Skip to Main Content
Choate, Hall & Stewart logo

Choate, Hall & Stewart

Our Survey Says

VAULT'S VERDICT:

As with many firms, Choate prioritizes candidates’ academic records in hiring, but the firm is looking for more than good grades. Personality fit is key, as well as an interest in settling down in the Boston area. Associates describe the firm as having a “tight-knit community” and appreciate that partners respect their work/life balance. The firm also sponsors a variety of firm-wide activities, include happy hours and a yearly field day. Associates and partners get along well, with mutual respect and little sense of hierarchy, and associates appreciate the transparency from above. Hours can be long and unpredictable, but associates feel the firm does a good job distributing hours. They also are thrilled with their compensation, which meets the market for both salary and bonuses—plus the firm offers a long-term bonus program for those who meet their hours year after year. Cases are staffed leanly, so there is plenty of opportunity for high-level work. And mentoring is widely available both formally and organically. One of the biggest gripes among associates is the firm’s technology, but they are hopeful improvements are coming with new updates in the pipeline and the introduction of laptops for all associates. When it comes to diversity, associates see some room for improvement, but overall, they are impressed with the firm’s strides.

ASSOCIATE REVIEWS:

GETTING HIRED

Hiring Process

  • “We get candidates from all over the country but benefit by being in Boston which has a number of excellent law schools. I think prior work experience is always viewed as a plus, but ideally we are looking for candidates who are self-starters, can work on small teams, and that want to ‘punch above their weight.’”
  • “While law school and grades are just as important as they would be with every top firm, Choate spends a lot of time meeting with candidates to fully understand the personality and fit within the firm culture. Additionally, as Choate has strategically elected to limit operations to one office in Boston, connections and desire to remain in Boston are important.”
  • “Important factors are grades; candidates must want to live in Boston; interest in the firm's practice areas; and personality.”

ASSOCIATE LIFE

Firm Culture

  • “Culture is one of the hallmarks of Choate. It's a very tight-knit, collegial environment and we are encouraged to make connections, both professional and personal, with our colleagues through firm organized social events (regular group meetings; holiday parties; participating in rowing, road races, etc.)”
  • “Choate's one office model fosters a strong, tight-knit community and friendships among attorneys and staff. Social events are regularly organized by committees (e.g. Choate Women's Network, Attorneys of Color).”
  • “Activities vary from Choate's long-standing Lawyers Field Day, to a party at a local museum (significant others invited) to a private screening of the Ruth Bader Ginsburg movie at a local theater. Floors have monthly happy hours at a local pub and Professional Development schedules periodic class lunches, to encourage socialization among classmates.”
  • “What I appreciate most [at] Choate [are] the colleagues I work with—including the partners, associates, and assistants. Very professional, very capable, very ‘human’—nice and willing to help. The partners I work with appreciate that work is not [one’s] whole life—they understand there are many other (more) important things in life: family, parenting and so on.”

Associate/Partner Relations

  • “Associate/partner relations are excellent—teams are leanly staffed and there is frequent partner/associate interaction. Reviews are annual and conducted in person by … an impartial partner (one whom you have not worked extensively with). A copy of each reviewer’s written commentary is available upon request.”
  • “Partners and the firm generally treat associates as equals and truly value the growth and development of each associate. Choate really is looking for long-term relationship with their associates and [has] done a phenomenal job at transparency.”
  • “Partners I work with treat me with a lot of respect, and give a lot of credit, sometimes before clients face-to-face or on conference calls with client. Sometimes when I do a great job, they tell the managing partners. Firm very transparent with [finances]. …”
  • “I have personally been treated well by all of the partners I work with, feels more like a team than a hierarchical relationship. I think that is true for the most part across the board. I feel that the firm is very transparent, our co-managing partners are not only accessible, but host quarterly meetings to provide updates on the firm.”

Hours

  • “Workflow can be very up and down. Assignments are evenly distributed.”
  • “We are very busy, sometimes too busy, but generally a good level of work. Moderate flexibility with respect to working remotely, depends on [the] partner. Some partners require lots of face time.”
  • “Manageable work-life balance with fairly consistent work.”

Compensation

  • “Choate pays market, including bonus. They also have instituted a "long-term" bonus program, which rewards associates for meeting their hours for consecutive years.”
  • “I've received an above market bonus for working over 2,100 hours. Others have as well. … The firm also has a long-term bonus program, where if you meet your hours 2 years in a row, regardless of class year, you get $25,000, three years in a row you get $37,500, and 4 years in a row you get $50,000. This is in addition to regular market bonuses.”
  • “Choate's managing partners have spent a significant amount of time over the past couple of years addressing associates' bonus structure. This has all been to the benefit of associates—there are two separate bonus programs and Choate pays market.”

Quality of Work

  • “We do high-end work in the corporate group, and I think that Choate junior associates definitely punch above their weight compared to their peers at other firms. I am usually opposite attorneys senior to me by 2 years or more.”
  • “There is a good mix of traditional first year work (doc review) and things that are totally out of my comfort zone (drafting dispositive motions). I feel very challenged most of the time, which is a little stressful but good for my career development.”
  • “Deals are generally staffed leanly, which provides extensive exposure to work on substantive aspects of each deal, from drafting to negotiating.”
  • “Great drafting opportunities. I feel like I have had really great experiences this year, managing my own investigation, taking the day-to-day lead on cases. I do wish I had more opportunities, but the assignments I have had have been wonderful.”

Technology & Innovation

  • The firm's technology is outdated. The firm is in the process of completely updating everything from the ground up throughout this year. Early indications are extremely promising.”
  • The firm is working on roll out of new laptops and desktops, which should improve this aspect.”

Training & Mentoring

  • “There's a formal mentorship program. There's a feedback initiative to encourage project-based feedback conversations (among other things, the feedback initiative sponsors a monthly breakfast for teams to get together to discuss recent work). The practice group leaders check in with associates on what their goals and interests are.”
  • “Great on-the-job training (stretch opportunities, etc.). Less formalized training for mid-levels. Lots of opportunities for feedback. I feel well supported by my mentors and that the partners I am working for are looking for opportunities for me to grow (attending substantive conferences, etc.).”
  • “Lots of formal (training lunches, mentor events, assigned mentors) and informal opportunities for training and mentoring in structured settings. Sponsorship is more informal. The firm has pizza nights and "Feedback Fridays" that provide structured opportunities for individuals to come together on their own and take a moment to connect with an informal or formal mentor or with someone they wish to discuss feedback.”
  • “We have many formal training sessions, typically focused on selected topics. A lot of training is done "real time" when performing tasks [or while] work product [is] being reviewed. Also, a lot of informal training in the form of conversations between senior and junior lawyers.”

PRO BONO & DIVERSITY

Pro Bono Commitment

  • “Pro bono hours count towards bonus eligibility. This year there has been an all-firm ‘Pro Bono Showcase’ and a newsletter from the Pro Bono Committee highlighting the work that individuals are working on.”
  • “Pro bono work is strongly encouraged throughout all departments.”
  • “Choate has turned a corner in this regard. About a year ago many associates complained about a lackluster pro bono policy that did not count pro bono hours as billable until the associate reach 1,900 ‘actual’ billable hours. Due to the feedback from associates, they removed this requirement. …”

The firm says: Choate has recently changed its pro bono policy. Associates now have a budget of 125 hours for pro bono work and/or “on-the-job training.” Any pro bono or OJT work done within this budget is included as billable hours for the year.

Choate, Hall & Stewart

Two International Place
Boston, MA 02110
Phone: (617) 248-5000

Firm Stats

Managing Partners: Charles Cheever and William Gelnaw Jr.
Hiring Partners: JP Jaillet and Jennifer Fenn
Total No. Attorneys (2021):
150 - 250
No. of Partners Named 2021:
6
Billable-Hour Requirement:
2,000 hours

Base Salary

1st year: $205,000
2nd year: $215,000
3rd year: $240,000
4th year: $275,000
5th year: $305,000
6th year: $330,000
Summer Associate: $3,942/week

Employment Contact

Elaine Bortman
Chief of Legal Recruiting and Talent Development
(617) 248-4748
ebortman@choate.com

No. of U.S. Offices: 1

No. of International Offices: 0

Major Office Locations

Boston, MA

Major Departments

Complex Investigations & Litigation
Private Equity/M&A
Finance & Restructuring
Life Sciences & Technology Companies
Wealth Management
*See firm website for complete list of practice areas and industries.