With an already thriving global network, White & Case has turned its attention homeward, focusing on “substantial US growth.”
“THE firm's global footprint and the allure of over 40 offices worldwide was incredible to me,” a White & Case junior reflected. “Plus most of our transactions, even if based in the US, have some foreign element to them.” This 120-year-old Big Apple-born stalwart has become one of the world's best-known legal names, bolstered by almost four times as many offices outside the US than in.
Nationally, Chambers USA notes that the firm excels in areas including antitrust, energy, projects, aviation finance, international arbitration, and banking & finance. It's also ranked in New York, Florida, California and DC for areas including corporate M&A and litigation. White & Case wins rankings in a total of eight Chambers guides, including Chambers Global, where it has 20 global-wide rankings and is ranked in locations ranging from Finland to India. Click here to see all the firm's rankings on chambers.com.
This “variety of markets” to work with was a big draw for our interviewees, but the firm's current growth strategy has largely been focused at home. Executive committee member David Koschik explains: “It has involved bringing in new folks to the firm, as well as making internal promotions. It has been an energizing thing for the firm. It's given people new colleagues, but also gives us more talented folks to approach clients with.” In 2018 the firm opened two new US offices – in Houston and Chicago – and promoted 41 attorneys to partnership worldwide, the largest class in its history.
Strategy & Future
As of 2019 White & Case is over halfway through its current five-year growth strategy. "While we've done well executing on our strategy, we've got more to do," David Koschik says. "We expect more growth as we build up our offices in the US, especially our new offices in Boston, Chicago and Houston. We have a continued focus on industries including oil and gas, as well as technology, financial institutions and private equity. Those four sectors are our main focus in terms of growth.” He continues: “There's always a lot of focus on clients – and there should be – but there should be equal focus on people and making sure their careers are thriving.” In particular, Koschik highlights a recent 'health and engagement survey' that the firm put to its employees where the goal was to “figure out what we're doing right so that we can do it even better and what we're not doing as well. We felt we couldn't address career ambitions and the concerns of our people unless we fully understood from them how they feel about the place.”
White & Case has a huge incoming associate class. Judging by the list of names sent to us for research around two-thirds join the New York office, with about half the rest in DC, and the remainder chiefly in LA, Miami, and Silicon Valley, and a couple in Boston, Chicago and Houston. The majority of juniors start life as generalists in either a transactional or litigation 'pool,' and then end up split pretty evenly between the main groups: banking; capital markets, competition, disputes, M&A, and EIPAF (energy, infrastructure, projects and asset finance). The amount of time spent in the pool varies office to office, and between the corporate and litigation practices: generally, New Yorkers spend two years in the pool, while those in DC typically spend one year sampling matters in the pool.
In the corporate pool associates take work from four main groups: bank finance, capital markets, M&A and EIPAF. A group coordinator “assimilates information on availability and associates' interests, and hands out assignments that come in accordingly.” Most agreed this system is “good for making sure everyone has the right amount of work, and we aren't in the office 24/7.” Some found that “toward the end of the first year, people start to get work from other lawyers directly.”
Juniors who join capital markets from the pool find their work split between three subgroups: equity offerings, high-yield debt, and securitization. Our sources tended to start with tasks like due diligence and keeping track of checklists, for example when the firm is “advising large public companies reorganizing themselves for whole-business securitizations, which enables them to get loans or debt at lower rates than ordinarily.” One interviewee reported: “When I left the pool there was less due diligence and more drafting and writing emails to clients.” Clients include French and German investment banks as well as American ones. "I've seen multiple people seconded either to different offices in the US or abroad," a junior commented. "In capital markets I've seen people go to London in particularly because that is a great place to do capital markets."
Capital markets clients: Goldman Sachs, Disney, and Deutsche Bank. Represented the HNA Tourism Group in the $1.3 billion sale of the common stock of Park Hotels & Resorts, and repurchase of 14 million shares in the company.
Banking juniors “work on debt finance, asset finance, distressed finance, and restructuring.” Attorneys work on both the lender and borrower sides, which our interviewees said “keeps things interesting.” The clients are “large banks and financial institutions, as well as bondholders and ad hoc groups of noteholders.” Juniors were pleased they got to “draft the main credit agreements alongside ancillary documents.” Some also reported “speaking with the other side's counsel and negotiating terms.” There are occasional crossovers with the litigation group, one junior told us: “I've been able to work on antitrust and fraud litigation that has stemmed from our work, doing the preliminary draft of motions or oppositions.” Sources said the work made them notice White & Case is "a very global firm," reporting on "work with people in the Dubai and London offices" and "representing a Mexican client."
Banking clients: UBS, Morgan Stanley, and Credit Suisse. Advised Roark Capital on the $2.9 billion financing of the leveraged acquisition of Buffalo Wild Wings by Arby's.
"The firm has lived up to its reputation of being truly globally integrated.”
Interviewees outside New York found the litigation pool “made it a bit difficult to establish personal relationships with work coordinators, as many of them are in New York.” But, sources added, “the system has been improved – for instance, there are now people in DC as well whose job is to manage the pool associates.” Pool litigation juniors can sample commercial litigation, antitrust, and international arbitration (both investor-state and commercial). “Litigation juniors have the delightful privilege of engaging in doc review, especially in the early months," one junior joked, before adding: "It has been fairly minimal.” Instead our interviewees said they were focused on legal research, preparing for witness interviews, second-chairing depositions, and “drafting sections of motions.” Levels of responsibility vary depending on the size of the matter. “When I'm on a large team, I'm one of the lower people on the totem pole," a junior reflected. "But I've worked on some smaller matters with leaner teams too.” When it comes to staffing, one source noted: “I can't name a single matter involving only people from our office. The firm has lived up to its reputation of being truly globally integrated.” For example, we heard about juniors working with litigation colleagues in London, São Paulo, and Cairo. "For almost any foreign work, we use White & Case offices," observed one junior. "There are so many around the world, which makes things easy."
Litigation clients: Toshiba, the Republic of Peru, Pfizer, and SodaStream. Represented Anthem in a damages claim against former merger partner Cigna, after Cigna failed in contractual obligations surrounding the proposed merger.
Attorneys are encouraged to do at least 20 hours of pro bono a year and “most people go far above that.” Up to 200 hours can go toward associates' billing target. “The firm hands out stickers to put on your door when you reach a certain number of pro bono hours," a junior told us. "People then stop by and say congrats or thank you for your contribution.” Sources were happy with the “interesting range of projects” to get involved in, including representing people seeking asylum, working on religious freedom matters, handling adoption cases, and working with organizations including New York's Her Justice and the National Association for Urban Debate Leagues. DC associates noted “focusing on work for individual asylees,” as well as partnering with the National Veterans Legal Services Program. “A lot of the pro bono opportunities are litigation-focused," one junior reflected, "but there is some transactional pro bono including setting up nonprofit funds.”
Pro bono hours
- For all US attorneys: 81,977
- Average per US attorney: 89
Associates receive both formal and informal training. Formal training includes “group lunch sessions where we discuss what is going on in our group” as well as “a lot of CLE courses throughout the year.” Informally, sources found that “everybody is very open to talking you through things if you need guidance.”
Another interviewee told us: “It seems like partners are definitely trying to retain associates and develop us into future counsel and partners. They keep saying things in meetings like 'this is what you would do as a partner' or 'this is what you would do as a senior associate.'” Juniors reflected that “as always in BigLaw, the path to partnership is very arduous.” One junior did point out that “if you're around here long enough and do good work, partnership is a possibility.” Of course, partnership may not necessarily be your heart's desire, and if that is the case then our interviewees noted that the firm's “name value” and “very good reputation” would certainly be beneficial to a future career elsewhere.
White & Case's culture is hard-working and international. “Everyone is really focused on getting the work done efficiently and to the best of our abilities, so that we can go home at the end of the day,” a New York junior said. "We're not a 'work hard, play hard' firm. It's more about doing your work and going home to rest if you're done.” The same source was quick to add that “it's not like you can't talk to people" day to day in the office: "I can go into someone's office, chat about their kids or holiday plans, then get back to work.” In addition, the firm does host some socials, including monthly happy hours, practice group lunches, and holiday events, but “there's no expectation that you will be going out for drinks every night.” Juniors also mentioned social events aimed at cultivating client relationships – for example, “a pre-screening of the most recent Fantastic Beasts movie. Invites were sent to all our clients, and they provided all the candy and popcorn you could eat!”
"It's more about doing your work and going home to rest if you're done."
Juniors also said cross-office work defines life at White & Case. "We're very integrated in every manner," one said, "whether that's across practice groups or offices all over the world. I was emailing with a partner in Hong Kong yesterday, and emailing with associates in London two days ago. The way the firm has it set up is pretty brilliant: we have people all over the world and interactions are almost seamless, almost like you're in the same office."
Hours & Compensation
First-years do not have a billing requirement, but starting in their second-year associates should be billing 2,000 hours, 200 of which can be pro bono, training or recruiting events. Most interviewees reported that on a normal day they'd reach the office between 9:30am and 10am, and leave at around 7pm. However, as you might expect, sometimes the hours aren't exactly a walk in the park: one source told us that they'd once billed “20 hours in a 24-hour period...” Another source told us about one of their busy periods: "I've had a very busy past five or six months, with a lot of nights working in the office. Sometimes I'm in until 9pm, sometimes 10pm."
White & Case matched the 2018 market salary increase, which juniors recalled “happened so quickly there was no time for wondering if it was going to happen or not!” A West Coast source added: “They also gave us a summer bonus to catch up for the rest of the year.”
Diversity & Inclusion
One junior described White & Case as having "a welcoming climate that is respectful of a variety of different viewpoints,” saying that “when working with international clients diversity is a real strength.” One junior recalled: “I was worried when I first started because law has a reputation for being conservative and being a white male-dominated space, but at White & Case everyone is very open-minded. They've done a great job of training people and providing more education when it comes to diversity and inclusion.” The stats show women and racial minorities are well represented in the associate group.
White & Case recently implemented a new parental leave policy. “Previously the policy differentiated between the primary and secondary care giver," we heard, "which often meant women received more parental leave and were encouraged to take more than men, which had an impact on women's careers. Now regardless of gender you're entitled to 12 weeks, which is extraordinarily generous.”
The first stage: recruitment on and off campus
OCI applicants interviewed: 2,306
Interviewees outside OCI: 100
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.
Applicants invited to second stage interview: 953
Successful candidates will be invited for callback interviews. These are conducted with 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 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.
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.
White & Case LLP
1221 Avenue of the Americas,
- Head office: New York, NY
- Number of domestic offices: 8
- Number of international offices: 44
- Worldwide revenue: $2.05 billion
- Partners (US): 212
- Associates (US): 576
- Main recruitment contact: Antonia Choi
- Hiring partner: Brenda Dieck
- Diversity officer: Maja Hazell
- Recruitment details
- Entry-level associates starting in 2019: 111
- Clerking policy: Yes
- Summers joining/anticipated 2019:
- 1Ls: 14, 2Ls: 103, SEOs: 3
- Summers joining/anticipated 2019 split by office:
- BOS: 3, CHI: 3, HOU: 6, LA: 7, MI: 7, NY: 67, SV: 4, DC: 20 (includes 1Ls; not SEOs)
- Summer salary 2018:
- 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
American, Bay Area Diversity Job Fair, Berkeley, Chicago, Columbia, Cornell, Duke, Florida, Fordham, Georgetown, Harvard, Houston, Howard, Irvine, Loyola, Loyola Patent Job Fair, McGill, Miami, Michigan, Mid-Atlantic BLSA, Northeast BLSA, Northwestern, Notre Dame, NYU, Penn, Pepperdine, San Francisco IP Job Fair, Stanford, Texas, Toronto, Tulane, UCLA, USC, Virginia, Yale.
Recruitment outside OCIs:
Boston College, Boston University, Brooklyn, Emory, Hastings, Hofstra, Houston, NYLS, Oklahoma, Rutgers, Santa Clara, St. John’s, SMU, Suffolk, Tennessee, Texas, Tulane, Wash University.
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 high pace, high stakes situations.
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. Mentors are assigned to provide guidance. One of the highlights is the US Summer Associate Conference in New York, which provides an opportunity for our summer associates across the US to network with their peers and learn more about the firm, our people and our culture. At the end of the program, our summer associates will have a thorough understanding of what it is like to be an associate at White & Case.
This Firm's Rankings in
USA Guide, 2019
- Banking & Finance (Band 3)
- Litigation: General Commercial (Band 5)
District of Columbia
- Antitrust (Band 3)
- Banking & Finance (Band 1)
- Bankruptcy/Restructuring Recognised Practitioner
- Corporate/M&A & Private Equity (Band 3)
- Litigation: General Commercial (Band 3)
- Litigation: White-Collar Crime & Government Investigations Recognised Practitioner
- Bankruptcy/Restructuring (Band 3)
- Corporate/M&A: The Elite (Band 4)
- Environment: Mainly Transactional (Band 3)
- Intellectual Property: Patent (Band 4)
- Litigation: General Commercial: Highly Regarded (Band 2)
- Tax (Band 4)
- Technology & Outsourcing (Band 4)
USA - Nationwide
- Antitrust (Band 3)
- Antitrust: Cartel (Band 1)
- Banking & Finance (Band 2)
- Bankruptcy/Restructuring (Band 3)
- Capital Markets: Securitisation (Band 4)
- Corporate/M&A: The Elite (Band 4)
- Energy: Electricity (Transactional) (Band 3)
- International Arbitration (Band 1)
- International Trade: CFIUS Experts (Band 1)
- International Trade: Trade Remedies & Trade Policy (Band 2)
- Private Equity: Buyouts (Band 4)
- Projects: LNG (Band 2)
- Projects: Oil & Gas (Band 2)
- Projects: Power (Band 2)
- Projects: Power & Renewables: Transactional (Band 1)
- Projects: PPP (Band 3)
- Projects: Renewables & Alternative Energy Recognised Practitioner
- Tax: Controversy (Band 4)
- Tax: Corporate & Finance (Band 5)
- Transportation: Aviation: Finance (Band 2)