Chambers Associate 2011-12 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 received positive remarks from associates in all areas.

Doug Hastings, Chair of the Board of Directors and Member of the Health Care and Life Sciences Practice, was also interviewed by Chambers Associate. "We've stayed focused on health care and labor and employment for 37 years and are staying focused on it. We want to be the Mayo Clinic or Johns Hopkins University of health care law." His comments are included throughout the piece as well as in the Health Care Practice Summary.

Following are excerpts of associates' comments in each area:

The Work: Associates receive "substantive work from the very beginning," often getting "a specific task like helping research a question or writing a letter." A second-year said she had worked directly with clients "a tremendous amount," while a third-year "wrote the first draft of a legal analysis and did all the client contact." There is "stratification" in the division of work, so juniors "work in the background with the documents." But you're "not shut out from the process." On the contrary, "I was in the settlement meetings even when doing the grunt work, because I ended up knowing the most about the case," one reported.

Training and Development: Epstein Becker Green has a much-liked mentoring system. "Each new associate is paired with a partner-mentor and associate-mentor," a source said. "Some take a more active role, but all partner-mentors sit in on your reviews and are a helping voice... and a confidant for you no matter what."

Offices: The firm's biggest office, New York, "has a great location with a view of Park Avenue" and associates get their own office from the start. The DC and New York offices often interact: "New York is constantly recruiting associates from DC for projects and there's a lot of cross-pollination." Associates said they're often in contact with colleagues in other offices too.

Culture: Generally speaking, juniors said Epstein Becker Green is "not a warm, touchy-feely firm, but not a cutthroat firm either." There's a mix of personalities: from the gregarious to the head-down types. Some "aren't big on spending time talking at the water cooler," while others "joke around and enjoy each other's company."

Hours and Compensation: Associates saw work/life balance as a key perk. "I try to get in around 8am - though it was 10am today - and leave at 6.30pm or 7.30pm," one said. There's a 1,950 hours requirement. Another felt: "You have to work around ten hours a day and a few weekends to make sure you meet the target." Most associates agreed they generally left by 8pm.

Pro bono: The firm "encourages" pro bono and allows up to 100 hours to be added to your total billings once you've reached the 1,950 target. These then count toward the bonus and performance analysis.

Diversity: Associates felt there was "a large number of women partners and a good number of ethnic minorities." They are not wrong; statistics show the firm has a high number of female attorneys compared to other Am Law 200 firms. It does well in terms of representation of minorities too.

Get Hired: "As a summer I got real work and had client interaction. I was doing the same tasks a junior might do," an associate told us. OCIs take place at schools across the country, and are conducted largely by senior partners including Steven Epstein himself. The firm also specifically targets schools with well-regarded health law programs — including Saint Louis University School of Law, and the universities of Maryland and Houston — as it's keen on applicants with a "health-related Masters, experience in the health care field or health law electives taken at law school."

Strategy and Future: Epstein Becker Green remains committed to its health care and labor work. "We've stayed focused on health care and labor and employment for 37 years and are staying focused on it," firm chair Doug Hastings explains. "We want to be the Mayo Clinic or Johns Hopkins University of health care law." He adds that expansion into other practice areas — corporate, litigation, lobbying and consultancy — is likely to be "a little more tortoise than hare-like - slow and steady."

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 17 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.

To read the full Chambers Associate profile on Epstein Becker Green, click here.

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