Squire Patton Boggs - The Inside View

The product of a union between top players in DC and Cleveland, SPB has made its presence felt across the US and overseas.

“BEING an international firm is at the forefront of Squires’ identity,” according to the firm’s juniors. Since the union of Squire Sanders and Patton Boggs in 2014, the freshly minted SPB has strived to assert its position as a major global player. 2020 has been no different: the firm kicked off the new decade by opening the doors of its 30th overseas office in the economic (and fashion) capital of Italy, Milan. Zeroing in on the US, Squire Patton Boggs has 18 offices spread from coast to coast; the firm is “particularly well-known and highly regarded in Ohio,” juniors in Cleveland proudly declared.

Chambers USA awards the firm its highest number of rankings in Ohio, where it achieves top-tier recognition for banking & finance, M&A, insurance, natural resources and environment practices. The firm also garners rankings spanning the Florida, Arizona, Georgia, New York, DC and California markets. Don’t let Squire’s size intimidate you – one of our sources recalled “interning at another BigLaw firm and after that I wasn’t sure BigLaw was the thing for me. Then I came to SPB and I saw a different side of the legal profession. It was the people here that really set me on this path.” Others reiterated similar themes: “The partner who interviewed me for OCIs was really great – we made a really good connection and I felt comfortable.”

“One of the big focuses now is on integrating all our global offices into one platform.”

Strategy & Future



Further expansion is on the cards, though juniors noted that “one of the big focuses now is on integrating all our global offices into one platform.” Those we spoke to were looking to take advantage of “the opportunities provided by the network of offices” as well as the international nature of the work itself. That said, SPB’s recent strategy has focused both on its international and domestic offering: prior to Milan, the firm opened an office closer to home in Atlanta. Sources remained convinced “the firm is looking to grow.” One mused: “We’re at a place where we’re comfortable after merging Squires and Patton Boggs a few years ago – we’re now in a position where we can breathe and flex a bit.” What form this flexing will take remains to be seen – keep your eyes peeled!

The Work



Around a third of Squire’s junior associate intake settles into the Cleveland HQ, while another third heads for the DC base. Half of the rest were in Columbus; others split between Denver, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Palo Alto and San Francisco. Litigation was the most popular practice destination, but juniors were spread across a wide range including corporate, financial services, employment and real estate. Although most groups have an informal approach to work assignments, some associates mentioned “filling out an email to report your workload, which signals whether you’re available to take on work.” In most cases juniors simply picked up work from “partners emailing with something for us to do.” Some felt they might benefit from a more formal structure: “I’m happy now, but in the beginning it was hard to see what exactly I should be doing,” a third year said. Others speculated “it might just be a ‘grass-is-greener' situation” with no better alternative.

“I didn’t expect to be drafting briefs from start to finish right off the bat!”

Litigators start life at SPB as generalists, able to handle a mix of commercial disputes, product liability, insurance, bankruptcy, real estate, construction and healthcare cases. Our interviewees worked mostly on “large complex commercial disputes,” often for “major corporate clients.” The DC office leans more on international arbitration (which operates as a separate group), as well as “government and trade-related matters.” Squire’s Phoenix office is well-known for contentious employment work, while New York shines for insurance litigation. Day-to-day, our sources across the firm saw “a lot of discovery and then responding to discovery,” but also took chances to put together first drafts of briefs: “I didn’t expect to be drafting briefs from start to finish right off the bat! Obviously, they’re still heavily edited at this point, but I’m happy.” Although our interviewees hadn’t picked up much advocacy experience yet, they were pleased to attend depositions with more senior attorneys.

Litigation clients: City of Cincinnati, Thirty-One Gifts, WellCare. Represented American Family Insurance Co, securing the reversal of a ruling on an employment-related class action claim in which plaintiffs had sought more than $1 billion in damages.

Folks in the firm’s corporate department found their practice to involve “mostly M&A and securities work.” The mix provided a broad view of deals for both larger clients and smaller public companies, as well as some emerging companies and start-ups. Pretty much all the firm’s US offices have some transactional presence, though sources in Columbus flagged it as a particularly prominent chunk in their office. At the time of our calls, sources had been getting stuck into “quite a lot of Form 8-Ks, Form 10-Ks and proxy proposals: it’s the season.” On acquisitions, sources had “helped draft key documents like forward and change-in-control agreements” while also “reviewing contracts and other deal documents.” Juniors were pleased to find that “responsibility has been steadily ramping up over time – I’m thankful it wasn’t all lobbed at me at the same time!” As a result, interviewees felt they’d “been able to understand and grow into drafting.”

Corporate clients: Proctor & Gamble, Broadridge Financial Solutions, Valvoline. Advised Advanced Drainage Systems on its $1 billion acquisition of wastewater treatment firm Infiltrator Water Technologies.

“I’m starting to draft larger portions of other documents.”

There’s a fair amount of overlap between corporate and financial services, another one of the firm’s larger practices. The group’s reach covers “syndicated bank loan facilities, credit facilities (on both borrower and lender side), public finance matters and some general corporate work.” Some summed up their practice as “mostly debt finance.” One junior reflected on their time: “A year ago I would have said my job was making signature pages, but now I find myself taking the first run through of a credit agreement, then drafting amendments.” Another told us they’d even got to close a deal. Sources generally noticed that their drafting responsibilities had grown over time: “I’ve drafted consents for banking clients and I’m starting to draft larger portions of other documents.”

Financial services clients: Bank of America, Lassonde Industries, US Bank National Association. Represented PNC Bank in closing for a $400 million senior secured multi-currency revolving credit facility for electronics company Stoneridge.

Career Development



“I wouldn’t say there is much formal training,” we heard from one junior. “It’s more informal in that I sit down with the partner I’m working with to go through the meaning of documents and what each is supposed to do.” This was the consensus view from transactional associates, each of whom experienced a more “learn-as-you-go” approach to their development. Most admitted they “would have liked some more formalized training,” though suggested “the firm is starting to put on more specific sessions.” On the whole, SPB’s litigators were more satisfied, noting that they were “encouraged to do extensive deposition training and there are always emails about new training opportunities available to us.”

“Squires is a place people don’t often leave.”

Peering into the career progression crystal ball, most of our interviewees felt making partner “seems achievable, it’s just going to take a while.” Widespread loyalty to the firm does wonders for culture but can ironically make it more difficult to progress: “Squires is a place people don’t often leave and it’s both good and bad,” insiders explained. “It means the journey to partner is a little longer for everybody, but it proves that people enjoy where they’re working.” Insiders mostly emphasized that they were “not thinking about moving,” but that if they were going to, that the name Squire Patton Boggs would “open up a lot of doors, especially in Ohio.”

Culture



Juniors were pleased to find the working environment at SPB was “actually based on respect. I feel like we have a lot of independence at the firm, and they treat us like adults who can manage our own work.” Squire’s an international outfit and it should go without saying “the work can be demanding, and you’re expected to do a lot,” but sources emphasized that “partners aren’t going to yell at you. They’ll say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ and recognize that you’re putting in a lot of hard work.” Safe to say, little gestures of appreciation go a long way. In Cleveland, juniors appreciated sticking to “a laidback Midwest attitude – at least until there’s a closing!” The same was said in Columbus, another of the firm’s biggest offices. Keeping a united front across 17 different locations in the US alone can’t be easy, but associates reiterated that “the firm really tries to promote a one-firm culture and does a good job to make sure everyone feels a part of the same organization.”

“A laidback Midwest attitude – at least until there’s a closing!”

That said, Squire’s Midwest and DC roots were apparent when compared to some New York-headquartered rivals. Cleveland associates highlighted ‘jeans-Fridays’ to reinforce the “laidback” vibe. The office recently cracked out the champagne to “toast the newly elected partners. They also open up the bar any time they bring students in or hold panels in the office.” Beyond these special occasions, juniors admitted “it’s not like there are parties every month, but we probably do socialize more than quarterly.”

Hours & Compensation



Billable hours: 1,950 target (1,900 for first-years)

Most found the billing target to be achievable, though some conceded that it might depend on the practice. Corporate sources declared “you could probably hit it by October! Some groups here just happen to be busier than others.” Most sources arrived at the office for 9:30am but ended up leaving anywhere between 6 and 8pm. Given the international nature of the firm, sources warned “different time zones might involve sticking around for a phone call or to meet the demands of clients.” They clarified that “you can always go home and work from there” when possible. Interviewees were also happy with their compensation, though some were unclear on how bonuses were allocated: “One portion is based on hitting your hours, which goes up in 5% increments for every 5% you exceed the billing target. The other portion is discretionary and within that I’m not sure what the metrics are.”

“You could probably hit it by October! Some groups just happen to be busier than others.”

Pro Bono



Up to 100 hours of pro bono can count toward the billing target. Interviewees felt “pro bono is one of the easiest things to hop on” to get some extra hours in, and were pleased to see “partners who take an active role in encouraging associates to take on pro bono.” Many of the available opportunities veered toward the litigious side, but that didn’t stop transactional sources who didn’t mind “doing litigation and research. It makes sense that there’s not a whole lot of banking and finance pro bono going around!” Juniors had worked on appellate and amicus briefs, trust and probate matters, contract disputes and landlord/tenant cases among others. In Cleveland, sources worked closely with local and national organizations including Equality Ohio and the Legal Aid Society.

Pro bono hours

  • For all US offices: 17,500
  • Average per US attorney: 24

Diversity & Inclusion



“It’s getting better,” came one junior’s summary of Squire’s overall image of diversity and representation. Most agreed that “the firm does really well with women,” and several told us they got “quite a lot of work from female partners.” A Cleveland source added: “Our office managing partner is female and she is doing everything possible to advance women in leadership, in partnership… in every way she can.” As for racial diversity at Squire, interviewees agreed the firm is “getting better but not quite there yet.” To help address this, the firm has a diversity coordinator as well as some diversity training included in orientations. At the time of our research, diverse associates had just returned from a Charting Your Own Course conference, attended by associates nationally. As is the case with many BigLaw firms, juniors felt “it’s clear that Squires is committed to diversity, but it’s a work in progress.”

“It’s clear that Squires is committed to diversity, but it’s a work in progress.”

Get Hired



Summer acceptances 2020: 32 (1Ls: 9, 2Ls: 23)

Associate testimony gave us the impression that the firm looks for something little different. Recollecting their experience of recruitment one source told us: “I do remember that people who got interviews here were not the predictable people, and that is the same every year. They look for qualities that maybe other firms don't look for. The people who interview are so random that there's no way to pinpoint it, but I have friends who got offers everywhere but Squire.” To give us a little indication, one ventured that the firm “hires people who are smart, pretty relaxed and personable, but they've all done great things. They are picky.” Associates felt it necessary to show “willingness to learn, to put in the time.”

As for the interviews, their structure was “pretty normal. It's a half day where you meet with five or six different partners and have lunch with a couple of associates.” For one source, “something that struck me about the interviewing process was the degree of close questioning about my person, not just about my academic accomplishment, though that was certainly a focus and to be sure a pre-requisite, but once the bonafides were established, Squire took more of an interest in who I was and how I worked and how I didn't work. Also what I did in my time off.”

 

Squire Patton Boggs

4900 Key Tower,
127 Public Square,
Cleveland,
OH 44114
Website www.squirepattonboggs.com

  • Founding Office: Cleveland, OH
  • Number of domestic offices: 18
  • Number of international offices: 29
  • Worldwide revenue: $1,000,000,000
  • Partners (US): 247
  • Associates (US): 263
  • Other Attorneys (US): 165
  • Contacts  
  • Main recruitment contact: Crystal L Arnold (crystal.arnold@squirepb.com)
  • Hiring partner: Aneca E Lasley
  • Inclusion & Diversity Committee Leadership: Frederick R Nance, Alethia N Nancoo, Traci H Rollins
  • Women’s Enterprise Leadership: Aneca E Lasley
  • Recrutiment details  
  • Entry-level associates starting in 2019: 17
  • Clerking policy: Yes
  • Summers joining/anticipated 2019: 30
  • 1Ls: 6, 2Ls: 24, 3Ls: 0, SEO: 0
  • Split summers offered? Case by case
  •  Can summers spend time in an overseas office? Yes

Main areas of work



 Aerospace, defense and government services; automotive; aviation; brands and consumer products; business immigration; chemicals; communications; competition – antitrust; construction and engineering; corporate; data privacy and cybersecurity; energy and natural resources; environmental, safety and health; financial services; government investigations and white collar; healthcare; hospitality and leisure; industrial products; infrastructure; institutional investors; insurance and reinsurance; intellectual property and technology; international dispute resolution; international trade; labor and employment; life sciences; litigation; media and advertising; pensions; public and infrastructure finance; public policy; real estate; restructuring and insolvency; retail; sports and entertainment; tax credit finance and community development; tax strategy and benefits; transportation, shipping and logistics.

Firm profile



One of the strongest, most geographically diverse law firms in the world, with 45 offices in 20 countries and a team of more than 1,500 lawyers. Our client base spans every type of business, both private and public. We advise a diverse mix of clients, from Fortune 100 and FTSE 100 corporations to emerging companies and from individuals to local and national governments.

Recruitment



Law schools attending for OCIs in 2020:
American, Arizona, ASU, Case, Columbia, Cleveland-Marshall, Colorado, CUA, Denver, Duke, Emory, Fordham, George Mason, Georgetown, GSU, GW Law, Harvard, Howard, Michigan, NYU, Ohio State, UGA, UNC, UVA, Vanderbilt

Recruitment outside OCIs:
We participate in minority/diverse job fairs, law student and bar association events, and meet law students both on-campus and in our offices. We also host an IDR Fellowship program.

Summer associate profile: We seek outstanding academic credentials, excellent communication skills, common sense, creativity, a strong work ethic and an ability to cultivate long-term relationships with our clients and colleagues.

Summer program components: A range of valuable experiences structured around three global themes:
Commercial: Work side by side with our partners, attending depositions, hearings, deal negotiations and trials. In addition, you will cover legal writing and research, public speaking, negotiations and advocacy techniques.
Connected: Attend practice group meetings and associate training programs to build your network of contacts within the business.
Committed: Enjoy a collegial atmosphere with the support of a mentor for the duration of your summer with us.

Social media



Recruitment website: www.squirepattonboggs/careers
Twitter: @SPB_Careers
Facebook: SquirePattonBoggsCareers
Instagram: squirepattonboggs
Linkedin: squire-patton-boggs

This Firm's Rankings in
USA Guide, 2020

Ranked Departments

    • Corporate/M&A (Band 2)
    • Labor & Employment (Band 2)
    • Intellectual Property: Patent Prosecution (Band 2)
    • Banking & Finance (Band 3)
    • Corporate/M&A (Band 4)
    • Insurance: Dispute Resolution: Insurer (Band 2)
    • Banking & Finance (Band 1)
    • Bankruptcy/Restructuring (Band 2)
    • Corporate/M&A (Band 1)
    • Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation (Band 2)
    • Insurance: Insurer (Band 1)
    • Labor & Employment (Band 4)
    • Litigation: General Commercial (Band 2)
    • Natural Resources & Environment (Band 1)
    • Government Relations (Band 3)