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Overview

Introduction

AZA is a top litigation boutique located in Houston, Texas, providing expertise to both plaintiffs and defendants. Though it tackles disputes of any kind, IP and energy are some of the most frequently occurring subject matters in its caseload.

Firm Stats


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Total No. Attorneys (2021)


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No. of Partners Named (2020)


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Featured Rankings

Top 150 Under 150...


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No. of 1st Year Associates Hired (2020)



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No. of Summer Associates (2021)



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Base Salary

All offices:...

Vault Verdict

As a trial firm, AZA’s first priority when hiring candidates is to find people who will do well in a courtroom setting—with an emphasis on work ethic and “toughness.” Interviews can be fairly behavioral, and candidates should know why they’re looking for trial work specifically. The firm’s culture is respectful and social, and relationships between partners and associates are great—they work closely on cases, and so bond easily. However, associates report a lack of transparency from the top. Hours are long, but associates claim that all of them are spent on substantive work that actively moves their cases forward. AZA is a “trial by fire” firm, where associates learn by doing—it’s not unusual for a junior associate to stand up in court, sometimes multiple times. As such, training ...

About the Firm

Ahmad, Zavitsanos, Anaipakos, Alavi & Mending P.C. is a litigation boutique whose attorneys are known for their trial prowess. With a team of over 50 lawyers, the firm has participated in more than 225 trials. The firm is a Texas staple, ranking among the Top 5 firms in Vault’s Best Midsize Law Firms in Texas.

From IP to Energy

AZA was founded in 1993 in Texas by Joe Ahmad and John Zavitsanos—both of whom are still at the firm today. Although many of its cases involve high-stakes litigation for multinational companies, AZA also represents individuals and mid-sized businesses with serious legal issues. AZA represents both plaintiffs and defendants in a variety of practice areas, including commercial litigation, company investigations, construction and real estate litigation, exe...

Associate Reviews


  • “Associates at AZA form a strong bond through going to trial and working on cases together. Partners trust the associates to work up cases, and associates develop confidence in being trial lawyers through real, front-lines type work.”
  • “The firm occasionally does impromptu happy hours at the office or close by. We also do a number of events during the summer for the [summer associates] that are firmwide and involve spouses. We also went on a firm retreat last year in New Orleans.”
  • “We have an awesome Christmas party, a Ramadan Iftar, and frequent lunches and happy hours.”
  • “The firm culture is great! All of the lawyers, partners and associates, socialize together outside of work often. The firm also holds firm-organized events, whether that be fundraisers, cultural events, holiday parties, firm retreat, etc...”
  • “The partners here are very respectful of associates. They take an active interest in their development, and they value their input, and give them meaningful roles on cases. Reviews are conducted in a face-to-face manner on an annual basis.”
  • “Partners trust associates to run cases. Associates take depositions, argue hearings, and present in front of juries at trial. By trusting the associates with so much, partners have high expectations. The firm sends out emails summarizing firm performance and how bonuses will calculated. Other details are not provided in these update emails, but if you ask the partners particular follow up questions, they will answer them, knowing that their honest answers build trust.”
  • “Associate-partner relations are good. I feel that the partners are genuinely invested in developing me as a young lawyer.  Performance reviews are annual.”
  • “Partners and associates get along on cases. Lots of respect for the partnership. There is no transparency with respect to management.”
  • “I feel very good about my work hours. I am given challenging, interesting work. I have tremendous flexibility in where and when I work, and it seems to me that work is evenly distributed.”
  • “It can be a bit of a grind with the number of hours I put in. But these are ‘quality hours.’ They advance the case and are not busy work. Also, because the cases are thinly staffed, I am very satisfied with the type of experience I'm getting. I'm taking depositions, writing and arguing motions, taking witnesses at TI/trial, etc.”
  • “AZA requires 2,000 hours, and you have to work 2,100 billable hours to qualify for a bonus. AZA will count other things toward the billable requirement like (a) working on the summer program; (b) preparing and presenting CLE's; and (c) certain types of business development.”
  • “If you meet your billable hours, you'll get a bonus. It's lockstep [for the] first four years. The base salary is very good as well. …”
  • “I've been happy with my compensation. I typically work about 2,400 to 2,500 hours per year, and my annual salary and bonus have been generous.”
  • “I feel very good about my work hours. I am given challenging, interesting work. I have tremendous flexibility in where and when I work, and it seems to me that work is evenly distributed.”
  • “It can be a bit of a grind with the number of hours I put in. But these are ‘quality hours.’ They advance the case and are not busy work. Also, because the cases are thinly staffed, I am very satisfied with the type of experience I'm getting. I'm taking depositions, writing and arguing motions, taking witnesses at TI/trial, etc.”
  • “AZA requires 2,000 hours, and you have to work 2,100 billable hours to qualify for a bonus. AZA will count other things toward the billable requirement like (a) working on the summer program; (b) preparing and presenting CLE's; and (c) certain types of business development.”
  • “If you meet your billable hours, you'll get a bonus. It's lockstep [for the] first four years. The base salary is very good as well. …”
  • “I've been happy with my compensation. I typically work about 2,400 to 2,500 hours per year, and my annual salary and bonus have been generous.”
  • “At AZA, you are given substantive legal work that is often years beyond your actual level as an attorney. Many of AZA's young associates have taken witnesses or given an opening statement at multiple trials in their first few years with AZA. Outside of trial, associates are expected to take depositions, argue hearings, talk to clients (and develop their own clients), and manage their cases with limited supervision.”
  • “I'm only a sixth-year associate, but I've argued before the Delaware Supreme Court and tried at least seven cases. I take witnesses, travel to take depositions, and feel like I have a seat at the table when planning strategy for cases. I am not sure my peers from law school get these same opportunities at this early point in our legal careers.”
  • “I cannot imagine getting better quality of work—and more responsibility—at any other law firm.”
  • “Associates get a lot of responsibility over complex, interesting cases.”
  • “There are no formal efforts here. But the firm does respect your pre-planned vacation (unless a trial pops up) and personal time if you need to take it.”
  • “The founding partner recently helped organize a team of associates and staff to run the Houston Half-Marathon.”
  • “Partners and attorneys of all ages at AZA really work with each other to develop skills. An associate is likely to get substantial feedback from partners and other associates in multiple rounds of preparation the first time the associate does an opening statement, an appellate argument, or a big summary-judgment or Markman hearing. AZA also routinely hosts in-house CLEs on all aspects of litigation and trial practice.”
  • “Hardly anything at AZA is formal, but that is by design. Senior attorneys make it a priority to mentor associates and constantly give feedback.”
  • “Management is very good at giving young lawyers responsibility and opportunities to grow.”
  • “While formal training is lesser than that of a big firm, the informal training (and training by experience) is second to none.”
  • “The partnership track is a little bit of a black box. There are ‘of counsel’ roles for senior associates. The exit opportunities are strong because associates are getting substantive experience and picking up skills. The firm also pushes you to develop your own clients from an early point. They value this. So, if you follow through, you can take your book of business and skills to anywhere.”
  • “Making partner at AZA is probably more difficult than at other firms, but associates also do not get ‘pushed out.’ So the job security is excellent.”
  • “Promotion to partnership is realistic. There is a ‘counsel’ position for those associates who want a more-senior role but do not want to be partner.”

Why Work Here


AZA is a firm of lawyers who love to go to trial and love to win. The partners will get associates into the courtroom as soon as possible. Associates have been allowed to try cases on their own. And they have won.  The firm lawyers are quick-thinking, intense and they value courtroom preparation and client service. The firm has been awarded for great client service.

Getting Hired Here


  • “AZA wants smart, tough people who want to win trials. Everything matters in the interview process. The schools AZA hires from the most are University of Texas, Chicago, Harvard, and Michigan.”
  • “AZA is seeking attorneys with impressive pedigrees from a range of law schools and previous experiences.”
  • “Typically, AZA looks for three key factors: (1) intellectual firepower; (2) ability to take the initiative; and (3) ability to get back up when you get knocked down. To be able to try cases, you have to be smart [and] take the reins to plan strategy, and if you don't succeed on the first pass, learn from it and do better next time. …”
  • “Applicants must have a desire to try cases and win. AZA hires students from top schools with top grades who can hold their own in the court room. A federal clerkship is a plus but not required. AZA does OCI at Harvard, Chicago, Michigan, and UT although other applicants are encouraged to apply directly.”
  • “Why do you want to do trial work as opposed to litigation work? What excites you about being a trial lawyer? Can you handle this type of responsibility? Does this sound like the environment you would thrive in? Why? Can you give us examples?”
  • “There is no script. Candidates are judged on ‘mental toughness,’ among other things.”
  • “’Why Houston?’ ‘Why trial?’ These two key questions help AZA determine whether or not candidates want to work here in Houston and try cases. Candidates who struggle with either question really won't work here.”

Perks & Benefits