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With offices in 16 locations throughout the U.S. and one in London, Shook, Hardy & Bacon has built a reputation as a top firm in a number of practices, but it is especially regarded for its expertise in complex litigation and products liability. Shook is a strong supporter of associate development, offering in-house training that covers topics including writing, negotiations, and trial skills. The firm is particularly well known in the product liability area, especially for its work on behalf of pharmaceutical, medical dev...

Firm Stats


Total No. Attorneys (2021)


No. of Partners Named (2021)


Featured Rankings

Best Law Firms for Products Liability...


No. of 1st Year Associates Hired (2020)


No. of Summer Associates (2021)


Base Salary


Vault Verdict

Exceptional grades from a top school will go far in landing a position at Shook. The firm also prioritizes diversity in its hiring—something which carries into the firm generally. Associates are thrilled with the firm’s commitment to a more inclusive environment and note the diversity among the firm’s leadership. The firm’s culture is easy going. Social events can vary among practice groups, lawyers also get together at firmwide events. Associates feel like partners are invested in their growth and respect their work/life balance. Some wish there was greater transparency, especially as to compensation. Compensation is a sore point for some, who feel the firm is under market, especially regarding bonuses. When it comes to responsibility, associates can take on as much as they want ...

About the Firm

Shook, Hardy & Bacon is an AmLaw 200 firm with more than 500 attorneys who have helped build the firm’s reputation for trial strength in complex litigation. The firm is particularly well known in the product liability area, especially for its work on behalf of pharmaceutical, medical device, technology, and automotive companies. Indeed, Shook is among the Top 10 firms in Vault’s Best Law Firms for Products Liability.

Top Reputation

Founded in 1889 by attorney Frank Sebree, a former Missouri state legislator, Shook, Hardy & Bacon started out with railroad work as well as local political corruption. One of the firm’s early partners Henry McDougal served as the special prosecutor in the murder trial against infamous outlaw Frank James, having previously helped a wealthy fa...

Associate Reviews

  • “Shook is great socially. In the office everyone is extraordinarily pleasant and easy to work with and for; out of the office you can choose to be as social or unsociable as you like, whether at formal or informal events/gatherings.”
  • “This is usually dependent on the practice group, but many groups regularly socialize outside of work.”
  • “The culture is extremely collegial, with frequent social interactions between associates and partners. Monthly happy hours exist for several practice groups. The firm's associate and partner retreats are very well attended. Informal social events occur regularly.”
  • “Very laid back and casual vibe. Good relationships between associates and partners—a culture of equality.”
  • “Partners work directly with both senior and junior associates, and almost every partner is great to work with.  There's not much transparency on compensation or financial performance. Reviews are intense but more productive than at other firms.”
  • “Individual partners are very open to engaging with associates. They exhibit genuine care for our work-life balance. The partnership as a whole treats associates with respect, showing that they value their associates. Monthly open forums have allowed for transparency into the finances and business goals of the firm, as associates see the year-to-date figures and budget. Transparency on making partner seems to increase as associates get closer to making partner.”
  • “Partners want the associates to succeed. Associates go through two formal review processes in which they have a heavy role in their own evaluation.”
  • “More guidance on rankings system and compensation would be appreciated.”
  • “Work hours are great. I have plenty of flexibility when it comes to redistributing work if need be if I'm swamped.  There is NEVER a shortage of work for associates.”
  • “Work is evenly distributed, I am given enough work but nothing unbearable, still able to spend time with family, I have a lot of flexibility in when I work.”
  • “Our billable requirement is high considering the pay/bonus structure.”
  • “2,000-hour billable-hours target, with up to 50 hours of pro bono counting toward that target. Associates are bonus eligible at 1,900 billable hours. The only consequence of not billing 1,900 hours is the lack of bonus.”
  • “I am happy with my compensation as it relates to my billable hours. I think bonuses tend to be lower at my firm than some others, and billing significantly higher than 2,000 hours per year does not translate to a significantly higher bonus.”
  • “We are not competitive in salary and bonus with firms we believe are our competition. Further, I think our bonus scale is far too low to provide a significant incentive for working additional hours or putting in significant additional effort.  I think the salary scale is acceptable for markets like Kansas City, but the bonus structure still needs to be adjusted and the city office salaries remain low compared to the market scale.”
  • “Compensation could be more competitive with other very large firms.”
  • “As I start my second year I have been pleasantly surprised with the wide-range of substantive experiences I have already been exposed to. In just over a year, I have taken several depositions, drafted substantive motions, including summary judgment and Daubert motions, and managed smaller cases. I have also been given the lead on calls with clients and opposing counsel. Relatively, I have spent very little time on the typical young-associate drudgery, like doc review. Those assignments are generally not handled by partner-track associates in my group.”
  • “I've been doing ‘partner’ level work for several years. If you're willing and able, this firm will let you run the ball on high-stakes cases.”
  • “I do a combination of research and motion writing.  The level seems to be appropriate and I have the opportunity to challenge myself.”
  • “At Shook, associates are given all they can handle and more, especially with respect to substantive legal work, including client contact and courtroom/deposition/mediation opportunities.”
  • “We are currently upgrading our document management system and I look forward to that new technology.”
  • Not terrible, but newer computers would be nice and some of the in-office tech doesn't work well all the time.”
  • “The firm holds some formal training every quarter or so. For newer associates this is particularly true, but then even older associates have trial advocacy training they can participate in later on. The firm has a formal mentorship program. … Informal training is where the real value is made because more senior associates within the firm [are] so very generous with their time to answer all of the standard questions of a new associate or to show the tools used for a certain problem they themselves once encountered.”
  • “Each associate has a formal mentor that is there to help them, but the formal training is more limited.”
  • “The firm has assigned me two associate mentors, and they both have been very helpful. There are lots of training sessions. When I started at the firm there was a whole week of training and now that I've been here for a few months there have been additional training opportunities.”
  • “Formal mentor; trial and deposition training; CLEs; legal trends meetings.”
  • “I believe partnership is realistic for me.  There are non-partner roles such as of-counsel to which associates can transition.  Also, I believe I have good in-house exit opportunities.”
  • “Promotion to partner seems absolutely realistic. All information I have so far indicates that if an associate strives to be a partner, they will be rewarded for those efforts. If an associate shows themselves to be proficient in a particular field, they could transition to an of counsel role. Associates often go on to become in-house counsel for major companies if they so desire.”
  • “Partnership opportunities are good, at least to the first tier.  Plenty of exit opportunities to go in-house.”
  • “We have our own pro bono department with its own lead attorney.  I'm currently working on a case to assist the client with getting coverage from his insurance companies after previously being denied.”
  • “I work on a program called Military Matters, which aids low-income veterans in various litigation efforts. It's highly rewarding.”
  • “Pro bono is emphasized by the chair and we have a pro bono division that helps us with pro bono cases.  It would be nice if more than 50 hours counted towards our billable requirement because I have had to say no to things because I am concerned about meeting billable hour requirements. …”
  • “The firm itself participates in several pro bono programs, including immigration, LGBTQ rights, and criminal defense. However, the big thing about the firm's pro bono program is that they are really supportive of allowing attorneys to do whatever kind of pro bono work that is their passion. I participate in a special public defender program, which provides legal counsel for indigent criminal defendants. …”
  • “The chair of our firm is a woman who is a member of the LGBTQ community. Two more women were elected to the Executive Committee this year, and the Executive Committee also includes racial minorities, so I feel like women are represented well in firm leadership. Parental leave is 14 weeks for the primary caregiver and 3 weeks for the secondary caregiver. Backup childcare through a care service is available for a subsidized rate.”
  • “The firm has made it a priority to recruit women, minorities, and LGBTQ individuals. There is parental leave and an alternative work schedule option.”
  • “Our diversity policies are robust; we have diverse individuals in high-ranking positions, including the executive committee.”
  • “One of the things I value most about SHB is its commitment to diversity. I feel SHB has a strong diversity and inclusion program and seems to be committed to hiring and retaining diverse individuals.

Diversity at Shook, Hardy & Bacon L.L.P.

"Shook embraces diversity and believes that genuine inclusion creates an environment where everyone feels they belong and can thrive. We believe our focus on diversity and inclusion constructs a more broad, rich, and vital environment for all, as well as fostering an environment that produces more innovative solutions for our clients. Our diversity and inclusion vision is: • To cultivate inclusive behavior where everyone is respected, rewarded, equipped, and invested in because of their differences;..."

Getting Hired Here

  • “Our firm looks for intelligent candidates who would fit in with our firm culture well. We want to make sure their personality will not be a conflict with others. We value diversity in candidates, including racial diversity, LGBTQ diversity, and geographical diversity. The firm hires new associates almost exclusively through their summer associate program and federal clerkships. Lateral candidates tend to have a background that includes a highly-ranked law school and undergrad.”
  • “Shook is looking for smart, hard-working associates that will fit into the culture. To fit into the culture, you need to be a kind person and a team-player. If you aren't those things, or are looking to one-up your fellow associates, you will get yourself a bad reputation and won't be successful at the firm. Shook prefers law students who have high rankings and law review experience. Shook is very interested in recruiting diverse candidates.”
  • “The firm seems to look for top performers with good personalities—this fosters a great working environment.”
  • “Tell me about yourself. Why KC? What would you like to know about Shook?”
  • “Interviewers want to know your background and how it will connect to your work at Shook. It is important that you know the basic background of your interviewers and have questions ready to go because more than half of the interview will be a dialogue rather than one side talking the entire time.”
  • “Laterals and clerks are assigned mentors and go through the same orientation process as other new associates, so they integrate well into the firm.”
  • “Depends on case teams which can vary widely.”

Perks & Benefits