From its single New York office, Patterson Belknap is a heavy hitter across a full spectrum of litigation and corporate services. The firm is also vigorously devoted to pro bono, with an impressive resume of various matters and a long-standing 100% attorney participation rate in the program. To highlight one example, the firm received Benchmark Litigation’s 2021 “Pro Bono Firm of the Year” award for its work representing a union of Department of Homeland Security officers who...
Total No. Attorneys (2021)
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Personality fit is key to landing a spot at Patterson Belknap, and if you’re pursuing litigation, a clerkship is key. In addition to sophisticated work, the firm’s culture is clearly a high point—while attorneys prioritize personal and family time, the work-day atmosphere is social, collegial, and warm. Partners treat associates as equals and are invested in their career development. The firm is transparent with respect to big-picture information, although associates wish for more clarity into certain aspects, such as promotion prospects. The billable-hours requirement is 1,850 hours plus 250 for other tasks—like pro bono and admin work—and associates feel it’s reasonable. It also doesn’t hurt that if they don’t hit their hours, they can still earn 50% of their bonus. Because of t...
About the Firm
With around 200 attorneys working out of its single outpost in Manhattan, Patterson Belknap may seem like a modest operation relative to New York’s megafirms, but the firm holds its own. Handling litigation and corporate matters on behalf of clients from such disparate fields as media, financial services, banking, private equity and life sciences, the firm also represents nonprofits and foundations on a wide range of matters.
A Distinguished Career
Patterson Belknap was founded in New York City in 1919. Leading name partner Robert P. Patterson was a veteran, judge—sitting on the U.S. District Court and then the Second Circuit—and Harry Truman's Secretary of War. In the late 1940s, Patterson joined the firm that would become Patterson Belknap, joined by his Harvard classmates ...
- “The people are what make Patterson special. My colleagues are kind, personable, and easy to work with. The firm strikes the right balance of having opportunities for attorneys to socialize but not forcing people to spend too much time away from their families to attend work events.”
- “Very collegial. Not in the standard joke that every firm says they're collegial, but in the very real way that people respect boundaries, business hours, and vacation. Accordingly, this is not the biggest party/social firm, but people enjoy coming to work and grabbing coffees. It's professional, polite, and warm.”
- “I joined the firm during the COVID-19 pandemic, so almost all of my interactions have been remote. Based upon those interactions, attorneys at the firm are friendly and caring—even remotely, they go out of their way to check in on workload and how new lawyers are acclimating, and they remember and ask about personal details (e.g., a birthday, the birth of a new family member). …”
- “The firm is staffed with kind, normal people who generally like each other and like working together. People are well-rounded and have lives outside of work, so the firm makes an effort to schedule social activities before people leave the office for the day (back when we were still in the office)—that being said, I have gone out for drinks or dinner with work friends (and, during the pandemic, for walks with neighbor-coworkers) many times.”
Diversity at Patterson Belknap
Getting Hired Here
- “In litigation, the firm hires mostly from clerkships. This inherently focuses the hiring on a particular type of associate—academically accomplished, intellectual, and good at writing. The interview process is more substantive than at many firms, as the firm is looking to hire attorneys who can jump into serious legal work, rather than bodies to churn hours.”
- “Because my firm largely hires judicial law clerks, the hiring process is fairly competitive. Nevertheless, it does not appear to limit its hiring to a small handful of law schools, instead prioritizing performance as a law student, clerkships, and personal decency, and collegiality.”
- “For non-litigation, lateral candidates, it seems as though relevant prior work experience and cultural fit are more important than which law school you attended.”