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Overview

Introduction

With just over 60 attorneys, Lightfoot, Franklin & White is a litigation boutique with roots in Alabama but a strong reach across the U.S. Over the past 30 years, the firm’s lawyers have spent more than 4,400 days at trial. Lightfoot encourages its attorneys to gain broad experience. Attorneys embrace a specialization, while also gaining broader experience across areas. The firm notes that this approach makes it more “nimble” and better able to serve its clients’ ever-changing needs.

Firm Stats


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Total No. Attorneys (2021)


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No. of Summer Associates (2020)


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Base Salary

Salary not disclosed....


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No. of U.S. Offices



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No. of International Offices



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Major Office Locations

Birmingham, AL...

Vault Verdict

Lightfoot seeks top candidates from regional and top law schools who demonstrate a strong interest in litigation. An outgoing personality that meshes with the firm’s culture is also a must. Associates and partners are a tight-knit group and often socialize beyond the work day. Partners treat associates as valued team members, both when it comes to client work and when it comes to transparency about performance, salary, and promotions. Associates hit the ground running from day one, and are given lots of early responsibilities and opportunities to develop their lawyering skills—this combined with strong mentorship is how Lightfoot attorneys learn, rather than through more formal training. The firm hires attorneys with the intent they will make partner—associates confirm they feel p...

About the Firm

With just over 60 attorneys, Lightfoot, Franklin & White is a litigation boutique with roots in Alabama but a strong reach across the U.S. Over the past 30 years, the firm’s lawyers have spent more than 4,400 days at trial.

A Forward-Thinking Trio

Lightfoot was founded in 1990 by Warren Lightfoot, Sam Franklin, and Jere White. The trio joined together to launch a litigation boutique that would follow a different course than a traditional full-service firm. Among the founders’ priorities were diversity, high-quality work, and work/life balance.

The lawyers at Lightfoot have quite the background in the legal field. They have included the former Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Alabama; a former Justice of the Alabama S...

Vault Rankings


Associate Reviews


  • “The firm's culture is very social, while maintaining a professional work environment at all times. The firm is intentional about maintaining weekly and monthly organized social opportunities for attorneys to get to know one another better in a more casual environment.”
  • “The firm is comprised of lawyers who genuinely like each other and enjoy spending time together. We almost always gather on Friday afternoons down the street for our weekly ‘firm meeting’—which simply means we spend an hour or so at a local sports bar.”
  • “Our firm is pretty close knit. We generally get together once a week for a cocktail hour. I also spend time with co-workers outside of work as friends. The firm promotes a culture of high professional standards. While politics are discussed, agendas and beliefs are not forced or encouraged by management.”
  • “Partners and associates are friends outside work. Partners are approachable at all times.”
  • “Mentoring is of great importance to the firm. The mentoring ethos is to treat associates as future partners and bring us into the strategic process on each case to the maximum extent possible. There are no inequities within the associate ranks in terms of finances, except according to seniority. Transparency is a natural result of that; and performance reviews—which are bi-annual—are constructive rather than competitive.”
  • “I cannot imagine a workplace where associates are treated better by individual partners or by the partnership as a whole. From day one, associates are treated as an integral part of the team and given opportunities to grow through meaningful work and client contact. Transparency seems above average, with bi-annual performance reviews, which include discussions on salary, bonuses, and promotion.”
  • “I believe our firm does a good job in opening up about how it is managed. The managing partner and executive committee have open door policies and will meet with associates to discuss firm management and changes. Partners try to promote an environment of mentoring young lawyers and building relationships. While I get along with some partners better than others, there are a variety of personalities at our firm, and it is easy to build relationships with many of the partners. Even with the partners I do not work with regularly, I feel comfortable being able to approach them.”
  • “Work is busy but not too overwhelming generally. Since there are no practice groups, there is a lot of freedom in terms of what kind of work you will do and with whom you work.”
  • “I bill at minimum 40 hours a week. I have plenty of work and sometimes feel as though there are not enough hours in the day/week to complete it all. The firm is extremely flexible on working outside of the office so long as your work is getting completed as scheduled. Work does seem to be evenly distributed”
  • “We have plenty of work, but maximum flexibility. We are implicitly trusted to do the work necessary to win the most favorable results for our clients.”
  • “Our firm does not set an annual billing requirement for associates, but it completes its annual budget based on an assumption that an associate will bill 2,100 hours in a year. Only billable hours to a client count towards that. However, there are no consequences for not meeting that requirement. The tracking of hours is used to ensure that work is evenly distributed among the associates.”
  • “I feel like I am well compensated for the work that I do. I believe I am paid at least at the market rate. Bonuses are not tied to individual performance or billable hours, but they are tied to the firm's overall performance. To me, this promotes a team atmosphere that encourages attorneys to support the firm rather than compete against each other for bonuses.”
  • “Compensation is comparable with other leading firms in the region. Currently, bonuses are not tied to billable hours. The firm also contributes a certain percentage (almost five percent) to a 401(k) retirement plan for each associate.”
  • “The firm really should start affording credit for clerkships. No other complaints besides that.”
  • “I am completely satisfied with my compensation. Although my hours billed affects my performance reviews, it has no relationship to my compensation. This is made possible because of the implicit trust among lawyers in the firm, and it also preserves advances it.”
  • “I am very pleased with my work. I am very involved in the process of moving a case along and am consulted when making major case strategy decisions. I draft substantive pleadings and motions, argue in court and take depositions, and communicate often with opposing counsel and the client.”
  • “I would consider almost all of the work I do to be ‘substantive legal work.’ With the exception of the natural tendency for partners to handle the most serious matters on most occasions (key expert depositions, corporate representative depositions, etc.), I am exposed to the full range of litigation work.”
  • “The work is substantive and integral to cases I am assigned to. There is very little ‘busy’ work.”
  • “I work on high-value cases with lots of independence, essentially running cases on my own docket.”
  • “The firm recently hosted a wellness month, offers free memberships to the gym two blocks away that many attorneys/paralegals/staff use throughout the day, and we tend to participate in at least one sports league through[out] the year.”
  • “I believe our firm tries to support wellness. There are efforts by leadership to prevent attorneys from getting overworked and burnt out. They encourage participation in local 5Ks and fun runs, and they also promote fitness programs with the staff. I also think partners are supportive of associates being able to come talk to them about any concerns.”
  • “[There are] healthy fruit/snacks available daily, flu shots in-house, and exercise campaigns.”
  • “There are some formal events, but I think the office culture is a bigger contributor to positive well-being. People actively make sure you have a good work/life balance.”
  • “I have a formal mentor and many informal mentors. While I do seek out guidance from my formal mentor on occasion, my relationships with informal mentors—which grew organically and very quickly—are instrumental to my day-to-day success at the firm.”
  • “Training and mentoring happens more frequently in an informal sense, but the firm does have a set-up of mentors assigned to each associate.”
  • “The firm has a formal mentoring program and assigned mentors, along with some formal training structures (e.g., monthly associate sessions), but there is a constant mantra that you will tend to find informal mentors along the way.”
  • “Mentoring is perpetual, through working with partners on individual cases and being expected to meaningfully contribute to each case [by] taking depositions, arguing motions, etc.”
  • “Formal training could be a little better, but any sort of informal training is there if you ask, so it's kind of a wash.”
  • “The firm is very transparent with its associates on the track and future that will be available to them when they are hired. From the beginning, you know the path you are on but are also provided opportunity to change that path if merited by your work and desire.”
  • “Lightfoot hires every associate with the understanding that partner is an attainable and realistic position. There are some non-partner roles for those who choose that route.”
  • “Associates are hired with the intent to see them become partners, and it is realistic if you hit the qualities that are disclosed. Senior associates can also become of counsel, but most who stay end up as partners. I know associates that have exited in the last few years often go in-house somewhere (both clients and non-clients).”
  • “I think partnership is a realistic goal for me. I'm not aware of any associates who made it to partner eligibility that were not invited to become partners. Additionally, attorneys that do choose to leave the firm usually move on to new jobs as in-house attorneys or in respected government positions (e.g., AUSAs). Some attorneys have even left for larger national firms.”
  • “Our firm participates in the Birmingham Volunteer Lawyers Program. We also participate in the Veteran Volunteer Lawyers Program and assist with various non-profit organizations across Alabama.”
  • “The firm's pro bono activities are based in Alabama and not really present in Houston. I think the firm should be more deliberate about allowing associates to work on pro bono matters when they are not getting enough courtroom time in their regular practice.”
  • “I am involved in multiple pro bono cases and always allowed the time to give my all to the cases.”
  • “Lightfoot values diversity and consistently takes steps to increase the diversity of the firm.”
  • “We have our own women's group and the firm supports both social and networking opportunities for us. Also, our managing partner is female.”
  • “I think our firm makes a conscious effort to recruit minority and LGBTQ+ attorneys. We have several minority attorneys and at least one openly gay attorney. All of them are welcomed in the firm, and I do not believe there is any judgment or discrimination. We're all a family.”
  • “Lightfoot is making a big push to retain diverse talent to ensure that more minorities cross over into partnership. …”

Getting Hired Here


  • “Firm looks to hire top students from both top schools and a few regional options. Grades are very important, as is demonstrated litigation interest.”
  • “We have an immersive summer associate program that we take very seriously. We make decisions based largely on our experience with summer associates during the program. As a result, the assessment is holistic, and intangible factors can outweigh the metric factors like grades, law school, etc.”
  • “Personality is a key factor in the firm's hiring decisions. Because of the nature and focus of our firm, candidates must be outgoing and have very good academic credentials.”
  • “Our firm looks for students that excel academically but that also are mature and motivated to become great trial lawyers. Grades, journal experience, and moot court/mock trial experience are considered. Good writing ability is also important. We also like to make sure our personality and culture is a good fit with the recruit's personality. We often recruit from Cumberland and Alabama law schools because of their proximity. We also recruit from Washington & Lee, UVA, Duke, Vanderbilt, [Tulane and UNC].”
  • “Questions are heavily focused toward a candidate’s interest in litigation.”
  • “Do you want to live in Birmingham? Why? What make you want to do litigation? Do you have any mock trial, trial ad, appellate advocacy experience?”
  • “Interest in litigation, choice to go to law school, interest in remaining in the Southeast, background, knowledge of Birmingham, interests, about items on resumes, how law school is going, prior work experience, etc.”
  • “More of a fit interview process. You need to be smart and cool, basically.”