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The opposite of a stuffy BigLaw firm, Quinn Emanuel is a unique combination of casual and ambitious. Lawyers who work at this top litigation shop are independent and motivated, with the autonomy to direct their workloads and the drive to tackle intense hours for complex matters—all while wearing jeans and flip flops (if they so choose). The No. 1 firm in Vault’s General Commercial Litigation category, Quinn Emanuel’s litigation experience is wide ranging. Among the firm’s practices are antitrust, appellate, bankruptcy, corporate d...

Firm Stats


Total No. Attorneys (2021)


No. of Partners Named (2021)


Featured Rankings

Vault Law 100...


No. of 1st Year Associates Hired (2020)


No. of Summer Associates (2021)


Base Salary

All Offices...

Vault Verdict

Stellar grades are a must-have to land a spot at Quinn Emanuel, and a clerkship won’t hurt either. Candidates should be prepared to discuss why they are interested in litigation and why they specifically want to litigate at Quinn. The firm has an unconventional, informal culture by BigLaw standards and is described by some associates as “hard-charging” and “free-wheeling.” Associates form close relationships with partners and gain tremendous hands-on opportunities—such as depositions, briefs, and client contact—as juniors. Joining Quinn means diving into the deep end and learning on the job. Hours can be overwhelming, though associates can shape their workloads through the free-market system and have flexibility to determine their daily schedules. Associates must reach 2,100 hours...

About the Firm

Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, LLP has been cultivating the persona of an eccentric genius—shocking the often-staid (OK, uptight) legal world with its unorthodox approach while awing them with sweeping successes in the courtroom. This global litigation firm has always had its own style: Partners wear flip-flops, many cases go through an in-house mock trial system before they go to trial, and the firm eschews work from Wall Street banks because they can earn more by suing large financial institutions than by catering to them. Importantly, Quinn Emanuel tries lots of cases and walks away with a win more times than not (88 percent, to be exact). Not content with just a high rate of success, Quinn Emanuel also likes to go big, with five 9-figure jury verdicts, more than 40 nine-figure settlements, and 19 10-figure settlements. It’s no wonder...

Associate Reviews

  • “Relaxed interpersonal culture; hard-charging work culture.”
  • “Quinn is free-wheeling. It's fun. It's busy. It's high energy. For most people, I think the energy is Quinn's best and most difficult quality. The energy, ingenuity, informality, and cut-to-the-chase enthusiasm of Quinn Emanuel can feel impersonal, if you aren't connecting with your team and excited about the work that you're doing. But Quinn lets you move into opportunities that you're excited about. And once you figure out what that is (and who is doing it), there is endless work and opportunity, and things can get very busy. But during the pandemic, the firm has definitely made space to have virtual happy hours on my teams. And my associate peers and mentors frequently make time just to talk and brainstorm with me.”
  • “Good culture with minimal central organization. Monthly firm-sponsored small-group catch-ups with a distribution of associates and partners at different levels. When we were in the office, more frequent after-hours socializing was normal.”
  • “In my experience, there are relatively few firm-organized social events outside of the summer associate season. Associates frequently get together on their own accord, go to happy hours, and hang out outside of work.”
  • “Partners are generally invested in associates' growth and respectful of their time. I have had numerous partners go out on a limb for me to make sure I got exciting assignments and experience (i.e., arguing at hearings, taking depositions, interfacing with clients, etc.). There is not much transparency among firm leadership. We get performance reviews infrequently.”
  • “All the partners I work with are respectful of juniors and good to work for. The unstructured entrepreneurial culture makes it easier for associates to have a say in whom they work for.”
  • “My personal experience with the partners that I work for is excellent. I consider the partners that I work for to be mentors. Each takes time out of their day to help guide me through the profession. Compared to my friends at other firms, I get significantly more hands-on coaching; the difference is night and day. However, the upper management in the firm tends to be somewhat opaque. In particular, the managing partners at the offices tend to be removed from the daily work and seem to make decisions without much input from below.”
  • “There is far more close interaction between partners and associates than an average firm. As a first-year associate, I've already worked on several depositions in which the team was just me and the partner. I've always felt my opinion was valued and respected by them.”
  • “QE is never short on work. As I've gotten more senior, I've become a lot more empowered to make my own schedule. Our firm requires 2,100 hours to make your bonus. I have no problem with that. If you don't want to work 2,100 hours, this is not the place for you.”
  • “Very flexible but like drinking from a firehose.”
  • “Billable-hours requirement is above market, but the quality of work and flexibility to work remotely helps when working long hours.”
  • “I have always been very busy. You may your own work and take on what you can. There is no vehicle to distribute work. You are responsible for seeking it out. Depending on group, location of workplace doesn't matter.”
  • “Compensation is excellent; bonuses are generous.”
  • “Compensation is in line with market rates, but the billable-hour requirement is higher than most places, and all bonuses are strictly tied to that billable-hour requirement.”
  • “Standard bonus scale at 2,100 hours. Increased bonuses at 2,400- and 2,700-hour levels.”
  • “We have a profit-sharing plan, on top of our year-end bonuses, and the firm also gave out COVID relief bonuses this year in addition to both of those bonuses.”
  • “I have had experience above my level of seniority for the entirety of my time at the firm. I have never spent significant periods of time doing document review. I have taken and defended depositions, argued in court on multiple occasions, and am constantly the lead drafter on all types of motions.”
  • “Five months in and I was already helping prep witnesses for depositions and sitting in on defensive depositions. My team has also committed to letting me second chair an offensive depo on one of my cases as soon as I'm admitted.”
  • “Associates are given very substantive work early on. First- and second-year associates take depositions, write substantive briefs, and have client interactions.”
  • “I run entire cases if small and run substantial parts of major cases. Satisfaction with the work I have is a 10+.”
  • “The technology is lacking. We were given a stipend for remote working, so there is no real issue there, but in-office technology is sub-par.”
  • “Our systems have historically been pretty outdated, and working remotely was clunky, but there is a concerted effort to improve that now. …”
  • “QE adapted very quickly [during the pandemic] thanks to the extraordinary work of our IT team. We have full access to our desk, wherever we are.”
  • “The firm has created a ‘Director of Well-Being’ position and is currently working on developing a well-being program.”
  • “Attorney wellness has recently become more of a focus at the firm, but it's not something that comes up often. Partners are aware of the fact that associates can get overwhelmed and are receptive to associates speaking up when that happens. Joe Milowic, a partner in New York, is a leader in attorney wellness space and has brought attention to the issue within the firm.”
  • “There are ‘initiatives’ but there's little support in terms of making sure people have time to participate.”
  • “At a person-to-person level, Quinn is excellent on wellness. People are generally very understanding of your time and needs, happy to talk about issues that have come up, etc. Within the firm, it seems that there are pockets of people who develop a mutual respect and support group. This has been true for me in my area. At an organizational level, as with most things, Quinn has little-to-no organization. Wellness programs have only just begun at a firm level, so whether those initiatives are successful, it is too early to say.”
  • Formal training and feedback is very minimal, but the smaller groups and close working relationships with partners means lots of mentoring and direct feedback on work is high (and useful).”
  • There is basically no training, and it is learn on the job, which is more than fine if you enjoy ‘learning by doing.’ There really is no formal mentorship structure, although in my experience, associates and partners go out of their way to informally develop a mentorship relationship.”
  • The firm is largely informal in its training. There are formal programs, but these are voluntary. It is the ideal environment for those who wish to ‘learn by doing.’”
  • “I feel that my outlook is strong. I do not know where I will be in several years, but Quinn has a full focus on developing the best litigators around. I have benefited from this focus, and I enjoy improving myself under the Quinn banner. I am aware of associates obtaining in-house jobs elsewhere. Litigation skills appear to be in demand at this time.”
  • “Partnership is very competitive, and the likelihood of making it is not made clear to most candidates.”
  • “From a business standpoint, Quinn is very healthy, with plenty of new business coming in. It was one of the few firms to not cut pay during the COVID-19 pandemic. From a career standpoint, personally, I have little to complain about. I feel as though I could lateral anywhere I wanted, including in-house, right now. Many of my peers have lateralled, even as first years, in-house. Of counsel positions at Quinn seem on par with the market, although maybe slightly more intensive on workload. The partnership process appears to be somewhat opaque generally, but Quinn has a wealth of partners and senior associates willing to talk to you about the process and explain how it works. Like most things at Quinn, it requires slightly more legwork than at another firm, assuming that firm has that information available at all.”
  • “The firm caps billable credit for all non-billable work, including pro bono work, at 100 hours per year. Pro bono is touted as a great way to get experience you might not get on a billable case, but it's hard to fit in given the relatively low hours cap.”
  • “Associates can use 100 hours towards pro bono, and opportunities are certainly available, but pro bono is not emphasized.”
  • “Nothing is required of associates, but I have never heard of a pro bono request being denied. Also the pro bono program seems to be very busy as it gives great early courtroom experience.”
  • “There are efforts to improve on diversity and many initiatives, but I have not seen any real results from that.”
  • “We are one of the only major law firms with a female name partner. In my view, that speaks volumes. The firm seems to care about diversity in general.”
  • “The firm does not offer billable credit for diversity-related activities. There is an effort to hire diverse attorneys, but retention is hard. Maternity leave is 16 weeks, but there is not much support once women return after having children, and there is no help provided for childcare. Paternity is just four weeks.”

Getting Hired Here

  • “The firm is interested in grades, an interest in litigation, and people who can handle an environment with less formal training and structure. Knowing the area of litigation you want to work in is not as important.”
  • “Very strong grades [from a] good law school. The firm also pays a very high clerkship bonus, so they clearly value that as well.”
  • “Law school grades are hugely important.”
  • “They usually seem to prioritize a top law school candidate with good grades for a candidate straight out of law school. They love to hire candidates straight out of clerkship, though. However, it seems like every year they hire one or two people that didn't go to a top law school and have that special something such as a high work ethic or ability to connect with people.”
  • “There aren't really any typical questions; most interviews are pretty conversational.”
  • “Definitely be prepared to explain ‘Why Quinn?’”
  • “Mostly basic questions—the same you'd see in an average firm interview. ‘Are you interested in litigation?’ will certainly come up.”
  • “In interviews, I typically ask about a person's notes or interests section on their resume. I often ask about any papers they have written. I always ask about prior work experience, especially if it is non-legal. Non-legal work experience, in my view, is the best indicator for somebody capable of hitting the ground running at Quinn. … I occasionally ask about school activities, particularly if there are leadership positions involved. All interview questions that I ask try to get at whether a person is capable of working independently, efficiently, and under pressure.”

Perks & Benefits