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Kellogg Hansen offers those with clerkship experience a place to quickly sharpen their litigation skills. Associates work on small teams, which means direct interaction with partners and the opportunity to dive into challenging work from day one. A relatively young firm, Kellogg Hansen was formed in 1993 when three BigLaw partners jumped ship to form their own small firm focused on trial and appellate litigation. Since then, the firm has grown to house more than 90 attorneys, all trial and appellate specialists. Nearly every partner an...

Firm Stats


Total No. Attorneys (2021)


No. of Partners Named (2021)


Featured Rankings

Vault Law 100...


No. of Summer Associates (2021)


Base Salary

1st year: $245,000...


No. of U.S. Offices

Vault Verdict

Earning a place at Kellogg Hansen requires having at least one federal clerkship under your belt; beyond that, personality is one of the most important factors in getting hired. Although work, rather than socializing, is the main focus for most, the firm offers a collegial culture where friendships still form. A small partner-to-associate ratio means significant interaction between the ranks, and associates feel genuinely respected and valued by the partners they work for. Associates do wish performance reviews were more robust, however, and they don’t feel the firm is very forthcoming with information about finances, promotions, and compensation. Although the firm doesn’t have a billable-hours requirement, associates work plenty of hours—often to the tune of 2,300/year or more—bu...

About the Firm

Washington, DC-based Kellogg, Hansen, Todd, Figel & Frederick is a firm that thrives on litigating complex cases in the trial and appellate world, including cases that bring its attorneys to the highest court in the land. 

A Trial & Appellate Litigation Firm is Born

A relatively young firm, Kellogg Hansen was formed in 1993 when three BigLaw partners jumped ship to form their own small firm focused on trial and appellate litigation. Since then, the firm has grown to house more than 90 attorneys, all trial and appellate specialists. Nearly every partner and associate served as a law clerk for a federal judge and more than a dozen clerked for Justices of the United States Supreme Court. 

Litigation Powerhouse

Associate Reviews

  • “Truly great colleagues—very smart, collegial, hardworking, and take their obligations as members of the legal profession seriously.”
  • “Everyone is very friendly and collegial, but attorneys don't tend to socialize much outside of work-sponsored events. There used to be weekly lunches and quarterly other events. Since COVID, there have been associate Zoom happy hours.”
  • “The firm is noticeably quieter than others I've worked at. People respect each other's space and working hours. That said, people are sociable and polite. The firm is good for someone who does not want their work life and social life to mix too much. You have the option to get to know your co-workers as friends, but it's not required by any means.”
  • “… People are generally busy, and the firm as a whole is serious about focusing on work. That does not mean that the culture is unpleasant—some of the best and nicest people I've ever worked with are here at Kellogg.”
  • “I really think partners respect and value associates.  There are lots of opportunities to work directly with partners and get to know them, so I think working relationships are pretty good. …” 
  • “Partners treat associates very well, take them seriously, and want to advance their careers. The firm's biggest weakness is its lack of formal structure and hierarchy, but that's also its biggest strength. Reviews take place once a year at the end of the year and are relatively informal and brief. The firm is best at informal reviews.”
  • “Partners are very willing to offer helpful feedback—if you ask for it. The official performance review process is rather bare-boned: ten minutes or fewer of facetime with partners providing a top line take away from your past year. If you ask specific partners you have worked with for constructive feedback, however, I've found they are more than willing to take significant time to provide helpful pointers and tips. …”
  • “Partners really value and respect associates. As for transparency, the firm is pretty transparent about finances but is not transparent about promotion, bonuses, or performance reviews. Without a strict billable-hour requirement, it is not clear how many hours will qualify an associate for a bonus or how much that bonus will be (for better or worse). …”
  • “There is no billable-hour requirement. Most associates do work a lot, but the firm walks the walk in giving associates a lot of responsibility early on and having small teams, and that level of responsibility requires putting in the time to get your work done. The firm has always been flexible in allowing associates to manage their schedules and work from home certain days.”
  • “Hours expectations at the firm are high. I'd say 2,300-2,500 is normal, with 2,400 as a standard benchmark. There is no firm requirement, though. That said, the long hours are no secret. The firm is entirely open about it, as are associates, and everyone comes in knowing full well that they'll be working a lot. But that's the price of becoming a really good lawyer really quickly.”
  • “Kellogg gives associates the opportunity to work on challenging cases and assignments. Given the complex nature of the work, the hours tend to be longer than a 40-hour work week. However, I find the work rewarding and enjoyable, so I do not mind the hours.”
  • “The hours have become longer recently—there's just a lot of work to do. A blessing and a curse.  We get to work on very interesting, high-profile, and cutting-edge stuff, but our time is the cost we pay.”
  • “The firm pays above market, and while everyone gets above-market bonuses, the firm recognizes when certain associates have gone above and beyond and pays bonuses commensurate to hours billed.”
  • “Clerkship bonus and above-market base salary make Kellogg the easy decision when it comes to compensation. Bonuses tend to be at or above market. Recent COVID bonuses from other firms have made Kellogg slightly less competitive but I believe still slightly above market.”
  • “Compensation is excellent and above market. Although I don't think it's as above-market as it once was.”
  • “The firm did not provide special bonuses or spring bonuses. Thus, while the clerkship bonus is above market, the overall compensation is in line with the market.”
  • “The firm typically staffs cases with small teams, so early on, associates get opportunities to do anything and everything on cases.”
  • “Excellent, interesting, and substantive work. There is very little to no make-work. Plenty of briefing, depositions, and stand-up time to go around. If you want it—and aren't too overburdened with other matters—there is always good work out there.”
  • “I spend most of my time doing very substantive work. I'm in my second year as a practicing attorney, and I've taken two depositions in paying matters, written all or parts of more briefs than I can count, and done a variety of other significant assignments.”
  • “When you start working at Kellogg, you are assigned to cases. From there, you get new assignments by reaching out to partners to ask if you could work with them or by hearing from partners that they need associates to help with a new case.”
  • “Kellogg's transition to full time remote work during the pandemic has been nearly flawless.”
  • “Our tech team is small, but they're great and have made working from home seamless.”
  • “The firm already gave associates a home office budget for monitors etc., so all the pandemic did was prompt us to use our home offices more. The technology is the same as it was pre-pandemic, but it works well.”
  • “The firm does not have any specific wellness programs beyond what is provided under our regular insurance.”
  • “I think we have access to an employee assistance program, but I haven't used it. The firm puts out a newsletter, which always includes wellness tips. Beyond that, I don't think there's much discussion about health and wellness. …”
  • “This is a serious growth area for the firm. …”
  • “The firm trains lawyers through doing. For example, you watch a deposition, and then you take a deposition.”
  • “The firm doesn't have formal training, but older associates and partners are very willing to teach associates how to do things like take a deposition. And both partners and associates are always willing to participate in moots prior to arguments.”
  • “The firm has very little formal mentoring, but individual lawyers are always willing to informally provide mentorship by allowing junior lawyers to take the lead on specific parts of [a] case and afterwards providing feedback on the junior lawyer's performance.”
  • “Promotion to partnership is very realistic. Associates make partner after six years at the firm. Associates who decide to leave get good positions in government, at other firms, or in-house.”
  • “The firm makes every effort to help associates move into government. Partners have expressed willingness to assist in career transitions.”
  • “Associates tend to make partner after six years. Current partners are transparent about the partnership process.”
  • “Promotion to partnership is absolutely realistic for anyone who would like to make partner and is willing to work the hours necessary to do so. Senior associates can, on occasion, transition to counsel instead of partner. The exit opportunities are fantastic. Most people seem to go to various positions at DOJ, including [assistant U.S. Attorney]. …”
  • “Pro bono work is billable (up to a generous limit). Partners bring in pro bono projects all the time. And associates are invited to come up with their own, which many partners will willingly sponsor. I've recently worked on a few discrimination claims on a pro bono basis.”
  • “Associates are allowed to do some pro bono, but it is not particularly encouraged …”
  • “The firm gives billable-hour credit for up to 200 hours of pro bono work in any two years. Associates frequently take on pro bono appeals through the courts where they clerked (or other courts) to gain experience drafting appellate briefs and doing appellate oral arguments. I am currently working on a pro bono appeal in the Ninth Circuit.”
  • “While you have to hunt down your own pro bono work for the most part, partners—even more senior partners—are willing to oversee and provide meaningful guidance on that work.”
  • “Diversity is an area for improvement. The firm has started to address this along gender lines but has struggled particularly in the area of racial diversity.”
  • “[The] firm has made great efforts for diversity in associate hiring, and it is starting to be reflected in the makeup of the associates. There is a long way to go, but efforts have been good.”
  • “The firm has shifted in recent years to try to hire a more diverse class of associates and to make it easier for women at the firm to stay. The firm offers excellent parental leave but no other formal perks.”

Getting Hired Here

  • “[The] firm is very competitive; [it] hires only candidates with top grades and appellate clerkships.  Fit is also important.”
  • “Grades, clerkship, diversity, and personality are all very important. Law school attended is not a strict bar—the firm very often hires top-ranked students from lower-ranked law schools. Personality-wise, this firm is probably not the right place for meek or shy people.”
  • “The firm is looking for federal clerks who are good, down-to-earth people. The firm definitely makes efforts to recruit to a diverse pool of candidates, and I think it has a broad view of diversity. This is not a snobby group of people. They're looking for talent, but they don't turn their nose up at candidates that came up through less-traditional schools or channels.”
  • “Why Kellogg? Why litigation? Interview questions tend to be very open ended, and from what I can tell, hiring decisions are driven mostly by ‘fit’ because anybody who gets in the door for the interview has excellent law school/clerkship credentials.”
  • “The interview is an opportunity to get a sense of personality, so the interviews tend to be pretty conversational. People will ask about your clerkship, law school experience, other professional experience, interests, etc. They of course want to see genuine interest in the firm, so it's good to come prepared with questions. No curveball interview questions here.”
  • “The interview is fairly informal and non-substantive. There will be questions about clerking, since nearly all candidates clerk.”
  • “There is no script. Just expect to be asked questions typical of a resume interview.”
  • “All new associates are coming off a clerkship, so we're all starting on the same footing.”
  • “Everyone joins after clerking. The firm does nothing but integrate clerks, and it's really good at it.”
  • “Everyone comes to Kellogg from a clerkship, and everyone starts as a first-year associate regardless of when he/she graduated from law school and whether he/she worked at another firm (or somewhere else) before clerking. It is a level playing field.”

Perks & Benefits