Pros: There are still some partners here that really knows their stuff, you can learn from them.
Cons: The chances of working with those good partners and good project are not that great. You better network like you never did before. Odds are you will get shoved into working for many of Finnegan's miserable partners.
The whole free market "do what interests you" assignment system is basically a lie. You don't get to "pick" what interests you, you basically beg which ever partner will give you whatever work they have, so the odds are that its something no one else who has a choice wanted to do.
Honestly, there is nothing remarkable here. The hours are terrible and stress is real. Partners themselves are often stressed out, and they consciously or unconsciously take it out on you.
Oh yea, in case you are thinking that that's how all big law firms are, Finnegan isn't big law, and they don't pay you like big law. So in the end, why suffer big law stress w/o big law pay.
Cons: Finnegan is still coasting on its reputation from the 1990s. They have dramatically raised the billing rates (e.g., charging over $500 per hour for first-year associates out of law school that truly have no idea what they are doing!) even as they continue to recruit from worse and worse schools. It's bad enough that Jeff Berkowitz charges nearly $1000 per hour for his time with his J.D. from Touro College of Law, ranked 194th in the country, or that Anand Sharma is the current managing partner for the entire firm despite not even obtaining honors at New York Law School, ranked 129th in the country. Would you pay over $500 an hour for a first-year associate who graduated from the 102nd ranked law school without any honors? How about a slightly more experienced associated who graduated from a now-defunct law school that used to be ranked 134th and without any honors? The bottom-line for clients is this: If you want to pay top-dollar for the best, you can go to Covington, A&P, or frankly any other top law firm and get higher-tier talent for how much you would pay Finnegan. However, if you are on a budget, you can get substantially similar (or even better) work at a more affordable rate from many high-quality boutiques. To be honest, it's an embarrassing look for your company if you're paying Finnegan, who is going to charge top-dollar, for their middling talent.
In fact, Finnegan is so desperate to play-act like a top law firm that they deliberately overhire first-year associates. So, if you take a job at Finnegan, get ready to spend inordinate amounts of time sucking up to partners and fighting other associates just to get some very low-level work (like doc review or interrogatories) and bill. There's a reason Finnegan claims to require 2000 hours but has an average of 1700 hours billed per associate. (The median is even lower because there's a few very high billers at the firm.) Plus, Finnegan lies about paying market rate (They use a "band" system after your first two years in order to cheat almost everyone out of market salary.), and they lie about bonuses (almost every employee is given a below-market bonus, and they hide behind some allegedly "merit-based" black box that essentially means only the partners' few favorite people have any chance of receiving a market bonus). In other words, the bottom line for employees is: If you want to gain valuable experience and actual get market pay in exchange for working 50 or 60 hour weeks, you can also go to Covington, A&P, or frankly any other top law firm and get better experience and pay for the same hours that Finnegan will attempt to ring from you. However, if you prefer work-life balance, you can get substantially similar pay for significantly fewer hours and less stress at many litigation boutiques (like Reichmann Jorgensen) or prosecution boutiques.
Also, working elsewhere will help you avoid the toxic environment that has built-up at Finnegan. Because Finnegan is desperate to stay profitable, they have severely understaffed and overworked their support staff, so you have a greater than 50% chance of being assigned a secretary who actually makes your life harder than easier. In addition, Finnegan refuses to invest in any good software; for example, Hewlett-Packard was shocked to find out that Finnegan doesn't pay for any software to track prosecution cases (which is just another reason to hire literally any other firm of good repute for preparation and prosecution). In another example, Finnegan stopped paying for Westlaw and only uses LexisNexis because they literally couldn't afford both, so I wouldn't hire them for a litigation that was important to me in any way.
Finnegan's toxic environment also combines classic elements of toxic law life with rampant discrimination. As might be expected, there are a shocking number of partners that are famous for screaming at associates and getting away with it because they "bring in business" (Gerson Panitch, Jeff Berkowitz, and Bob Yoches all come to mind). There's also a ridiculous culture of passive-aggressiveness, where partners won't give you any feedback during your project but then give you a bad review months later when it's useless to your development as a lawyer (Tim May is most famous for this, but Bob Yoches has also done it to folks as has Anthony Tridico). As might also be expected, there's an extreme cliquishness where partners pick winners and losers based on favoritism. For example, Anthony Tridico always invites the same two law students for drinks (who are both decades younger than him, so it's particularly weird) when he visits the DC office. He even goes out of his way to make sure they don't invite anyone else. However, this cliquishness intersects with the rampant discrimination at Finnegan because Anthony has a lot of projects with female associates but never, ever invites them for drinks or food or any other kinds of mentoring when he is in DC.
Of course, the most rampant example of discrimination comes from Erika Arner, who always boasts online about how she is a champion of women in IP but actually fired two female associates because they wouldn't work with her male protege, Michael Young. Michael is demonstrably mediocre at business development and actively bad at managing legal teams, so, although I could never prove it, I suspect some sort of inappropriate relationship is motivating Erika's ridiculous protection of his reputation and advancement at Finnegan. Regardless of the motivation, she actively engaged in discrimination when disposing of female associates because they didn't want to work with the very mediocre man that she decided to protect and promote at all costs.
Similar problems persist with race. Of the four black associates I worked with during my time at Finnegan, three of them have left because the environment was so hostile.
This all happened while Finnegan spent between 6 and 7 figures on creating a logo and a "Finnegan forward" brand, which is allegedly about diversity in the IP legal field. Not only could that money have gone toward actual diversity initiatives rather than majority white and majority male consulting and marketing firms, but Finnegan is using the brand to mask the real and tangible harm they do to women and to minorities every single day within the firm.
And the problem is that the head of professional development, Timothy Henderson, not only tacitly permits the discrimination to persist but actively enables it. He encourages you to bring any problems to him, but then I saw anyone who brought a problem to him about treating unfairly suddenly be terminated by the practice group leader with Timothy drafting and negotiating the severance for that person. All in all, there are so many places you can go to that suffer from far fewer culture problems and still (1) get better experience and money or (2) get better work-life balance. Don't waste your time at Finnegan; I wish I hadn't.
Advice to law firm management: I would like to see management hire a few new attorneys, preferably senior attorneys and a few interns that would be willing to help me out when my hands get tied up with work.
Pros: This firm really offers a lot of opportunities to attorneys that are willing to put the work in to get noticed. I have been working here for only two years but have already advanced quite far in the firm. Management is exceptional as well.
Cons: My hands can be tied up with work more often than I'd like. I have spent more than a few nights working well past normal working hours due to having my hands tied down to very important work that had to be done.
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