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Overview

Introduction

 

Winston’s Midwestern roots are reflected in its top-to-bottom friendly culture. Strong mentorship allows junior associates to quickly develop skills on high-profile matters, and robust wellness and diversity programs round out the Winston experience. Winston & Strawn has grown to a global law firm of nearly 1,000 attorneys across the United States, Europe, and Asia. Winston is particularly known for its work in middle-market private equity, IP, labor and employment, renewable energy, sports law, an...

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

Vault Law 100...


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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

1st year: $205,000...

Vault Verdict

Winston looks for candidates who demonstrate grit, intelligence, and leadership. The firm is social and supportive, and it has maintained this culture virtually with frequent check-ins and colleagues who genuinely care. Partners treat associates with respect and foster relationships through ongoing mentorship and feedback. The firm is transparent when it comes to firm performance, financials, and the annual review process, and it is making strides to improve clarity as to how promotions work. The firm’s mentorship program allows associates to ask questions and gain insights they might not on the day-to-day. There is some frustration with inconsistent workflow, but associates appreciate the flexibility they have, and the firm is ramping up efforts to ensure more even work distribut...

About the Firm

 

From its 19th century Chicago roots, Winston & Strawn has grown to a global law firm of nearly 1,000 attorneys across the United States, Europe, and Asia. Winston is particularly known for its work in middle-market private equity, IP, labor and employment, renewable energy, sports law, and white collar.

Diversifying with the Times

The firm that became Winston & Strawn opened its doors in the Windy City in 1853 under the leadership of Harvard grad Frederick Hampden Winston, who played a vital role in Chicago’s emergence as a powerful business and financial center. Winston left the practice in the hands of his son Frederick Seymour Winston in 1885 to become the American Minister to Persia under Grover Cleveland. Silas Strawn joined the firm in 189...

Associate Reviews


  • "The firm culture is generally very positive and collegial. Most attorneys are friendly, and typically there are weekly happy hours and quarterly social events. These have been suspended during the pandemic, but there are still some virtual events."
  • "While the pandemic has made it more difficult, Winston has still made efforts to organize social events for us, and these are still well attended.  We're looking forward to being able to get back together in person soon. In general, Winston is the kind of place where your coworkers are likely to be your friends, as well, and we regularly choose to spend time with each other outside of work."
  • “The general cultural atmosphere of the firm is one of collegiality, collaboration, and honest concern for each other. Team calls usually always start with personal check-ins and are light-hearted until we get down to the business at hand. The firm does sponsor social events that attorneys can attend if they choose.”
  • “With the caveat that I have only been an associate during the COVID-19 pandemic, I really appreciate Winston's culture. It seems to me that everyone here gets along, takes an interest in their coworkers lives beyond the job, and tries to take all unnecessary stress out of the profession. Winston encourages young associates to have a voice and opinion on projects, and partners treat me with respect. The firm also encourages associates and partners to enjoy themselves when they aren't working, and there is a culture of picking up the slack for others when someone is on vacation or dealing with other personal matters. It's a great place to work.”
  • “Associates are treated as valued members of the firm. We know our role is to generate revenue and provide service to clients, but we are also being trained and taught for our own benefit. The partner I work under also takes time from her excessively busy schedule to help answer general questions about the practice during ‘office hours.’”
  • "99% of my interactions with partners have been positive and valuable experiences. Winston's partners are genuinely committed to the success of the associates at the firm and want to see them do well. Transparency at the firm is generally pretty good overall. Performance reviews occur once a year through what I would consider a thoughtful process. Outside of the annual review, partners are good about giving feedback when asked."
  • “Overall, associate/partner relationships are positive at the firm at both the individual and partnership level. The firm is very transparent about its performance and finances. The firm recently overhauled the path to partnership to be very transparent. Formal performance reviews are conducted annually, with the opportunity to seek informal feedback in the interim.”
  • “Winston is very transparent with regard to finances—we receive an update on firmwide billable hours, fees billed, and fees collected. This was in place prior to COVID and has continued. Associates receive formal mid-year and annual reviews, and the criteria for those reviews are well known and discussed with you before and during the review process.”
  • “My work is relatively stable and sufficient to meet annual billable-hour requirements. The firm has been very flexible about where and when I work outside of very specific circumstances (i.e., needing to attend a meeting or event in person).”
  • “For the most part, work is evenly distributed, but of course there are going to be times where you work a lot and times where you work less. As time has gone on, I've learned to strike a good work-life balance. I have never experienced restrictions on where or when I work. Most people do not have a preference as long as you produce great work product. The firm's billable-hour requirement is in line with the rest of the market.”
  • “The lack of consistency (both across individuals and, sometimes, from week to week) can be frustrating, but I don't think this problem is unique to Winston.”
  • “Winston has a 2,000-hour requirement. 1,900 [hours] must be billable. I don't have a good perspective of hours distribution, but I know partners have recently started to keep a more active watch on associate hours to ensure no one falls behind—particularly diverse associates, which I appreciate.”
  • “Compensation is on par with or better than other BigLaw firms, including both salary and bonuses. The firm offers fairly substantial performance bonuses for billing above the annual billable-hour requirements.”
  • “Compensation is great. Salary and yearly bonuses are lockstep with Cravath scale, and the firm has been very generous over the past year or so with compensating us for the work we're continuing to do during the pandemic.”
  • “The firm pays at the top-market scale and has matched all of the special bonuses that have been trickling through BigLaw since the start of the pandemic. Winston also never reduced associate salaries, even when demand was significantly reduced in the middle of 2020.”
  • “Most of my time is spent on substantive legal work that is appropriate for my level. As a fourth-year associate, I have started spending more time delegating work to more-junior associates while focusing on higher-level issues and spending more time in direct contact with clients.”
  • “I have had stand-up opportunities in court and taken the lead on briefs and other motions and outlines. And, perhaps most importantly, I don't feel like these experiences are the ‘exception to the rule.’ Most associates in my office are regularly given substantive assignments, milestone opportunities, and direct client contact. It means a lot that the partners are willing to provide guidance and feedback, and that they trust us to handle important aspects of our cases.”
  • “You will get substantive work assignments at Winston—work that is integral to a matter's success or failure. It's not always pretty, but the work is challenging and will force you to grow as a lawyer. The nature of my work has been focused on briefings, depositions, and client regulatory counseling.”
  • “There is an assignments committee made up of partners in each office of Winston that oversees assignments given to junior associates, which helps balance out the work distribution. For mid-levels and senior associates, it is more of a free-market system where you seek out work—but because you've been at the firm for a few years and have made connections, it is fairly easy to find work that you're interested in.”
  • “The firm has taken steps to better help attorneys work remotely during the pandemic. The firm has added in apps, such as Microsoft Teams and apps that help with administrative tasks, and provided upgraded laptops.”
  • “The IT team generally does a great job of keeping everything running. The firm seemed to adapt to remote technology easily.”
  • “In general, Winston has adapted very well to working remotely, and there are few—if any—things that I was able to do in the office that I can't do from home. There are a few hiccups with the new laptops we received (as part of a standard update, scheduled pre-pandemic) last summer—they will more frequently disconnect from the network—but as a whole, Winston has done a great job transitioning to remote work as the norm.”
  • “We have a lot of mindfulness sessions, and our firm gives us a free subscription to the Calm app. Our firm has also had seminars on working at home during the pandemic, particularly with children, and best practices to make working from home seem less monotonous.”
  • “The firm has wellness events, but little to no promotion of them aside from the mass emailing notifying everyone about them. The hours spent on those programs aren't counted (or if they are, this fact is not advertised), so any time spent on those programs equates to extra work time later, creating a catch-22 for associates who want to attend.”
  • “This is one of the best aspects of Winston. I've worked with the wellness/career coach Diane Costigan, and she is amazing. I can tell that the firm is really trying to prioritize wellness.”
  • “Winston's expansive wellness program demonstrates the firm's clear commitment to supporting its attorneys and staff. The program, which was already in place even before the pandemic, has been incredibly helpful as we've all navigated the stresses of the past year. We have a dedicated Director of Coaching and Well-Being, who organizes regular and robust programs to encourage employee wellness, including meditation pop-ups, guest speakers, and one-on-one check-ins.”
  • “The firm has extensive training in place for junior associates, with more targeted and helpful training programs as associates become more senior. The firm has a formal mentoring program that works very well. I had three wonderful mentors during my first three years at the firm and look forward to paying it back as a mentor in the future.”
  • “I think mentoring opportunity is great at Winston. I have a partner and associate mentor, and each month I meet them (in person or via Zoom) for a happy hour or a meal. This is a nice, stress-free environment where I can ask questions that I normally would not have asked someone I work with. I've received great advice on career path, navigating as a first-year, etc.”
  • “My mentor has been beyond helpful during my time at the firm, and has given me great feedback and provided me with opportunities above my first-year level time and again. Beyond that, I think the firm does a nice job of providing feedback through redline, where almost always the person reviewing my work will send it back redline to show me areas where I can improve.”
  • "At my level and in my specialized practice group, there is somewhat limited formal training, but there are opportunities for participation in formal sponsorship and mentorship programs, as well as opportunities for informal relationships."
  • “Career outlook is good at the moment. [The] firm does a good job of promoting career growth both inside and outside the firm.”
  • “Partnership is realistic for those who want that. For those that do not, there are other non-partner roles senior associates can transition into. For those who do not want either, Winston associates usually have their pick of going in-house, government work, or business.”
  • “Everything we have seen and heard indicates that we are doing well and in a position to thrive.  The partnership process is still somewhat unclear, but I think the transparency increases as associates become more senior and closer to it being a highly relevant point.”
  • “We have a wide variety of pro bono opportunities, and we're dedicated to achieving 100% participation across the board. I've worked on a variety of projects, including transgender name changes, asylum cases, and housing cases, and we also work on larger-scale pro bono matters, like amicus briefings. Pro bono hours are ‘accountable’—up to 100 ‘accountable’ hours count towards the baseline 2,000 billable hour goal, and an unlimited number count towards extra bonuses once a base of 1,900 billable hours is achieved.”
  • “The firm is very committed to pro bono, and all attorneys are required to do at least 20 hours and encouraged to hit 35 hours. Most people do more than 35.”
  • “Pro bono work is promoted, and junior associates get to do a lot of substantive work on these cases—like depositions and drafting motions they otherwise would not get the opportunity to do as junior associates.”
  • “The firm has a very strict cut-off of 2,000 [hours] but allows 100 hours of that to be from approved, non-billable sources such as pro bono. I do wish that more of the 2,000 hours could come from pro bono, especially since some years I can't control the amount of work, and it would be nice to meet the bonus requirement in other ways.”
  • “I'm consistently blown away by Winston's diversity and inclusion efforts, led by the incomparable Sylvia James. I suspect every firm has affinity groups and emphasizes diversity on their webpage, but I truly feel the urgency at Winston to ensure we are supporting diverse associates, promoting inclusion and equality, having honest conversations around race and racism, and offering abundant diversity training to attorneys and staff. As just one example, Winston offers a sponsorship program for diverse associates to help them navigate the path to partner.”
  • “We have the best parental leave I have ever seen—20 weeks fully paid for both men and women. Our firm also offers billable credit for working on the diversity committee, women's leadership initiative committee, and related committees.”
  • “The firm maintains formal structures to promote diverse talent, such as a D&I officer, sponsorship programs, parental leave, and diversity committees. You can receive billing credit to an extent for participating in these activities.”

Why Work Here


At Winston, you will work with world-class attorneys on important matters for significant clients. We litigate cases and we close transactions. We are shrewd advisers, and our clients view us as trusted business partners.

We are proud of our culture of collaboration, collegiality, and learning. At Winston, you will learn from outstanding attorneys who genuinely care about your professional growth and happiness. You will participate in a comprehensive onboarding and integration program and receive best-in-class, holistic training through Winston University.

Winston’s long-standing commitment to diversity and inclusion starts at the top and is included in our strategic plan. We have awarded $1 million in diversity scholarships to 50+ law students and earned a 100% score on the Human Rights Campaign Corporate Equality Index for 13 straight years. 

Diversity at Winston & Strawn LLP

"Global Diversity & Inclusion are core values and strategic business goals at Winston & Strawn. Our formal diversity program began 18 years ago and in 2017, the Executive Committee unveiled a five-year strategic plan, which includes ten key business goals to guide the firm's strategic development and operations for the next five years. Achieving greater diversity and inclusion is one of the ten key business goals, and the firm established concrete metrics to evaluate when the goal has been met. The metrics include benchmarks for the..."

Getting Hired Here


  • “The firm hires most associates from Northwestern and U Chicago, with Illinois and Michigan providing the next most associates. The firm appears to focus on hiring hard workers, but does not have a specific preference for those on journal or with clerkship experience.”
  • “The firm is looking for candidates with grit, intelligence, leadership skills, and personability. We frequently hire and try to hire from top-ranked law schools, but we will also go outside of those top schools, particularly in the region of our offices. The firm provides some guidance and training to interviewers. We also value diversity in our candidates.”
  • “Winston seems to be really competitive. I have participated in the recruiting process and have interviewed over 20 individuals over the last two-plus years, while also going to recruiting events at my law school. Winston looks for individuals with a record of high academic achievement in undergrad and law school. Winston seems to hire from the same schools—mostly T14, but some schools just outside the T14 as well. Personality is also very important and ‘fit’ is something we are supposed to assess when we interview law students.”
  • “The questions aim at intelligence, grit, and leadership.”
  • “My interviews were conversational and mostly involved what I wanted to do, etc. I do not recall any specific questions, but the focus seemed to be getting to know who I was rather than putting me on the spot with planned questions.”
  • “As a general rule, if you receive a callback, the firm already believes that you are qualified. The point of the follow-up interviews is to determine whether you would be a good fit for the firm (based on personality and career goals) and whether the firm would be a good fit for you. Most questions are geared towards finding answers to those questions.”
  • “Just questions based on their background, why they attended a certain law school, why they wish to work in a certain city, and what type of work they want to do as an attorney.”

Perks & Benefits