Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo, P.C.
1 Financial Center, | Boston | MA | 02111
Year of establishment
Number of offices
Number of attorneys
Number of associates
Partner: associate ratio
Percent women attorneys
Percent minority attorneys
Percent gay attorneys
A firm of 70 lawyers just a decade and a half ago, Mintz Levin has grown explosively to become one of Boston's largest law firms. It now numbers well over 200 attorneys and, according to one insider, "the firm is presently working on identifying existing practices where it believes more attorneys are needed and areas in which the firm would like to add to its practice." A second contact observed that "Mintz Levin's goal is to become a 500-attorney law firm within the next ten years.'' Mintz Levin recently opened an office in Reston, Virginia, which "reflects the firm's strong commitment to the Internet & AOL" and complements the firm's Washington office expertise in the telecommunications industry. As exciting as this growth has been, it has "taken a toll" on the firm culture, we were told. "As the firm grows in number of attorneys, the close-knit feeling is leaving and the corporate stereotype is becoming more evident," one insider informed us. A second contact elaborated, noting that "the friendly, upbeat and generally positive atmosphere of the firm continues to thrive, despite the recent additions of many laterals, including entire practice groups (Le., intellectual property). With the growth of the firm, however, the image of 'one big happy family,' has eroded slightly. The emphasis on the 'bottom line' has become more pronounced in the form of higher billable hour targets, as has a stronger focus on business development."
In the 1960s, Mintz Levin was primarily a corporate boutique firm. The firm got more than it bargained for, however, when it added Bob Popeo to bolster its litigation practice. Popeo, who heads the white-collar criminal defense group, advises corporations and individuals on a wide range of corporate and civil litigation matters, and "the mystique of this super-bright, relentless, litigator-cum-family-man dominates the entire firm," observed one insider, who added that "if any national CEO or public figure runs into criminal trouble in New England, they would be well advised to call Popeo. He can command virtually all the resources of this firm in a matter of minutes. He and ‘his firm' are also the heaviest of political heavyweights in this state, and that is an intangible that clients may value when threatened with prosecution by public authorities." A second insider informed us that Bostonians "in the know" say: "if you get in trouble in this city - you call Bob Popeo first, then you call your spouse." Frank Bellotti ("everybody knows Frank... and Frank knows everybody," we were told), former Massachusetts Attorney General, is a second major force in the litigation department. The work of the litigation practice is focused on the areas of intellectual property, high tech, internet, biotech class actions, securities, and real estate land use, as well as construction and products liability. Litigation's client base is "broad and deep," according to one insider; "I appreciate the range of experience this client diversity gives me. I have already had cases in an excellent array of subject areas - real estate, construction, insurance, securities, etc."
Mintz Levin offers a large and growing corporate practice which houses biotech, venture capital, and information technology practices. Aided by the very profitable Washington D.C. office ("which the firm intends to double in size in short order," we were told), the Boston office has "launched many an IPO and prides itself on representing Route 128's hottest high-tech and biotech firms," one insider commented. Mintz Levin is also developing an international biotech specialty; in particular, the firm has made significant inroads into the European biotech industry. The corporate practice was involved last year in the representation of American Online (AOL) in its purchase of CompuServe's Online Services and the sale of its Network services to WorldCom. And, although senior partner Ken Novak has taken over the vice-chairmanship of AOL, "he has not left the firm and Mintz Levin's close working relationship AOL continues," we were told. The growth in the corporate area has been so dramatic in recent years that "the business (and finance) section is coming closer to usurping litigation as the 'darling' and most powerful section of the firm. This shift in power will have important consequences, particularly in determining the number of future partners and the sections from which they come," according to one insider. Mintz Levin has also created a "formidable" intellectual property practice in the past two years by hiring numerous partners and associates from other firms. The group now totals around 25. "They are incredibly busy and I understand the firm is going to add twice as many IP lawyers within the next two years," one insider remarked. "There is now an incredible synergy building as the corporate clients begin to work with the IP group," we were told.
Mintz Levin has for some time had one of the city's top public finance practices. "Mintz Levin's unparalleled political involvement doesn't hurt the firm's public finance practice," observed one insider, who further noted that "ML is consistently within the top ten firms in the country in regard to legal work associated with public financing." A second insider urged caution, however, regarding young associates' joining the public finance group, remarking that "I would not recommend the group to any associate who wanted to be on the track for partnership. There is a hold-up of public law income partners in the queue to be equity partners." (Editor's note: according to a firm spokesperson, " in 1999 one public finance income partner moved to equity partnership and one associate became an income partner. Given the smaller number of people involved in the public finance practice, relative to the general corporate and litigation practice areas, the track record of making income and equity partners in the public finance area is consistent with that of the rest of the firm-which is quite good.") The firm regularly works on issues for the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, the Maine Turnpike Authority, Nellie Mae, the Big Dig, and many universities and schools. Mintz Levin also has a very active health care group. "The firm's political, public relations, strategic counseling and legal work merge in the burgeoning field of health care law. The health care industry is being transformed and Mintz Levin is involved with health care entities throughout the nation that are undergoing structural changes and it is profiting handsomely from these changes," observed one contact.
The new management structure at Mintz Levin is "moderately loose, but becoming more structured as the firm becomes larger," according to one insider, and "frank and no-nonsense," according to another. "Business decisions at Mintz Levin are generally made by business professionals, not lawyers. This makes for a more professionally run firm, and fewer conflicts," we were told. Members of the firm's executive committee, selected by the partners and representing a cross-section of practice areas, handle most broad-scale management matters at the firm. They are "very open, proactive and they really do want and invite feedback," remarked one contact. There aren't many "secrets in this place," noted another. Associates at Mintz serve on key committees, and the associates committee at the firm is active. "The number one item on its agenda is making sure salaries are comparable with the other top firms in Boston, a frequent issue," one insider observed. Associates, as a group, do "upward evaluations" of the partners, on issues such as "clear direction, mentoring, case management, etc. These are done once every two years and are taken very seriously by the partners," one insider informed us.
As Mintz Levin forges ahead in developing a full-service law firm, "it continues to tout its ML Strategies (its management consulting subsidiary); ML Capital (venture financing); and ML Financial Advisors (asset management)," we were told. Biotech, high-tech, international work, and public financing transactions "all seem to be growing at the firm; in addition, the new D? group is booming and is a great addition." The firm's securities litigation practice is expanding and "becoming more widely recognized as one of the best around"- especially with its recent aforementioned victory in the first securities class action trial in the district in over ten years. Mintz Levin has increased its investment in international initiatives by adding Dick Spring, the former Deputy Prime Minister of Ireland, to its ranks.
Mintz Levin's offices were totally renovated a few years back which has "really freshened things up," according to one insider. The offices are "modern and stylish with clean lines and a physical ambiance that is comfortable, understated, bright and open, but still professional." The firm's art collection is extensive, and art work is displayed throughout the offices. Almost all associates have windowed offices, with "pretty amazing views of either the harbor or Boston's Back Bay." There is no gym in the building; however, several health clubs exist in the immediate vicinity and discount rates are available. Mintz Levin is "renowned" for its food: a breakfast of muffins, bagels, donuts, fruit, and coffee is set out in the lounge on every floor each morning, and lunch meetings involving some form of food and beverage are common ("in fact, it's almost mandatory," noted one insider). The firm does not have its own cafeteria, but there is a "very nice" cafeteria on the second floor of the building with a wide selection of food available every day. The firm's technology is adequate ("although no one in the IP group would consider it cutting-edge," quipped one insider)-computers with internet, e-mail and research access at every desk, video-conferencing to the DC office, document management systems, and desktop LEXIS and Westlaw. The library area is "gorgeous;" its resources are, however, "merely adequate," but "being in Boston it's just as easy to send out for a book as to keep it in stock," noted one insider. The library staff is "amazing; they are extremely dedicated and can find anything you're looking for on a pretty short time frame," a second contact observed. The support staff at Mintz Levin is a "mixed bag; some great; some not so great," we were told.
Areas of practice
Antitrust and Federal Regulation
Restructuring and Commercial Law
Consumer Product Safety
Labor and Benefits
Technology Transfer and Licensing.
Mintz Levin represents large public companies, government, non-profit organizations, schools, start-up biotech and high-tech companies, as well as small private companies. The firm's major clients include AOL, General Electric, Biogen, Fleet Bank, Thermo-Electron, The Hartford Insurance Company, Ekco, Turner Broadcasting, Qiagen, Staples, Compaq, and CVS. Last year Mintz Levin successfully defended Biogen, a Cambridge-based biotech firm, against a class action shareholders' lawsuit alleging fraud. "This was the first such case to go to a jury in Massachusetts federal court in ten years; the jury agreed that the case- like so many class action suits-had no merit," observed one insider. The firm also negotiated several interconnection agreements for Cablevision Systems Corporation's telephone subsidiary, Cablevision Lightpath, with Bell Atlantic.
The callback interview at Mintz Levin involves three or four attorneys. Mintz Levin does not typically offer a meal as part of the callback interview process (further, "if a candidate is coming from out of town, the firm will suggest that if the candidate has a friend or relative with whom s/he can stay, the firm will donate the hotel room rate to a charity," according to one insider). Whereas many Boston firms interview exclusively from the top 5%, law review types, "Mintz Levin seems to be more interested in finding intelligent/interesting people to interview (i.e., top 10%/law review/climbed-Mt. Everest-for-fun type people)," one insider observed. A second contact remarked that "the firm hires academically qualified candidates, but it is willing to expand its hiring paradigm beyond that of the other firms in the city. It is much more willing to look at the person as a whole and to ask whether this person has the social skills, creativity, and high energy to fit in at Mintz Levin." "Leadership, entrepreneurial spirit, and personality" are sought-after qualities in a candidate, we were told. One contact advised candidates to "research the firm. If you say in an interview that you are very interested in a particular practice area, you really should know what the firm has done recently in that area. If you are not aware of big news items concerning the firm, it becomes obvious you did not research the firm.'' A second person suggested that candidates "stress the unique aspects of their background or experience. The firm likes 'go-getters' and people who are a bit different from the norm.''
"Mintz Levin is a great place for women. I have never felt anything but respect from male colleagues, and I definitely have the same opportunities," one insider remarked. Prominent women at the firm include Ann Ellen Hornidge (business & finance, and member of the executive committee), Betsy Burnett (head of the litigation section), and Rosemary Allen (hiring committee chair and "top-notch" defense attorney). Most of the women partners, especially in litigation, make a significant effort to mentor female associates. The litigation women have a lunch once a month, attended by partners and associates, which is very popular. "Everyone tries to attend, from first-year associates to senior women partners. Discussions are always fun, whether they concern a case in the firm or some current political or social issue. It fosters a really nice relationship among the women litigators," one insider observed. Mintz Levin has developed a marketing initiative program for its female attorneys, geared towards attracting more women executives as clients, and this has been "wildly successful." In this connection, there are regular lunches and a "women's forum of presentations" for potential female clients.
Mintz Levin is fairly "progressive" in terms of part-time opportunities and maternity and paternity leave programs. The latter, in particular, are "generous and extensively used (and there is no hidden penalty for using them)," we were told. Most- "but not all"- partners at Mintz Levin respect part-time schedules. One insider informed us that "I work a very favorable (to me) part-time schedule and the firm seems to have no problem with it. I have been doing it since joining and plan to continue that way. I think this firm is outstanding in understanding family pressures and the need to have a different attitude when parents have young children. They seem to take a long term view of using well-trained people in whatever way benefits all" Part-time schedules of four days a week at the firm are becoming "increasingly common," although "it is certainly not guaranteed." One insider remarked that "you have the opportunity to work a four-day work week. Most of the time you can do it; however, if you have a few intense cases going on at the same time, it is difficult to stick to the four days. "When you get very busy and have to work much longer hours, you will still only get 80% of your pay-this can be a drawback," while a second insider noted that "I've heard that women with children find it difficult to get assigned to deals in the corporate section. There are more women partners and associates in litigation than in corporate."
Although there are several well-respected minority attorneys in the firm, there are no minority partners at Mintz Levin. The firm has an excellent minority recruiting program and a minority interview workshop (a mock interview program), which has become a "huge success" and is "an example of how the firm is active in its recruitment of minority attorneys." Mintz Levin has several successful gay and lesbian attorneys. One contact remarked that "I don't think that this place makes any distinctions based on race, gender, or sexual orientation. I love working in such a diverse environment," while a second insider noted that "Mintz Levin, founded by Jewish Harvard Law graduates and currently led by Popeo, who grew up in a modest Italian neighborhood in Boston, does not discriminate against anyone with real brains who can help the firm grow. Mintz Levin is great at identifying and promoting talented lawyers regardless of ethnic background or Ivy League pedigree."
Summer associate program
Mintz Levin's summer program is noteworthy for its small size. Unlike its Boston rivals of comparable size, Mintz Levin "does not hire dozens of summer associates and then let them compete in some sort of macabre Darwinian struggle for partnership," we were told. Instead, it hires a small group of summer associates and then "emphasizes that they should bond as a group during 'their' summer." The associates in the summer program have "enough exposure to real work to get a sense of the firm's practice and its attorneys; you have to demonstrate your abilities but it is not high stress," one insider observed. A second contact remarked that "I really enjoyed the summer program but at times I worried about getting my work done with so many activities planned. You start to burn out with all the activities and with feeling like you are always 'on.'" Summer associate events are "non-stop" throughout the summer: "baseball games, lunches, Boston Pops, dinner cruises, afternoon tea at the Four Seasons, more dinners, mini-golf, more lunches, Omni Theatre, more dinners, country club outing, more dinners..."
Salary & benefits
401(k)/IRA/Other Retirement Plan
529 College Savings Plan
Bar Association Fees
Business Casual Dress Code
Domestic Partner Benefits
Employee Assistance Program
Family/Dependent Care Leave
Flexible Spending Account/Pre-Tax Option
Health Club Membership
Long-term Care Insurance
Long-term Disability Insurance
Medical Spending Account
On-site Child Care - Emergency
Short-term Disability Insurance
Technology (Laptop, PDA, etc.)
Benefits Package: Benefits also include: Bar Review and Bar Exam Reimbursement; Back-Up Adultcare; Health Savings Accounts; Transgender Medical Benefits. The firm also covers the additional imputed income tax expense incurred by employees who cover their non-IRS dependent, same or opposite gender domestic partner or same gender spouse on their group health plan.
Working for the Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo, P.C.
Change though the firm culture has, Mintz Levin continues to be a place that is "friendly in its work environment, aggressive towards the work itself, and liberal in political attitude," we were told. The work atmosphere is very supportive, and associates "really stick together." Most senior associates go out of their way to help junior associates. "Most everyone is working very hard, but people try to make the experience as fun as possible," one insider commented. The firm greatly values diversity. "People are not afraid to say what they think. It's a pretty liberal firm, definitely not old white male conservative," observed one contact, while a second person remarked that "people are not judged for the way they look or what they like to do in their spare time. It's an open and respectful culture. It follows that this is a great place to be women, or a gay woman, or a Latino attorney, or an attorney with a Boston accent." Political enthusiasm is "extensive" at the firm; many people support different parties and different causes. "Mintz is strongly Democrat, but it is far better to be an active Republican than not active at all," observed one insider. Finally, taking note of the changes that have occurred at Mintz Levin in recent years, one contact summed up the current situation by noting that "this place is certainly growing rapidly, but I'm confident that there are enough people here dedicated to keeping the work environment the fun, humane, supportive, and energetic place that it has been known as, to make sure that we don't become just another typical, big impersonal law firm. I hope."
Beginning associates at Mintz Levin choose a practice area upon joining the firm, and they have a chance to "rotate at the end of years one and two (and to a limited degree, year three)," we were told. Each department has a section coordinator, who assists in distributing work, but oftentimes "assignments are distributed less formally, placing the burden on the associate to determine when/if his/her work-load is sufficient." Training at the firm has "gotten better and more formalized" over the last few years, so that the two "big" sections, litigation and business & finance, now have very solid training programs, which were lavishly praised by our contacts. One insider, for example, informed us that "the second year trial training program is world class. Judge John Paul Sullivan, a retired superior court judge, designs and teaches the program. He's able to draw on his 40 years of attorney and judgeship experience in expert fashion to teach and critique us through trial practice exercises and mock trials. I'm amazed how much I learned and, at the end, I felt like I'd been through a real trial I have much more confidence now, as well, which is probably the biggest bonus of the program." In corporate, the firm this year revamped its "corporate boot camp," which used to be a one-week intensive course in January. Now, according to one insider, "the sessions begin in October and are spread out over several seeks, which I think gives the associates more time to process the information. Associates and partners both served as 'faculty,' and they did a great job." The mentoring that associates receive from partners varies with the partners. "Some are great, some are not. But most seem open to teaching if you prompt them," noted one insider.
Cases at Mintz Levin are well-staffed, providing junior associates a good combination of support and early responsibility. "I've found it to be the perfect mix here. I always feel I have instruction when I need it, yet I am often given a great deal of work to be responsible for. It's like walking the high-wire knowing you have a safety net under you," one insider remarked. A second contact informed us that "I'm amazed with how much responsibility I have. Senior attorneys mostly seem eager to get young people involved. Because of the extensive client contact I have, I know that my work doesn't exist in a vacuum; I see and interact with the people who are depending on my research, my creativity, and my efforts to help them solve their problems." New litigation associates are not "hidden away in a library, you get your own cases (personal injury defense) to handle in their entirety (meaning you do everything): standard legal research; document review; drafting pleadings (complaints, answers, discovery responses, etc.)," one insider informed us.
The social scene at Mintz Levin is modest which, according to our contacts, is "satisfactory" because most attorneys have families and personal lives beyond the firm. One insider noted, however, that "it's a little disappointing for single people and others who want to get to know co-workers on a more informal basis." Mintz Levin has a cocktail "drop in" on Friday afternoons with chips, pretzels, wine and beer. "Most attorneys go for about a half hour to an hour to hang out and talk before heading home," according to one insider, a second contact remarked, however, that "recently, with the increased focus on billable hours, fewer people are attending these social events and are choosing to go home instead.'' The firm has men's winter hockey and basketball teams, and a softball team in the summer months for "anyone who wants to play." Mintz Levin sponsors a summer all-attorney outing (a day of golf, tennis, etc, capped with a dinner party) and a holiday party in December, to which all staff are invited (sans guests). The highlight of the evening is the annual traditional "skit" put on by first-years, "making (good-natured) fun of themselves and the rest of the firm," we were told.
Compensation at Mintz Levin is competitive with other large Boston firms, but a number of our contacts expressed displeasure with the current salary/billable hours situation at the firm. One critic remarked that "first- and second-years are paid the going rate. Mid-level base salaries are lower but are supposedly made up by higher potential bonuses, although most people don't believe this to be the case. It seems you have to be something of a star here to make what your colleagues at other firms make for just showing up every day, although the new bonus system (which increases bonus potentials to about 20-30% of salary for mid-levels) hasn't been in place long enough to draw definitive conclusions." A second contact noted that "the tradeoff of slightly smaller salaries used to seem fair because associates at ML used to bill less than their colleagues. However, in conjunction with the most recent round of salary raises, the billable target was increased 50 hours (on top of a 50 hour boost one year earlier) such that the target is now 1925." There is also a "new client development/marketing" target of 150 hours per year, which "can be a burden when added to the 1925 billable hour target," one person noted. In addition, associates used to receive a direct percentage of any business they brought in- a filing point which Mintz often touted-but "that practice has been eliminated. Now bringing in business is considered as a factor when determining your bonus, but it is not directly tied to it," we were told.
Fringe benefits at Mintz are "less than ideal," according to our contacts. "There is no firm contribution to the associates' 401 (k) plan, the health insurance co-pays (60%) are higher than the rest of the city, and the dental plan is terrible," one insider remarked. A second contact informed us that "the firm will loan an associate $2,500 (interest free) for a home computer, but then it is taken out of the associate's paycheck over a year." On the plus side is the firm's paternity leave policy that gives fathers eight weeks paid leave. "After some initial reluctance, many new fathers are taking advantage of the policy now that they realize it won't have an adverse effect on their careers at the firm," noted one insider. In addition, there is an on-site emergency day care that is paid for entirely by the firm.
Mintz Levin has a full-time pro bono coordinator and a pro bono committee. The firm, at all levels, is "extremely committed to pro bono work; you really get the impression that the firm puts its money where its mouth is on its pro bono policy," we were told. Mintz Levin received the state bar's pro bono award this past year. Pro bono work is not only fully credited, it is applauded. "Young associates can expect senior partners to know of- and congratulate- such simple pro bono victories as getting a restraining order extended," one insider remarked. The firm's pro bono emphasis remains on domestic violence issues, "although it has expanded recently to include other areas (e.g., political asylum cases). Any pro bono work that you want to do is usually approved; the only limit is your creativity," a second contact observed
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