Overview

Introduction

A litigation powerhouse, appellate all-star, and corporate law force, Gibson Dunn is a V10 firm with an impressive practice and client list. Gibson attracts go-getters who will succeed in the firm’s free-market system and mesh with the professional, amiable culture. With more than 1,400 attorneys across 10 countries, Gibson Dunn & Crutcher is a force. Among the top firms in the country, Gibson Dunn is well known for its litigation and trial work—especially its bustling Appellate Litigation and Securities Litigation practic...

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

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

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Vault Verdict

Credentials matter at Gibson Dunn, which has a grade cut-off (that varies by school) and values experiences like journal and moot court. The firm has also taken steps to formalize its recruiting process more to hire a more diverse summer associate class. Gibson Dunn operates on a free-market system, which encourages a friendly, cordial work atmosphere from the top down. Associates seek out their work and manage their own workloads. Partners are a respectful bunch who are generous with feedback and in giving associates opportunities to take on high-level work. Opinions are mixed about transparency, with some feeling that management has been forthcoming on such areas as finances and promotion, while others feel in the dark on firm decision-making. Associates are generally pleased wi...

About the Firm

 

With more than 1,400 attorneys across 10 countries, Gibson Dunn & Crutcher is a force. Among the top firms in the country, Gibson Dunn is well known for its litigation and trial work—especially its bustling Appellate Litigation and Securities Litigation practices—as well as its top-notch antitrust, M&A, private equity, and real estate work, among others.

Tinseltown and Beyond

Gibson Dunn began through a partnership between John Bicknell and Walter Trask in 1890. A mere seven years later, Judge James Gibson joined the firm. The trio joined forced with William Dunn, a former Los Angeles City Attorney, and Albert Crutcher, a former Assistant City attorney, to create the largest law firm in Los Angeles at the time. During the 20th century, the firm ...

Associate Reviews


  • The culture is laidback, hardworking, and supportive. People respect others' time.”
  • The firm's culture is extremely collegial both in the professional sense of promoting collaboration and in the social sense of emphasizing being cordial and gracious with one's colleagues. By the same token, the firm could be described as slightly on the formal and traditional side. However, the emphasis on formality and tradition likely helps to explain why the firm has maintained a collaborative and cordial culture over time.”
  • Gibson is a friendly, cordial environment in which to practice law. As a new lateral associate this year, I have not been able to come into the office, but the staff has done a good job trying to foster casual interactions between associates. Even remotely, lawyers and staff work together often, and from what I have seen, the interactions are friendly and respectful.”
  • Gibson is exceedingly friendly, and the free-market system incentivizes positivity among the partnership.”
  • It’s free market, so associates are able to work with many different partners each of which has their own style but all of whom share a value if collegiality and excellence. There is a commitment to mentorship as well. Many partners will give associates feedback needed to get to the next level, take a reach assignment, and grow.”
  • Partners treat associates as respected equals. Even as a first year, my contributions were valued and invited. The firm has been really transparent about finances and promotion—the managing partner met with us as summers, and the Partners in Charge met with us at the beginning of our first year. Performance reviews happen every six months for the first couple of years. There is an opportunity to provide upward feedback as well.”
  • In my personal experience, I've had very positive interactions with partners, several of whom I've come to view as mentors, even friends in some instances. I think the free-market system stimulates good associate-partner relations because it places an onus on everyone to put their best foot forward and treat one another with respect, since a bad reputation can make it hard for partners to staff cases just as it can for associates trying to get staffed. …”
  • The partners I work with have been respectful and flexible when it comes to my work. I have no complaints about the partnership as a whole. The firm is not completely transparent about some of its decision-making, but I feel comfortable with most of the decisions they make.”
  • The free-market system is great in that I have been able to get onto matters in the subject area I am interested in. That said, when you are junior, it's hard to know how much to take on. I ended up in a situation where I had way too much work for a while, which was very stressful.”
  • We have a ton of work and are staffed pretty leanly on most matters. We can work literally wherever we want. Face time is not a thing here. The billable target is real, but it is not hard to hit.”
  • Gibson's free-market model is true to its name—lawyers have a lot of flexibility in choosing which types of matters they join and which senior associates and partners they work with. This system requires self-discipline, however, as partners will often return to associates who do good work, and if a person cannot say ‘no,’ her plate will fill up. The hour expectations are reasonable; although, during work from home, it can be difficult to carve out time away from work.”
  • We are given significant flexibility to pursue the type of work we want and to work when and where we want as long as we're meeting productivity expectations at the end of the year.”
  • The firm will never lead the pack in setting new market norms but will always match whatever becomes market.”
  • The firm compensates its attorneys extremely well. And the firm has recently been giving its employees special bonuses to reward them for the hard work during this particularly challenging time during COVID-19.”
  • I am generally very satisfied with compensation. This year, I was disappointed with the way the firm handled the COVID supplemental bonus by tying it directly to hours—the sentiment of the bonus was to reward associates who were working hard throughout an unprecedented time. …”
  • The salary is good, at level with other peer firms. The billable hours required are 1,950, which is completely doable.”
  • As a first year, I have had a chance to do a lot of different assignments: document review (of course), but also drafting subpoenas, responses to discovery requests, working on motions to dismiss or for summary judgment, as well as researching individual questions that arise in cases.”
  • During my first year, I have been staffed on numerous deals. I have drafted agreements, conducted due diligence, and created due diligence memorandums. The nature of the work is challenging, yet appropriate for a first year.”
  • Ever since my first year, I have always felt my work was just as or more substantive than work my law school colleagues were doing for big firms. As a fourth year associate, my work largely includes drafting and responding to discovery, drafting motions (including being the primary drafter on several dispositive motions), preparing for and second-chairing depositions, leading witness interviews, planning investigations, and managing document reviews.”
  • The free-market system is real. If you ask for it and demonstrate you are capable of handling an assignment, partners are happy to delegate to you regardless of your level or year.”
  • Given then inter-office workstyle that is prevalent in non-pandemic times, the firm was readily able to pivot to remote work. It really has been seamless.”
  • Even prior to the pandemic Gibson’s tech affords associates flexibility in where they do their work. It’s fast, easy and reliable. Tech folks are available 24/7 to trouble shoot.”
  • I feel as though the firm is very slow to adapt new technology in favor of ensuring security. While I appreciate the firm's emphasis on security, it can be frustrating to work with programs that feel outdated.”
  • We are fairly good about new technology and have been better since the pandemic. For example, we used to have an annual ‘book budget,’ but that has been expanded to also cover technology purchased for work-at-home setups, which was a long-overdue change.”
  • The firm has done a lot in the Wellness category. There are weekly trainings and events. The firm also has access to counseling and other resources. Also, the firm has a program to coach and mentor parents who are entering or coming back from leave, providing coaching and helping manage the workload. The firm also has the ability to enter flex-time, for any reason, and you can still make partner while working on flex time.”
  • They have some really great wellness programs; however, they are hard to attend or put into action given the demand of the work and hours.”
  • Gibson has a wellness group and consistently offers mental health resources, fitness offerings like yoga, meditation, nutrition information, reminders to take breaks, stretch, etc. The partners in charge of the NY office regularly discuss attorney wellness, mental health and provide support.”
  • The firm's wellness-related efforts are extensive, offering direct counseling, meditation, and exercise programs and underscoring the importance of wellness in an attorney's life. Institutional buy-in is there, although that language of wellness and balance doesn't necessarily penetrate into every case team.”
  • Every junior is assigned an associate buddy and a mentor-partner, which are helpful resources when you join the firm. Otherwise, Gibson Dunn's free-market system bleeds through somewhat and it's up to the associate to develop a mentorship relationship with senior associates/partners.”
  • The firm in the past two years put in place a formal mentorship platform that I think is finally working very well. This has been especially true during the pandemic, when the firm stepped up and provided generous budgets for each group meeting—initially as often as once per week at the start of the pandemic and then shifting to bi-weekly or monthly as things have calmed down. Each group includes a partner, senior associates, mid-level associates, and a junior associates from the same office and practice group, but not necessarily folks you work with regularly. It provides a great forum to discuss issues at all levels of seniority and get insights from the partner on firm management issues and the like.”
  • Gibson Dunn does an outstanding job of training and mentoring. There is an entire library of pre-recorded training videos led by partners as well as frequent CLE trainings for newer lawyers. I've also been astonished by how willing each lawyer I've worked with has been to spend time going over questions (and have actively asked if I have questions). Having been at other firms, the mentoring and training at Gibson is unparalleled.”
  • Formal training is minimal—we have just a few days of official orientation. However, the other junior associates really step up to train and support the new first years. I felt very welcomed and included when I first started. It is definitely a steep learning curve, but I was well supported while learning-by-doing.”
  • Promotion to partnership is realistic if you’re up to the challenge. The exit opportunities are plentiful, whether it be government work, boutique firms, or in-house attorneys are placed in great positions.”
  • Promotion to partner is very realistic for those who are willing to put in the time and effort. For those associates who cannot make a business case for partnership after 8-9 years, of counsel is a realistic stepping stone to a partnership. That said, the firm also realizes that not everyone is interested in becoming partner, and the firm actively advertises in-house positions at clients and with the government.”
  • I think promotion is extremely possible here—I particularly love that there are so many homegrown partners and people seem to regularly choose to stay here for their entire careers. That said, the firm is very supportive to those who choose to exit, and also very willing to welcome people back (i.e., after a clerkship or a stint in government work).”
  • Gibson has a lot of super-senior associates. This is good in the sense that it's not an up-and-out firm, but discouraging for associates who are aiming for partner.”
  • Pro bono hours are counted as billable hours, with no limit. I have just taken on an immigration removal defense case, and am really excited about it. We have an in-house pro bono partner who coordinates with pro bono work and agencies all over the country—there are a ton of great opportunities.”
  • The firm is deeply committed to pro bono work and pro bono hours count as billable hours. I have recently been working on a case in which we succeeded in getting a wrongly convicted man released from prison after serving 20 years.”
  • “… . I've worked on an array of pro bono projects, ranging from one-day veterans benefits clinics, to a years-long representation of a set of siblings in juvenile immigrant proceedings. I am currently working with attorneys from one of our clients on a collateral appeal of a death penalty conviction for an individual incarcerated in Alabama.”
  • We just hired our first woman managing partner. While the firm leadership is still white male dominated, the firm has made strong efforts for years to increase the number of woman partners, and increase our diversity and inclusion initiatives.”
  • I am openly gay and I have always felt welcome at the firm. Diversity efforts are sincere without feeling forced or patronizing. Diversity affinity groups are active and their events are well attended, both by members and allies. Those affinity groups include expected ones like Black, LGBTQ+, and Women attorneys, but also include ones that might not be present everywhere, like Muslim or First Generation attorneys. To my knowledge, the firm does not provide billable credit for diversity work.”
  • My summer class was majority women; however, it was not very racially diverse. It appears retention of women and diverse associates is not great at the firm. The firm is making an effort, and the summer associate class of 2021 will be more diverse than recent summer classes.”
  • Gibson has made it a priority to recruit and retain diverse attorneys at all levels. Gibson views diversity as critical to our success and service of clients. Diversity-related work/activities are discussed in annual reviews and the firm recognizes those efforts.”

Why Work Here


A Leader in Every Sense

Gibson Dunn is a full-service global law firm advising on some of today’s most complex and significant matters.  We are known for excellence in the practice of law and are committed to providing the very highest level of legal services.  We offer unparalleled, innovative thinking for clients with the most challenging needs and aspire to handle all matters as partners with, and not merely as service providers to, our clients. 

Gibson Dunn has ten offices in the United States and ten international offices.  Despite that geographic spread, we operate as a single, unified law firm.  Our attorneys work together in seamless teamwork across borders, jurisdictions and legal disciplines, finding the right combination of talent and resources for each unique matter entrusted to us by our diverse, multinational client base.

Diversity at Gibson Dunn

"Gibson Dunn is deeply committed to the promotion of diversity. The focus of our diversity efforts is to expand the recruitment and retention of diverse attorneys through mentoring and other initiatives, and to maintain and expand the Firm's profile in the communities in which it serves. Gibson Dunn believes that diversity among lawyers is essential to our continued success as one of the preeminent law firms in the world. In an increasingly global world, we understand that it is crucial that we incorporate diverse competencies, experiences..."

Getting Hired Here


  • There is a grade cutoff, for sure. The firm does a good job recruiting from smaller law schools, but the candidates from there are usually top three in their class. The firm provides guidelines for interviews, but the main goal is to see whether the candidate would fit in the firm culture—has a sense of entrepreneurship to make it in the free-market system and is collegial and works well on teams.”
  • The firm is aggressive on formalizing its interview process, including providing extensive training materials and training sessions. The firm is quite selective in hiring from a credentials perspective and [is] interested in talented individuals that seem enthusiastic about the practice of law and can bring unique and diverse perspectives to the firm.”
  • Grades are probably more important than anything, and either some kind of moot court or journal experience will be expected. The grade cut-off differs depending on your law school from what I remember. But once you have the grades and the other credentials, just be personable and friendly—i.e., be someone that people want to be around. Gibson really takes its culture seriously, so even if you have great grades and everything else, you likely will get passed over if you strike the interviewer as someone that they wouldn't want to work with or spend extended times dealing with.”
  • Gibson Dunn is making an explicit effort to diversify the law schools from which it recruits. Top grades and exceptional experience and character continue to be mandatory requirements, but it seems to be a step in the right direction for recruiting more diverse summer classes.”
  • Why Gibson? Why this office?”
  • Where do you see yourself in five years?”
  • I don't think we have standard interview questions. We just try and chat with folks. We'll ask about a favorite class in law school or a favorite case or an opinion you didn't agree with. And then we'll chat about your background and any interests you express. I definitely talked musical theater to one of my interviewers.”
  • We are always trying to gauge whether someone's personality will allow them to thrive in the free market. Are they outgoing, willing to take on new challenges, [and] curious about different areas and types of work? Or do they have blinders on for the current practice area du jour?”
  • The firm even provides budgets for new associates to get to know other new associates.”
  • This firm is excellent with lateral integration. Partners and associates alike have been exceedingly friendly and approachable and I've gotten interesting and substantive assignments from practically day one. I highly recommend this firm to potential laterals—I don't even miss my old firm!”
  • As a lateral myself, my integration to the firm has been completely seamless. I started working with partners across offices within days of starting at Gibson Dunn.”
  • I connected with a lot of partners before I started, and I had no problem getting work. I think the experience varies widely between laterals, though.”

Practice Area Q&A’s


Allyson Ho & Lauren Blas

Partner and Co-Chair of the Appellate and Constitutional Law Practice Group & Partner

Gibson Dunn

Perks & Benefits