Overview

Introduction

Known for its white collar, antitrust, and corporate work—among other things—Covington is a mainstay in the top 20 of the Vault Law 100. The firm attracts intellectuals who lean progressive and thrive on collaboration, hard work, and giving back via pro bono matters. This “brain trust” law firm is known for quietly (and smartly) going about its business—that business being antitrust, litigation, white collar defense & investigations, corporate, IP, export controls, data privacy and cybersecurity, and regulatory work—with p...

Firm Stats


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Total No. Attorneys (2021)


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Featured Rankings

Vault Law 100...

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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

1st year: $202,500...


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No. of U.S. Offices

Vault Verdict

If you are hoping to land a top legal shop like Covington, polish your writing sample (they will read it), prepare a list of references (they will call them), be ready to impress with stellar grades, and demonstrate that you’re client ready. The firm has an intellectual vibe where lawyers take their work seriously but are also approachable and supportive of each other. Partners take time to provide feedback and explanations to associates, while also empowering them to take on stretch assignments. Associates appreciate the town halls and monthly updates from the Management Committee, but some feel there could be greater transparency, especially as to bonuses and the promotion process. The firm has a reasonable 1,950-hour billable requirement, but some associates wish activities lik...

About the Firm

 

This “brain trust” law firm is known for quietly (and smartly) going about its business—that business being antitrust, litigation, white collar defense & investigations, corporate, IP, export controls, data privacy and cybersecurity, and regulatory work—with particular strengths in the sports, insurance, life science/pharma, energy, tech, and media/entertainment industries.

Capital Roots

Judge J. Harry Covington and Edward B. Burling founded their firm in Washington, DC, in 1919, with a (then unique) concept of a firm focused on regulatory issues. Since that founding, it would be hard to find many members of the Fortune 200 that have not worked with Covington. The firm played significant roles in many of the leading legal matters that arose from the New...

Associate Reviews


  • “Lawyers do not socialize together too much, especially during the pandemic, but the atmosphere is very collegial and supportive. Partners and management made a conscious effort during the pandemic to reach out to associates and make sure they were adjusting well to remote work, getting enough work, etc.”
  • “The day-to-day atmosphere is very engaging, with attorneys clearly devoted to their work and interested in meaningful collaboration. The atmosphere is intellectual in nature.”
  • “The quintessential Covington lawyer is friendly but introverted. Everyone is super nice but people largely go home to their families at the end of the day. However, there are often floor happy hours and smaller events that are well attended. Even in COVID times, I've kept in touch with several of my friends at the firm, even though we don't work on matters together.”
  • “People are very polite and friendly but are serious about their work. There are weekly practice group lunches and somewhat regular social events (at least once per month), even in the virtual world. The firm definitely feels very progressive and takes on a lot of progressive pro bono work, though no one would treat you negatively if you have differing political views. The firm is very serious about its commitment to pro bono.”
  • “Covington is a very collegial and professional environment, without being too stuffy. While you will not find regular wild happy hours or boisterous halls, people overall are friendly, approachable, and good colleagues. Basically, as hard as everyone works (it is still BigLaw), people are definitely able to have a life outside the office.”
  • “My interaction with partners has always been positive. In one instance in my first month at the firm, I overlooked a key fact and the partner followed up with me to explain why that fact was important in a constructive, affirming manner, which I really appreciated. In a later project, that same partner went out of their way to send me a personal note of positive feedback. Those interactions have been helpful as a first-year associate.”
  • “Partners treat associates like valued colleagues. Associates are frequently given responsibilities that I perceive as being above their pay grade, and not for any reason other than that the partners trust the associates and want to give them good work. Associates are frequently consulted for their opinions on strategy—I've found myself on many email threads of senior lawyers discussion strategy on issues that I'm involved with, and I'm often asked for my input.”
  • “I work one on one with partners daily. … The partners value my opinions and my work product, as well as the fact that I have a life outside of work. The transparency from the Management Committee is pretty good but could be better. The Management Committee sends out monthly updates, is very transparent about the firm's finances, and meets with associates twice a year for a town hall, where they respond to associate questions. However, it is not always clear how and why certain decisions are made (e.g., special bonuses, telework policy changes). …”
  • “The associate/partner relationship at Covington is excellent. Partners are constantly encouraging associates to gain the necessary experience to become better lawyers.”
  • “The [hour] requirement is not difficult to meet as I have found there is always work to go around and pro bono hours count. My group has been quite busy recently, but the firm has done a good job of adjusting to the uptick in work and bringing in more associates from other groups to help balance the load.”
  • “I understand that the firm's billable-hour requirement is standard for the industry (1,950), and the firm allows unlimited pro bono to count towards the billable-hours requirement.  However, the firm should strongly consider allowing recruitment and business development work count towards the billable-hours requirement. I feel that I'm given an appropriate amount of work.”
  • “Hours are, of course, high because it's BigLaw. However, the 1,950-hour requirement is relatively reasonable, and partners show concern for overworked associates and will ease things up when they see that you are very busy. [The] firm has adapted well to remote work in the pandemic, and associates are free to relocate until further notice.”
  • “My work often ebbs and flows, which can make it difficult.  Slow periods are not actually enjoyable because the minimum hour requirement is always in the back of your mind.”
  • “Compensation is lockstep for all associates, as are bonuses as long as you [meet] the billable hours minimum (1,950/year). The firm offered special COVID bonuses that are also tied to [client] hours.”
  • “Compensation and bonuses match the top of the market, with a reasonable hours requirement. [We] also have the benefit of pro bono counting 1 to 1 in hours.”
  • “The firm is certainly not a leader but tends to match compensation, and I'm happy with that. I do think they can and should include hours spent on non-billable/non-pro bono work, such as business development or equity and diversity activities, into hours for bonus purposes.”
  • “Covington's [client] hours requirement is very reasonable (1,950/year, with no cap on pro bono hours which count one-to-one toward your billable target). Covington has also matched every market bonus so far, including supplemental and special bonuses. Some may complain that Covington is generally a little slower to match, and I think their model for the 2021 spring/fall bonus was a little disadvantageous to folks who had a slow period at the beginning of WFH in 2020, but the firm responded quickly to negative feedback and offered a gross-up for associates who make their 2021 hours, even if they don't meet the requirements for the special spring bonus.”
  • “I work directly with partners and contribute substantively to work product that is going out to the clients. I have conducted legal research, draft sections of briefs, email directly with clients, and draft license applications that are submitted to various government agencies. My work is always supervised by a senior lawyer, but I'm given a fair amount of autonomy, which has led me to learn a wide range of new areas of substantive law in a very short time.”
  • “As a young associate, I do a lot of due diligence and basic document preparation, which is understandable. But as I have progressed I have seen my responsibilities grow quickly, and have had the chance to work directly with partners on small projects where I get to do substantive drafting of documents. While I sometime am responsible for administrative tasks like preparing closing sets after deals, my work is almost all substantive and valuable.”
  • “In my regulatory practice, all of the work I do is substantive. I draft email memos, policies and agreements, and other types of analyses. I have a lot of interaction with clients, with support from the partners. The work is appropriate for my level.”
  • “I am a senior associate and largely run my cases. Even as a junior, I've always felt that I've been given substantive, interesting work.”
  • “The work from home transition was relatively seamless. The firm has also generously been offering a stipend for home office equipment and technology, which has been very appreciated.”
  • “The firm has all the right setup, but the software and hardware are outdated. Everything from saving files, getting emails though the firewall, and sharing documents takes longer than it should, which is frustrating (especially when you are working on a deadline).”
  • “I started working at the firm in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, my only experience has been virtual. The firm has made good use of Microsoft Teams to facilitate a communicative environment.”
  • “I find that the hardware that the firm provides likely needs an upgrade, but the firm has given each associate a stipend to pay for technology during the pandemic, which has been very helpful during remote work. Office services has also helped pick up papers and schedule shipping for any physical filings we need to do from our homes.”
  • “Covington has provided several resources aimed at wellness, especially mental health, during the pandemic. These resources include trainings and access to the ‘Unmind’ app.”
  • “The firm provides many wellness resources and promotes them often, but they are difficult to take advantage of between client obligations and target billable-hours goals.  The firm has provided paid time off for time spent recovering from COVID-19 or vaccine-related symptoms and also allows employees to record time spent addressing COVID-19 related activities.”
  • “Even prior to COVID, the firm has a wellness group that includes exercise challenges and educational programming on wellness”
  • “I've never attended a firm wellness effort, but the culture really promotes taking care of each other.”
  • “All junior associates are provided with an associate mentors, and mid-level associates are provided with a partner mentor. We have ‘mentoring circles’ where associates are reminded to meet each month and are provided with a $35 per person stipend for food or drink (even during Covid and working remotely).”
  • “[The] firm provides extensive training, including on-boarding orientation for new attorneys and laterals and training for mid-level associates. The firm assigns both direct mentors as well as mentoring circles that allow associates to build relationships [with] other associates at their level and more-senior attorneys.”
  • “There are regularly scheduled training for skills (e.g., deposition, trial) and practice groups hold subject matter trainings.”
  • “There are enough resources and opportunities to seek out formal training. Most training is on-the-job, informal training and mentorship from the case teams.”
  • “Partnership is difficult at Covington, but there are other non-partner roles for senior associates (counsel, of counsel, special counsel, etc.), and there are abundant exit opportunities to go in-house, to government, etc.”
  • “Promotion to partnership seems realistic but challenging. The firm consistently promotes internally.”
  • “How realistic partnership is varies office to office and group to group. However, the exit opportunities are excellent. People transition to in-house or government all the time, with full support of the firm.”
  • “The firm has done well during the pandemic and adapted well. Career opportunities seem strong, whether it involves promotion to partnership or ability to seek a job outside of the firm. The firm is helpful in placing associates in positions outside of the firm if that is what they want to do.”
  • “At Covington, pro bono hours count as billable hours. What's more, we have complete control over the types of pro bono projects we can work on. I have worked on federal motions for compassionate release, memoranda for nonprofit organizations, and immigration cases. We are highly encouraged to take on pro bono cases.”
  • “Pro bono is a huge part of my work. Pro bono hours count as billable hours, and pro bono clients are treated the same as other clients of the firm.”
  • “Covington is one of the best of the best when it comes to pro bono work. I am currently working on three time-consuming pro bono projects (concerning VAWA, sexual harassment, and reproductive rights) and the firm has been nothing but supportive.”
  • “Every attorney I know at Covington has at least one active pro bono matter at all times.  The work is highly valued within the firm and all pro bono hours count one-for-one toward billable requirements. Personally, I have had the opportunity to work on international law pro bono projects as well as represent a client convicted by a nonunanimous jury in violation of the U.S. Constitution.”
  • “Covington has been increasingly focused on diversity.”
  • “Covington is extraordinarily receptive to fostering gender diversity, racial diversity, and LGBTQ+ diversity. That said, Covington (and all big law firms) still has a long way to go with hiring and retaining attorneys of color. Covington has affinity groups for the following identities: women, Black, Asian-American, Latinx, LGBTQ+, and veteran. I do wish that there was a Women of Color affinity group, but Covington has recently implemented a speaker series for women of color that has been absolutely fantastic and has been a great environment.”
  • “The firm does not offer billable credit for diversity-related activities. The firm is very diverse with respect to women, and many women are promoted to partner and hold leadership positions. Racial diversity is lacking, though it appears the firm is making efforts to increase racial diversity and promote more racially diverse attorneys.”
  • “The firm definitely seems to be putting a lot of effort into these areas. Certainly in hiring there appear to be concerted efforts to promote diversity at the firm, which is good.”

Why Work Here


Working at Covington

Our distinctively collaborative culture allows us to be truly one team globally, drawing on the diverse experience of lawyers and advisors across the firm by seamlessly sharing insight and expertise. What sets us apart is our ability to combine the tremendous strength in our litigation, investigations, and corporate practices with deep knowledge of policy and policymakers, and one of the world’s leading regulatory practices. This enables us to create novel solutions to our clients’ toughest problems, successfully try their toughest cases, and deliver commercially practical advice of the highest quality.

Diversity at Covington & Burling

"Our Values At Covington, we recognize the differences among us as an asset and a source of strength. We believe that excellence in the practice of law knows no racial, ethnic, gender, religious, sexual orientation, or other boundaries. Covington lawyers bring a wide variety of backgrounds, perspectives, and life experiences to our practice. By recruiting, retaining, developing, and promoting a diverse group of lawyers, we advance the interests of our clients, our practice, and our entire profession. Commitment from..."

Getting Hired Here


  • “The firm looks for individuals at the top of their class with journal experience. They call references prior to hiring and seem to take seriously hiring decisions. We have interview training and a detailed evaluation form we must fill out after interviews. The firm values diversity and a commitment to pro bono.”
  • “Grades are important to the firm, but we do actually read the writing samples and call the references, so those are often key factors as well, especially for a candidate on the edge. We do have trainings for everyone involved in interviewing, which include guidance on what qualities are important; questions to ask to gain information about those qualities; and how to write fulsome, helpful evaluations.”
  • “The firm is looking for candidates that come from great law schools, and who are not just intelligent, but business-minded and can communicate well with future clients. The firm likes to see candidates who have a demonstrated interest in an area of law, evidenced by their resume and extracurricular activities.”
  • “The firm is looking for strong candidates [who] will be collegial members of the firm. They definitely have a preference for Top 14 law schools but have hired outside of those schools pretty frequently.”
  • “They will ask candidates to describe a complex project they have worked on and their process for completing such a project. They may ask you to defend the position you took in your writing sample or to argue the opposite position.”
  • “Typical questions like ‘why Covington,’ ‘why law,’ etc. If you can't answer ‘why Covington,’ I ding you on your interview.”
  • “Candidates should expect questions about past experience, behavioral questions ("Tell me about a time when you . . ."), what they expect or hope to get out of a summer associate experience, why Covington, etc.—pretty standard questions.”
  • “‘What's your writing philosophy?’ They also highly value teamwork skills. They ask questions related to teamwork and collaboration.”
  • “I was assigned a senior partner mentor, who has been an invaluable resource with everything from writing my bio to picking my next matter. In addition, Covington's new associate integration series has been helpful, despite the virtual setting.”
  • “The firm is focused on lateral integration and prior to the pandemic, was working on a lateral integration program involving coffee meetings with current associates when laterals start at the firm.”

Perks & Benefits