Wiley - The Inside View

If you’re heading for the Hill, look no further than Wiley to achieve your government and political law dreams.

Are you torn between a career in law and a career in government? Or maybe you’re looking to work on the cutting edge of technology and regulations? Perhaps you just want to join a firm that’s loyal to DC without compromising on big clients and exciting work? Whatever it is, Wiley’s got it covered. Despite housing fewer than 300 attorneys in a single DC office, the firm is a force to reckon with across a range of litigious, transactional, and regulatory practices. It’s a tried and tested method that works according to our colleagues at Chambers USA, who place Wiley among the best of the best nationwide in government contracts and political law. In its hometown, the firm earns further top rankings in insurance and regulatory media & entertainment work; its telecom, broadcast & satellite and general commercial litigation practices are also highly regarded. 

“Wiley only exists in DC so we’ve got that hook. This is our place.” 

It’s certainly a reputation that drew our associate interviewees, who were keen to get their foot in the door at a “firm that’s focused on what the federal government is doing and how that affects clients.” Most of Wiley’s work involves agencies such as the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), Federal Trade Commission (FTC), and Department of Justice (DOJ). It naturally follows that plenty of Wiley’s lawyers have come straight from agency positions, and many Wiley attorneys also go on to work in government roles. For instance, Anna Gomez, a former Wiley telecom lawyer, recently became Commissioner of the FCC. “I like that we have that government connection,” said one associate. “Wiley only exists in DC so we’ve got that hook. This is our place.” 

Being at a one office firm was also a green flag for many when it came to their impression of the culture, so much so that one interviewee was more than happy to tell us, “As soon as I got the callback, I accepted immediately!” The associates we spoke to were keen to get plenty of early experience on interesting matters with plenty of support and mentoring: “It’s trial by fire, but people are there to help you out the whole way.” 

The Work 

Most of the associates on our list worked in the government contracts and telecom, media & technology (TMT) groups, while the rest were largely spread across white collar, international trade and insurance. Although work allocation slightly differs across practice areas, interviewees explained how groups have their own workload management partner who monitors assignments. “We update them every two weeks with our availability,” explained one associate. “They’ll steer work away from busy associates and encourage partners to reach out to those who are looking for work.” However, sources agreed that they generally get assigned work from partners directly, especially once they build relationships and develop specialisms within their practice. Most were satisfied with this system, noting how “the free market part of the system typically works well but, anytime it doesn’t, there’s someone there to step in to fix things.” 

“I think a lot of people are government contracts associates because they like bid protests. It’s so fast-paced.” 

Wiley’s government contracts practice “feels very DC,” according to one source, with plenty of ex-government figures in the ranks. While the work is largely litigation-focused, associates also spend their time digging through case law, legislation, and regulations to answer client questions. Associates highlighted bid protest litigation as a key and enjoyable part of the role: “I think a lot of people are government contracts associates because they like bid protests. It’s so fast-paced.” More specifically, each matter has a 100-day turnaround so, while the deadlines are set ahead of time, an associate appreciated how “reacting to files keeps you sharp.” Junior associates are typically responsible for managing deadlines, though we heard responsibility quickly ramps up as matters are so leanly staffed. This means greener associates can join trial teams and draft substantive sections of arguments and briefs, which is a great opportunity to “not only exercise writing skills, but also to get really involved and learn all about the client’s business and proposed contract.” With such a range of clients across industries – including defense, aerospace, tech and energy, to name a few – one source was pleased to say: “I’m learning about a lot of things I didn’t expect to learn about as a lawyer!” 

Government contracts clients: Noridian Healthcare Solutions, National Industries for the Blind, Supreme Foodservice. Defended Boeing in a $500 million+ contract award defense relating to an IT support procurement from the Defense Intelligence Agency.

The TMT group, meanwhile, works on the FCC- and FTC-related regulatory aspects of telecom, media, and technology. There are plenty of opportunities to work on matters involving radio and TV broadcasters, government contractors, communications companies, satellites, and wireless tower leases. Sources explained that cybersecurity is a core part of the practice, with plenty of work in privacy, FinTech and AI compliance. Interviewees felt that they were “expected to be a jack-of-all-trades in TMT,” getting stuck into research, drafting and writing comment summaries (condensing recent proceedings or updates into digestible terms for clients). Insiders were happy at the level of responsibility, noting how there’s room for growth due to the lean staffing model, so “you come out of matters feeling competent” but still have access to “the safety net of oversight and instruction.” 

TMT clients: Nexstar Media Group, The Public Broadcasting Service, Radio Television Digital News Association. Advised iHeartMedia on various transactions, political broadcasting, and compliance matters totaling $20 billion and counting.

Juniors can try out a whole range of matters in the white-collar group, including fraud cases, arbitrations, and internal investigations. Work often involves the FCC or DOJ, representing those who may be interviewed by the government or subject to an investigation. One interviewee particularly enjoyed False Claims Act cases as “they have the classic litigation components of putting a narrative together, where what people knew or were thinking matters.” Newbies here get to grips with doc review, research and drafting but can start to take on more brief and memo writing as they progress. “Sometimes I’m the only associate on a matter,” said an interviewee, “but when more associates are staffed, each can get ownership over a part of the case.” 

White collar clients: BAE Systems, AECOM Technology Corporation, American Heart Association. Wiley represented the former CMO of global pharma company Indivior in a number of fraud, anti-competitive practice, and misleading marketing allegations made against the company, attending hearings across the US and UK.

“It’s exciting work, and you get to help people while adding variety to your matters.” 

Pro Bono 

“They have pro bono for everybody,” an interviewee raved. “Some want litigation experience and there are plenty of opportunities to be in court. Those who don’t want that can find research or due diligence assignments.” The firm supports the local DC bar pro bono center, so associates can pick up housing, personal injury, and criminal matters, among others. Work also comes in through connections with organizations, such as The Trevor Project, Catholic Charities, and the California Reparations Task Force. The firm’s pro bono partner sends out daily matter reports but attorneys can also reach out to volunteer their time to a cause. “It’s exciting work, and you get to help people while adding variety to your matters,” summarized an interviewee, explaining how the work is “meaningful and not done to check a box.” Other sources agreed, noting how the firm is “good at recognizing it’s valuable work.” Although there’s a 50-hour cap to pro bono, any additional hours are considered on a case-by-case basis, so some of our interviewees had even been allowed to credit well over 100 hours towards their billable target. 

Pro bono hours

  • For all US attorneys: 8,851
  • Average per US attorney: 28.9

Hours & Compensation 

Billable hours: 1,950 target

Most felt that the target was achievable, with many hitting it while still maintaining a reasonable work-life balance. Interviewees reported working anywhere between eight and ten hours on a standard day, and one was especially grateful for the fact that “once you finish work for the day, you generally don’t have to pick it back up. Things occasionally come up and the days get longer when deadlines are approaching, but we’re good at planning.” Others also appreciated the flexibility: “As long as I’m responsive and available if someone needs me, I don’t have to worry too much about when I’m putting in my hours.” 

Sources explained that the firm is more lenient when it comes to first years meeting their billable target, understanding there’s often a ramp-up period when joining the firm. However, a TMT associate noted that business development hours don’t count towards the target even though it’s “important work and a big part of what we do in the practice group.” Interviewees also agreed that the bonus allocation system was opaque: “We don’t really know how it’s structured and people who didn’t hit their hours in first year got the same bonus as those who did. That’s a little bit annoying, especially since I put in the effort to meet the target and got compensated the same as those who didn’t.” Sources also noted that the bonus is lower than market-rate, but were pleased that the firm has remained transparent on salary changes in line with the Cravath scale. 

“I like to say we’re a bunch of affable nerds.” 


“I like to say we’re a bunch of affable nerds,” an associate quipped when asked about Wiley’s culture. “I hear that they have abrasive nerds at other firms, but I genuinely like the people I work with.” Sources praised their colleagues for their dedication to the work while keeping a healthy balance: “They really are brilliant people but their work doesn’t take up every single space in their life.” Being in one office meant a lot to interviewees when it came to establishing a cohesive culture, especially since many are making the effort to work from the office. For example, teams arrange in-office days for group meetings so attorneys can see each other in-person. Social events such as company picnics, happy hours and even puppy visits are commonplace, though being in DC for one associate meant that “there’s generally a professional demeanor around most people – no crazy New York parties at the end of a deal closing!”

Career Development 

Most felt that the firm cared about their professional development, with one interviewee remarking, “I have conversations with attorneys outside my practice who seem really invested in me and my career. The people in my group even praise me to people I don’t work with!” Others noted how partners help them develop a niche by bringing them onto matters and business development opportunities. Alongside these informal mentorship structures, there are also assigned partner and associate mentors for those joining the firm. 

Our interviewees generally agreed that partnership seemed attainable with hard work, explaining how the firm hosts partner development training to offer associates an insight into developing their business and relationships with clients. We also heard there are plenty of homegrown partners, and associates appreciated how partners were open to questions. In fact, one junior was glad to say, “Senior women at the firm have offered to answer any questions on how they made their career sustainable, or how they planned a wedding or family around their job. They want to share their knowledge on how they’ve found a way to make BigLaw work.” 

“It’s well-known in DC that Wiley is LGBTQ+ friendly.” 

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion 

The representation of women at the firm was consistently rated highly by interviewees, especially since many practice groups have more female than male associates among their ranks. Although some wanted to see more women at the partner level – as is the case more generally across BigLaw – interviewees were pleased that “there are a lot of really impressive role models. I’ve been able to see partners of color and of different sexual orientations.” In fact, as one associate boasted: “It’s well-known in DC that Wiley is LGBTQ+ friendly.” That said, some associates said that there’s still a way to go when it comes to racial and ethnic diversity firmwide but lauded Wiley’s dedication to improve nonetheless. For example, one source was happy to explain how the firm invests in its eight affinity groups both financially and through professional support: “Whenever there’s an opportunity to help women or minority lawyers grow, the firm will help put an application together, get them the resources they need and even pay for any travel expenses.” 

Strategy & Future 

Associates had noticed a growth in headcount over recent years, especially within the litigation group, but felt that the firm was still focused on maintaining its prestige in government contracts and election law. Part of this, according to interviewees, is likely to involve “growing our practice around developments in AI regulation, whether that’s the laws from the Hill or whatever agencies start to regulate its use. Clients will be interested in the limitations that will be put on future government contracts.”

Get Hired

The first stage: recruitment on and off campus 

OCI applicants interviewed: 107

Interviewees outside OCI: 22

Wiley’s recruiting focus reflects its commitment to DC, as it recruits from top law schools in Washington, DC and along the East Coast. However, Jon Burd, chair of the recruiting committee, tells us “we also attract write-in candidates from law schools across the country.” The firm meets with 10-40 students for each school’s OCI program. Interviews are conducted in pairs by partners and mid to senior-level associates. 

The firm seeks “exceptional candidates who have a demonstrated interest in joining a DC-based practice and one or more of Wiley’s core practice areas,” says Burd. Interviewers ask questions about the interviewee’s “analytic ability, drive, focus and interpersonal skills.” They look too for an interest in the firm’s involvement in DC and are seeking “promising new attorneys from diverse backgrounds and who share Wiley’s commitments to long-term professional development within our demonstrated areas of expertise.” 

They also ask questions to figure out if candidates will be a good cultural fit – “so we may ask behavioral interviewing questions to find out how students have responded to different situations in school or in other work they have done,” Burd clarifies. 

Top tips for this stage: 

“Candidates who do well in our interview process project confidence, maturity, authenticity and strong interpersonal skills. At the interview, be able to demonstrate that you are hard-working, intelligent, courteous and pleasant, and that you have the soft skills to pass the airport test.”  Jon Burd, chair of the recruiting committee. 


Applicants invited to second-stage interview: 57

The firm creates individualized schedules for each candidate, “based on the candidate’s potential practice area interests, professional/work history, law school and other interests,” says Burd. Each candidate typically meets with four to six attorneys for 20 each, including a mix of partners and associates who are members of the firm’s recruiting committee. 

Top tips for this stage: 

“Here you’ll fit in well if you demonstrate a good attitude and are open to helping others alongside being generally hard-working.”  A junior associate. 

Summer program 

2L Offers: 30

2L Acceptances: 14

Wiley describes its summer program as having six facets: integration; guidance and sponsorship; substantive work; hands-on learning; evaluation, feedback and growth; and special opportunities. Integration involves social activities that allow candidate and firm to “get to know each other better.” Guidance and sponsorship involves mentoring and meeting clients. Substantive work involves summers self-selecting work from the assignment database. Hands-on learning includes training sessions and taking part in the firm’s litigation skills workshop, which “includes opportunities to take and defend mock depositions and build a litigation case strategy,” Burd explains.Evaluation, feedback and growth includes mid-summer and end-of-summer reviews to receive and give feedback. Special opportunities include opportunities such as attending client meetings, depositions, affinity group lunches and seminars. 

For the past five years, 95% of summer associates have returned as first-year associates. “At the end of the summer, we invite our summer associates to rank their top three practice group interests,” Burd tells us. “We use these rankings and consult with practice group leaders to determine placement for our junior associates, and make our best effort to place new attorneys within their top-ranked practice area.” 

Top tips for this stage: 

“Ask a lot of thoughtful questions that reflect your interest in learning and understanding the practice of law. Take advantage of special opportunities such as attending depositions, listening in on conference calls, and attending social events organized by the firm. It’s important to talk to as many people as possible about their experience at the firm.” – Jon Burd, chair of the recruiting committee. 

And finally… 

Burd believes that “Wiley is a great place to build a career. This is a 30+ years-young, innovative firm that is invested in building for the future by consistently identifying and growing top talent to lead the next generation of outstanding Wiley attorneys.” 



2050 M Street, NW,
Washington, DC,
Website www.wiley.law

Main areas of work

■ Government Contracts
■ Insurance
■ International Trade
■ Election Law & Government Ethics 
■ Intellectual Property
■ Telecom, Media & Technology
■ Litigation 

Firm profile

 Wiley is a Washington, DC institution with a worldwide impact. With more than 250 attorneys and advisors and an elite collection of practices, we’re a ‘go-to’ firm for some of the world’s largest companies, business organizations, and individuals. We bring true interdisciplinary depth to the nation’s capital, helping clients navigate its complex legal, policy, and regulatory environment to develop innovations that will shape the future. Many of our attorneys have held high-level positions in the White House and federal agencies, and on Capitol Hill. Our business acumen is supported by our collaborative culture, pro bono contributions, and diverse perspectives. Most importantly, because Wiley remains a Washington, DC-based firm that largely operates out of a single office, we are able to control costs and billing rates in a manner that is nearly impossible in large, multi-office or multinational law firms. In addition, Wiley generously gives back to the community, providing significant pro bono legal services and charitable con-tributions to more than 450 local and national organizations every year.


Law schools attending for OCIs in 2024:
American University Washington College of Law, Antonin Scalia Law School — George Mason University, The George Washington University Law School, Georgetown University Law Center, Harvard Law School, Howard University School of Law, University of Virginia School of Law.

Summer associate profile:
Our summer associate program is the foundation of our recruiting efforts. We ensure that summer associates experience the excellence and diversity of our firm and we provide opportunities for each student to handle responsibilities typically assumed by first year associates.

Summer program components:
The defining feature of our program is the flexibility of work assignments. We assist students in tailoring their assignments so that they gain significant exposure to a wide variety of practice areas through our interactive database of assignments. In addition, summer associates receive a recruiting committee mentor and an associate mentor to help integrate them into the firm and our practices. We host an extensive litigation skills training program in addition to other professional development and social events throughout the summer.

Social Media

Recruitment website: www.wiley.law
Instragram: @wileyrein

This Firm's Rankings in
USA Guide, 2023

Ranked Departments

    • Environment (Band 3)
    • Insurance: Insurer (Band 1)
    • Litigation: General Commercial: Highly Regarded (Band 2)
    • Litigation: White-Collar Crime & Government Investigations (Band 4)
    • Media & Entertainment: Regulatory (Band 1)
    • Telecom, Broadcast & Satellite (Band 2)
    • False Claims Act (Band 3)
    • Food & Beverages: Regulatory & Litigation (Band 4)
    • Government Contracts: The Elite (Band 1)
    • International Trade: Export Controls & Economic Sanctions: Highly Regarded (Band 2)
    • International Trade: Trade Remedies & Trade Policy (Band 2)
    • Political Law (Band 1)

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