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McDermott Will & Emery

444 West Lake Street
Chicago, IL 60606-0029
(312) 372-2000



Sitting comfortably among the Vault 100 law firms, McDermott is best known for its work in health care and tax—though its practices extend far beyond. The firm is forward-thinking when it comes to wellness—it was the first to offer lawyers billable credit for 25 wellness hours—and will appeal to those seeking a collegial, supportive environment.

Firm Stats


Total No. Attorneys (2023)

1K - 1.5K


No. of Partners Named (2023)



Featured Rankings

Vault Law 100


No. of 1st Year Associates Hired (2023)



No. of Summer Associates (2023)

112 total (96 2Ls; _14 1Ls, 2 SEOs)


Base Salary

Base Salary 2023Year 1: $215,000

Vault Verdict

Associates love McDermott. It’s not enough to note that the firm’s culture is described in overwhelmingly positive terms; associates feel that the firm goes all in on nurturing that culture. Although the hiring process is as competitive as one might expect from a top BigLaw firm, McDermott takes a holistic approach to hiring, focusing as much (or more) on personality and fit as on law school and grades. As a result, while the T14 is well represented at McDermott, the firm draws from a wider pool of law schools to find its ideal candidates. Getting back to culture, associates use words like “excellent” and “impeccable” to describe an environment of warm comradery among all levels of attorneys and staff. Firm leadership is highly transparent, and partners are deeply supportive of bo...

Firm's Response

When You Join McDermott, Expect the Top in Culture and Compensation

Unbeatable Culture

We believe that success begins on day one, and we give you the support and tools you need to achieve it. That’s why McDermott is ranked Vault’s #1 Law Firm to W...

About the Firm

A Chicago institution since the 1930s, McDermott Will & Emery has, in recent decades, broadened its gaze to new markets in the United States and abroad. The strategy has paid off in spades, with McDermott firmly ensconced among the world’s largest and most elite law firms. 

A Windy Start

McDermott opened for business in 1934 as a tax firm run by Edward H. McDermott and William M. Emery. A mere seven years later, the third and final name partner was added in corporate specialist Howard A. Will. The firm’s name has remained the same ever since, a remarkable feat of continuity in the modern atmosphere of shortened firm names, legal mergers, and buyouts. McDermott added an Estate Planning division in 1941, and by 1944, the firm had burgeoned to 16 lawyers. Over the next half c...

Associate Reviews

  • “The environment is overwhelmingly positive. Associates socialize over coffee, happy hours, and firm-sponsored lunches and holiday events. Staff is invited to all the same events as associates, and attorneys go out of their way to welcome everyone. As a lateral, the firm has additional initiatives to involve me. For example, in addition to formal and informal mentorship budgets, and a cohort group of other laterals, the firm has also done other surprises such as filling my office with donuts to encourage attorneys and staff to come socialize with me.”
  • “The firm has an impeccable culture. Ultimately, when I changed firms, culture was a driving factor in my decision, and [McDermott] lived up to the billing. The partner and associate relationships are great, and often involve social events after hours. The attorney-to-staff interactions are equally great and filled with respect.”
  • “It is the most type B of all the [BigLaw] firms, from what I've heard.”
  • “Firm culture is really great here. Although it's BigLaw, the vibe is definitely much better than other BigLaw firms.”

Why Work Here

We don’t just invest in your future, we act as a career accelerant to propel you along your journey, wherever it may lead. And even as we celebrate hard work and excellence, we emphasize happiness—encouraging a rich, full life outside the office. It’s all part of our #AlwaysBetter mantra, as we strive to bring our best to our clients and each other every day.

Diversity at McDermott Will & Emery

"Since McDermott was established in 1934, we have been driven not only to give our clients excellent service but also to be citizens in our workplace and communities. Our lawyers have built upon this legacy in a number of ways, including efforts to ensure that diversity and inclusion are top priorities for the Firm. Over the last three decades, our Gender Diversity, Racial & Ethnic Diversity and LGBTQ Diversity Subcommittees have led the charge to recruit, retain, and develop diverse talent. In 2011, the three committees were..."

Getting Hired Here

  • “The firm seems interested in top-level law schools, but with some flexibility for local schools with strong reputations. …”
  • “We hire from a healthy mix of schools—I didn't graduate from a top 15 school. Grades are important, but so is passion about the area of law, especially when the area is highly technical/niche. I've personally seen us hire a candidate from a lower-ranked school over a higher-ranked school because of the genuine interest they had in a specific area of law.”
  • “ … [McDermott] isn't super grade conscious, and seems to recruit from a range of law schools. They seem to be interested in people from top schools, but are also looking for people who specifically want to be at [McDermott]. …”
  • “The hiring process may not be as ‘competitive’ as other firms in terms of law school prestige, grades, accolades, etc. (although those things are certainly important). But the firm is highly focused on maintaining its excellent culture, and goes to great lengths to find people who fit within the firm from a personality standpoint.”

Perks & Benefits

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