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Overview

Introduction

Nelson Mullins employs attorneys, policy advisors, technical specialists, consultants and other professionals who work in more than a dozen locations across the U.S. The firm practices in more than 100 practice areas, including banking and financial services, corporate and securities, cybersecurity, employment, estate planning, health care, insurance, litigation, technology, white collar, and more. Pro bono is ingrained in the culture of Nelson Mullins, and since 1990, the firms’ lawyers have contributed more than 622,000 hours to...

Firm Stats


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Total No. Attorneys (2021)


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No. of Partners Named (2021)


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Featured Rankings

Best Law Firms in the South Atlantic...


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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

South Carolina...

Vault Verdict

Nelson Mullins seeks candidates with the full package: good grades, prior work experience, extracurricular involvement, diversity, and the right personality. Each office tends to recruit heavily from local law schools. The culture is collegial, and while socializing often occurs within smaller teams, the firm provides plenty of office-specific and firmwide events to bring everyone together. Associates feel respected and valued by partners. While there is very open access to some information, such as financial performance and hours, some management decisions are more opaque—including bonuses, promotions, and staffing decisions. A major point of commentary is the firm’s collections policy: To achieve a bonus, associates must meet a collections goal—i.e., the amount actually paid by ...

About the Firm

Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough is a southern gem—the firm is among the Top 20 firms in both Vault’s Best Law Firms in Atlanta and Best Law Firms in the South Atlantic. But its reach goes much further than the South Atlantic—the firm’s attorneys, policy advisors, technical specialists, consultants and other professionals work in more than a dozen locations across the U.S., including the Carolinas, as well as in Florida, Georgia, Massachusetts, New York, Tennessee, West Virginia, Colorado, and the District of Columbia. 

A Family Firm Blossoms and Booms

Nelson Mullins was founded in 1897 by Patrick Henry Nelson II in his home state of South Carolina. Nelson was a major player in the South Carolina legal industry, including serving as member of the South Carolina House of ...

Associate Reviews


  • “The firm has a hard-working but collegial culture. The firm is divided into ‘teams’ and you typically work closely with your own team. The great thing about the firm is that everyone works hard, but also finds a way to sneak in some fun. The firm has events throughout the year that brings the firm together on a national scale. Each location also has their own, individual ways to encourage comradery. For example, the Baltimore office has ‘Happy Hour’ every Thursday evening to give the office time to decompress and socialize with one another.”
  • “The firm has been described as typically Southern. I would say that the vibe is congenial. Socially, lawyers in my office regularly get coffee or meals together during work days and sometimes grab drinks after works. The firm holds welcome events for new attorneys and has a budget for welcoming new and visiting associates/partners.”
  • “Most of the attorneys here are easy to work with. The associates and younger partners informally socialize in small groups at least once a week, but there are not many firm-organized social opportunities.”
  • “The firm is very collegial. We have a few officially sanctioned parties or happy hours a year, but many lawyers go to lunch or happy hour together informally. Politically, the firm is reputed to be more liberal than most in South Carolina, but it has a good mix of viewpoints and most people keep their politics to themselves. Professionally, the firm provides structure and you can stay in your own lane on your team if you want, but it also encourages people to work across teams and develop your own work flow. You are not forced into a particular lane.”
  • “The firm is fairly transparent when it comes to the progression of associates, in terms of setting clear guidelines regarding progression among associate tiers and detailing what is considered in terms of partnership eligibility. Partners at Nelson Mullins also work considerable hours and are often significantly involved in the day-to-day management of matters, which I believe creates a stronger sense of camaraderie among associates and partners. In terms of the individual partners I have worked with, I have only had almost exclusively positive experiences.”
  • “Most partners seem to treat associates with much respect and give associates a good amount of autonomy. I generally do not hear about issues of micromanagement, disrespect, or condescension. The firm is incredibly transparent on some things (financial performance and hours in particular) but quite opaque on others (e.g., bonuses, staffing decisions, team organization). Reviews are conducted annually; there is a written self-review component as well as reviews from selected partners/senior associates who provide written feedback.”
  • “We do have a good deal of access to everyone's numbers (hours, collections, originations, etc.); however, there is little transparency regarding how each attorney's collections goal is set. There are lawyers whose base salaries are the same, yet their collections goals are different; thus, it's much easier for the lawyer with the lower collections goal to be bonus eligible and receive a larger bonus... equating to greater total comp than the lawyer with a higher collections goal.”
  • “The firm as a whole has a very relaxed feel, with no barriers to regular associate/partner interactions. The partners are always willing to talk, and almost all have an open-door policy. The litigation teams at the firm provide quarterly updates on firm performance and finances, and associates receive annual reviews by the partners we do the most work for.”
  • “We work hard but it is very manageable; good work-life balance.”
  • “I generally have the right amount of work, occasionally too much (but that's better than too little). Distribution of work varies greatly depending on which team you're on within the firm. Some teams are very, very structured, others are a looser conglomeration. Mine is the latter. I prefer that; I like the flexibility to work with other teams and to have some control over the type of work I do.”
  • “Although formally assigned to teams, associates have autonomy to seek out their own work from partners ‘off-team’ and to shape their work and practice that way.”
  • “The annual target is 1,900 hours. The hours do not actually matter because the firm operates on a collections model. In other words, your true requirement is to hit your goal collections number, which is money that the firm actually collects from clients based on your work. In-firm training and pro bono does count toward your collections goal. If you don't hit your goal, you are not bonus eligible and you may not advance a tier.”
  • I am satisfied with my compensation in a vacuum. However, I understand from a number of colleagues and attorneys outside my firm, my firm's compensation is lower than what other comparable firms pay their attorneys.”
  • “Associates are paid based on a tier system. Other financial incentives include annual bonuses. There is a correlation between increase in compensation and increase in collections goals.”
  • “I exceeded my billable hours and collections requirements my first year, and received an extremely satisfying bonus that I felt was commensurate with the work I put in.”
  • “Compensation is low for the market. Bonuses are given if the collections goal is met.”
  • “High quality work for sophisticated clients. You are challenged but it is not a sink-or-swim environment. Everyone is there to help you be successful.”
  • “Almost all of my time is spent on substantive legal work appropriate for my level. As a mid-tier corporate associate, I am often tasked with leading/coordinating diligence efforts on transactions, agreement drafting, and negotiating various agreements in M&A transactions and other contexts, which involves significant client contact. As a result of Nelson Mullins' practice of not over-hiring associates, each associate has substantial opportunity to conduct substantive work essentially right off the bat.”
  • “I work in litigation. The firm allows litigation associates to work across a variety of disciplines, which I find to be enriching and helpful in developing my own skills. The firm allows associates close contact with clients, and trusts associates to provide meaningful advice and other input to clients. This is a departure from other firms, and helpful for associates learning how to manage clients and practice law. Most of my work is substantive legal work that gives me a great deal of agency over the cases I help manage. The firm's team format allows people on bigger cases to find roles that suit them and provides the opportunity to take leadership roles in high stakes litigation.”
  • “My involvement on most deals is typically limited to drafting ancillary documents and performing due diligence, though occasionally I'm involved in more substantive work. While I'd like to handle a bit more, but I'm still learning a good amount on most assignments and in general it's been fair based on my experience level.”
  • “Our firm goes out of its way to encourage that attorneys actually take vacations, even encouraging taking long weekends as needed, but I haven't heard of any other programs or initiatives geared towards wellness.”
  • “We absolutely could benefit from more wellness efforts. This is a high-stress career field, and the firm would probably find healthier employees were it to implement a wellness program.”
  • “I cannot speak to wellness initiatives, but I can speak to the partners' support and buy-in for general wellness matters. Within my first two weeks at the firm, I had a huge caseload but had to stay home to care for my son (as I my care and backup care all failed). Partners were incredibly supportive of my needs. I have seen partners be incredibly supportive of other associates staying home sick or caring for a significant other with (e.g.) a cold. You just don't see that kind of buy-in and support from partners at other firms.”
  • “Our health insurance is great and does offer some wellness options. I do not know of any buy-ins for wellness, unless you have a chronic condition that meets the health insurance requirements. We have discounts at certain gyms, etc.”
  • “All of the equity partners in my office eagerly provide feedback, inquire about my workload, are sensitive to personal issues, help me think about my long-term career goals, have an ‘open door’ to allow me to pop in with questions, etc. It is one of the reasons I choose to live and work where I do.”
  • “The firm matches new attorneys with mentors who are senior associates/young partners. This is a great way to help new associates get acquainted with the firm, although experiences are highly variable based on the mentor. The associates training program (monthly sessions/webinars) are good ways to earn continuing education credits, but I have not found them to be particularly helpful in improving my practice.”
  • “We have formal training sessions occasionally, but they are a 10,000-foot view typically and may address a practice area unrelated to the day to day of what an attorney does. Training is mostly ad hoc and done by the senior associate or partner supervising the junior's work.”
  • “The firm assigns you a ‘mentor’ upon entering, but there is little formal mentoring that takes place. Most people are pretty friendly and want you to succeed though, so in my experience it's not too difficult to find someone you relate to that can give good advice and answer questions when needed.”
  • “Promotion to non-equity partner is not difficult. There is also an ‘Of Counsel’ role that some are moved into after their final year as an associate. The firm has added a partial-equity tier before becoming a full-equity partner. Becoming an equity partner is decidedly more difficult, bordering on impossible, and as a result, many associates and non-equity partners leave because the expectations and work load do no change even though there is a ceiling on advancement for many.”
  • “Partnership track is fairly clear, and focusing on collections rather than billable hours from day one helps illustrate the different paths to get there through business development, specialized knowledge, and/or excellence in work product. There is also the opportunity for those who don't immediately make partner to become ‘Of Counsel’ too. We've also had a number of people leave to go in-house with a client, which is a decision that the firm typically supports when the situation makes sense.”
  • “Promotion to non-equity partner is realistic for most people, however building a book of business in a crowded market is difficult. The firm should focus more on client development for non-partners, which would ultimately increase the firm's total clients. Exit opportunities are plentiful, particularly in the health care realm.”
  • “We have a dedicated pro bono partner and administrative staff who actively seek pro bono opportunities and develop partnerships nationwide. Pro bono opportunities are regularly circulated to the appropriate offices. The firm gives attorneys collection credit at our base rate for all pro bono hours performed to encourage participation and ease the billing burden on those who do participate. Our pro bono committee ensures attorneys firmwide are informed and involved.”
  • “Our firm is very committed to pro bono work. In fact, in terms of consideration for collections goals and bonuses, pro bono hours are essentially treated as normal hours, just billed out at approximately 90 percent of the attorney's goal rate. As such, no one at the firm has any hesitation about engaging in pro bono work. The work ranges in scope from providing basic will-writing services to first responders to representing a State Supreme Court justice to stop her impeachment.”
  • “Annually the firm conducts multiple ‘Wills for Heroes’ workshops where the firm's attorneys prepare simple wills and health directives for police officers, firefighters, and other first responders. The firm in recent months has helped spearhead a pro bono program in Charleston to address the evictions problems in the county.”
  • “Firm is committed to pro bono work and regularly reaches out regarding different types of opportunities available aside from just participating in clinics. For example, Nashville offered a pro bono opportunity assisting musicians/artists with trademark and other issues that arise more frequently for solo artists than might arise for other solo businesses.”
  • We have several affinity groups within the firm that sponsor events, discussions, and create initiatives. This is an ongoing conversation at the firm, and there are several efforts being made.”
  • The firm has made efforts, but significant strides are still required in order to recruit, and perhaps more importantly retain, diverse talent. As an associate, I've noticed that the firm struggles to retain female attorneys in comparison to male attorneys.”
  • “It would be great to see more diversity across the firm.”
  • “The firm has multiple committees devoted to diversity issues, and at our associate's retreat this past February, our managing partner gave an excellent talk on the importance of firm diversity in all aspects.”

Why Work Here


Diversity at Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough LLP

"Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough's success as a law firm is dependent on our maintaining a steadfast commitment to inclusive excellence, with our professionals enjoying equal access to the best opportunities for their professional development and growth. Correspondingly, we are committed to achieving and maintaining robust diversity in all aspects of Firm life, where we value a wide array of backgrounds, characteristics and life experiences among our professionals -- including those associated with race, gender, age, ethnicity/national..."

Getting Hired Here


  • “This firm is all about ‘fit,’ and it recognizes that going to a ‘big-name’ school does not mean you have the ability to generate business or even be a good attorney. I think the firm values work ethic, diversity, personality, and prior work experiences beyond anything else. Yes, grades matter for those entering the summer program, but at the end of the day, the question is always ‘can you do the work?’”
  • “In my experience, there is heavy focus on academic performance (and/or previous work experience) and personality (culture fit) with regard to associate recruiting. Preference toward top tier law schools. Diversity is always a focus as well—it comes into play when determining the applicant pool, and my observation is that it’s a plus-factor (rather than a determining factor) when evaluating candidates and making a decision.”
  • “The firm's Columbia office regularly attracts the top talent at the University of South Carolina School of Law (located in Columbia). This is true of our other offices across the country, which select the top candidates from surrounding law schools. The firm weighs a candidate's grades, journal experience, clerkship, and diversity heavily during the recruitment process, and with respect to making the decision of whether to ask a candidate back for a second summer, also closely examines the candidate's performance over the previous summer.”
  • “While grades and school/community involvement [are] important and highly considered, we care a lot about the person. We are looking for individuals we want to work with based on personality fit.”
  • “The firm asks about your strengths and where you see yourself long-term. They also want to know what you are looking for in a firm, and why you would want to work at a larger firm in litigation or corporate work. They also want to know about you and your personality and how you would [fit in] and communicate with others.”
  • “The firm generally wants to know why the candidate is interested in the firm. Because the firm generally only interviews a school's top academic students, the interviews (in my experience) tend to focus more on why the candidate thinks Nelson Mullins would be a good fit.”
  • “Usually more of a conversation in which we get to know the candidate and vice-versa than an interrogatory process.”
  • “We ask a wide range of questions. For example: What have you liked the most about law school so far? Do you have an idea of what kind of law practice you're interested in? Tell me about yourself. What do you like to do for fun?”
  • “Integration largely falls to the individual teams the attorney is lateraling on to, but my experience was that they did a good job integrating and making sure I was busy.”
  • “Everyone stopped by in my first few weeks to introduce themselves and to chat. Several partners instantly walked in to bring me in on cases. The associates took me out for coffee and drinks. These kinds of efforts are the real markers of integration from my perspective. As a mid-year lateral, I did not come over during typical orientation times, so that made things less formal than they might otherwise have been. I feel well-integrated though.”
  • “I'm not sure that there were any specific integration efforts when I joined; I just started working and got to know people in time.”
  • “I felt like my transition was seamless.”

Perks & Benefits