Why Schiff?

Welcome to Schiff Hardin! As the firm’s managing partner, my number one focus is the people who work here. At a firm like ours, everyone – each of our 300 lawyers in seven cities around the country – is important to the firm’s success.

I’ve been here since I graduated from law school and I’ve stayed because my colleagues are a special group. We share several core values:

  • We are committed to professional excellence and to each other as people. Those commitments go hand in hand: we do our best work when we work together as a team.
  • We give our colleagues at all levels the freedom to be the lawyers they want to be and the support they need to get there. New associates have a year to select a practice group. They advance at their own pace with the help of our professional development team and our in-house writing coach. And our partners enjoy the autonomy they need to develop their practices in their own way.
  • We believe in transparency. We share our financial results with all of our lawyers, and we tell our associates what skills and experience they need to advance. We also involve both associates and partners in firm leadership and governance.
  • We are devoted to community both inside the firm and out. We were the first major Chicago-based firm to have an African-American partner and practice group leader, we are one of the few AmLaw 200 firms with a woman serving as managing partner, and four of our seven Executive Committee members are women or diverse lawyers. We serve on boards and foundations, we are active members of professional and civic organizations, and in 2017 we devoted 4.19 percent of our total client hours to pro bono work, well in excess of the ABA’s 3 percent recommendation...

We need you. Our summer associates and our newest lawyers are vitally important to our future. If you are interested in practicing at a law firm like ours – a firm whose lawyers put clients and each other ahead of themselves, a firm that does excellent work and creates early opportunities for all of its lawyers, and a firm that is committed to serving the community through pro bono work and volunteer activities – please consider joining us.

Marci A. Eisenstein, Managing Partner

The Opportunities

Many firms ask law students to decide what kind of lawyer they would like to be while they are still in law school. That does not make sense to us. Few people can take Property and know for sure that they want to be – or don’t want to be – a real estate lawyer.

For that reason, we don’t hire new associates into practice groups. Instead, we encourage incoming associates to explore a range of opportunities before selecting a group. New associates seek work from the practice areas they find interesting, do the work, and then choose the group that is right for them.

Our experience shows that lawyers who choose the direction of their own careers are far more likely to be happy and productive. If you select your practice group the first week you’re here, great. But if you choose after a year of exploration, that’s fine too.

New associates at Schiff Hardin have early opportunities to learn and contribute. You will not spend your first year sitting in your office reviewing documents. Instead, you will be in court. You will be negotiating deals. And you will be meeting with clients. You will learn from hands-on experiences.

The People

Large law firms may look alike online, but they really are not. Each has its own flavor. Schiff lawyers have different genders, colors, ethnicities, sexual orientations, abilities, and opinions. But we also have many things in common: our interest in working collaboratively, our passion for solving our clients’ problems, and our commitment to pro bono legal and community work. We know that we need the skills and perspectives of everyone here to obtain the best results for our clients and sustain our unique culture.

Who works here? A lawyer who rose from mailroom messenger to managing partner. A nationally competitive ballroom dancer (who began dancing just a few years ago). A professional sculptor. A national Kung Fu champion. A former Navy officer who served on a destroyer in the Persian Gulf. A college heptathlete. Several former Teach for America and Peace Corps volunteers. And almost 300 other unique people in six cities around the country.

Join us and bring your one-of-a-kind qualities to Schiff Hardin!

The Experience

Why should you choose Schiff Hardin over other law firms? Because we are “just the right size” for you to get the experience you want and need. We are big enough to have the most sophisticated work but small enough that everyone here plays a key role. You will get high-level experience right away, and we will help you learn and develop skills that you will take with you throughout your career.

Many large law firms focus on mega-cases and mega-deals. New associates work for mid-level associates, who work for senior associates, who work for partners. Not so here. Our partner-to-associate ratio is about 1.75:1, and our teams regularly consist of just one partner and one associate. Associates develop their skills while they work side-by-side with partners on cutting-edge legal matters. Lean staffing means that you will get early, hands-on substantive work and direct contact with Fortune 500, mid-size business, and individual clients.

Our work ranges from large, complex, bet-the-company cases to smaller matters that junior associates run. With the supervision of senior lawyers, new transactional associates monitor and manage deals, negotiate with opposing counsel, and draft corporate and financing documents. And new litigation associates appear in court, take and defend depositions, and research and write sophisticated trial and appellate briefs.

We are looking for lawyers who are eager to start practicing law the day they arrive, who seek out new challenges, and who see each matter as an opportunity to contribute and achieve the client’s goal.

The Training

We know law school is just the beginning of a lawyer’s education, so we help you develop the additional skills you need to practice. We will help you through our formal and informal professional development programs. We are one of few firms in the country that has an in-house legal writing coach who spends most of her time with summer and new associates and we provide individual business development coaching and mentoring. You will learn the skills you need here when you need them.

Our summer program features training in three areas: legal writing for law practice; practical corporate and litigation skills; and client skills/business development.

And the learning process doesn’t end when you graduate from law school. Our writing coach hosts workshops and works with you individually, and our practice groups run more advanced trainings. We also support associates who seek training outside the firm, including intensive trial skills training through the National Institute of Trial Advocacy (NITA).

In addition, our lawyers have hands-on opportunities to develop their skills through paid and pro bono client work and through bar association and community service.

At Schiff Hardin, if you want to sharpen your skills, learn how to sell yourself and the firm to a potential new client, or write a first-rate brief, all you have to do is ask. The resources and opportunities are here for you.

The Community

Friends and mentors are plentiful at Schiff Hardin. You will not need to look far to find others who share the firm’s values, including a commitment to pro bono work and the communities where we live and work.

Your first “community” will be your summer associate class. That is just the start. The firm fosters additional connections through formal and informal events and programs. A few examples: groups of associates venture out each month to the Chicago Volunteer Legal Services clinic. New lawyers firmwide are paired with experienced ones in a formal mentoring program. Practice groups host regular social and professional development events. And lawyers from all seven offices come to Chicago for annual firm meetings.

  • Summer Program

    Welcome to Schiff Hardin! Nothing is more important to the firm than the people who work here, and that starts with law school recruiting. We rely on our newest lawyers to help us perform sophisticated, high-quality work, and to contribute to the supportive culture that drew so many of us here.

    I wear two hats at the firm: I’m a partner in our General Litigation group, and I’m the Chair of the firm’s Law Student Recruitment Committee. I love what I do in both roles. My practice is challenging and rewarding, and my recruiting work introduces me to new and interesting people who may soon be working side-by-side with me and my colleagues.

    You may find it hard to distinguish one large law firm from the next. I know how that feels. I’m the first lawyer in my family, and when I was in law school I did not know what kind of law I wanted to practice. What I did know was that I wanted to do interesting and high-level work, and I wanted to enjoy my colleagues. That is why I joined Schiff, and that is why I’m still here.

    So what sets Schiff apart? First, the firm is the best of both worlds: we are big enough to have top-notch, nationally recognized practices, but we are not a “megafirm” – with about 300 lawyers, everyone here matters.

    Second, we are not built like other firms. Our partner-to-associate ratio is about 1.75:1. That means you will work directly with partners from day one.

    Third, we are intensely focused on your professional development. Summer associates do real work for real clients in the practice areas that most interest them. For example:

    • Conducting client calls, drafting affidavits, and writing the argument portion of our pre-hearing statement for an asylum hearing on behalf of a gay man from Honduras (we won!)
    • Giving a presentation to our corporate group – and then to a firm client – about a securities regulation
    • Attending several days of trial and preparing a motion for judgment

    We have a legal writing coach on staff who works closely with our summer and new associates and a range of additional training programs. And our full-time associates get credit for up to 50 “training hours” so they can learn by observing more senior lawyers.

    Fourth, we are a flexible place. We recognize that one size does not fit all. We do not hire first-year associates into practice groups. Instead, we give associates time to work with different groups before choosing which one to join. Further, our flexible advancement approach gives associates a clear roadmap for their development and lets them move toward partnership at a pace linked to their individual goals and performance.

    Last but not least, we are devoted to our communities. Every year we surpass the American Bar Association’s pro bono target, and associates can choose the type of pro bono work they find inspiring and receive full revenue hour credit for their pro bono hours.

    My colleagues and I are lawyers who like being lawyers. We take pride in our work, and we have fun doing it. I hope you will consider joining us.

    David C. Blickenstaff, Chair, Law Student Recruitment Committee

     


     

    Schiff Hardin’s summer program has two primary goals.

    • First, we want every summer associate to be able to demonstrate the professional qualities we seek in new lawyers. We look for summer associates who are eager to learn and grow and are open to new ideas, who strive for excellence, and who are dedicated to their colleagues and the legal profession.
    • Second, we want all of our summer associates to get a realistic look at what it is like to practice law here, in terms of both the work we do and who we are. Our summer associates work with lawyers from different practice groups and different offices, experience the quality and range of our work, and gain substantive experience in the areas that interest them. By the end of the summer, our summer associates have a good feel for the firm’s work, as well as its culture.

    Experience the Work

    We are a general practice, national law firm and gather work for our summer associates from all of our practice areas and offices. Summer associates can choose their work based on their interests. While a few concentrate in a particular practice area, most explore several different areas during the summer and work with attorneys around the country. At least twice during the summer, our summer associates nationwide travel to Chicago to further get to know each other and our lawyers.

    Our summer assignments are varied and have included the following:

    • Researching and drafting memos on legal topics, including whether a plaintiff in a products liability case has the right to inspect and videotape the manufacturing facility where the product was made; the French reporting and taxation requirements for a U.S. trust; and whether a plaintiff in a Clean Air Act action must show actual injury to prevail;
    • Drafting and interpreting contracts, opinion letters, and other documents, including related to a merger of two banks;
    • Drafting trial and appellate level briefs and pleadings for both state and federal courts, including motions to strike a jury demand, a motion for summary judgment addressing the invalidity of patents; and motions in limine to exclude evidence in a Section 1983 excessive force case;
    • Assisting in the due diligence investigation of a target company and drafting merger documents;
    • Writing blog posts for the firm’s employment, environmental, and products liability blogs; and
    • Assisting in deposition and trial preparation, including analyzing the admissibility of an expert’s deposition testimony when he is not called to testify at trial and preparing witnesses for trial.

    Develop Through Training

    You will learn a lot during a summer at Schiff Hardin. We have both formal and informal programs. In some, experienced Schiff attorneys teach our summer associates, give them hands-on litigation and corporate experience, and provide substantive feedback to help them develop new skills. Summer here is designed to be a transition between law school and law practice.

    Summer associate training has four components:

    Litigation Training: Summer associates learn from top trial lawyers about how to argue a motion and then argue themselves and receive feedback from firm attorneys. Even law students who do not think they are interested in litigation enjoy litigation training.

    Corporate Training: Summer associates learn from leading corporate attorneys about their practices, including topics like the steps in a corporate transaction, securities issues in corporate practice, and the key elements of a purchase agreement. They observe a negotiation of terms of a mock purchase agreement and negotiate other terms themselves.

    Legal Writing Instruction: Schiff Hardin’s summer writing program has three parts.

    • First, at the beginning of the summer program, our in-house legal writing coach Julie Schrager conducts a half-day writing workshop called “Introduction to Legal Writing at Law Firms.”
    • Second, each summer associate participates in a writing roundtable. Two or three partners and Julie meet with a group of summer associates to discuss their work and the legal writing process generally. Partners share their best writing practices in an open and informal conversational setting.
    • Third, Julie works one-on-one throughout the summer with individual summer associates.

    Client Skills Training: Summer associates learn how lawyers develop new client relationships and nurture and maintain current ones through hands-on exercises in which they practice building trust, conveying empathy, and demonstrating expertise.

    Learn Through Observation

    We build observational experiences into our summer program because new lawyers learn a lot by watching experienced ones. Each week a list of opportunities is circulated to all summer associates. Our lawyers take summer associates to court, to corporate negotiations, and to client meetings, and we help summer associates develop their legal skills through other meaningful "hands-on" experiences.

    For example, recent summer associates have

    • observed depositions of key witnesses and settlement conferences;
    • attended an on-site due diligence review for purposes of a bank acquisition;
    • observed oral arguments on motions to dismiss and motions for summary judgment in several state and federal courts;
    • watched acquisition negotiations and participated in client meetings;
    • attended trials and other hearings in state, federal, and bankruptcy courts; and
    • observed and witnessed will signings.

    Summer associates also join in our tradition of representing clients on a pro bono basis. In Chicago, for example, Schiff has staffed a Chicago Volunteer Legal Services clinic since 1979. Summer associates assist — they may observe and participate in the intake process and work one-on-one with attorneys on CVLS and other pro bono cases.

    Get to Know Us and Have Fun

    Summer associates meet many Schiff attorneys and staff during their ten weeks at the firm. They are assigned an associate adviser and a partner resource, both of whom are there to answer questions or provide advice. Associate advisers act both as friends and professional advisers, conveying partner feedback on summer associate work and helping summer associates learn their way around the firm.

    The summer program starts each week with a Monday Morning Meeting with the Summer Program Committee. In these meetings, summer associates meet with senior lawyers who discuss the firm’s strategic plans, the firm as a business, and the most effective ways to develop strong client relationships. They also learn about the firm’s pro bono matters and the "Secrets of Being a Great Associate.”

    We also host evening social activities so that summer associates and attorneys can get to know each other better in more relaxed, fun settings. These events range from impromptu get-togethers to organized events like the following:

    • In Chicago: an architectural boat tour, WhirlyBall, an improvised Shakespeare comedy show, a Cubs game, and a progressive dinner at partners’ houses.
    • In New York: Shakespeare in the Park, wine tasting, a cooking class, Escape the Room, and a Broadway show.
    • In San Francisco: cocktails at Bubble Lounge, San Francisco Bay ferry ride, Texas Hold ‘Em poker tournament, a Giants game, and tea tasting at Imperial Tea Court.
    • In Washington, D.C.: Phillips Collection tour, DC United soccer game, Broomball tournament, and a brewery tour.

    An annual highlight: "Iron Schiff," an Iron Chef-inspired cooking competition in which teams of partners, associates, and summer associates work together to prepare a three-course dinner. Everyone then samples the "gourmet" creations.

image description
IN OUR WORDS

Jessica J. Birnbaum

Associate
Attorneys here are invested in my development. I was asked to draft complex estate planning documents beginning my first week, and the assigning partners have always been happy to sit down with me, explain the provisions of documents, and share their experience and knowledge. They’ve also shown their confidence in me by encouraging me to work with clients on my own.
image description
IN OUR WORDS

David Pi

Associate
Schiff Hardin is remarkable for its commitment to developing associates into outstanding attorneys. In my first year, I took depositions, argued motions, and drafted important briefs. I even delivered a presentation to prospective clients in London with the heads of my practice.
image description
IN OUR WORDS

Michael K. Molzberger

Associate
Schiff Hardin is the perfect balance between a global mega-firm and a smaller boutique firm. It combines international clients, a national presence, and intellectually stimulating work with strong values and down-to-earth people.
image description
IN OUR WORDS

Sara Rosenberg

Associate
I have mentors here who advise me both on technical legal issues and my practice development. The sense of accomplishment I get when I try something completely new and succeed is incredible. Schiff Hardin provides its associates with everything they need to be great lawyers.