure to different practice areas has helped me become a better lawyer.” Sources also said that they were able to play a substantive role in the complex transactions STB takes on. “Even as a junior you’re the go-to person in terms of project management," associates told us. More specifically, juniors are “the first line of defense when it comes to diligence,” so there’s a lot of updating agreements, handling documents, and taking the first pass at writing memos. Sources mentioned that matters tend to be quite leanly staffed, but “you’re able to take on as much as you feel comfortable with.”
Corporate clients: Dell Technologies, Microsoft, Sony Music Entertainment. Represented Twitter’s Board of Directors during Elon Musk’s proposed $44 billion acquisition of the social media platform.
The litigation department isn’t as big as its corporate counterpart, but there’s still a great variety of matters: “We’ve got securities litigation, a fair number of antitrust cases, some IP work that goes around, as well as insurance, government investigations, employment, and your general commercial work.” There’s a large white-collar practice in New York and DC, the latter of which focuses on litigation, investigations, antitrust, and national security regulatory work. “The practice is super flexible!” an associate enthused. When it comes to responsibility, it depends on the size of the case and “how quickly associates build up factual and legal expertise to help out on a matter.” One interviewee told us: “I was on a large $1 billion case, and my role was more contained. I was doing doc review, memos, prepping and attending depositions, writing summaries, and discovery. But on smaller cases I do far more legal research and drafting.” On these matters sources were also trusted torun calls with clients and/or opposing counsel. “The firm is really good about letting you build up experience,” a source concluded. “I’m not at the point where I’m taking depositions yet, and responsibility does come slowly, but I feel like I’m being brought along at the right pace.”
Litigation clients: Bumble, Pfizer, SeaWorld. Represented JPMorgan in an SEC investigation and $125 million settlement.
Simpson’s real estate department is highly regarded in Chambers USA for the corporate and finance work it undertakes in this area. Nods go to the department’s portfolio, asset refinancing, M&A and equity investment work in the sector. This interviewee went on to explain that “we deal with private equity funds in the real estate sphere and we work on some of the highest-level transactions there are, including the biggest housing deal ever! The work takes place across industries, including life sciences and data storage facilities.” This source added that “we’re pretty leanly staffed, so I’m reviewing ancillary documents and loan agreements, emailing parties and counsel, and reviewing and drafting simpler documents.” A highlight for one interviewee was that “even in this slower market there’s still a lot of work going around – in terms of representing borrowers in the real estate world, there’s no better firm for it.”
Real estate clients: Hilton Worldwide Holdings, Centerbridge, The Carlyle Group. Represented Blackstone during its $12.8 billion acquisition of American Campus Communities.
With unlimited pro bono hours, associates at STB can get stuck into as much as they want. Attorneys are encouraged to complete at least 20 hours each year, and weekly emails from the firm’s pro bono coordinators flag opportunities and help them to reach this target. Not that many people struggle to achieve this, as we heard that completing pro bono is encouraged from the top: “Partners devote a lot of time to pro bono. In New York there are partners who have billed many hundreds of hours each year.”
“You’re not just expected to do it, but also to enjoy it and improve as a litigator.”
There are a bunch of causes on STB’s radar, including environment, civil and human rights, and broader community work. Sources highlighted recent asylum work and other matters concerning refugees from Afghanistan and Ukraine. Weekly or one-off clinics – for small businesses or clients on unemployment benefits, for example – seemed to be popular among juniors, and they’re reportedly easy to slot into a busy schedule. “Pro bono is valued as a responsibility to the community, but it’s also a great way to train young attorneys and have you work on different types of cases,” one associate explained. “You cross-examine witnesses, write briefs, and draft pre-trial motions. You’re not just expected to do it, but also to enjoy it and improve as a litigator.”
Pro bono hours
- For all US attorneys: 37,714
- Average per US attorney: 37.5
As soon as associates start at the firm, they’re whisked away to New York for a week-long orientation called STB Ready. It’s essentially a crash course that helps juniors prepare for life at Simpson, including top tips on understanding a client’s business and the whole cycle of a matter. Mid-levels are bumped up to STB Advanced, which covers things like “how to manage your project and more junior associates.” There are more regular training sessions within specific practices, such as weekly lunch and learns where “partners or senior associates give presentations on interesting matters they’ve done.”
“Every single senior person I’ve worked with has become a resource to me ever since.”
All juniors are assigned a formal associate and partner mentor, and the firm encourages regular meetings to check up on progress (at least on a quarterly basis). However, one associate pointed out how “it’s very easy to get informal mentorship at the firm. Everyone is incredibly enthusiastic about it, and every single senior person I’ve worked with has become a resource to me ever since.” Interviewees were quick to tell us that there are plenty of resources and people to learn from. This opens doors for associates considering future moves within or outside of the firm: “I’ve seen some go into academia and others into government. In Palo Alto and LA a lot of people go in-house at tech firms. Litigators can leave for clerkships, and on the corporate side a lot of associates go to our clients.” For those with their sights set on the partnership, “the firm has more formal talks with you about it when you’re a fourth year – being responsive, doing good work, and business development are important.” What’s more, “the firm has recently started a non-equity track, so you can be up for non-equity partner by the eighth year, which is earlier than it was before.”
Given the firm’s scope, many of our interviewees were impressed by STB’s personable culture. “Nothing and no one’s too uptight,” a relieved source told us. “We know what we’re up to on the weekends and on vacation!” Interviewees felt a strong sense of camaraderie with their associate peers at the firm, and even across practice groups. This level of support was matched at the higher levels: “Partners are part of the team. They’re super down-to-earth, and I look up to them as role models.” Associates acknowledged a hierarchy, but only in the sense that partners lead the work. Sources felt their “input was genuinely valued – there'snot a lot of ego in terms of product and senior people will ask if we would rephrase something based on our understanding of it.” Another interviewee happily told us: “I have no qualms about bothering partners, saying hi, or stopping by their office to talk about the game last night!” According to our interviewees, humble and friendly partners get more out of their associates: “If there’s nothing to do, the partner I work with tells us that we can go home as there’s no need to put in face time. But when there’s a lot of wood to chop, he’s up at midnight with us working hard.”
“It feels like we’re all part of STB worldwide.”
Associates agreed that the firm has a similar culture across offices, which is perhaps shaped by “the fact that we’re representing the same types of clients with similar expectations and work.”“Maybe the only difference is that sometimes I’ll be on calls where everyone in New York is wearing a suit and I’m wearing a T-shirt,” one West Coast associate mused, “but when I go to the New York office, everybody’s super friendly, and it feels like we’re all part of STB worldwide.” When it comes to the social side of things, the firm’s HQ in New York inevitably hosts the largest events, but firm-wide there’s been a post-COVID effort to get people together, whether that’s via practice group coffee hours, holiday parties, or smaller office lunches.
Hours & Compensation
Billable hours: no requirement
For many, the firm’s collaborative culture has a lot to do with the lack of any billable requirements or targets. Associates explained that there’s no need to protect work, which means “no one’s hoarding know-how – people are generous with their knowledge, experience, and insight.” Corporate sources told us that they’d been able to navigate the market slowdown in deal activity with less stress, as there’s no pressure to find work to hit a requisite number of billables. As long as you’re in good standing, we heard, “everyone in the same class year gets the same salary and bonus. It’s a transparent topic among associates.”
“When I’ve said I can’t get this done, somebody somewhere has been able to help – it's a firm of over 1,000 attorneys!”
Even with a macroeconomic slowdown, “everyone’s always busy,” an associate told us. Indeed, the consensus among interviewees was that the work is hard, and the hours do get long, but “the firm doesn’t want you to burn out. When they like you, they want you to stick around!” Centralized staffing takes some of the burden off associates: “I don’t have to get stressed about not having work. If I’m not too busy for a week straight, I don’t need to request work because I know they have access to my hours. They’ll contact you when they need you.” The “trade-off for representing clients at the cutting edge of their industries is that you will end up working late nights, and I’m okay with that,” a junior made clear. “There have been instances where I’ve been working really hard and have too many hours, but I’ve always felt comfortable reaching out,” another source told us. “When I’ve said I can’t get this done, somebody somewhere has been able to help – it's a firm of over 1,000 attorneys! It goes to show that this firm has a lot of resources.”
Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
“It’s not just lip service,” one associate commented when discussing the firm’s approach to diversity, adding: “They’re conscious of mentoring diverse junior associates.” Diverse associates can opt in to be assigned a DE&I partner mentor, and “you can talk to them more specifically about your development.” More broadly, the firm has a designated diversity officer who organizes regular themed events where outside speakers come in to discuss DE&I topics. These events were praised for “making sure areas for improvement are discussed, so we’re well aware.” Another interviewee highlighted a recent diversity conference that provided networking opportunities for diverse attorneys from across STB’s US offices, practice groups and class years. The conference is held once every other year and covers areas such as leadership and skill-building sessions.
“I was impressed with how the firm had a response ready to go.”
Sources felt that diversity was best represented among the associate ranks and were keen to see more at the higher levels. However, interviewees had lots to say about their positive experiences with inclusivity at the firm: “When the Dobbs decision was made, I was impressed with how the firm had a response ready to go. Half an hour later we all got an email saying our healthcare plans would be updated to cover travel for healthcare services, including abortions. I felt that was a wonderful way of supporting associates.”
The first stage: recruitment on and off campus
OCI applicants interviewed: undisclosed
Interviewees outside OCI: undisclosed
Simpson interviews at the top 25 schools, as well as regional schools local to its five US offices. Additionally, the firm attends job fairs and holds resume drops at several schools. Rising 2L students may also apply to the firm directly through the firm’s website at: https://www.stblaw.com/your-career/summer-program/how-to-apply.
Most OCIs are conducted by partners who are often alumni of the schools. "We ask students to tell us about projects they worked on the previous summer or their experiences analyzing questions of law while clerking with a judge or in law school,” a hiring partner at the firm tells us. Other questions will focus on experience working in teams and involvement in extracurricular activities. “We are determining how they may approach their job, if they are effective communicators, are enthusiastic, and if they would fit into our collegial environment.” In addition, our source explains that it's a good idea to "be honest about what and where you want to practice but also if you aren’t yet sure of either. We understand that many students, especially those who went straight from undergrad to law school, haven’t been exposed to enough real-world work to know in what area they want to practice."
2L Diversity Fellowship
Diverse students are encouraged to apply directly through the firm’s website for the Conrad Harper 2L Diversity Fellowship. Named in honor of the Simpson Thacher retired partner and distinguished civil rights leader, the Conrad Harper Diversity Fellowship seeks to promote the advancement and retention of lawyers from groups historically under-represented in the legal profession. The Fellowship offers $50,000, paid in periodic financial stipends, to help defray the cost of tuition, loans and other law school-related expenses.
Top tips for this stage:
“Through the course of OCIs you will most likely be asked about every single thing on your resume, so be prepared to discuss each one in depth.” – hiring partner.
Applicants invited to second-stage interview: undisclosed
Simpson Thacher offers both in-person and virtual interviews. During a full round of interviews, candidates typically meet with five attorneys, including two partners, two mid to senior-level associates and one junior associate. Each interview will be approximately 20 minutes. Virtual callbacks are conducted via the Flo Recruit platform. A combination of in-person and virtual interviews will be offered in summer 2023.
“Our attorneys all have their own style of interviewing and we don’t have scripted questions,” the hiring partner revealed. Typically though, interviewers will follow on from questions asked in the OCI, “and also discuss the importance of understanding the client business. Candidates who show they understand this have a distinct advantage.”
“Researching the firm is even more critical at this stage,” our source says. “Understand what our practice areas are and be ready to ask questions related to them.” Candidates should also be ready with questions about their interviewers. “Partners are always impressed when candidates ask about specific deals or cases on which they worked.” A corporate junior echoed this: “You don’t need to memorize what deals I’ve worked on, but being aware of what interviewers do shows us you’re thinking about how you fit into the firm.” However, the hiring partner says: “Don’t panic if there is a last-minute change to your schedule. The replacement attorney with whom you are meeting knows you haven’t had a chance to research them.” The most important thing, no matter who’s interviewing you, is to show enthusiasm.
Top tips for this stage:
“I value the questions people ask me more than the questions I ask them.” – a junior associate.
“We expect questions about what people do within each group and what a day in the life might be like in a specific group.” – hiring partner.
Each summer associate has assigning associates who will find assignments matching their interests and help navigate workloads and timelines. “Over [the] summer you can try everything in every group, including all the small groups,” a junior associate divulged. Summers are also invited to attend firm-wide and departmental trainings in addition to summer-specific trainings. “The vast majority of summers return as junior associates, which includes a portion who join after judicial clerkships or fellowship opportunities,” the hiring partner says. “Summer associates will almost always know the practice area they want to join by the end of the summer.”
Top tips for this stage:
“Many times a good impression can come from simply asking questions and offering to pitch in with the smallest of tasks.” – a junior associate.
“We encourage summer associates to work in as many practice areas as possible so they can make an educated decision on what group they would most like to join.” – hiring partner.
Interview with Executive Committee Chair Alden Millard
Chambers Associate: How would you define your firm’s current position and identity in the legal market?
Alden Millard: We are strongly positioned to address our clients’ needs across the globe. Simpson Thacher is known for offering sophisticated, commercial advice to our clients in a collegial, collaborative culture that we treasure. We have continued to advise on some of the market’s largest transactions and disputes. For instance, in the highly publicized Twitter-Elon Musk transaction, we represented Twitter’s board on both corporate and litigation matters. We were also counsel on Change Healthcare’s widely reported nearly $14 billion merger with UnitedHealth Group, which involved a DOJ challenge to the deal and a two-week trial. We were able to ultimately achieve a successful result because our corporate and litigation teams worked so closely together from the outset of the deal. Our antitrust team secured a groundbreaking result in obtaining a decision that rejected the DOJ’s challenge.
I think what makes achieving those kind of results for clients possible is not only having best-in-class talent, but also maintaining our collective mindset and culture. We're very proud of the collaborative approach that we take—to me it makes Simpson Thacher a wonderful place to practice law. We naturally collaborate well across offices and practice areas, which provides our clients with teams that have a distinct advantage. Our collegial, collaborative culture is also a business imperative for us. Our clients come to us with complex matters that necessitate creative thinking and a team-based approach. If you’re delivering comprehensive solutions to clients’ tough issues, it’s imperative that you like, respect and trust each other. It lets us communicate better and gives us a broader, deeper understanding of how our clients operate. We can identify opportunities for clients and help protect against, solve and mitigate risks. While the practice of law here is intellectually invigorating, it’s not an academic pursuit—we do this to help our clients achieve their goals. The world today is a thicket of regulatory scrutiny. To be able to provide sophisticated advice to a range of multinational clients is key. Maintaining a culture where colleagues enjoy working together, where they communicate well and partner in creating solutions for clients and are able to provide superior client service is what gives Simpson Thacher a competitive edge.
CA: What are your core practice areas and sector priorities?
AM: Simpson has a global platform. We have exceptional lawyers and expertise across our transactional, litigation and regulatory practices. Our core practice areas and priorities are governed primarily by one thing: the needs of clients. Our core sectors are private equity and asset management, energy and infrastructure, financial services, healthcare and technology. Those have historically been, and will continue to be, important sectors of focus. We’ve been investing in ESG, a rapidly evolving topic on corporate agendas around the world. We have set up a multidisciplinary practice that approaches clients’ needs on a holistic basis across ESG, whether that’s governance, reporting and disclosure, or crisis and risk management, for example.
We continue to be proud of the achievements of our finance and transactional teams. We advised on four of the largest M&A deals worldwide last year, working with Twitter, Broadcom, Microsoft and Blackstone. Our investment funds practice is, quite frankly, second to none in the industry. We've advised on five of the ten largest funds raised since the crisis in ‘08 and ‘09. Having the opportunity to serve clients at the fundraising stage – the outset of the private equity lifecycle – is crucial to our understanding of clients’ thinking and goals.
Our Litigation Department continues to achieve incredible results for clients across nearly every type of complex litigation—from the thorniest antitrust questions to the most complex securities cases. We’re well known for our team’s innovative thinking and trial-ready litigators, who were recently named the “Finance Litigation Department of the Year” by The New York Law Journal.
CA: Have there been any developments at the firm over the past year that you would like our readers to know about?
AM: We’ve continued to make strategic investments across our geographies and practice groups. We are approaching the two-year anniversary of the opening of our Brussels office. Brexit has added an additional layer of complexity to the high-profile and multifaceted competition and trade regulation work we do in Europe and the United Kingdom. Antonio Bavasso is leading the Firm’s team on that work across the region. The London office has grown substantially in recent years, with a 20% increase in headcount since 2021. We elevated 36 partners globally this past year, which is our largest class ever. While the vast majority of our partners have spent their careers at Simpson Thacher, we’re opportunistic and strategic about making lateral hires to enhance our capabilities to serve clients. In London, we have added strength across our private equity, regulatory and real estate teams. In the U.S., we have also added considerable strength in recent years to our Litigation bench, which now includes several former SEC officials and federal prosecutors. We have expanded our energy and infrastructure platform in Houston and New York and our litigation and capital markets teams in California, and we have added tax specialists in Washington, D.C. and London. We are excited to continue to integrate these highly talented lawyers across our platform.
CA: Are there any domestic or international events/trends (legal, economic, political, social) affecting the work conducted by the firm or the way in which it is structured and run?
AM: While we have never engaged in a “growth for growth’s sake” strategy, we are laser focused on ensuring we have the right capabilities to meet our clients’ needs as they evolve with the global economic landscape. That has generally meant the strategic addition of select lateral hires to build strength in an area of increasing importance to clients, including ESG, asset management regulatory concerns, fund transactions, and other areas. On the international front, we did open a Brussels office specifically to address the increased demand for EU advice on regulatory and competition work.
CA: What is your firm's strategy and how do you expect the next year to unfold?
AM: We’re living in interesting times! There are a number of macroeconomic and geopolitical factors that are impacting companies around the globe. Companies continue to take proactive steps to strengthen balance sheets through liability management transactions and capital raising. The Firm, and in particular our private credit, hybrid capital and special situations teams, is ideally suited to helping companies do that. It’s tailor-made for the environment we find ourselves in now, where clients need us to execute bespoke strategic transactions.
Understandably, the broad economic uncertainty of the last several months alongside rising interest rates has had an effect on the volume of transactional work. While deals have slowed from their historic highs of 2021, we are still seeing healthy levels of activity. My sense is that debt markets will start to stabilize in the near term, which will lead to certainty on cost of capital that companies around the world have been struggling with. At the same time, on the equity side, sellers and buyers will continue mutual price discovery, and will arrive at agreed evaluations as markets settle a bit more. While we may continue to see a bumpy deal market, companies are still looking to grow, and we expect that M&A and finance transactions that support that growth will continue.
Our strategy has always been geared towards the longer term. We are relentlessly focused on the needs of our clients and ensuring we have the right mix of capabilities to serve them. In times of uncertainty, there is a natural flight to quality that has frankly been to our benefit. Clients return to us because we are committed to their success. We continue to have a deep and extraordinarily talented bench, and we will continue to support them with state-of-the-art technology, training and development opportunities.
CA: How is the firm evolving to accommodate the needs/expectations of the next generation of lawyers?
AM: The world has obviously changed in the last few years – that’s an understatement! One of the important things we’ve realized is that it’s important to provide the next generation with flexibility, while at the same time ensuring that we’re fostering community and collaboration and promoting opportunities for training and development. We are very committed to the hybrid work model, which, for us, means three to four days each week in the office.
A key part of our collaborative culture is ensuring we have a framework and process that allows us to give actionable feedback and manageable skill development to associates. To meet the demand for stronger management leadership skills in a new environment, we’ve partnered with external consultants to restructure and reimagine our review (especially our upward review) process. This means we can give associates training on how to think about feedback while also giving them the opportunity to provide verbal or written feedback. Our goal is to create a situation where we get rich, nuanced insights across the board, enabling us to reinforce good management and supervisory practices. We are deeply committed to our associates’ training and development. We've got a couple of hallmark programs – one is called STB Ready, and another is called STB Advanced. Those provide multi-day workshops and offer first-, third-, and fifth-year associates the chance to connect and build skills.
Knowing that many younger lawyers fresh out of law school don't have a tremendous amount of exposure to financial terms or lingo, we offer a mini-MBA program which gets them up to speed on some of the concepts they need to work effectively with corporate clients. Our largest group is our private fund formation group, which has engaged in a design thinking project to implement new project management techniques and ways of working together across teams. The goal is to ensure that our lawyers have the framework and tools they need to better adapt to different working styles across teams.
CA: How has the role of the lawyer changed over the last two decades and what new skills are required for the next generation of lawyers to succeed?
AM: Technology has had a massive impact on the way we work. I think more is expected and demanded of younger lawyers today than 20 years ago. Technology allows younger associates to get up to speed much faster on substantive issues than they could in the past. That’s an absolute imperative for us – our clients have high expectations, and we thrive on our ability to deliver on those expectations. When it comes to more senior lawyers, the counsel we give to clients has expanded well beyond answers about particular pieces of the law. Our lawyers are entrusted by clients to have a 360° view of everything that applies to them and to provide holistic solutions. I know how important it is for our clients to have partners here who fundamentally understand their business, strategies and where they’re going. With our approach and culture, I think we’re ideally suited to doing that, and it’s deeply woven into the fabric here.
CA: What is the greatest challenge facing the firm in the next decade? How about the legal market more generally?
AM: There will always be the need to recruit and retain top-level talent, for us and across the industry as a whole. The legal industry is highly competitive, and there is no reason to think that will abate. We’ll continue to put emphasis on our clients’ needs, improving efficiencies and teamwork, and our collaborative and collegial culture. We will meet the challenges of coming years by ensuring that we have people here who respect, trust, and learn from each other constantly. That enables us to deliver the best possible product to clients.
CA: How has the rise in legal technology affected the firm? Are you implementing any specific programs/initiatives with regards to technology?
AM: I think that knowledge management is incredibly important to our workforce. We are focused on providing our lawyers and staff with the tools that will help them to be efficient and to learn more, faster. We don’t want our people grinding through stacks of documents searching for the one little nugget they need. We want them to think creatively to find solutions for our clients. We've invested a lot in knowledge management, and we have a large team that helps all our lawyers have information at their fingertips, which can be sorted effectively and creatively.
CA: What is the firm’s approach to bolstering diversity, equity, and inclusion? Are there any initiatives that are new or that have been working particularly well that you would like to flag?
AM: We’ve taken steps to both reinforce and reimagine our DEI efforts. We’ve launched a number of diversity programs that pair partners and diverse associates to give young lawyers greater exposure at the firm and ultimately lead to better retention and advancement of diverse associates. We’re very proud that our summer class this year is majority female and majority diverse.
We are actively investing in the pipeline of future lawyers from diverse backgrounds. We have a 1L Diversity Program designed to recruit high-potential, diverse first-year law students to Simpson Thacher. We invite them to join us in our summer program, which is typically for 2Ls, and give these 1Ls the same work and exposure. It’s a great way to provide young diverse lawyers with mentors.
We've recently launched our Conrad Harper Diversity Fellowship. Conrad was the first Black partner at Simpson Thacher, and we’ve successfully launched a fellowship in his name devoted to increasing the pipeline of diverse associates, promoting advancement and retention. The Fellowship includes a $50,000 stipend to help with the cost of tuition, loans and other law school expenses. We have invested in expanding our development and retention programs as well. We hold a diversity leadership conference (DLC) every other year, where we invite all diverse associates from across the US to come to New York. We had over 150 come this past April, and it was a great opportunity for them to learn from speakers and coaches, and to engage with each other. It was a gratifying experience for me, too, as I was able to spend meaningful time meeting and getting to know diverse associates from across our platform.
CA: What advice do you have for students and junior associates who are just about to embark/have just embarked on their legal career?
AM: First of all, I'd say congratulations, you’ve made a good choice! This is a wonderful, challenging, dynamic and fulfilling profession. I would encourage people to not be afraid, and to be curious and ask a lot of questions – think first and ask targeted ones! The more you understand about your client, the case, the deal, or the project you’re working on, the more valuable you’ll be and the more you will enjoy what you’re doing.
Equally important –lean into the relationships you have. Law is a people business, and it’s not enough to just be smart. Our clients have very smart, very driven young people in their own businesses. I encourage junior associates to meet and become friends with their counterparts. Don't just focus on the deal or the case; help your clients celebrate their successes, genuinely invest in those relationships, and you will find that they often become your life-long friends. This is a small community, and people know each other, so be good to your counterparts at other firms. Be tough but respectful in negotiations. Help people across the table when they need it, as that’ll be to your benefit over time. The way you approach this is a state of mind. Think beyond your specific assignment – think about what the client wants to get out of what you’re doing. If you do that, you’ll continue to add value.
My last recommendation is to get involved in pro bono efforts early on in your career. Simpson Thacher has a deep and abiding commitment to pro bono—we consider it to be a cornerstone of the Firm’s identity and culture. We have a fantastic, dedicated pro bono team that helps to coordinate an amazing array of opportunities for lawyers across the Firm and our clients to get involved. These types of projects not only enable you to have a positive impact on the world around you, but they also provide a great way to develop your technical skills as well as your ability to engage with clients and opposing counsel.
Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP
425 Lexington Avenue,
Main areas of work
Simpson Thacher also has leading innovative practices in the areas of antitrust, IP, tax, bankruptcy, real estate, executive compensation and employee benefits, exempt organizations and personal planning. Further, pro bono work is critical to the firm’s identity and its record in this area is unparalleled.
Berkeley, Boston University School of Law, Brooklyn, Cardozo, Chicago, Columbia, Cornell, UC Davis, Duke, Emory, Fordham, George Washington, Georgetown, Harvard, Howard, Michigan, NYU, Northwestern, Notre Dame, University of Pennsylvania, St. John’s, Seton Hall, Stanford, Texas, Toronto, Tulane, UCLA, USC, Vanderbilt, Virginia, Washington University, Yale.
Recruitment outside OCIs:
1L Summer Diversity Program, resume collects at various schools, Regional job fairs including, but not limited to: Bay Area Diversity, Northeast BLSA, Lavender Law, Midwest- California-Georgia Consortium, NYC Interview Program, On Tour, Patent Law Interview Program, Penn West Coast.
Summer associate profile:
The firm looks for candidates with distinguished records of achievement, demonstrated leadership potential, a commitment to excellence and the ability to work cooperatively with clients and colleagues.
Summer program components:
The Simpson Thacher Summer Program is both challenging and rewarding. Throughout the program, summer associates work alongside partners and associates on complex client projects. They have the opportunity to work on assignments from all practice areas to gain first-hand experience. The staffing team communicates regularly with summer associates to determine assignment preferences and to ensure that summer associates get exposure to meaningful work. Each summer associate is paired with partner and associate mentors charged with providing feedback and career guidance. Summer associates participate in frequent formal training programs and a variety of extracurricular events that help to foster strong connections at the firm. At the end of a summer with Simpson Thacher, an associate will have gained a thorough understanding of the firm’s work and broader culture.
In 2021, we launched our Conrad Harper 2L Diversity Fellowship. Named in honor of the firm’s first African-American Partner, the Fellowship seeks to 1) increase Simpson Thacher’s pipeline of diverse summer associates, and 2) promote the advancement and retention of Simpson associates from groups historically underrepresented in the legal profession. The Fellowship offers $50,000, paid in periodic financial stipends, to help defray the cost of tuition, loans and other law school-related expenses.
This Firm's Rankings in
USA Guide, 2023
- Capital Markets: Debt & Equity (Band 1)
- Private Equity: Buyouts (Band 2)
California: San Francisco, Silicon Valley & Surro
- Corporate/M&A: The Elite (Band 4)
District of Columbia
- Antitrust (Band 5)
- Corporate/M&A & Private Equity (Band 4)
- Antitrust (Band 4)
- Banking & Finance (Band 1)
- Bankruptcy/Restructuring: The Elite (Band 4)
- Corporate/M&A: The Elite (Band 1)
- Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation (Band 1)
- Environment: Mainly Transactional (Band 2)
- Insurance: Dispute Resolution: Insurer (Band 1)
- Litigation: General Commercial: The Elite (Band 3)
- Litigation: Securities (Band 1)
- Litigation: White-Collar Crime & Government Investigations: The Elite (Band 2)
- Private Equity: Buyouts (Band 1)
- Real Estate: Mainly Corporate & Finance (Band 1)
- Tax (Band 1)
- Technology (Band 4)
- Banking & Finance (Band 2)
- Capital Markets: Debt & Equity (Band 3)
- Corporate/M&A: The Elite (Band 4)
- Private Equity: Buyouts (Band 2)
USA - Nationwide
- Antitrust (Band 4)
- Antitrust: Cartel (Band 2)
- Banking & Finance (Band 1)
- Bankruptcy/Restructuring: Highly Regarded (Band 2)
- Capital Markets: Convertible Debt (Band 2)
- Capital Markets: Equity: Issuer Counsel (Band 1)
- Capital Markets: Equity: Manager Counsel (Band 2)
- Capital Markets: High-Yield Debt (Band 2)
- Capital Markets: Investment Grade Debt: Issuer Counsel (Band 2)
- Capital Markets: Investment Grade Debt: Manager Counsel (Band 1)
- Corporate Crime & Investigations: The Elite (Band 2)
- Corporate/M&A: The Elite (Band 1)
- Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation (Band 2)
- Energy: Electricity (Transactional) (Band 2)
- Environment: Mainly Transactional (Band 2)
- FCPA (Band 3)
- Financial Services Regulation: Financial Institutions M&A (Band 2)
- Insurance: Dispute Resolution: Insurer (Band 1)
- International Trade: CFIUS Experts (Band 2)
- Investment Funds: Regulatory & Compliance (Band 3)
- Private Equity: Buyouts: High-end Capability (Band 1)
- Private Equity: Fund Formation (Band 1)
- Real Estate (Band 1)
- Registered Funds (Band 3)
- REITs (Band 4)
- Securities: Litigation (Band 1)
- Securities: Regulation: Enforcement (Band 3)
- Tax: Corporate & Finance (Band 1)