Associate Life

At Willkie, we recognize that our associates are our greatest assets, and we are committed to investing in their development by giving them real responsibility from the outset, providing engaging in-house training programs, offering access to active mentors, and fostering true collaboration among lawyers at all levels.


At the same time, we are proud of our long-standing tradition of public service and pro bono work and want to ensure that all of our associates have an opportunity to participate. We seek to accomplish all of this in an atmosphere where people get to know one another personally as well as professionally, building lasting relationships as a result.

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Associate Mentoring

We believe mentoring and constructive feedback are critical to professional development. Partners and senior attorneys are expected to provide real-time feedback to more junior lawyers throughout all matters. In addition to informal mentoring, we strive to tailor formal programs specifically to our associates needs and interests as they progress throughout your career.

For more information, please click here.

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Associate Professional Development

Our focus on associate training and development takes many forms, starting with the daily interaction between partners and associates. Partners work side-by-side with associates on all matters, providing real-time training, feedback, and mentoring throughout an associate’s career.

Under the leadership of our Professional Development Committee – which includes partner and associate members from all practices – we have developed an extensive program of in-house training presentations. Seminars are conducted regularly by senior Willkie lawyers on topics ranging from developments in the law (at introductory and advanced levels) to financial analysis to practical lawyering and business skills. We also frequently invite outside speakers to contribute additional perspective and non-legal expertise.

As a supplement, while every associate develops at his or her own pace, we recognize that there are moments of transition common to all associates and have developed training seminars tailored to those transitions.

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New Associate Orientation

This orientation program includes a comprehensive overview of Firm economics, presentations by the co-chairs of the Firm, and department-specific boot camps intended to provide new associates with the background needed to start their careers.

First-Year Refresh

This annual seminar focuses on approach to practice and includes training sessions on legal research skills, accounting principles, and refreshers specific to the first-year associate.

Fourth-Year Seminar

This program covers a range of topics from the business of the Firm to management workshops and business development. It also offers department-specific skills-development training, including an advanced negotiation workshop for transactional attorneys and interactive workshops on trial practice, deposition skills, legal writing, and oral arguments for our litigators.

Senior Associate Market Briefing

This program is geared towards sixth-year and more senior associates and provides insight into the partnership process and an in-depth look at the Firm’s marketing and business development efforts.

Feedback and Reviews

As an adjunct to all of this, associates also benefit from a comprehensive evaluation program. Associates are evaluated in the spring and fall of each year, and meet with their assigning partners at least once a year to discuss their performance. As part of the review process, associates are asked to complete an Annual Report to reflect on their own performance and to establish professional goals for the coming year. Associates also have the opportunity to provide upstream reviews to partners, counsel, and senior associates.

Attorney Events

Beyond working together, we make it a point to get to know one another on a personal level.

Over 40 years ago, Willkie’s partners began hosting monthly “Informal Gatherings” in the office so that lawyers could socialize and catch up.  The tradition continues across the Firm today.

We also see one another outside the office. Throughout the year, there are also department-specific outings, both scheduled and impromptu. Each of our domestic offices takes advantage of their prime city locations to hold interactive events that fosters connectivity among our attorneys. 

The Washington, D.C. office has hosted dinner cruises and outings on the Chesapeake Bay. We are also fortunate to have a rooftop space with stunning views, and cocktails on the roof are a highlight of summer living for our Washington attorneys. The Houston office has hosted partner dinner parties, casino nights, MLB outings, and cooking classes.

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Compensation and Benefits

Willkie is committed to compensating associates at a level commensurate with our peer firms.

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Core Compensation and Benefits Include:

  • Salary of $215,000 per year for first-year associates
  • Lock-step associate compensation system
  • Competitive bonuses
  • Four weeks of paid vacation each year
  • Salary advance to incoming first-year associates
  • Reimbursements for moving expenses, bar review courses, bar examination fees and bar association dues

Other Benefits Include:

  • Up to 18 weeks paid (and 18 weeks unpaid) parental leave
  • Subsidized health and dental insurance (including spouses and children)
  • Life and disability insurance
  • Fitness allowance and subsidized health club membership
  • Emergency day care center
  • Attorney lounge with cappuccino machine, breakfast, and afternoon cookies
  • Free private banking at Citibank or Chase
  • Technology allowance
  • Independent Counselors on Call, a resource for attorneys to have private sessions on a confidential basis with experienced career counselors. The career counselors help the attorneys develop action plans to achieve their professional goals.

Alternative Work Scheduling:

Willkie recognizes that attorneys who have strong commitments to the practice of law and are engaged in parenting may, at times, find it desirable to adjust or reduce their work schedules. The Firm has an equally strong commitment to providing alternative work schedule arrangements for attorneys at all levels, from junior associate to partner, in appropriate circumstances. For our attorneys who work on a flexible or alternative schedule, there are designated attorneys charged with creating opportunities for exchanging ideas and experiences related to successfully managing career and life challenges.

Diversity and Inclusion

Willkie believes that everyone benefits from a diverse and inclusive workplace. To that end, we strive to hire lawyers with different backgrounds in terms of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, and culture.

Our Diversity and Inclusion Committee is central to these efforts and summer law clerks learn about the Committee immediately upon arrival. The Diversity and Inclusion Committee is involved in summer law clerk orientation, takes an active role in mentoring, hosts at least one summer law clerk event, and seeks to involve summer law clerks in our broader diversity and inclusiveness program.

Our Women’s Professional Development Committee (WPDC) also participates actively in the summer program. The WPDC typically hosts a networking event for summer law clerks, participates in mentoring, and includes summer law clerks in ongoing programming.

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We reinforce all of this effort through partnerships with law-school affinity groups including APALSA, BLSA, LALSA, LAMBDA/OUTLAWS, SALSA, and Women’s Law Associations, sponsoring receptions, career nights, mock interview programs, moot court competitions, and seminars with these groups.

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Pro Bono

We take great pride in the volume and variety of work the firm performs on a pro bono basis. Willkie has a long-standing commitment to serving the underprivileged and promoting social justice. We have consistently achieved exceptional results on behalf of pro bono clients in a wide array of matters. From obtaining asylum for individuals around the world to filing amicus briefs in landmark U.S. Supreme Court cases, Willkie’s global pro bono work with underrepresented clients is extensive and encompasses a broad range of causes and issues.

Our commitment to public service and pro bono work extends to the summer program. In New York, summer law clerks have had the opportunity to participate in one-week externships at Her Justice, Sanctuary for Families, and Mobilization for Justice. Aside from these externships, we actively encourage all summer law clerks to participate in the Firm’s broader public service and pro bono effort.

For more information about Willkie's pro bono practice and externship opportunities, please click here.

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