The Undercover Checklist: Assessing Key Cultural Attributes of a Firm

Published: Jun 30, 2020


If you ask a Paul, Weiss associate what it’s like to practice at our firm, they will describe being engaged in some of the most interesting and cutting-edge matters and having the extraordinary opportunity to work side by side with the best of the best. They are part of a supportive, collegial, and professional environment and enjoy the opportunity to be surrounded by colleagues they respect and admire. I frequently hear from our associates that they enjoy being part of the Paul, Weiss team because of our firm’s upbeat vibe and positive energy.

Our culture is special for so many reasons; notably, we embrace our differences, maintain a passionate commitment to advancing social justice, and stay closely connected to those in the Paul, Weiss family who go on to do great things after their time at our firm. As you think about launching your career in the law, we encourage you to think carefully about these key cultural attributes. But don’t just take my word for it! I have asked some of the leaders in our firm who focus on these areas to share some insights that we hope will be helpful as you think through your next steps.

 Valerie Radwaner, Deputy Chair and Corporate Partner

Diversity & Inclusion

Paul, Weiss has been committed to inclusion since its founding—a dedication that has shaped the intellectual and cultural character of our firm over many decades.

We have a century-old tradition of breaking down walls and shattering barriers. Individuality and diversity of ideas, backgrounds, and perspectives are valued here. Our commitment to cultural progress can be seen throughout our history; we have contributed to groundbreaking societal change, taking on a range of progressive issues—including immigrant rights, reproductive rights, election protection, gun violence prevention, and others—and achieving impactful results in the courtroom and beyond.

A firm’s culture greatly influences the experience of every attorney. We are proud of the collaboration, cooperation, and innovation that takes place at Paul, Weiss every day. We strive to provide all of our attorneys with the necessary tools to build stellar, rewarding careers in an inclusive environment. Our firm supports these goals through the efforts of our Diversity and Women’s Initiatives Committees and a diversity and inclusion strategy implemented by our Chief Inclusion Officer.

Most elite law firms profess a devotion to diversity and inclusion, but consider the following questions when evaluating a firm’s commitment to inclusion:

  1. Is there a senior executive dedicated solely to diversity and inclusion who reports directly to the most senior leadership at the firm?
  2. Does the firm have an extensive track record of diversity and inclusion, or are most of its touted accomplishments from more recent years?
  3. Do women and attorneys from traditionally underrepresented groups hold leadership roles throughout the firm?
  4. Has the firm demonstrated creativity and an ability to innovate when it comes to programming and initiatives related to diversity and inclusion? What makes its offerings unique? How long have those offerings been available?



These insights include contributions from Theodore V. Wells Jr., Co-Chair of the Litigation Department and Co-Chair of the Diversity Committee; Amran Hussein, Corporate Partner and Co-Chair of the Diversity Committee; Alex Young K. Oh, Co-Chair of the Anti-Corruption & FCPA Practice Group and Co-Chair of the Diversity Committee; and Roberto J. Gonzalez, Co-Chair of the Economic Sanctions and AML Practice Group and Co-Chair of the Diversity Committee.

Public Matters/Pro Bono Service

Throughout our firm’s history, Paul, Weiss has maintained an unwavering commitment to providing pro bono legal assistance to the most vulnerable members of our society and in support of the public interest. This commitment is a part of the firm’s identity, and it is embraced by every member of the Paul, Weiss community, from the most senior leaders across all departments to the summer associates who join us each year.

From helping Thurgood Marshall reverse the doctrine of “separate but equal” in Brown v. Board of Education to representing Edith Windsor in challenging the Defense of Marriage Act in United States v. Windsor, our attorneys have achieved landmark victories in civil rights cases that have changed society for the better. Paul, Weiss lawyers participate in a variety of pro bono matters, from working directly with individual clients, nonprofits, and small businesses in a wide range of substantive areas to handling appeals and drafting key amicus briefs before the Supreme Court.

Associates are encouraged to get involved in pro bono work from day one and are considered a vital part of the team. Junior lawyers involved in pro bono cases receive extensive training and partner mentorship at Paul, Weiss.

As you assess law firms’ pro bono efforts, consider the following questions:

  1. Does the firm have a track record of pro bono accomplishments related to issues and causes that resonate with you?
  2. Does the firm cap the amount of billable credit that it will recognize for an associate’s pro bono time?
  3. To what extent has the firm been recognized and honored by credible third parties, such as legal trade publications, for achieving excellence in its pro bono efforts?
  4. What is the firm’s approach to involving junior lawyers across different practice areas in public matters?



These insights include contributions from Audra J. Soloway, Co-Chair of the Securities Litigation and Enforcement Group and Co-Chair of the Public Matters Committee, and Neil Goldman, Corporate Partner and Co-Chair of the Public Matters Committee.

Alumni Network

Once you have worked at Paul, Weiss, the firm’s Alumni Network travels with you wherever you go. Your success is our success.

Through a number of thoughtfully developed programs, we take great care to stay in touch with what we consider the “extended Paul, Weiss family.” We support the professional development of our alumni and nurture career-long connections. Most importantly, we take tremendous pride in the great things that our alumni go on to achieve in public service, academia, corporations, the nonprofit sector, the judiciary, and countless other areas.

When trying to understand the strength of a law firm’s alumni network, pose the following questions:

  1. Does the firm provide a roster of notable alumni who have gone on to excel in areas that resonate with you?
  2. How does the firm create opportunities for its junior lawyers to have meaningful interactions with notable alumni?
  3. What kind of programming and outreach does the firm offer to its alumni?
  4. Does the firm stay in touch with former attorneys who have gone on to work in non-legal roles?



These insights include contributions from Liza M. Velazquez, Litigation Partner and Co-Chair of the Alumni Committee, and Jeffrey D. Marell, Co-Head of the Mergers and Acquisitions Practice and Co-Chair of the Alumni Committee.


Paul, Weiss is deeply committed to your professional development and training. Through a structured, broad-based curriculum and a one-of-a-kind culture, we’ll give you all the tools you need to become a highly effective attorney throughout your career, wherever that may lead you.

The areas outlined above play important roles in the development of our colleagues. We hope these remain top of mind for you as you chart your future course.

This is a sponsored post by Paul, Weiss. To view the firm’s full profile, click here.