Smyser Kaplan is a small litigation boutique of less than 30 attorneys with a list of big-name clients that come to them for their expertise in litigating (and arbitrating) commercial disputes, white collar, energy, IP, healthcare and securities matters. Founded in 1995, the firm is home to a friendly yet focused culture that it has fostered since its inception. Headquartered in Houston, TX, with a second office in New Orleans, LA, the firm is highly engaged with its hometown.

Firm Stats


Total No. Attorneys (2021)

1 - 50


Featured Rankings

Top 150 Under 150


Base Salary

1st year: $205,000


No. of U.S. Offices



No. of International Offices



Major Office Locations

Houston, TX

Vault Verdict

Smyser Kaplan is looking for motivated attorneys—preferably with a federal clerkship under their belt—who will fit well into the small firm’s dynamic. The day-to-day environment is social, with regular lunches to talk shop and weekly happy hours, ensuring strong connections between all attorneys. Partners and associates work well together, often in small teams, and associates are valued members of those teams. Mentoring and feedback are generally informal, given frequently and as needed, and associates feel well prepared to represent clients. As a litigation firm, associate workflow often fluctuates, but work is evenly distributed, and the firm has no formal billable-hour requirement. The work is considered high-quality, with associates working directly on cases set for trial or a...

About the Firm

Founded in 1995 in Houston, Texas, Smyser Kaplan & Veselka is a litigation boutique with just under 30 attorneys. The firm’s practice includes commercial disputes, white collar, energy, intellectual property, healthcare, and securities. The firm is known for litigating high-profile matters to trial but also skillfully steers cases to arbitration when necessary. Among Smyser’s clients are Shell Oil Company, Michael’s Organization, Celotex, Visa, Quantlab Financial LLC, BNSF Railway Company, and BHP Billiton Petroleum.

Jury Whisperers

While Smyser Kaplan’s ranks may be small, its litigation chops are mighty. Stacked with a team of career trial lawyers and former law clerks, the firm is no stranger to high-stakes cases. It boasts a bustling white collar practice, including such pa...

Vault Rankings

Associate Reviews

  • “The firm has a world-class camaraderie. The day-to-day atmosphere is friendly, professional, cooperative, and candid. There is a can-do attitude with everyone pitching in as requested, but requests are reasonable and connected to client needs. The attorneys are good friends and show one another friendship and respect. Likewise, the office staff is treated with friendship, respect and professionalism.”
  • “Even during COVID, SKV lawyers joined Zoom happy hours and met up outside in small groups at lawyers' homes. My closest friends are people that I met at SKV (lawyers and staff). The office culture, even during WFH, has remained focused on ensuring SKV lawyers and staff have meaningful opportunities to make connections.”
  • “COVID-19 has obviously greatly reduced the amount of interaction everyone has with everyone else at the firm, but the firm quickly started organizing virtual happy hours each Friday to continue our standard practice of happy hour in a big conference room to celebrate the end of the week. Those who come to the office continue to have lunch together, which is possible with social distancing because of the absolutely huge table in Conference Room D. Associates, partners, and staff frequently walk together to the tunnels to grab lunch and bring it back to the office. Lawyers and staff coordinate well and interact socially in the office over coffee, kolaches, donuts, or whatever other food item has found its way into the kitchens. Outside of the office, it was not uncommon before COVID for us to get together at an icehouse or someone's home for dinner or drinks.”
  • “The firm has a very collegial, social culture. Partners seem to be close friends; associates, too. And everyone seems very open to helping each other out.”

Why Work Here

Getting Hired Here

  • “SKV typically hires one person a year directly out of federal clerkships. The ideal candidate is a go-getter who can work both in a team and individually. Because the firm is so small, the ideal candidate would be someone who jives well with the people already at the firm.”
  • “While grades, a federal clerkship, and school are important, personality and fit are definitely the most important thing the firm is looking for in interviewing. If you get an interview, it’s assumed that you can do the work, regardless of whether you went to a T5 or T50 school. In a firm of under 50 people, fit is crucial because you are going to be spending A LOT of time with each other preparing witnesses, traveling for hearings, in trial, etc. There isn't formal training for people who interview candidates. Right now, interviews try to get the candidate to meet as many people who are in office as possible (while socially distanced).”
  • “Smart, talented, hardworking individuals with federal clerkship experience and desire to work well on our team.”

Perks & Benefits