Venable LLP - The Inside View

Kingpin of Baltimore: Venable is free of any BigLaw bad vibes with a down-to-earth culture centered on government, business, litigation, and IP practices.

“BigLaw can be kind of the same” is a common sentiment and initial concern amongst fresh-faced associates, but one worth noting given the number of interviewees who told us that Venable completely flips this script. “The people really sold me,” one junior grinned, highlighting that the firm’s attempts to eschew a dog-eat-dog atmosphere has resulted in a comfortable, “real team setting” here. This comes with it not only being the best firm in Baltimore,” but also one of the best across the US in multiple practices.

“The people really sold me.”

Among Venable’s Chambers USA rankings sit very commendable honors, including shipping regulatory, privacy & data security, franchising, food & beverages regulation and litigation, oil & gas regulation, advertising transactional and regulatory, and advertising litigation. On top of that, “it was a bonus that everyone I met was kind” and “there wasn’t any weird energy,” solidifying for associates that Venable is a good punt for long-term career growth with a good work/life balance.

Strategy & Future

Associates were positive about the firm’s strategy, which they hear about from “regular updates that seem to pop up - they’re firmwide meetings giving us projections on where they want to.” This was also supported by an associates’ retreat in Baltimore last year, where attendees were similarly given indications of the firm’s direction. “My sense is that we want to keep growing,” one insider proclaimed, but another caveated: “It’s with a ‘slow and steady wins the race’ mindset… We’re pretty diversified in our workflow, but we’re also pretty steady at the helm.” Having said that, Venable opened in Chicago in 2020 and is expanding in Miami to strengthen its presence in the area. In addition, they recently made an office move in New York, hinting at their ambitions to develop the firm’s in-person environment for associates.

The Work

During the summer, “you can test a bunch of groups,” so newbies get “to see what works best” before becoming associates. After this, though nothing is guaranteed. One junior told us that “you rank your top three” and the firm tries to place them in their preferred practice. Once in their groups, we heard that there’s no central authority who is assigning work. Instead, most groups are split into smaller teams headed by partners who run assignment allocation, checking each associate’s capacity on a weekly basis, and coordinating with other partners in the group to assign work. “You work with those teams pretty consistently,” one junior explained, “which often leads to future cases from those teams,” something that our interviewees seemed to like “a lot.”

Practices at Venable are generally split into business, litigation, and government, and then split further into subgroups. The business practice is comprised of bankruptcy, corporate, transactional tax, land use and zoning, New York real estate, and commercial real estate. We heard that here, the work assignment process is transitioning from having partners reaching out to having a workflow management professional to help balance out hours in the group.

“You’re never stuck on one thing, which helps keep the day a little more fun!”

We heard that associates get to work across the subgroups as specialists on matters; for example, those in real estate often work on matters dealing with the real estate portion of the corporate group, supporting joint ventures and LLC agreements. Speaking of the commercial real estate group is “pretty general so we’re handling a bunch of different matters, meaning we get to touch like, four or five projects a day.”  New York real estate is the exception, as they work specifically on real estate within New York (as the name suggests), but outside of this, “you’re never stuck on one thing, which helps keep the day a little more fun!” Real estate matters include a “good amount” of leasing, acquisitions and depositions, as well as “a lot” of loan work, but the firm also does “some land conservation, which makes me feel good about myself… It’s like I’m healing the world!”

In typical junior fashion, this often means working on doc review and email drafting – “I wasn’t aware that so much of my time would be spent drafting emails for partners!” – but sources did note that those are generally relegated to new starters and responsibility increases over time. “In third year, they start to trust you to handle more,” one junior noted, “helping with some simple document drafting, notetaking in meetings, and interfacing with clients where I get asked my two cents on matters.”

Real estate clients: Chick-fil-a, Bright Horizons, McDonalds. Assisted JBG Smith with entitlement of the Americana site in Arlington County and the development of two new apartment builds in Crystal City, Virginia.

This was similar to the associate tasks across many of the business groups, where doc review, fact development, drafting letters and correspondence, due diligence, and helping to orchestrate the moving parts of a deal were all part and parcel of the junior experience. Bankruptcy can shift beyond this though, given the litigious elements of the practice. While there are still drafting and filing opportunities, you also do “a lot of research, and you assist in depositions.” The practice operates on a combination of traditional bankruptcy and filing for foreclosures, all for commercial properties.

Bankruptcy clients: Miami Air International, Liberty Power Holdings, Aventura Hotel Properties. Represented commercial landlords for Cinemax USA following its Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing because of the COVID-19 pandemic and government-mandated closure of operations to the public.

“They don’t throw you in the deep end and expect you to know everything.”

Venable’s IP litigation practice is separate from the general litigation group, but pharmaceuticals also play a significant role in their work. “We represent branded pharmaceuticals against generics that want to launch a patent before the expiration date of a patent,” one junior elaborated, “so we often do pre-suits to get a sense of the patents that our clients have, understand the history of those patents, and highlight any of the issues that could be raised by a potential challenger.” As a junior, this generally manifests as drafting and responding to and making discovery requests. “They don’t throw you in the deep end and expect you to know everything,” so the evolution of responsibility is steady. “I know second years taking depositions by themselves, so there are opportunities if you improve yourself and demonstrate good work product,” but juniors also help on expert reports and contributing to doc review. Interviewees in the practice were very enthusiastic about being able to “learn cutting edge technologies and deep dive into them – those litigated are often revolutionary and saving lives.”

IP litigation clients: Lenovo, Canon, Siemens. Represented ecobee Inc. in a litigation filed with the International Trade Commission involving four patents generally directed to methods relevant to thermostat-based systems.

The government practice at Venable incorporates technology and innovation; environmental, construction, and political law; international trade; advertising; antitrust; financial services; and government contracts. Here, cross-group work is common practice, and the technology and innovation group generally works on privacy matters based out of DC. Compliance investigations and policy form a core part of the practice which works with commercial litigation, advertising and financial services – “because everyone needs privacy!” We heard that compliance is the most significant of the group’s two heads, “so we’re mostly looking at state laws and figuring out their applicability to our clients,” who include everyone from credit bureaus and advertising companies to non-profits and tech vendors. We heard the responsibility exceeded lots of juniors' expectations, as some told us they were seeing clients before the end of their first year, getting to form “deep relationships” and having “a lot of control over the work I got to do – we’re working beyond doc review.” This is in part because “the laws are so new that the partners and counsel have the same amount of experience as us.” Associates are also brought in on deal work, and sometimes on investigations into data breaches.

Government clients: Leidos, Agile Defense, Bode Technology. Represented V2X in a case involving the proper interpretation of international agreements and other issues in a matter valued at $3.95 billion.


In BigLaw, “you prepare for the worst,” but an associate at Venable told us: “You get the best – everyone isn’t cut-throat and mean!” We heard that this is brought about in part through the closeness between associates, partners, and even the staff who “are wonderful too – they really think about the type of people they bring on,” and a limited divide between associates and partners means “I don’t feel like my perspective is ignored because I’m an associate.” Insiders told us that a culture of cordiality and level-headedness is reflected across the firm, but juniors are also “authentic” and “excited” to be at Venable. “People aren’t super stiff,” one junior added, “so it’s not, like, all suits and ties.” Of course, “it’s a job – let’s be honest,” another rationalized, so “people do treat it like it’s a job,” but on the bright side, associates shared that they didn’t feel pressure to be on time or even attend social events.

“…it feels like we’re part of a community.”

Nevertheless, “there are opportunities to be as active as you want to be.” Though newbies were concerned that people wouldn’t show up to social events and mingle between teams, they praised that, at least in DC, these worries were alleviated upon joining the firm. “One of my best mentors is in a different group,” one junior beamed, while others noted that, particularly in DC and Maryland, there’s “more of a local vibe. It feels like we’re part of a community. A lot of people seem to have entrenched roots here.” Across the board, we heard that practice groups are pretty social too, with mentions of monthly lunches, happy hours, and even a volleyball tournament for the New York office!

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

“People travel across the country to be together with their group.”

The social aspect of the firm is also reflected in Venable’s DEI efforts, with the firm hosting an associate retreat last October and having “very active” affinity groups. We heard that the Women at Venable (WAVe) group is particularly active: “we have monthly lunches with a speaker or just the female attorneys getting together. Some of the events are more active with trainings, but we always have something going on!” Of course, this can vary depending on the size of the office – smaller offices like Chicago don’t have as many in-person events, but associates can join via video call from larger locations like DC. Associates also told us that the Venable Success Network for Black attorneys is fairly busy, and that “people travel across the country to be together with their group.” Juniors were very positive about the firm’s DEI efforts overall, including the firm’s Mansfield Plus certification and clear support of DEI events.

Hours & Compensation, and Pro Bono

Billable hours: 1,900 target (1,950 target for bonus)

Associates are expected to bill a minimum of 1,900 hours yearly, with that expectation increasing to 1,950 if you want to get your bonus. “We don’t have business development hours,” one junior explained, “but we can put 50 hours of pro bono towards the target,” and “it’s rare for juniors who aren’t in litigation to hit those hours in their first couple of years. So, it’s not the end of the world if you don’t.”

This rule applies for even the most junior associates, so “taking on pro bono doesn’t count against you and for the most part, partners are pretty encouraging.” Venable has a pro bono partner who coordinates pro bono across firm: “they send out opportunities for assignments,” including “a lot of emails regarding immigration, representation on removal proceedings for landlord-tenant matters, and wrongful imprisonment.” We also heard that the firm works with a number of non-profits, helping in schools and even volunteering for artists, so “you can get whatever you want.”

Insiders weren’t too stressed about hours – working an average of 48 hours a week according to our survey, in line with the market average – and this contributed to our interviewees’ largely positive perceptions of their work-life balance. This was also helped by the firm’s hybrid working policy: “Your practice chooses three days that are mandatory for people to come in” across most offices, though in some locations, the firm has office-wide anchor days where everyone goes in. In addition, work is generally relegated to the weekdays, even though some juniors mentioned that they had worked weekends: “I can count the number of occasions on two hands. And when I have, it’s only been for like, two hours.”

“…we’re not going to over hire or overpay, and then axe everyone at the next economic downturn.”

On the topic of compensation, we received mixed reviews as “there hasn’t been much clarity there” and “we’re not market,” but juniors were generally pretty comfortable with that. “They didn’t match the last rise either, so we’re like, two steps behind,” one insider outlined, but on the plus side “we’re not trying to pay people beyond our means. So, we’re not going to over hire or overpay, and then axe everyone at the next economic downturn.”

Pro bono hours

  • For all (US) attorneys: 29,736
  • Average per (US) attorney: undisclosed

Career Development

Most juniors told us that they felt like the firm is invested in associate development, which “they really show through the feedback – you don’t just submit work and never hear back from them. They even come to give me feedback without me asking!” To support junior development, the firm has women attorney mentorship programs for cross-practice mentorship, and associates can also access an online library for training, ranging from the life cycle of a deal to writing guidance. We were also told that there are opportunities for juniors to get involved in business development. “Even as a first year, you’re expected to go to conferences,” one source told us, and in some practices, there’s actually a requirement for associates to go to one each year. “We’re also expected to write and pitch an article each year on a topic of our choosing,” they added, “and I’ve gotten opportunities to assist with the hiring committee.”

Get Hired

The first stage: recruitment on and off campus 

OCI applicants interviewed: 682 

Hiring partner Ellen Berge tells us: “While there is an emphasis on recruiting from local schools in each of our markets, we make a conscientious effort to review write-in candidates and candidates coming through resume drops in real-time.” She adds: “Typically, we like for students to be in the top of the class, but we’re not restricted to recruiting from the T14.  Most of our entry-level class is filled by former summer associates, but we do go to the market for clerks on occasion.” 

Associates revealed: “Particularly in Baltimore the number one thing we’re looking for is a commitment to the region. We want to make sure people won’t leave after a couple of years.” Berge adds: “During OCI, we’re looking for folks who are comfortable, poised, and able to articulate their interest in the firm and in BigLaw generally. It is important that candidates demonstrate a good academic record, but also be well-rounded and focused.” 

Top tips for this stage: 

"It sounds obvious, but be ready to explain your path to law school, prior work experience, extracurricular involvement, and interest in the firm." — hiring partner Ellen Berge. 


Berge explains: “We have two options for callback interviews. The first is an interview event where candidates individually meet with four attorneys and one member of the recruiting team in our office. Events generally conclude with either a luncheon reception or a cocktail reception. These events allow students to meet more attorneys at the firm, observe how our attorneys interact with one another, and get to know potential summer classmates and peers.” The second option is a traditional interview, structured the same way, but without the social gathering afterwards. 

When it comes to the interview questions themselves Berge tells us: “At this stage they tend to be more open-ended and may focus on a candidate’s particular practice group interests and assessing whether they’re the type of candidate who will thrive in Venable’s environment. For example, candidates may be asked to describe an instance where they had competing deliverable deadlines or a time when they disagreed with a peer on the approach to a group project and how they navigated that collaboration.” Associates said: “It’s important to be upfront about which practice areas you’re interested in so that you can meet individuals and get a feel for the team. When I know people are interested in certain areas I’ll channel them towards the right people in happy hours and so on.” 

Top tips for this stage: 

"Do your homework. Research the firm’s practice areas and be able to articulate why you are interested in Venable specifically and why you’re interested in the market in which you’re interviewing (if it’s not obvious from your resume). Be genuine, candid, and don’t hesitate to ask questions." — hiring partner Ellen Berge. 

Summer program 

Anticipated summers 2024:  38

Our program is designed to give summer associates a realistic depiction of what everyday life is like as a junior associate. In each of our offices, summer associates are given the opportunity to work on assignments across practice groups,” Berge summarizes. “Summer associates receive real work assignments on behalf of real clients — the same type of assignments our junior associates receive throughout the year.” She adds: “Building professional relationships is another essential part of the summer associate program. Informal dinners, happy hours, and lunches are some of the best ways for the summer associates to get to know our attorneys.” 

Top tips for this stage: 

"Ten weeks goes by quickly, so take every opportunity to get to know your peers and attorneys! Even if you have a particular practice group focus, we encourage summers to try a little bit of everything. Taking work from different groups not only gives summers a wider social network when they return to the firm as first years, but gives the Hiring Committee a full portfolio on which the summer can be evaluated." — hiring partner Ellen Berge. 

And finally… 

When I was a student – and this goes for all law firms – I didn’t realize that they keep track of who attends open-house events or the hospitality suite or table at an OCI event. Soft networking all counts and firms do take note.” – a second year associate. 


Venable LLP

600 Massachusetts Avenue,
Washington, DC,

Main areas of work

Our clients rely on Venable’s proven capabilities in all areas of corporate and business law, complex litigation, intellectual property, and regulatory and government affairs.

Firm profile

With over 800 attorneys in nine offices across the country, we are strategically positioned to advance our clients’ business objectives in the United States and abroad. Clients choose Venable for the skill, dedication, creativity, and superior service that our legal and professional staff provide. Attracting and retaining the best talent isn’t just essential to the successes of our clients and our firm—it’s central to elevating the legal profession through continuous learning, improvement, and innovation.


Law schools attending for OCIs in 2024:
Georgetown University Law Center, Duke University School of Law, University of Baltimore School of Law, Loyola Law School, Loyola Marymount University, New York Law School, New York University School of Law, Harvard Law School, St. John's University School of Law, Stanford Law School, Howard Law School, University of California, Berkeley, School of Law University of California, Davis School of Law, University of California College of the Law, San Francisco (previously known as Hastings), University of California, Irvine School of Law, University of California, Los Angeles School of Law, William & Mary, Marshall-Wythe School of Law, University of Pennsylvania Law School, University of Richmond School of Law, University of San Francisco, University of Southern California, Gould School of Law, University of Virginia School of Law, Vanderbilt Law School, George Mason University School of Law, Northwestern Pritzker School of Law, University of Chicago Law School, University of Miami, University of Michigan Law School

Job fairs:
Loyola Patent Law Program, Hispanic National Bar Association Virtual Career Fair, Lavender Law Career Fair, Southeastern Minority Job Fair (SEMJF), Mid-Atlantic BLSA Job Fair (MABLSA)

Summer associate profile:
Successful candidates display high academic achievement in their law school and undergraduate education. We look for motivated candidates who combine intellectual ability with enthusiasm and a collaborative approach. In addition, we give careful attention to all aspects of a candidate’s experience and abilities and like to see the following: participation in extracurricular activities highlighting leadership skills, commitment, and time management; excellent written and oral communication skills; ability to work well with others and independently; Law Journal and Moot Court participation preferred; prior work experience is a plus.

Summer program components:
Summer associates are assigned to active matters in all areas of corporate and business law, complex litigation, intellectual property, and regulatory and government affairs. At the beginning of our program, we bring the entire summer class together for a robust orientation in our Washington, D.C. office. In addition to providing the opportunity to network with peers, the orientation kickoff allows summer associates to build relationships with firm leadership and to learn about our culture and values. We firmly believe that a talented and diverse legal team delivers the best results for our clients, and we are committed to inclusion, openness, and support for all employees. To meet these standards, we welcome summer associates from all backgrounds.

Leadership Council on Legal Diversity Scholarship Program:
Venable is proud to be a member of the Leadership Council on Legal Diversity (LCLD) and is excited to host 1L LCLD Scholars in our Washington DC, Baltimore, and New York offices. The 1L LCLD Scholars Program offers students who will have completed their first year of law school the opportunity to spend a summer working side-by-side with Venable attorneys, as well as with our client partners.

Social Media

Recruitment website:

This Firm's Rankings in
USA Guide, 2023

Ranked Departments

    • Environment (Band 4)
    • Intellectual Property: Patent Prosecution (Band 2)
    • Intellectual Property: Trademark, Copyright & Trade Secrets (Band 2)
    • Real Estate (Band 2)
    • Technology & Outsourcing (Band 3)
    • Bankruptcy Litigation (Band 1)
    • Construction (Band 1)
    • Bankruptcy/Restructuring (Band 3)
    • Corporate/M&A (Band 1)
    • Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation (Band 1)
    • Labor & Employment (Band 2)
    • Litigation: General Commercial (Band 2)
    • Real Estate (Band 2)
    • Construction (Band 3)
    • Intellectual Property: Patent (Band 4)
    • Litigation: General Commercial: Highly Regarded (Band 5)
    • Advertising: Litigation (Band 3)
    • Advertising: Transactional & Regulatory (Band 3)
    • Construction (Band 4)
    • Energy: Oil & Gas (Regulatory & Litigation) (Band 3)
    • Food & Beverages: Regulatory & Litigation (Band 3)
    • Franchising (Band 3)
    • Government Contracts: The Elite (Band 4)
    • Leisure & Hospitality (Band 4)
    • Life Sciences (Band 5)
    • Political Law (Band 4)
    • Privacy & Data Security: The Elite (Band 2)
    • Product Liability & Mass Torts: The Elite (Band 4)
    • REITs: Maryland Counsel (Band 1)
    • Transportation: Shipping/Maritime: Regulatory (Band 2)
    • Litigation: General Commercial (Band 3)