Are summer associates guaranteed a permanent associate position, a happy family life, fame, fortune and a crowd of adoring cheering clients pretty much right off the bat?
Not exactly. However, we are careful and picky in recruiting summer associates who we believe will be successful long-term lawyers with our Firm. Our recruiters are highly trained to bark loudly at the sight of a qualified applicant. Historically, we've done this pretty well--many of our summer associates receive offers to return as associates after law school. As for the fame, one of our former summer associate's father's twin brother's wife is Ed Asner's sister. That's pretty close to famous, right? The rest of it is all a possibility but you'll have to pitch in a little something too.
Your website says something about encouraging summer associates to take advantage of practical training opportunities. Just be honest, is a practical training experience when I go grab coffee for the partner down the hall?
While no partner will turn down a willing caffeine mule, that's not exactly what we mean by a practical training opportunity. We know you went to law school for a reason. So during the summer program, not only will you receive real work for real clients, you'll also get to observe substantive legal proceedings that you might not have seen before, such as depositions, trials, or if you're really lucky, a municipal bond closing!
Is your summer program more or less like military boot camp?
Less. Seriously, we pride ourselves on the summer program and we receive extremely positive feedback. During your summer, you will have a supportive reader and liaison, both of whom will be smart, funny and/or charming lawyers. You'll regularly meet with your reader to review work that you've completed during the summer and get feedback on how to improve your work. Your liaison will be available for any kind of question--work-related ("What the heck is a contract?") or non-work-related ("Where can I get this check cashed into small, unmarked bills?). You'll also receive regular feedback from the attorneys you work with. We're hoping that all of our summer associates will excel at our Firm, so we're going to give you the best support possible.
So is the rumor true that like all big firms, Quarles & Brady has cots in the offices, an on-site nurse for medical emergencies, and grocery delivery so that associates can live at the firm and bill 24 hours a day?
Not one bit true! However, we do love food, so have your groceries delivered here at your own risk! Here's the straight scoop [ALERT: THE FOLLOWING LANGUAGE IS NOT FUNNY. OUR BEST HUMORISTS TRIED AND FAILED TO MAKE THIS FUNNY. PROCEED AT YOUR OWN RISK.] As of January 1, 2019 starting salaries for junior level associates joining us in Chicago and Washington, D.C. is $160,000 and $140,000 in Arizona, Florida, Indiana and Wisconsin.
Our compensation system for associates has been changed to better align it with the goals promoted by our partner compensation system. Our subjective system is better able to reward associates based on their strengths and it provides better bonus opportunities for strong performers.
Salaries are determined based on factors including:
- Quality and quantity of work
- Commitment to client development and his or her own career development
- Efforts to mentor and supervise more junior associates
- Level of client service provided
- Commitment to diversity
- Manner in which the associate interacts with and treats fellow associate and other firm personnel
- Involvement in significant activities that reflect favorably upon the firm
- Willingness to collaborate on client, practice group and firm projects
- Other factors determined and communicated by the Executive Committee from time to time
The firm's annual hours expectation for associates is at least 1,850 client billable, pro bono and Firm legal hours (collectively, "base hours"). Up to 3% of an associate's client billable hours spent on pro bono work will be considered in determining an associate's eligibility for a bonus. Any associate who records at least 1850 base hours during an associate year will be eligible for a bonus (assuming satisfactory performance).
Isn't your summer program just a big ploy to sucker law students in with your fancy dinners and golf resort retreats?
As much as we'd like to waste our money on paying gluttonous law students to eat good food and gets lots of sun, we don't exactly do it that way. For some reason, it doesn't make any economic sense to us as a Firm. The summer program is designed to give you real work, on actual cases. You'll be working directly with the lawyers on the case and be reporting to real clients. Don't get us wrong, we'll do our fair share of lunches, cocktail hours and field trips--but don't expect Club-Med© summer camp.
Will I make partner before or after I become a card carrying member of AARP?
Never fear! Many, many people can and do advance to partnership while still in diapers! Well, that's a complete and total lie! But we do have a new and improved process! The advancement to partnership at Quarles & Brady recently became far more logical…and therefore fairly miserable to explain on a website. Here is our best shot: We recently implemented a competency-based Associate Evaluation and Advancement System. There, now do you completely understand? Good!
Need a little bit more detail? Our associates advance through three levels of skill mastery on the track to partnership. (We like that word: Mastery. We plan to use it many more times in this explanation. Mastery. Mastery.) The three levels are called…brace yourselves…Junior Associate, Mid-Level Associate and Senior Associate. (We considered calling them "Fred, Joe and Stan" but this did not pass scrutiny with our Executive Committee.) To progress through the levels, associates need to show that they have certain identified skills, and they also need to suck up big time to the partners. You know…wash their cars, get them coffee…just kidding. In addition to the legal skills, however, there are a number of personal attributes that we expect to see at each of the three levels, e.g., showing that the associate has demonstrated the maturity and judgment to progress to the next level. Similarly, we expect them to be funny so that they can eventually update our hilariously funny careers website. Our current humorists are getting old and jaded.
Junior Associates are evaluated twice each year because we want them to be twice as miserable as everyone else, thus creating a false sense that things are improving as they progress toward partnership (that's another joke, for the humor-impaired). Mid-Level and Senior Associates are generally evaluated once each year, though more frequent evaluations may occur based on the Associate's particular circumstances (e.g. failure to wash cars as mentioned above). In addition, regardless of level, any associate who joined the firm laterally is evaluated twice each year during his or her first two years at the firm so that we can be sure they are not feeding back top secret information to the enemy (another joke - ha ha funny).
As part of the annual evaluation process each year, the Associate Committee (a humorless group of people who sit in a room all day making life or death decisions about associates) determines which associates should advance to the next level. All kidding aside, this process provides us with a way to let associates progress according to their actual level of practice rather than following a mindless chronological lockstep progression. We expect that some associates will progress faster than our previous eight-year track, and some will take longer than eight years. This way, those in the second group do not have to feel like they are failing to meet expectations when they march to the beat of their own drummer. Mastery! Mastery! Mastery! (note subtle and seamless use of that fabulous word). Those gunners who want to speed ahead to partnership so that they can boss people around sooner will have lots of feedback at their review sessions as to exactly what to do to move on up.
What gives with the salary differences? Isn't that unfair?
Nope. Those who live in Arizona, Florida and Wisconsin deserve it. Well, that and the salaries are adjusted for cost of living and are competitive in each location. We think it's pretty fair.
What is the firm's policy for parental leave? Do I get any time off?
The firm offers up to 12 weeks paid personal medical leave and six weeks of paid parental leave. Parental family leave may be extended to 26 weeks unpaid or with practice group approval, an associate could work a reduced schedule in the first year after the child's birth and retain all full time benefits.
I love learning. I don't want to leave school. I'm going to miss my "Secured Transactions" textbook. Will you keep educating me at the Firm? Will you pay for me to keep on learning?
We appreciate your ambition--and rest easy, because we have a number of continuing legal education opportunities (CLE) within the Firm. We'll even pay for CLE programs that you want to attend outside the Firm. Yep, even if it's a conference on "Secured Transactions" in a far off locale.
Bonus Answer! The Firm also covers your bar dues and bar exam fees.