Sheppard Mullin hires high-achieving candidates with unique perspectives and who will thrive in a team-oriented culture. Among other praise, associates commend the firm for their overall transparency and openness about what it takes to make partner. With expertise in a variety of practices, including corporate, litigation, employment, IP, antitrust, and finance, Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton LLP has grown aggressively in recent times. The firm has added several industry-focused practices, suc...

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:1st year: $205,000...

Vault Verdict

Sheppard Mullin seeks candidates with great credentials, but that doesn’t always mean a T14 law school—the firm also weighs work experience, unique background, academic performance, and personality. Associates use descriptors like friendly, helpful, and approachable to describe the culture here. There is socializing on a regular basis, but not so much that attorneys don’t have a life outside of work. Partners respect the associates they work with, and leadership gets kudos for their level of transparency. Associates keep busy but feel the 2,000-hour billable requirement and actual number of hours they work are reasonable. With market compensation and bonuses, plus recent special bonuses, associates are satisfied with their pay. Associates spend their time on substantive work, but ...

Firm's Response

Sheppard Mullin is a full service law firm with over 1000 attorneys in 15 offices worldwide. 

We are a firm that truly puts clients first. And this sets us apart. We don’t just give lip service to client service. Every attorney and staff member has a plaque in his/her work space listing what we, along with our client...

About the Firm


With expertise in a variety of practices, including corporate, litigation, employment, IP, antitrust, and finance, Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton LLP has grown aggressively in recent times. The firm has added several industry-focused practices, such as health care, insurance, and entertainment, and serves such clients as Mastercard, Liberty Mutual, Allstate Insurance, and Disney.

Starting Up

Today’s Sheppard Mullin entered the world in 1927 as Haight & Mathes, the brainchild of two young lawyers who left a small Los Angeles firm to strike out on their own. James Sheppard joined the nascent firm the following year. Name partners J. Stanley Mullin and George Richter cut their teeth as law clerks in the Great Depression’s waning days. With the...

Associate Reviews

  • “The firm's culture is extremely collegial. Our office regular hosts lunches, happy hours, and other events that include both attorneys and staff. I consider many of my colleagues to be good friends, and the people I work with are the main reason I remain in BigLaw.”
  • “It depends a lot on the team. Speaking for my team, we do socialize regularly, but not excessively. It's an extremely collegial, supportive group, all of whom I enjoy working with immensely. Staff and lawyers are friendly—we're all one team.”
  • “Having joined during the pandemic, I do not have a great sense of office life. At the same time, my virtual reactions have been quite positive. Everyone is friendly, smart, and helpful.”
  • “The firm is collegial, but everyone also has lives outside of the firm. It's not uncommon for associates to socialize on Friday afternoons, and everyone is easily approachable in the halls or in common areas.”
  • “The partners I work with have always been respectful and value my contributions. The firm is incredibly transparent, hosting annual town halls with all staff and attorneys to explain where we are with our finances, promotions, hiring, and other firm goals.”
  • “Partners genuinely respect and like their associates, and vice versa. The firm holds a ‘State of the Firm’ address every year to communicate financial performance, promotion statistics, etc., and provides a Q&A period. The process is very transparent. Performance evaluations are delivered once a year for attorneys after their first year (the first year there are two). A partner, usually a partner mentor, delivers the performance review.”
  • “I'm incredibly impressed by the transparency at the firm, in particular, about compensation and the path to partnership. The firm just doesn't say they want to be transparent, they actually take the steps to be transparent and share the same information with the associates that they share with partners.”
  • “I have gotten to spend a lot of time working one-on-one with partners and getting feedback from them in real-time as they are reviewing my work. Especially with my practice group attorneys, I feel like they are mentoring me and they take the time to explain their strategy and thought process along the way.”
  • “My hours have been manageable since I joined the firm, and the billing requirement for bonus eligibility is completely reasonable, in my opinion.”
  • “The firm's billable-hour requirement is transparent and fair. My workload is not always stable and can sometimes fluctuate between too much or too little on a weekly basis. On a monthly/big picture basis, I am happy with the workload. There is sufficient flexibility in where/when I work and I believe work is evenly distributed.”
  • “I am consistently very busy and in general consider myself to be 'on call' at all hours, seven days per week. That said, colleagues are very respectful of time off and weekends unless there are emergencies or immediate deadlines. …”
  • “On average, I have the right amount of work. I have always been busy enough to make my hours and market bonuses. There is a lot of flexibility. The firm's billable-hours requirement is on par with industry, and the firm recently increased the number of creditable hours and moved to unlimited pro bono hours.”
  • “Compensation and bonuses are market rate, so I am happy.”
  • “2,000 [hour] requirement for bonus, but reduced bonuses [are] available for hitting 50% or 75% of 2,000.”
  • “Market compensation. Particularly happy with how the firm has matched the market's special bonuses over the last six months. The firm offers additional compensation based on tiered hours milestones.”
  • “The firm does not reflexively match market movers, but will pay bonuses and salaries other peer firms pay. Associates generally feel that the firm's approach is fair.”
  • “The vast majority of my work is substantive and involves drafting, completing research that will be implemented in litigation strategy, or quick one-off research assignments. I also do some doc review (a young associate rite of passage) and non-billable client alerts.”
  • “Junior associates regularly take leadership roles in substantial M&A transactions. More-senior ‘junior’ associates draft definitive agreements and coordinate diligence teams. When deals are slow, we also work on more mundane corporate matters.”
  • “I spend significant time doing substantive, hands-on legal work appropriate for my level and am also given opportunities to learn by performing first drafts of higher-level work, of course, that is highly supervised, reviewed, and edited. The resulting feedback is very helpful to developing as an attorney.”
  • “I spend most, if not all, of my time on substantive legal work that is appropriate for my level. I conduct depositions, second chair arbitrations and trials, am given opportunities to lead cases, and the partner I work with has been trying to get me to first chair a trial (but those cases have settled, as cases often do), [and] I argue appeals, draft motions, etc.”
  • “The firm reacted quickly to work-from-home and was very generous with associates/staff members in offering technology stipends to build our ‘work from home’ offices.”
  • “The firm was able to go remote quickly and supported its associated in doing so with technology reimbursements and stipends. They were on the forefront of Zoom, having committed to it prior to the pandemic, and were adequately prepared by having all necessary technology advancements for the success of its attorneys to work remotely.”
  • “It's pretty good overall. There are some rare crashes and glitches here and there, of course. People are still having a hard time with our cloud-based file storing system. But our technology generally aids my efficiency, and I generally have no issue working from home. The IT support is very helpful, and I have nothing to complain about them. What more can you ask for in this pandemic?”
  • “Our firm has a pretty good wellness initiative. They offer a $50/month bonus based on performing any 10 wellness activities (including exercise and meditation). We also have access to free wellness materials, including a subscription to Headspace and some anonymous counseling services.”
  • “I think the firm generally listens and cares about attorney wellness. We had town halls and training to address wellness during the pandemic.”
  • “The firm started offering several wellness webinars and resources in the past few years, but I often feel like they are just further work obligations when wellness often comes from being away from work for a time.”
  • “There has been a focus on mental health and mental health resources, including access to a meditation app and virtual yoga sessions.”
  • “The firm has a number of formal training programs in place that are practice-group specific and hosts MCLE events. The firm has both formal and informal mentorship programs in place. New attorneys are assigned a partner and associate mentor. These mentors can be changed year to year. Partners and associates are happy to sit down and break down assignments post-completion and explain what was well done and areas for improvement.”
  • “We have formal training programs; however, a lot of tasks you are expected to learn as you go. I find this approach helpful, as the best way to learn something is to do it and make mistakes. Supervising attorneys have always been incredibly willing to give me feedback and help me identify mistakes so that I will not make them again.”
  • “Within our group, we are put into ‘pods’ that consist of three-to-four attorneys with a variety of experience levels. The more-senior associates guide the more junior associates, and the junior associates help with the seniors’ workload. Further, everyone is always open to answering questions and providing guidance.”
  • “The firm provides several CLE and training opportunities on just about every topic, and attorneys are encouraged to attend or even provide training.”
  • “Partnership opportunities are strong, and senior associates have the option to also transition to a special counsel role instead of partnership. The exit opportunities are plentiful, and the firm has actually set up an in-house resource dedicated to educating associates about in-house opportunities and roles and to maintaining relationships with associates who move in-house.”
  • “Promotion to partnership is somewhat difficult without a very well-laid plan for business development. The firm is very transparent about the partnership process and provides good resources for associates on that track.”
  • “I know many associates who have been promoted to partner, as I hope to be in the next two years. Associates can also move into counsel roles and can negotiate unique arrangements in that role to accommodate their professional and personal goals.”
  • “Partnership is definitely realistic for those who want it. Associates can also transition to non-partner tracks—there is no up-or-out policy or practice at the firm. Associates have multiple exit opportunities, whether it be in-house, government, or to another firm. The firm is very transparent about partnership process and holds a ‘partnership college’ yearly to explain the process and what is needed to make partner.”
  • “There’s a big commitment to [pro bono], and the firm takes pride in the awards we have received for our work. We recently appointed a full-time pro bono partner who is now solely dedicated to the firm’s pro bono efforts. Associates can credit unlimited pro bono hours to their bonus targets as long as they meet a minimum billable requirement.”
  • “The firm offers many opportunities and programs to engage in pro bono work. These opportunities are promoted at meetings, in weekly emails, and from several partners. Pro bono work is credited as billable time.”
  • “The firm has a dedicated pro bono partner and team, and generally promotes pro bono work. However, the work is not counted unless you meet a minimum threshold of 1,850 billable hours. In practice, this often means that pro bono hours are not counted. I am currently working on a few pro bono projects, including aiding an asylum applicant [and] a veteran’s discharge upgrade package.”
  • “Pro bono hours count toward a bonus, as long as you hit the billable hour minimum/threshold. All the associates in my group in DC have over 100 pro bono hours a year, and many of the partners do as well. We have institutional pro bono clients, and participation is certainly encouraged.”
  • “Sheppard has quite a few diversity committees, programs, and informal experiences that associates can be involved in (everything from the individual diversity committees to monthly book clubs which focus on diversity).”
  • “Sheppard is actively working on its diversity and inclusion initiative, [and] I feel have seen some positive changes. Despite their excellent efforts, I only offer eight’s because I feel that we all have a way to go. The parental leave at the firm is phenomenal, especially now that moms AND dads can take an appropriate amount of time off.”
  • “Diversity is better among associates than partners. The majority of my team is women, although the racial diversity could improve. Our group has LGBTQ+ representation and hires individuals with disabilities, but representation within those groups can always be better.”
  • “From what I understand, the firm has made significant progress in [the] hiring of women and diverse attorneys. The next step and focus point (that the firm has recognized) is the retention and promotion of these women and diverse attorneys.”

Why Work Here

Historical Highlight 
Today’s Sheppard Mullin had a Roaring Twenties start in Los Angeles as a firm called Haight & Mathes. By the mid-1940s, and operating under its current name, the firm had become highly regarded (and still is) for its antitrust, finance, and employment law practices. Between 1977-86, the firm opened three other offices spanning the Golden State and added practices in key California industries, including aerospace and defense. In the '90s, the firm's specialties expanded to include a thriving corporate and securities practice, a prestigious real estate/land use/natural resources group, and a strong construction litigation practice.

To learn more about the firm's history click here.

Diversity at Sheppard Mullin

"Sheppard Mullin focuses tremendous resources on every phase of an attorney's career with the Firm, all the way from the first year of practice through the equity partner selection process. In addition, the Firm is transparent with both associates and partners regarding its finances, strategy and statistics and the criteria for partnership. • Affinity groups for diverse attorneys continue to play an essential role in helping us to retain and develop diverse associates as they advance through the Firm. Besides monthly..."

Getting Hired Here

  • “The hiring process is very competitive; however, I also feel it is holistic in its approach. I did not have the most competitive grades in law school, but the firm took into account my work experience, competitive nature of the school I was attending, and personality.”
  • “The firm looks for candidates who take ownership of their projects and are the sort of attorney who will hit the ground running and be able to be trusted with substantive work and client contact very early in their careers.”
  • “D&I is very important to the firm. We are looking for candidates who are interested in our firm specifically and who we expect would be with us for the long term and have the potential to succeed at Sheppard. Certainly, grades and prior work experience are always an important factor in seeing the candidate's past performance and his/her/their story and background.”
  • “The firm takes students from the top schools, but Sheppard Mullin uniquely does a good job of finding students with high grades and interesting backgrounds from other schools. It has particularly strong connections with local schools that produce good lawyers but are often overlooked by other firms because they are not Top 14. I think this is a real strength.”
  • “Why law? Why Sheppard Mullin? Why San Diego? Why IP? Give an example of when you worked well in a team.”
  • “We ask what kind of work they have experience with, as well as more social questions about what tv and music they like. We worry a lot about personality fit on top of on-paper qualifications.”
  • “How would you manage two-to-three projects that are urgent at the same time? What's the most challenging part for you?”
  • “We focus on behavioral interviewing. Examples include: Do you prefer to work alone or in teams? Describe a challenge you have faced and how you overcame it. How do you deal with obstacles? Etc.”
  • “I had a few days of training when I arrived, and I did a couple of full-day trainings a few months later when the summer associates started as first years. I found it all useful—but even more useful is how nice everyone is when I ask them seemingly simple questions.”
  • “It was a bit hard making the transition from being a clerk because I had none of the institutional knowledge the other associates who started as summers had. The group was accepting socially, and I was provided substantive work immediately.”
  • “There was not much formal integration effort, but the process was fine.”

Practice Area Q&A’s

Eric Klein & Jeralin Cardoso

Partner & Partner

Sheppard Mullin
Dianne Baquet Smith & Matthew Tobias

Partner & Partner

Sheppard Mullin

Perks & Benefits