Vault and Firsthand have combined platforms! Learn more




Based in the Big Apple, Kelley Drye & Warren has over 180 years of legal experience. With expertise in over 30 practice areas, the firm has compiled an impressive client roster including Arcelor Mittal USA, Bacardi, JPMorgan, LabCorp, Mylan, Nestle, and Take-Two Interactive Software. New York is Kelley Drye's birthplace and headquarters, but the firm's national footprint includes offices in other key markets, with its second-largest office located in Washington, DC.

Firm Stats


Total No. Attorneys (2021)


Featured Rankings

Best Law Firms for Transparency...


Base Salary

NY and DC...


No. of U.S. Offices


No. of International Offices


Major Office Locations

Chicago, IL...

Vault Verdict

Kelly Drye looks for smart, hard-working candidates and often recruits from law schools local to its offices. Associates describe the culture as more laid-back than other BigLaw firms, and they are happy with the collegial vibe. The firm offers regular events, although some associates are more social than others. Pro bono is supported at the firm, with a variety of opportunities available to associates. In general, partners treat associates with respect, although relationships with senior attorneys can be hit or miss depending on the individual. Associates are satisfied with the quality of their work and opportunities for responsibility. Hours can be tough—as they often are in BigLaw—and work isn’t always distributed evenly. Compensation lags below the market, although some view i...

About the Firm

Based in the Big Apple, Kelley Drye & Warren has over 180 years of legal experience. With expertise in over 30 practice areas, the firm has compiled an impressive client roster including Arcelor Mittal USA, Bacardi, JPMorgan, LabCorp, Mylan, Nestle, and Take-Two Interactive Software.

Young Prodigy

In 1836, New York attorneys Hiram Barney and William Mulligan founded a firm that started taking major cases early on, working on the bankruptcies of the Metropolitan Street Railway and New York City Railway. Barney was later appointed to the then-prestigious position of Collector of the Customs of the Port of New York by none other than President Abraham Lincoln.

Around the turn of the century, name partner Nicholas Kelley joined the firm. Kelley was instrumental in...

Associate Reviews

  • “Social events exist for those who want them but aren't mandatory.  I choose to go regularly; others do not, and that is fine.”
  • “Pleasant work atmosphere with professional and loyal group of lawyers. Lawyers socialize frequently at firm-sponsored events, but unofficial gatherings with or among the associates are infrequent.”
  • “Overall, very collegial and generally social group. Every-month-or-so happy hours are good opportunities to catch up with colleagues.”
  • “There is a more relaxed culture than other big NYC firms. The general consensus is that everyone respects each other's time, and lawyers really take an interest in getting to know others around them.”
  • “Partners are genuinely invested in associate development and happiness at the firm. There is a lot of transparency regarding overall firm finances and performance, there is less transparency regarding internal promotions and advancement opportunities. Reviews are conducted annually … and have improved greatly in the amount of substantive feedback this year.”
  • “The relationship between partners and associates is very dependent on individuals. I have wonderful mentors in my practice group, and an overall very collegial atmosphere. Other practice groups, even within the same office, are not as hospitable. ...”
  • “In my experience, partners treat associates well the majority of the time.  The firm has two meetings per year to discuss finances which is appreciated.  Promotion/partnership opportunities are less clear.”
  • “Plenty of work to do and flexibility on where and when it gets done, so long as it is done timely.”
  • “With complex work and demanding clients, the work hours can be long, but generally better than what you see at mega-firms.”
  • “Work is not necessarily evenly distributed amongst team members and class years.”
  •  “So far our pay scale is slightly less than market. The bonus scale is where we become very less than market. The firm does offer a discretionary bonus in addition to the hours bonus, but the overall bonus, especially for senior associates, is much less than market.”
  • “Most of the work is substantive legal work, and I am constantly learning and being challenged. The firm does a great job of keeping me progressing forward.”
  • “Lean staffing leads to some work that could be perceived as below level, but good opportunities and growth are also available.”
  • “Highly substantive and specialized regulatory and compliance work.”
  • “I do a variety of very interesting work, ranging from internal investigations to legal research to drafting client advisories on cutting-edge law.”
  • “Firm has really invested in CLEs and a new mock trial program and litigation lecture series.”
  • “Extensive trial advocacy program is just getting off the ground, so [it] remains to be seen how useful and practical it will turn out to be.”
  • “Informal mentorship and training is very helpful. Once a partner/supervising attorney likes your work, they're willing to help you succeed and provide mentorship. However, formal training has been lacking in the past, but the firm is making a conscious effort to improve this.”
  • “The firm could do a little better with mentoring. Specifically, by formalizing the informal process, regular mentor meetings, etc.”
  • “Promotion to partnership appears to be realistic for those who would like to make partner but seems to take closer to 10 years of practice. Senior associates almost always transition into special counsel roles before becoming partner.  Many associates have left for desirable in-house opportunities with clients.”
  • “Promotion is certainly realistic for those who want to make partner—the firm consistently promotes its home-grown talent.”
  • “Partnership is realistic, but it depends on the success of a particular practice group and the mix of associates within that group. Senior Associates are effectively required to spend some time as Special Counsel prior to partnership.  Some associates remain in that role, which is completely acceptable. Because the work in our office is primarily regulatory, there are numerous opportunities for government, in-house, and trade association/industry organization work.”
  • “We can always do better, but there is a commitment to it across levels that is echoed by firm leaders and management.”
  • “We have a semi-retired partner who is dedicated exclusively to pro bono work. He provides associates with numerous opportunities and support on pro bono matters. The firm allows pro bono hours to count towards associates' billable goals.”
  • “The firm takes pro bono seriously and encourages associates to pursue pro bono projects. Some pro bono projects that I have worked on recently include assisting in representation detainees at Guantanamo Bay and working with the New York Legal Assistance Group on their Special Litigation Hotline.”
  • “There are more women than men associates; however, there are very few female equity partners but the firm seems to be making efforts to advance more women.”
  • “As is true of many firms, Kelley Drye has room to improve with respect to diversity and inclusion.”
  • “Working on improving and can improve numbers, but there is commitment to diversity as a principle for sure.”

Diversity at Kelley Drye & Warren LLP

"Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) are core values at Kelley Drye and we commit significant time and resources to our D&I efforts and to promoting equal opportunity in the practice of law. Diversity and Inclusion drive our approaches to recruitment, training and development, workplace policy making, promotion and advancement, and community engagement. Moreover, we encourage and support a workplace where all members are safe, respected, and valued and where varying perspectives and different life choices and experiences are included."

Getting Hired Here

  • “The firm is looking for attorneys who are smart, talented, hard-working, [and] diverse and who fit into the firm's culture.”
  • “At least on the East Coast, the law firm seems to favor candidates from law schools geographically close to the office the candidates is applying for.”
  • “[The] focus [in interviews] is on past experience, some hypotheticals on handling unique circumstances, and thoughts on potential growth and development.”
  • “Partners have really embraced laterals and brought them into cases. Associates are quite friendly and welcoming as well.”
  • “Onboarding was smooth and well-supported. Multiple training sessions and contacts provided to ease the transition.”