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, 2018 – 2019 

That old cliché that 'this firm punches above its weight’ is somewhat overused in legal marketing, and should be reserved for exceptional occasions: a Patterson review is one of them. Although no punching goes on here; this is ‘a humane place to practice law,’ noted associates, contrasting the firm's inner culture with its formidable courtroom persona. This 200-strong firm makes a worthy opponent to any of the huge names in litigation.”

“‘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.’”

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.’”

“How do juniors know where to begin? ‘There's a formal structure in place – there are two assigning partners that all matters go through,’ which ensures that all attorneys are ‘well rounded and handling a good balance of cases.’ A source added: ‘The assigning partners are kind of a buffer to help you maintain your sanity and work balance and make sure you get to do the things you want to do.’ ‘One of the other nice things about Patterson is partners are willing to take you to hearings,’ explained one newbie, ‘and even though I'm quite junior, I've had cases where I've been staffed with just one partner.’ Attorneys have plenty of responsibility from the get-go, and should be prepared to take the lead on briefings, motions, independent depositions and legal drafting.”

“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 also assigned to an 'Associate Learning Group', consisting of six associates and a partner. Each group plans three social events throughout the year, perhaps to a theater or a high-end restaurant: ‘It's such a valuable opportunity to socialize with the associates outside of the office, as well as get some extra mentorship from the partner.’ Juniors also get informal mentoring with a midlevel associate throughout the year, ‘which is great, as you always have someone you can call for if you need help.’”

“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

“Attorneys are expected to jump straight into the vast pool of pro bono from the moment they step through the door. Patterson has seen a 100% pro bono participation rate for well over a decade. It also means that ‘you get a lot of contact with the partner, as often it will just be the two of you trying to help this person,’ chimed one junior. ‘It also gives me an opportunity to take a lead role, so it's really rewarding for both of us.’” “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 2019:

"Fascinating, substantive, bet-the-company cases are the bread-and-butter of our work.”

“Patterson associates are attracted to Patterson for its top-notch pro bono program, substantive work early on, and reasonable hours requirement, and the firm does not disappoint.”

“I love working at Patterson. The work is interesting, the people are nice, and the hours are reasonable. There's a lot of variety in the work - I've worked on cases in a lot of different subject areas and different sizes."

“The subject matter of the billable work intrigues me. The firm's commitment to pro bono gives me a great opportunity to help the people in need of legal representation but could not afford one.”

"I spend most of my time on substantive work appropriate to my level, brief and motion drafting, substantive discovery disputes and depositions.”

"Lots of CLE events. There are mentoring group activities. I think the firm makes a genuine effort to promote mentoring. The programs are well received by associates.”