White & Case LLP - The Inside View

Nothing can stop international juggernaut White & Case – a firm that boasts big-ticket deals and top of the market financial work. 

At just over 120 years old, this Big Apple-born behemoth has become synonymous with the idea of internationalism. The firm has a well-connected web of 45 global offices, spanning the Americas, Europe, Middle East, Africa and Asia-Pacific, and year on year, many flock to the firm for a chance to delve deeper into legal work with a global flavor. White & Case now sits among the top 10 law firms in the AmLaw 100 – naturally, many were initially enamored with its reputation and prestige, but often found they stayed for the ability to do this complex work among “genuinely kind people.”

With a whopping total of around 200 rankings across various Chambers guides, the firm prides itself in its high-stakes work. But to keep it short and sweet, Chambers USA celebrates the firm’s expertise nationwide for its antitrust, banking & finance, bankruptcy, capital markets, energy, international arbitration, international trade, private equity, projects, SPACs and transportation practices. The New York HQ is highly commended for its work in banking & finance, bankruptcy, commercial litigation, and white-collar crime & government investigations.

>> TOP READ: Tech transactions with White & Case

Heather McDevitt, a partner on W&C’s Executive Committee, describes the firm’s current market position: “We are among the elite global law firms, with an international presence in 32 countries across six continents. Our clients are located all over the world, and a large percentage of the work we do crosses multiple jurisdictions and borders.” Having recently completed its five-year growth strategy, firm members can now sit back and enjoy the fruits of their labor. According to McDevitt, the five-year growth strategy set out to grow its New York and London offices substantially and focus on areas including M&A, private equity, capital markets and dispute resolutions.

Strategy & Future



“We ended the year with 20% revenue growth, which was exceptional. Part of the reason for this is that the firm has been very disciplined about delivering on our strategic plan. This includes investing carefully into the business and hiring the right people.” Indeed, global revenue at the firm hit $2.87 billion in 2021, while the firm also promoted its largest partner class as of late: “We have promoted 59 new partners across our firm.” Looking ahead, the firm has embarked on its next five-year plan, focused on "increasing associate empowerment." To achieve this, the firm intends to ensure associates receive work that matches their skills and interests; to provide leadership opportunities; and to make sure they have the right skills and training technical, legal, and industry-specific.

The Work



Juniors were spread across eight of the firm’s US offices, with the largest pools in New York, and DC, followed by LA, Houston, and Miami. Smaller numbers could also be found in Boston, Chicago, and Silicon Valley. In the larger offices, new full-time associates work in a corporate or litigation ‘pool’ system for their first year, before joining a more specific practice group in second year. Where they end up is based on both individual preferences as well as the business needs of the firm. For work assignment, W&C has a staffing partner per pool and associates submit their availability via an online portal: “Every Sunday we get a notification to update our availability by ranking how busy we are. We can also make note of any assignment preferences. As time goes on and we develop a network, work comes more naturally.” In smaller bases with fewer juniors, work allocation tends to be more practice-specific. Some interviewees who on-boarded this year had some frustrations about the late start date: “The timings were all off – our class start date was really delayed and the work was also coming in slowly.” Still, it’s worth noting many firms this year experienced delays due to ongoing knock-on effects from the pandemic.

>>TOP READ: Becoming an antitrust lawyer, with White & Case.

"As a first-year you’re given opportunities to exercise your own thinking from the jump.”

In litigation, the department covers white-collar investigations, bankruptcy, international arbitration, antitrust, private client, general commercial litigation, and data protection and cybersecurity. As a core practice at W&C, litigation is a notoriously busy practice, even for newbies. Our interviewees had racked up hours working on a lot of international matters: “I work in international commercial litigation for social media companies. It’s a fascinating practice area – we are helping develop arguments and law in countries where there’s currently no legal regime with respect to certain technology." Common tasks include legal research and analysis, drafting, doc review and handling diligence. Juniors also work on thought leadership tasks that involve “writing newsletters, blog posts and research.” Overall, associates were very satisfied with their levels of responsibility in litigation: “The team structure is very lean – as a first-year you’re given opportunities to exercise your own thinking from the jump.”

Litigation clients: JD Capital, Pfizer and Transocean. The team defended the Bank of China in an action seeking $150 million in contempt sanctions.

"It's what keeps the job exciting.”

On the transactional side, the offering includes banking and finance, M&A, capital markets and EIPAF (energy, infrastructure, projects and asset finance). Particularly when in the corporate pool, associates take on matters from all corners of the department: “I’m currently on four deals all pertaining to different areas of corporate law.” Another added: “It’s what keeps the job exciting – the variety within the practice keeps me on my toes and stops the job becoming monotonous.” For example, while working on an IPO, one associate explained: “I’m working on a deal for a mining company – it's been interesting to see what happens when a company goes from private to public. I did the due diligence, reviewed the corporate governance documents, and helped management with presentations and drafting.” Other typical tasks for junior associates include accessing data rooms, coordinating with specialists, drafting ancillary documents and making footnotes on the main deal documents (like subscription agreements and purchase and sale agreements). Associates were over the moon with their experiences in corporate: “At White & Case, senior associates and partners are very forthright in wanting junior associates to get client contact as early as possible, which I’ve found super rewarding!”

Corporate clients: Sony, Panasonic, and Anthem. Represented Avast on its $9.2 billion merger with NortonLifeLock.

Career Development



Interviewees felt happy with the training and career development resources at the firm, which included CLEs, practice area-specific training, and skills training. Newbies attend pretty comprehensive sessions when they first start out. Once more comfortable with the basics, training becomes more of a monthly affair. Each practice area holds its own programs, while the firm also puts on skills sessions on areas like “how to do legal research, how to conduct a deposition, or time management.” For all the foodies out there, trainings also come with free lunches for attorneys!

“There’s a huge teaching culture at the firm – my mentor is always happy to answer my questions.”

The firm has a mentoring circle program that links juniors to mentors across the firm, who aren't always necessarily in their practice group. One interviewee appreciated that “there’s a huge teaching culture at the firm – my mentor is always happy to answer my questions and help me develop as an associate.” Although sources felt partnership was achievable for them, the majority of respondents in the survey weren’t necessarily aiming to make partner. The partnership track was estimated to be about eight years, according to sources.

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion



Interviewees saw a real investment in D&I at W&C, with the overwhelming majority feeling that the firm is doing well at recruiting, promoting and supporting its diverse lawyers. W&C has an array of active affinity groups, including a women’s network, an LGBTQ+ group, and various associations for different ethnic groups. For example, one source highlighted that “the Hispanic group organizes loads of events, we generally try to meet up once a month for drinks or food.” The Black Affinity Network has a mentoring program that pairs mid-level and senior associates with partner mentors to support their professional development. The firm also hosts a speaker series, where panelists discuss topics like “women in the workplace – a bunch of female partners came in and shared their experiences with us.” To top it off, associates also get 50 hours toward D&I efforts.

>>TOP Listen: Candid Conversations, a DE&I initiative run by White & Case.

“People have come from all different socio-cultural and ethnic backgrounds, it makes for a very international mindset.”

Still, like many firms within BigLaw there’s room for improvement. With the demands of the profession, one admitted: “It can be difficult to see a long-term career for myself while also having a family.” A few sources also felt diversity thinned out at partner level.

Culture



Beyond these classic diversity issues that plague the whole industry, many felt the firm’s global nature had a positive impact on firm culture. Being an international firm with cross-office work being all too familiar, the firm has built a diverse network of colleagues: “People have come from all different socio-cultural and ethnic backgrounds, it makes for a very international mindset.” Although the cross-office working model integrates the firm's culture pretty seamlessly, Boston was signposted as particularly “family friendly.”  LA was described as a quieter office where many work from home, while those in Miami felt “attorneys are all genuinely friends with each other.”  Palo Alto was said to maintain “down to earth vibes,” while New York was highlighted for its typical “work hard, play hard” atmosphere.

As for socials, the firm usually hosts frequent happy hours, holiday parties and a gala over the summer where firm alumni are also invited: “The firm wants people to stay connected even when they leave the firm.” Still, some felt the social scene had been a little disjointed since the pandemic – an issue certainly not exclusive to W&C: "Two of the classes have come onboard virtually so we’ve not had the chance to mix and mingle with each other.” That being said, over 80% of respondents to the survey still felt W&C has a suitably active social scene. 

Pro Bono



“My pro bono cases have been the most personally fulfilling work; the firm has always supported my endeavors by covering every expense to achieve a positive result for our clients.” When asked if they felt the firm is committed to pro bono, nearly 100% of survey respondents agreed. Although associates were more than happy with the firm's involvement in meaningful projects, some felt internal pressures to prioritize billable work: “Pro bono is definitely put on the back burner in my group – the hours have been astronomical,” one M&A source admitted.

"I am proud that my firm values my commitment to these cases and equips us with the tools we need to win.”

However, those who made time for pro bono found they could work on projects surrounding a variety of issues like solitary confinement, immigration, women prisoners, asylum, child abuse and much more. When sourcing work, “opportunities are shared to us through a frequent email blast from the pro bono team.” An associate working on an asylum matter enthused: “The firm bankrolled experts, and compensated for the travel, accommodation, and witness prep sessions. I am proud that my firm values my commitment to these cases and equips us with the tools we need to win.” When working on pro bono projects, first-years are uncapped due to their lack of a billing hours target. From their second year onwards, associates can count up to 200 hours of pro bono toward their billables. The firm also gives each staff member a plaque for reaching 20 pro bono hours.

Pro bono hours

  • For all (US) attorneys: 78,014
  • Average per (US) attorney: 76

Hours & Compensation



Billable hours: 2,000 requirement for bonus eligibility

First-years have no billing target, easing some of the pressure of settling into firm life. Afterwards, to nab a year-end bonus associates must hit 2,000 hours, 1,750 of which must be client-chargeable.

“I’ve had days where I’ve billed 13 hours and others where I’ve billed two.”

The time zone challenges that come with international work can make for unusual working days; however, those we spoke to were up for the challenge. 70% of respondents in our survey felt that their hours and workloads were manageable, with associates working around 52 hours per week – pretty much spot on the market average. During crunch time, interviewees could be working from 8:30am to 9pm, with corporate being particularly busy as of late. Still, one assured us that “nobody is ever breathing down my neck; as long as I get my work done partners don’t care what I do with my time in between.” Another added: “I’ve had days where I’ve billed 13 hours and others where I’ve billed two.” Even with these hours, associates felt able to take a well-earned break with their unlimited amount of vacation, with associates taking an average of around 11 days a year. 

Get Hired



The first stage: recruitment on and off campus

White & Case participates in OCIs at over 30 law schools and job fairs across the US and Canada. The number of students interviewed varies drastically by school, from as few as 20 through to over 100. At this stage, interviews are primarily conducted by partners or alumni of the school and the questions are usually competency-based but also conversational. “Due to the pandemic, during the past two years we conducted nearly all our OCIs on a virtual platform instead of in person. That said, what we hope to achieve during interviews has not changed. We want to assess the tangible qualities of our candidates – their intellect, problem solving abilities and ability to work in teams and to function at a high level in diverse and dynamic environments. We also want to convey the ethos of our Firm and principles to which we are committed, including, of course, the development of our talent. So, the interview process – the questions interviewers ask and our interactions with our candidates are aimed at achieving those objectives,” notes Joseph Brazil, US Hiring Partner.

The firm also accepts applications from students that apply directly through the firm’s careers website: “It’s also worth noting that in recent years we’ve met many of our candidates through direct applications as opposed to OCI.  This is done through a screen video interview platform called Harver through which all candidates answer a common set of questions. This additional interview process has expanded the universe of quality candidates we’ve been able to see.”

Top tips for this stage:

“We want to meet people who show genuine enthusiasm and interest in us. Come prepared, with a game-plan about what you want to convey about yourself and what you want to learn about White & Case.” – hiring partner Joseph Brazil.

Callbacks

Successful candidates will be invited for callback interviews. These are typically conducted by two partners and two associates, and usually last between two to two and a half hours. The questions at this stage are also competency-based, and “allow us to assess, among other things, a candidate’s intellect, collaboration skills, entrepreneurial mindset and tenacity,” Brazil explains.  He adds that “the interview also provides us an opportunity to share with our candidates a bit about what it is like to work at our firm as well as our culture and overall strategy.” Following the callback, we offer many opportunities for candidates to connect in person with our lawyers through dinners, receptions, firm visits and other methods. Brazil adds, “This helps our candidates gain a deeper understanding of the firm so as to select a firm that dovetails with their career objectives.”

Top tips for this stage:

“Show an interest in the Firm—that you’ve done your research and are prepared. Be engaged in the interview, and show confidence and composure.”– hiring partner Joseph Brazil.

Summer program

Before the summer program even begins, the firm looks for ways to bring the class together through virtual events, team-building exercises and mentoring assignments to ensure a smooth transition to the Firm. During week one, the entire class is invited to the New York office where summer associates across the US will have the opportunity to network with their peers and learn more about the Firm, its people, values and culture. As Brazil noted: “This is an invaluable opportunity to start to build their network and to connect with the Firm’s lawyers that will be resources throughout their careers.” Programming also includes various workshops, talks from lawyers and an opportunity to learn about firm strategy and law firm economics.  Over the course of the summer, assignment coordinators will dole out “real work for actual clients” and ensure that summers receive exposure to a variety of projects in their practice areas of interest. Summers will also work with and meet as many of the firm’s lawyers as possible. Typical tasks include writing briefs, assisting in negotiation sessions, and producing memos and legal documents for clients. The summer program also includes work on at least one pro bono matter: “It is a unique way for our summer associates to start making their mark at White & Case,” says Brazil. An array of social events are available to help foster internal connections. The firm also offers domestic and overseas rotation opportunities during the summer program.

Top tips for this stage:

“Opportunities will abound. Be an active participant and take advantage of as many as you can.”– hiring partner Joseph Brazil.

White & Case LLP

1221 Avenue of the Americas,
New York,
NY 10020
Website www.whitecase.com

  • Head office: New York, NY
  • Number of domestic offices: 8
  • Number of international offices: 37
  • Worldwide revenue: $2.87 billion
  • Partners US: 251
  • Associates US: 671
  • Contacts  
  • Main recruitment contact: Kasey M. Stein, Associate Director—Recruitment
  • Hiring partner: Joseph Brazil, US Hiring Partner
  • Recruitment website: www.whitecase.com/careers
  • Diversity officer: Ales Rudisar, Global Director of Diversity and Inclusion
  • Recruitment details 
  • Number of entry-level associates starting in 2022: 73
  • Clerking policy: Yes
  • Number of summers joining/anticipated 2022: 1Ls – 18, 2Ls – 90, SEOs – 6
  • Number of summers joining/anticipated 2021 split by office*: BOS – 2 CHI – 9 HOU – 11 LA – 9 MI – 9 NY – 50 SV – 4 DC – 14 (*numbers include 1Ls; not SEOs)
  • Summer salary 2022:
  • 1Ls: $4,150/week
  • 2Ls: $4,150/week
  • Split summers offered? First eight weeks at White & Case required
  • Can summers spend time in an overseas office? Yes

Main areas of work



 White & Case is an international law firm that serves companies, governments and financial institutions. Our long history as a global firm means we are uniquely placed to help our clients resolve their most complex legal challenges wherever they are. White & Case has leading practices in the following areas:
antitrust, asset finance, capital markets, commercial litigation, debt finance, financial restructuring and insolvency, intellectual property, international arbitration, M&A, private equity, pro bono, project finance, technology transactions, tax, trade and white collar.

Firm profile



 We are a truly global firm, with an unrivaled network of 45 offices in 31 countries. It’s the reason many of our global clients choose to work with us, and why they trust us with their most challenging cross-border matters. From day one, our lawyers work on cutting-edge and complex multi-jurisdictional projects, experiencing the operational realities of cross-border law. Our promise is to provide our associates with the tools to become great lawyers via training, support and mentoring programs at every stage of their career. We are proud of our achievements—we have a revenue of more than US$2.87 billion and are top-ranked for diversity and pro bono programs—but we will not rest on our laurels. Our ambitious growth strategy continues to strengthen our position as a top-of-mind firm for global clients—and an employer of choice for top talent.

Recruitment



Law schools attending for OCIs in 2022:
Boston University, Chicago, Columbia, Cornell, Duke, Fordham, Georgetown, Harvard, Houston, Howard, Loyola, McGill, Miami, Michigan, Northwestern, Notre Dame, NYU, Pepperdine, Stanford, Texas, Toronto, Tulane, University of Florida, University of Pennsylvania, UC Berkeley, UC Davis, UC Irvine, UCLA, USC, Virginia.

Recruitment outside OCIs: White & Case participates in the following job fairs and law school local/regional interview programs: Bay Area Diversity Job Fair, Lavender Law Career Fair, The Law Consortium, Loyola Patent Interview Job Fair, Mid-Atlantic BLSA, Northeast BLSA, On Tour Interview Program (OTIP), San Francisco Intellectual Property Law Association Job Fair.
White & Case also conducts resume collections at many schools where we cannot offer on-campus interviews, such as: American, Boston College, Cardozo, Emory, Hofstra, New York Law School, Oklahoma, Rutgers, Santa Clara, Seton Hall, St. John’s, SMU, Suffolk, Tennessee, UC Hastings, Wisconsin, Washington University (St. Louis), Yale.

Summer associate profile: We look for highly motivated individuals with excellent academic credentials, significant personal achievements and a strong commitment to the practice of law in a global and diverse environment. A successful candidate will be able to demonstrate evidence of our core competencies, which include excellent judgment, client readiness, drive, initiative and an entrepreneurial mindset. We are looking for those with the ability to work collaboratively in fast-paced, high-stakes situations. For more information about campus interview dates or to apply online directly to one of our US offices, visit www.whitecase.com/careers.

Summer program components: We pride ourselves on giving summer associates real work for real clients with real deadlines. During week one, the entire class is invited to the New York office where summer associates across the US will have the opportunity to network with their peers and learn more about the Firm, our people and our culture. Programming includes various workshops, talks from lawyers, and a team-building activity as well as an overview of our Global Citizenship and Diversity Initiatives and a seminar on law firm economics, which provides a general understanding of how law firms operate. We include a full curriculum of training programs following week one in addition to hands-on training working side-by-side with our lawyers. Our Staffing Managers ensure that each summer associate is exposed to a variety of work, including pro bono matters. Summer associates are assigned mentors to provide career guidance and ensure a smooth transition to the firm. A variety of social events are available to help foster internal connections. At the end of the program, our summer associates will have a thorough understanding of what it is like to be a junior associate at White & Case.

Social Media



Recruitment website: https://www.whitecase.com/careers
Twitter: WhiteCase
Facebook: whitecase
YouTube: whitecaseglobal
Linkedin: white-&-case

This Firm's Rankings in
USA Guide, 2022

Ranked Departments

    • Banking & Finance (Band 3)
    • Litigation: General Commercial: The Elite (Band 4)
    • Technology: Transactions (Band 4)
    • Antitrust (Band 4)
    • Intellectual Property: Litigation (Band 5)
    • Litigation: General Commercial: Highly Regarded (Band 1)
    • Banking & Finance (Band 1)
    • Litigation: General Commercial: The Elite (Band 2)
    • Bankruptcy/Restructuring (Band 1)
    • Bankruptcy/Restructuring (Band 5)
    • Corporate/M&A & Private Equity (Band 5)
    • Real Estate (Band 3)
    • Litigation: White-Collar Crime & Government Investigations (Band 2)
    • Antitrust (Band 4)
    • Banking & Finance (Band 2)
    • Bankruptcy/Restructuring: The Elite (Band 2)
    • Corporate/M&A: The Elite (Band 4)
    • Environment: Mainly Transactional (Band 3)
    • Intellectual Property: Patent (Band 5)
    • Litigation: General Commercial: Highly Regarded (Band 1)
    • Litigation: White-Collar Crime & Government Investigations: Highly Regarded (Band 2)
    • Private Equity: Buyouts (Band 3)
    • Tax (Band 4)
    • Technology (Band 3)
    • Capital Markets: Debt & Equity (Band 4)
    • Antitrust (Band 3)
    • Antitrust: Cartel (Band 1)
    • Banking & Finance (Band 2)
    • Bankruptcy/Restructuring: The Elite (Band 2)
    • Capital Markets: Equity: Manager Counsel (Band 3)
    • Capital Markets: High-Yield Debt (Band 4)
    • Capital Markets: Securitization: CLOs (Band 2)
    • Capital Markets: Securitization: Whole Business (Band 1)
    • Corporate/M&A: The Elite (Band 4)
    • Derivatives (Band 3)
    • Energy: Electricity (Transactional) (Band 2)
    • Energy: Mining & Metals (Transactional) (Band 1)
    • Energy: Oil & Gas (Transactional) (Band 4)
    • International Arbitration: The Elite (Band 1)
    • International Trade: CFIUS Experts (Band 1)
    • International Trade: Export Controls & Economic Sanctions: The Elite (Band 4)
    • International Trade: Trade Remedies & Trade Policy (Band 2)
    • Life Sciences (Band 5)
    • Private Equity: Buyouts: Mid-Market (Band 2)
    • Projects: Agency Financing (Band 2)
    • Projects: LNG (Band 2)
    • Projects: Oil & Gas (Band 2)
    • Projects: Power (Band 2)
    • Projects: Power & Renewables: Transactional (Band 2)
    • Projects: PPP (Band 2)
    • SPACs (Band 1)
    • Tax: Controversy (Band 4)
    • Tax: Corporate & Finance (Band 5)
    • Technology (Band 4)
    • Transportation: Aviation: Finance (Band 3)