White & Case LLP - The Inside View

If it’s big-ticket deals and international work you’re interested in, White & Case could be your spiritual home

In 1951, W&C represented the sellers of the Empire State Building, acquired for $51 million. We’re not saying the Matrix is real, but the firm now has 51 top rankings in Chambers Global. Take the red pill and process the reality of this international titan: White & Case is in the top 10 US law firms by revenue and its aggressive growth strategy over the last five years has seen revenue grow by almost 60% from $1.5 billion in 2015 to $2.39 billion in 2020. The firm’s New York birthplace remains its largest office, but with 36 overseas bases it’s no surprise to hear juniors say W&C “lives and breathes international.”

TOP READ: Tech transactions: One of the few transactional areas to remain buoyant in this onset of a recession is tech M&A. White & Case take us behind the scenes.

On top of nearly 200 total rankings in Chambers Global, White & Case earns top spots in Chambers USAnationwide for international trade, antitrust and projects. The firm’s regional rankings include strong showings in litigation, bankruptcy, environment, technology and outsourcing in New York and number one status in Florida (the firm’s base is in Miami)for banking and finance. Junior associates were uniformly impressed by “the types of deals the firm works on and the stature of its clients,” but also liked that “everyone involved in the interview process was exceptionally kind and seemed like terrific attorneys and mentors.”

White and Case is consistently one of the bast performers in our research, with a slew of top-tier rankings for associate satisfaction.>

The Work



Summer associates can split their time between litigation and corporate; in the larger offices, new full-time associates work in a ‘pool’ system for their first year in either corporate or litigation before joining a specific practice group in second year. Where they end up is based on both individual preferences and the business needs of the firm. In smaller bases where there are fewer juniors to go around, work allocation tends to be more practice-specific. Across the firm, most found themselves taking early roles from “a work allocation manager who looks at who wants what and their availability.” While the allocator tries “to match you to your preferences,” busy stretches can mean all hands on deck in one area.

“It’s a healthy amount for a young, engaged and eager associate. I’m very grateful to my supervisors.”

Along with international arbitration, antitrust is the biggest practice in DC, whereas Boston “is dominated by white-collar and IPand theMiamioffice does “a lot of work with Latin America” across multiple practices. New York houses corporate and litigation practices, and Chicagoboasts an especially strong real estate practice, but sources added that “partners bring work with them as they move between offices.”Private equity is also a focus in the Windy City.

This may be an international firm par excellence, but insiders told us “most of the clients are acting in US courts” in the litigation practice. White-collar investigations, bankruptcy, international arbitration, antitrust, private client, general commercial litigation, and even data protection and cybersecurity are all part of W&C’s disputes package – clients include some of the world’s largest companies. Litigation juniors at all firms tend to be more closely monitored than corporate counterparts, and White & Case’s cohort felt they were “given what was expected.”

Common tasks include “legal research and analysis, some drafting, handling diligence” and, for some, “a ton of document review.” None of our sources were disappointed with their responsibility level: “It’s a healthy amount for a young, engaged and eager associate. I’m very grateful to my supervisors for taking on the more complicated tasks.” Most let their initial assignments guide their practice, though some did “try to carve out other niches” if something tickled their fancy. “I enjoy the people I work with; the work is interesting and there’s plenty to do, but I think it would be nice to try other things,” one summarized.

Litigation clients: Pfizer, Bank of China, the Republic of Peru. Acted for Nestlé subsidiary Purina in a putative nationwide class action alleging conspiracy with other manufacturers and national retailer PetSmart to fix the prices of prescription pet food.

You’ll also find household names on White & Case’s transactional client list (the firm’s represented J.P. Morgan for over a century), and deals range from many millions of dollars to multiple billions in value. The area subdivides into banking and finance, M&A, capital markets and EIPAF (energy, infrastructure, projects and asset finance) groups. Our sources explained that “White & Case isn’t known for one type of transactional legal work, we do a general mix of things.” The impact of COVID-19 has meant recently “there’s been a lot of extra focus on debt restructuring, but that’s mostly bank financing.” The market isn’t all doom and gloom and interviewees also highlighted a “huge boom in capital markets everywhere, that department has been super busy.”

“…huge boom in capital markets everywhere.”

Our survey respondents generally gave a thumbs up to their responsibility levels and client and partner contact: “I do more junior tasks, but I do feel like I’ve got substantive experience too.” While most felt they had the chance to develop their legal skills, there were some outliers who suggested “the work was very drab. All I ever seemed to do was diligence memos!” Marking up purchasing agreements is another typical junior task.Early experience will inevitably be shaped by geography: the team in Houston works primarily in oil and gas whereas New York services clients in the finance, insurance, pharmaceutical and electronics sectors, to name a few.

Corporate clients: Saudi Aramco, Sony, Panasonic. Advised energy giant Schneider Electric in a series of more than ten acquisitions announced within a two-month period, including the $2.1 billion acquisition of L&T Electrical & Automation.

Career Development



Hundreds of attorneys and a three-to-one associate-to-partner ratio doesn’t exactly scream ‘long-term career prospects’, but juniors told us “the firm speaks to everyone as though we’re all aiming to make partner.” To help them on their way, White & Case’s mentoring circle program links juniors to mentors in the firm, who aren't always necessarily in their specific practice group. We also heard rumors of a recent “‘pathway to partnership’ meeting" in the DC office, "where people could meet with the selection committee and find out about how it approaches that decision.” Sources also mentioned “lots of continuing training” to keep everyone’s legal skills up to scratch, leaving some to conclude “the firm wants most people here for the long haul. There’s been a lot of investment in us.”

“The firm speaks to everyone as though we’re all aiming to make partner.”

Diversity & Inclusion



Sources also saw investment in D&I at W&C and were largely impressed by the firm’s approach to inclusivity training, diverse staffing and retention of diverse lawyers. Non-white respondents were more likely to say that they felt stressed at work than white peers, but interviewees were encouraged that “it feels like there has been a shift" in W&C's approach to D&I. "The firm is now holding regular racial sensitivity courses,” for example.White & Case also started a  'Candid Conversations' series in 2020. In the wake of the BLM movement, one junior was pleased to note that "the Black affinity group is being heard by management." Other formal efforts to create an inclusive atmosphere include nine worldwide affinity groups (check out the full list on the firm’s website) and local women’s networks in each office. “We’re not perfect and the firm is aware of that, but my perception is we do a decent job,” a junior concluded.

Podcast: listen to three White & Case partners discuss the firm's Candid Conversations DEI initiative.

Culture



Interviewees were careful to couch their praise for W&C’s culture within the context of a big-money global firm. “It’s not a utopia,” one laughed. “Expectations are still very demanding and there are unreasonable partners who don’t think juniors count as human beings, but that’s not as common as at some other firms.” Another was similarly equivocal: “There’s no toxic culture and nobody’s mean, but different practices have different expectations, which means people are differently skilled and work at different rates. It seems unequal.” Others were however much more positive and felt White & Case higher-ups “care about the people. When I was choosing a firm, I wanted to be somewhere I could stay long-term until they kick me out; White & Case shows, and not just in words but through their policies, that they care.” Example policies include meal reimbursement for when you’re working late, a couple of tech stipends, and mental health resources available to all attorneys.

“It’s a positive environment, but things can get intense when you’re working on something worth millions of dollars.”

Several sources noted that there’s “no competition among associates. We’re all working together, and people are trying to help each other out.” Others found their relationships went beyond common courtesy: “I feel like I’ve really developed friendships. I go out with colleagues and co-workers regularly, which translates into a more comfortable workplace.” Socials come in the form of office-wide and practice group events, although we heard many “would rather go home to their families at a reasonable hour than attend an unnecessary happy hour.” Fair enough. One pragmatic source summed up the White & Case culture: “It’s a positive environment, but things can get intense when you’re working on something worth millions of dollars.” Makes sense then that while 40% or so of our respondents told us they were stressed, over 80% confirmed they were happy in their role.

Podcast: virtual interviews & summer programs with White & Case: Tips and tricks on how to ace virtual interviews and prepare for a virtual summer program.

Pro Bono



Channeling their inner Yoda, an insider told us they “feel a strong pro bono presence” at the firm. White & Case connects its juniors with “lots of impressive projects, like working with the Red Cross,” as well as cases “that sound sexy and feel like what people in the movies do.” That doesn’t mean you’ll be chasing criminals in sports cars – one of the most popular recent pro bono streams has been providing assistance to nonprofit organizations and small businesses in the US to deal with the fallout from COVID-19 and lockdown restrictions. “A lot of legal work can be boring and pro bono is pretty exciting: within a few minutes of new projects being sent out they’re full,” we heard. The firm gives each staff member a plaque for reaching 20 pro bono hours, and associates can count 200 toward their annual billable requirement.

Pro bono hours

  • For all (US) attorneys: 104,646
  • Average per (US) attorney: 103

Hours & Compensation



Billable hours: 2,000 requirement

Riding a “rollercoaster” of up-and-down hours, juniors reached a peak in the summer of 2020: “We had a real uptick, work was off the charts.” Quieter times were more manageable, and all told “it shakes out to be around 4050 hours a week. The balance is comfortable overall, but a little irregular.” It’s worth noting that first-years have no billing target, easing some of the pressure of settling in to firm life.The time zone challenges that come with international work can be a head spinner, but White & Case associates didn’t struggle with a lot of “cross-office work – we’re aware of time differences. If I was emailing London or Europe in the evening I would expect not to hear from them for a few hours.” Scoring a year-end bonus is dependent on hitting 2,000 hours, 1,800 of which must be client-chargeable. In 2020 W&C also offered special bonuses with no mandate to do so. 

“Taking leave has had no negative effects on my office experience.”

The firm’s leave policies received mixed reviews. One source was very impressed with the “three-month parental leave offering, colleagues and supervisors were very supportive and taking leave had no negative effects on my office experience.” Around 65% of juniors surveyed felt they could take leave on their terms. Some said “it can be easy, but you have to know when others are taking time off and keep up with your workload. It's frustrating to have to check if others are taking leave.” Some also noticed that readily taking leave was more accepted in certain practice areas than others.

Strategy & Future



Shrugging off the countless challenges presented by 2020, White & Case looks set to expand its already impressive presence. “Before the pandemic there was a lot of growth and that’s still central to our messaging going forward,” junior insiders told us. “The emphasis on growth is still present and we’re hiring into various groups.” The firm has actively brought in lateral hires from competitors; sources in New York suggested that appetite for new hires had made “office space an issue. The team is expanding, and we haven’t opened a new floor yet!” Associates should at least know when plans are made: “The firm has been good about transparency in its planning.”

“Before the pandemic there was a lot of growth and that’s still central to our messaging going forward.”

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 country. Those interested can also apply directly on the firm’s careers website. The number of students interviewed varies quite drastically from campus to campus, from as few as 15 through to over 100.

The OCIs themselves are usually conducted by partners and/or alumni of the school. At this stage, the questions are usually competency-based but also conversational: “We view the interview process as a two-way street, and our goal is for the student to get as much information as possible about our firm and our training programs as we get from them,” explains hiring partner Brenda Dieck. That said, expectations are still high: “We expect intelligence, good judgement and academic excellence. We are looking for problem solvers who can think carefully, creatively and critically.”

Top tips for this stage:

“Come prepared but be your authentic self. Preparation is not just research on the internet. Think about what it is about us that attracted you to the firm, how we are different from other firms, our key practice areas and which recent deals or cases you have found interesting.” – hiring partner Brenda Dieck.

Podcast: virtual interviews & summer programs with White & Case: Tips and tricks on how to ace virtual interviews and prepare for a virtual summer program.

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 are also competency-based, but “allow us to go more in depth, and will differ depending on the candidate/practice,” Dieck explains. She adds that “we make every effort to tailor the callback interview schedule to reflect specific interests.” There is also the opportunity to get to know lawyers in a more relaxed setting through lunches, receptions or office tours.

Top tips for this stage:

“Rehearsed answers, articulate as they may be, will not teach us the things about you we are more interested in learning about. Don’t be afraid to have a discussion, share ideas and ask real questions.” – hiring partner Brenda Dieck.

Summer program

Before the summer program even begins, the firm asks summers about their practice area interests. 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 practice areas of their 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 Dieck. Summer associates from all offices also attend the firm’s US Summer Associate Conference in the New York office, which involves various workshops, talks from lawyers and an opportunity to learn about firm strategy. “It’s a great way to connect with the firm outside of just your office, develop new skills and meet new colleagues from around the region,” Dieck explains. The firm also offers domestic and overseas rotation opportunities during the summer program.

Top tips for this stage:

“Show your passion and enthusiasm. Attend events and trainings. We want to know that you are as excited about our firm as we are about you.” – hiring partner Brenda Dieck.

Covid-19 Update



White & Case will be conducting its summer program virtually in 2021.

Reflecting on the 2020 summer program, recruitment insiders at the firm told us: "Summer associates were exposed to real client work, expansive training and learning opportunities, as well as invaluable networking and mentoring.  Our lawyers are always eager to get to know the summers, and that didn’t change with the virtual nature of the program." Some of the ways the firm worked to integrate summers included weekly calls with mentors and weekly 'water cooler chats' held exclusively for the summer associates. "When the summers wanted assistance in getting to know partners, we had partners volunteer for one or two lunch times, and up to five summers could sign up for each lunch. We held weekly virtual social events, and, of course, summers got to know our lawyers through their assignments as well."

White & Case LLP

1221 Avenue of the Americas,
New York,
NY 10020
Website https://www.whitecase.com/locations/americas/new-york

  • Head office: New York, NY
  • Number of domestic offices: 8
  • Number of international offices: 37
  • Worldwide revenue: $2.38 billion
  • Partners US: 244
  • Associates US: 677
  • Contacts  
  • Main recruitment contact: Kasey M. Stein
  • Hiring partner: Joseph Brazil
  • Recruitment website: www.whitecase.com/careers
  • Diversity officer: Maja Hazell
  • Recruitment details 
  • Number of entry-level associates starting in 2021: 74
  • Clerking policy: Yes
  • Number of summers joining/anticipated 2021: 1Ls – 18, 2Ls – 79, SEOs – 6
  • Number of summers joining/anticipated 2021 split by office*: BOS – 3 CHI – 9 HOU – 11 LA – 6 MI – 8 NY – 45 SV – 3 DC – 11 (*numbers include 1Ls; not SEOs)
  • Summer salary 2021:
  • 1Ls: $3,700/week
  • 2Ls: $3,700/week
  • Split summers offered? Case-by-case
  • 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$2.38 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 2021:
Boston College, Chicago, Columbia, Cornell, Duke, Fordham, Georgetown, Harvard, Houston, Howard, Loyola, McGill, Miami, Michigan, Northwestern, Notre Dame, NYU, Pepperdine, 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, Stanford, 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. We include a full curriculum of training programs in addition to hands-on training working side-by-side with our lawyers. Our assignment coordinators 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. One of the highlights is the US Summer Associate Conference, which provides an opportunity for summer associates across the US to network with their peers and learn more about the firm, our people, our values and our culture. 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: www.inside.whitecase.com
Twitter: WhiteCase
Facebook: whitecase
YouTube: whitecaseglobal
Linkedin: white-&-case

This Firm's Rankings in
USA Guide, 2021

Ranked Departments

    • Banking & Finance (Band 3)
    • Litigation: General Commercial: The Elite (Band 4)
    • Technology: Transactions (Band 3)
    • Antitrust (Band 3)
    • Litigation: General Commercial: Highly Regarded (Band 1)
    • Banking & Finance (Band 1)
    • Litigation: General Commercial: The Elite (Band 2)
    • Bankruptcy/Restructuring (Band 2)
    • Corporate/M&A & Private Equity (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)
    • 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)
    • Antitrust (Band 3)
    • Antitrust: Cartel (Band 1)
    • Banking & Finance (Band 2)
    • Bankruptcy/Restructuring: The Elite (Band 2)
    • 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 (Band 5)
    • International Trade: Trade Remedies & Trade Policy (Band 2)
    • Private Equity: Buyouts: Mid-Market (Band 2)
    • Projects: LNG (Band 2)
    • Projects: Oil & Gas (Band 2)
    • Projects: Power (Band 2)
    • Projects: Power & Renewables: Transactional (Band 1)
    • Projects: PPP (Band 3)
    • SPACs (Band 1)
    • Tax: Controversy (Band 4)
    • Tax: Corporate & Finance (Band 5)
    • Technology (Band 3)
    • Transportation: Aviation: Finance (Band 2)