2023 Vault Rankings
At a Glance
“Substantive legal work early on.”
“I genuinely like and enjoy working with the other attorneys here.”
“Compensation is not as competitive as most other similarly ranked firms.”
“The lack of transparency about certain decisions relating to associates.”
About Shook, Hardy & Bacon L.L.P.
Shook, Hardy & Bacon is an AmLaw 200 firm with more than 500 attorneys who have helped build the firm’s reputation for trial strength in complex litigation. The firm is particularly well known in the product liability area, especially for its work on behalf of pharmaceutical, medical device, technology, and automotive companies. Indeed, Shook is among the Top 10 firms in Vault’s Best Law Firms for Products Liability.
Founded in 1889 by attorney Frank Sebree, a former Missouri state legislator, Shook, Hardy & Bacon started out with railroad work as well as local political corruption. One of the firm’s early partners Henry McDougal served as the special prosecutor in the murder trial against infamous outlaw Frank James, having previously helped a wealthy farmer win a civil suit against Frank and his brother Jesse James for stealing his horse at gunpoint during a bank robbery getaway.
Later, famed trial lawyer David Hardy joined the firm, tackling the first anti-smoking suit in Missouri as lead counsel for Philip Morris in 1962. Hardy's performance in that case attracted attention from the rest of the industry—five of the six largest tobacco companies eventually hired the firm to helm their litigation defense. The firm quickly gained a reputation for being incredibly thorough in pre-trial investigation and preparation and soon after was tapped by the pharmaceutical and medical device industry for its litigation expertise, which was followed by the automotive industry looking to Shook for litigation defense strategies. In 2019, Shook celebrated its 130th year anniversary.
Shook, Hardy & Bacon has grown exponentially in the last few decades thanks in large part to its successes on behalf of tobacco, pharmaceutical, medical device, and automotive companies, but also for its expansion over the past 15 years into commercial litigation, intellectual property, environmental and toxic tort, public policy, and labor and employment litigation. Now in 17 locations, the firm opened offices in New York and St. Louis in 2021.
With a robust scientific infrastructure in place, Shook’s litigation practice represents the likes of the Altria Group, Pfizer, Inc., Bausch + Lomb and E.I. Du Pont de Nemours & Company, as well as companies like Microsoft, The Coca-Cola Company, Toyota, and Ford Motor Company. Eli Lilly and Company hired the firm to handle litigation stemming from oral contraceptive and vaccine lawsuits. In 2019, Shook obtained a defense verdict in a highly watched bellwether case for Sanofi-Aventis U.S. LLC involving the chemotherapy drug Taxotere. One of the firm’s unique assets is its behind-the-scenes science team staffed by more than 100 research analysts and paraprofessionals, many with graduate degrees in specialized fields like biochemistry, neuroscience, engineering, genetics and physiology.
The firm also has a strong IP practice, focusing on copyrights, IP counseling, IP litigation, patent filing, patent prosecution, trademarks, and trade secrets. Its work spans such industries as energy, food and beverage, life sciences, pharmaceuticals, retail, and technology and telecommunications. Dozens of the firm’s attorneys focus on this practice.
Taking Action for Diversity
At Shook, diversity and inclusion is a priority. The firm focuses on three main areas in its diversity efforts: organizational systems and processes, talent management and development, and inclusive leadership development. Lawyers at Shook participate in individual commitment plans through which they engage in at least 10 activities that further diversity and inclusion. The firm also hosts a Scholars Institute through which diverse 1Ls participate in a three-day program focused on litigation and trial skills, leadership, and career success competencies for the underrepresented attorney. At the helm of the firm’s efforts is its chair Madeleine McDonough, who serves on the board of the Institute for Inclusion in the Legal Profession (IILP).
Shook’s top priority with respect to COVID-19 continues to be the health and safety of its attorneys, professional staff, and guests of the firm, which includes prospective summer associate and attorney candidates. In that regard, the firm remains willing and able to conduct virtual interviews of all candidates, either by request of the candidate or as required by local health orders/guidance. Shook safely hosted an in-person summer associate program in 2021.
2555 Grand Blvd.
Kansas City, MO 64108
Phone: (816) 474-6550
Chairman and Managing Partner: Madeleine McDonough
Recruiting Chair: Chris Kaufman
Total No. Attorneys (2021):
500 - 750
No. of Partners Named 2021:
1st year: $160,000
Summer associate: $3,050 /week Kansas City; Tampa:
1st year: $130,000
Summer associate: $2,500/week Seattle:
1st year: $145,000
Summer associate: $2,750/week Washington, DC:
1st year: $170,000
Summer associate: $3,250 /week Houston; Los Angeles; Orange County; San Francisco:
1st year: $180,000
Summer associate: $3,450 /week Chicago:
1st year: $190,000
Summer associate: $3,650 /week
Colleen M. Liesmann
Director of Legal Recruiting
No. of U.S. Offices: 16
No. of International Offices: 1
Kansas City, MO (HQ)
Los Angeles, CA
New York, NY Orange County, CA
San Francisco, CA
St. Louis, MO Tampa, FL
Washington, DC I London
Intellectual Property Prosecution and Litigation
Environmental and Toxic Tort
Privacy and Data Security
Product Liability Defense
*See firm website for complete list of practice areas and industries.