Careers at Patterson Belknap

Patterson Belknap looks for intellectually curious, engaging, collaborative people who desire early responsibility and are highly motivated to solve complex legal problems. We hire new associates directly from judicial clerkships or, on occasion, following law school graduation. Please explore further to decide if you are interested in considering us a professional home.

From Chambers Associate 2017 – 2018

“‘Everyone told me to look at Patterson Belknap,’ said one former clerk, now a Patterson associate. Another chimed: ‘I just seemed to know loads of people who all spoke very highly of the firm. They take mentoring very seriously and its size means you're not in danger of falling through the cracks.’”

“One interviewee characterized the firm as ‘a throwback’ clarifying: ‘We take a lot of pride in lawyering. We are very cordial in the office, people take being kind and respectful seriously. Partners don't have the stereotypical New York law firm partner 'holier than thou' attitude.’ Instead, ‘everyone is very level-headed. There's an emphasis on being nice to people and respecting your work and time. We consider ourselves humane when it comes to hours. It's a pretty positive place.’

The Work

“Most juniors head into Patterson's litigation department. The firm's generalist approach to dishing out contentious matters proved attractive to many of our associate sources: ‘After clerking I was used to the wide variety of cases and being able to do all sorts of things. I really wanted to go somewhere I wouldn't be slotted into one specialty straight off the bat.’”

“Two assigning partners are on hand to allocate matters to juniors. Rookies check in with them every six weeks to talk about availability, ‘what we're working on and what we want to work on. It's a great system which also gives you a buffer. It would feel hard to say no directly to a partner but here you won't find someone banging down your door saying they need you at the weekend. You have an advocate in the assigning partners.’”

“Judicial clerking experience stands associates in good stead to jump right into matters. ‘For the most part I've gotten a lot of substantive legal writing, research and drafting’ – such as motions to dismiss – ‘and I'm increasingly participating in client or co-counsel meetings,’ one third-year told us. Many of our sources had second-chaired depositions and we even heard of a few juniors being tasked with leading them: … one source laughed. ‘I've been taken aback – in a good way – about the responsibility I've been given.’”

“In the run up to trial sources had ‘drafted witness outlines and pulled together evidence. I've also read depositions and come up with ways to cross-examine witnesses. I'm not reviewing thousands of documents – my role is much more helping with strategies for pre-trial hearings and the trial.’

Training & Development

“There's plenty of work for associates to chow down on, but how easy is it to swallow feedback on progress? Reviews occur every six months and ‘give everyone a chance to comment on a wide range of skills. They put names to comments so there are no anonymous pot shots. People are honest too,’ one source appreciated. For entry-level associates (but not laterals), ‘our first ever review is off the record, which is cool,’ another told us. ‘It's not circulated to the partners, so you have an opportunity to make corrections.’”

“A whole buffet of easy digestible training is available from the get-go. A week of orientation covers things like using the IT systems and how to work with paralegals. Then there's a series of one to two hour long CLEs called 'nuts and bolts', which teaches lawyers how to manage a case from beginning to end. Writing and public speaking coaches are on hand to deliver ‘really helpful individual sessions.’ Attorneys also undertake a two-week externship with the City of New York's law department ‘taking depositions for cases against the City of New York.’”

“Juniors are each assigned to an 'Associate Learning Group' consisting of a partner and five or six associates. Each ALG comes together around three times a year for team building events like ‘going to oral arguments or debriefings’ or ‘doing something fun like attending a concert or going to a pizza-making class. It's fun but it can feel like enforced fun when you're really busy,’ one source admitted, before conceding ‘it's a fairly new program and they're still figuring it out.’ Actually, the ALG is driven by associates and optional rather than ‘enforced.’”

“Managing partner Lisa Cleary also meets with each associate every couple of months to make sure they're happy with their experiences at the firm: ‘She's fantastic and a big reason why Patterson's culture is the way it is. She gives everyone an outlet to have a conversation with her and I feel very comfortable doing so,’ one source exclaimed.”

Pro Bono

“Who says 13 is an unlucky number? Probably not Patterson; the firm's just achieved a 100% pro bono participation rate for 13 years running. Everyone's handed a pro bono case among their first batch of work assignments and if you happen to ‘go a month or two without one, you're often asked to take on a project.’ Landlord/tenant negligence cases, challenges to housing benefit assessments and ‘a veterans' law initiative to improve the discharge status of those who are dishonorably discharged from the military’ are just some of the opportunities on offer. The firm recently successfully represented a group of New Jersey Muslims who challenged their town's decision to ban them building a local mosque.”

From Vault Guide to Top 100 Law Firms 2017:

“This is a great place to practice law. Associate satisfaction is high. Lots of pro bono work. Substantive paid work in sophisticated legal matters. Everyone is treated respectfully. It is big law, but it's a very reasonable place to be."