Epstein Becker Green Associates Give Firm High Marks in Chambers Associate 2013-14

Chambers Associate 2013-14 recently published its career guide to help law students choose the right firm. Based on independent research and interviews with second- and third-year associates and senior management, the profiles provide an in-depth portrait of the firms' culture and practices. Epstein Becker Green (EBG) received positive remarks from associates in all areas. David Matyas, Member of the Firm in the Health Care and Life Sciences practice, also authored a health care profile, which can be found here.

Following are excerpts of associates' comments in each area:

The Work: EBG is renowned for dishing out a huge amount of responsibility from day one. This is because most (but not all) new starters already have substantial relevant experience under their belts. "There's even the former CFO of a hospital in my year," exclaimed one. Juniors reported: "They're really good at leveraging our past lives. Most people I work with have very strong healthcare backgrounds in a variety of roles, and the firm uses that to its advantage." This is bolstered further by the small size of the teams.

Over in healthcare, "projects run the gamut of all different organizations and fields within the industry." A junior buzzed: "It's very exciting with everything going on right now. It's always changing and there's always something new. Some other fields of law have the same precedent for a long time, but this area is evolving. It's good for young attorneys." Client contact in both departments increases with time, but sources assured us: "You're going to be actively involved with the client and responsible for some communications."

In labor & employment, juniors should expect "substantive assignments with very real circumstances, not just a scholarly exercise." According to one, "for the most part we're on the employer's side. It's very rare we represent the plaintiff. I get to do everything: prepare the discovery, prepare for deposition, write summary judgment motions. If you know what you're doing, the firm will let you try it all." In fact, the odd doc review is a welcome break from the more taxing stuff, and helps juniors rack up their billable hours.

Training and Development: The firm keeps its associates updated with legal changes, holding the odd training seminar or video-conference, but "primarily, it's a case of learning on the job." That is just the way EBG's independent types like it. "It can be difficult when you're starting out, but very effective once you get the hang of the basics." Most partners are pretty approachable and interviewees were impressed with the wealth of legal knowledge on hand. "People always send e-mails around. Questions tend to get answers, rather than at a full-service firm where there may be fewer labor & employment attorneys. If an issue arises, someone's usually come across it before."

Offices: The 116-strong Midtown Manhattan office is dominated by its labor & employment team, but also houses each of the firm's other departments, notably litigation, healthcare and employee benefits/compensation, plus a standalone immigration group. "The immigration team primarily deals with business issues, so there's a lot of work passed between them and labor."

DC is the second largest office, housing 67 attorneys. If you're passionate about healthcare, this is the place to be. One happy source explained: "From DC we have the resources to deal with any issue a healthcare client could want under one roof. That's remarkably powerful, and offers associates the chance to work on an incredible array of engagements. There's also a really solid labor & employment practice, and good integration between the two."

Culture: Relations between partners and juniors are pretty laid back —"you can knock on partners' doors and chat informally" — largely a result of working so closely. Plus, according to a New Yorker, "within the last year or so, they've been working on trying to get associates together more outside the office." This seems to be working, and both New York and DC hold regular social events. A highlight for healthcare attorneys is the biennial departmental retreat to Virginia. "It's actually really cool," we're told. "It's good to meet health attorneys in other offices. During the day there are lectures on strategy, skill building and client achievements, and after dinner there are things like team-building games or a sangria-making contest."

Hours and Compensation: "The nice thing about our firm is that it's not a 24/7 experience." For most partners, face time isn't an issue. Offices tend to empty out by 8pm. While some associates put in a couple of extra hours in the evening or over the weekend, the consensus is that "it's not so crazy that I don't have a personal life on top of it."

Pro bono: The vast majority of associates had worked on at least one project, spanning from a couple of hours to the hundreds. "The partner in charge of pro bono in each office sends e-mails around regularly," we were told. "You hear about those cases, and it's easy to let people know you're interested."

Diversity: "I'd say we're a leader among law firms in terms of gender," said one junior. In fact, more than half of EBG's associates are female. We've already mentioned the firm's family feel, and both women's and family issues are high on its agenda. "They recently redid the maternity/paternity policy to make it more employee-friendly," one revealed. "It's something associates felt strongly about, and the firm made it happen. I think they're supportive of taking leave and having family time outside work." The active 'Women's Initiative' program also bolsters women's professional relationships, through its annual golf clinic in New Jersey, lectures by public figures, and wine and cooking evenings. Among other events, October is 'Diversity Month'. Highlights include an international food festival, diversity education and language lessons.

Get Hired: If healthcare is your thing, you need to look at EBG. "For the healthcare department, we're always looking for people with demonstrated experience in the field," juniors explained. "We look for candidates who have worked in the industry, either before or during law school." This is largely because juniors will be thrown in the deep end. Don't expect much hand-holding at this specialized firm. EBG is a little more flexible when it comes to labor & employment hires, although experience in management or HR won't do you any harm.

Strategy and Future: One of EBG's biggest strengths is that it knows what it's good at. "We're separable from other firms in that we've remained in the same core industries and practice areas since we were founded," stresses Doug Hastings. "We won't try to be all things for all people, and our goal isn't size for size's sake," he adds. "We'll get bigger as our client base grows, but we'll continue to be focused."

Chambers Associate includes detailed profiles of more than 100 of the top U.S. law firms. In addition to providing the firm-wide profile, Chambers Associate also features 22 practice areas in which it chooses firms to provide comments about the legal area. Epstein Becker Green was the only firm chosen to provide comments regarding the health care profile.

Read the full Chambers Associate profile on Epstein Becker Green.