Selecting a law firm is a big decision because—let’s face it—you’re basically going to be living inside those four walls, cozying up to the billable hour. Researching key aspects of the firm—including the assigning system, training and mentoring, partner relations, transparency, etc.—is important for ensuring the best fit. After a while, though, the statistics and marketing materials may start to blur. When that happens, I recommend digging into each firm’s personality. That may mean talking directly to as many associates from the firm as you can, attending firm events if that’s an option, or reading associate reviews of the firm.
And sometimes, it may mean uncovering little details that set the firm apart. One of my favorite parts of Vault’s Annual Associate Survey is the “Fun Fact” section in which associates share interesting tidbits about their firms. Through these responses, I learn so much about a firm’s personality and culture both because of the information itself and also because the associate chose to share that particular fact. Obviously, I would never base my decision to join a firm on a random fun fact. But I think they provide an interesting glimpse at ways a firm is unique and also offer a springboard for additional questions.
Below are some fun facts from associates at Vault Law 100 firms that stood out to me from this year’s Law Firm Associate Survey:
Allen & Overy: “Generally, after their second year, associates are eligible to attend practice group ‘offsites,’ where they will have a chance to meet lawyers from other offices that work in their practice area. Offsites are typically in Europe, and it’s common for associates to extend their stay for a vacation.”
Cadwalader: “Elizabeth Warren started her legal career here at CWT.”
Cravath: ““The artwork in our cafeteria is of TV and movie scenes—‘Edward Scissorhands,’ ‘The Simpsons,’ and ‘Seinfeld’!”
Freshfields: “Our firm’s first client was the Bank of England in 1743—and it’s still a client.”
Gibson Dunn: “We have an annual karaoke contest at the New Associates’ Academy, which attracts fierce competition from the various offices around world.”
Haynes and Boone: “Founder and named-partner Mike Boone’s—and every partner’s—office size and décor is identical to those of first-year associates.”
Jenner: “We have a transgender working group focused on making our workplace even more accessible, which has support from the highest levels of the firm.”
Latham: “Associates help make the decisions on partnership promotions.”
Orrick: “[The firm] founded the Veterans Legal Career Fair for Military Lawyers, when it realized that there was no such fair in existence.”
Paul Hastings: “They are willing to spend up to $500 on language classes, even if these classes are not pertinent to your practice area.”
Proskauer: “The commissioner of the NHL and former commissioner of the NBA started here.”
Sullivan & Cromwell: “Every day at 4 p.m. is snack time, and lawyers congregate in one of the lawyer lounges to grab a snack and take a quick break.”
Skadden: “In 2017, Skadden’s management team crowd-sourced ideas from all of its attorneys globally in an inaugural ‘Think Tank’ challenge. After months of pooling and voting, five finalists were selected from around the world and flown to New York to present before a panel of the top brass. The winners’ ideas were implemented firm-wide (the firm also implemented several other ideas presented through the process), and the winners also won a hefty prize.”
Wachtell: “Two of the founding partners still show up to work every day and often work with associates directly.”
Willkie: “Willkie associates can participate in a mentor/mentee program with young (3rd/4th grade) students from underprivileged neighborhoods. I have been paired with the same student two years in a row and it’s a very fulfilling experience to be a presence in that young person’s education and upbringing.”
You can find more fun facts and other insider information on your target law firms by viewing the firms' profiles here.