"Mintz Levin is a great place for women. I have never felt anything but respect from male colleagues, and I definitely have the same opportunities," one insider remarked. Prominent women at the firm include Ann Ellen Hornidge (business & finance, and member of the executive committee), Betsy Burnett (head of the litigation section), and Rosemary Allen (hiring committee chair and "top-notch" defense attorney). Most of the women partners, especially in litigation, make a significant effort to mentor female associates. The litigation women have a lunch once a month, attended by partners and associates, which is very popular. "Everyone tries to attend, from first-year associates to senior women partners. Discussions are always fun, whether they concern a case in the firm or some current political or social issue. It fosters a really nice relationship among the women litigators," one insider observed. Mintz Levin has developed a marketing initiative program for its female attorneys, geared towards attracting more women executives as clients, and this has been "wildly successful." In this connection, there are regular lunches and a "women's forum of presentations" for potential female clients. Mintz Levin is fairly "progressive" in terms of part-time opportunities and maternity and paternity leave programs. The latter, in particular, are "generous and extensively used (and there is no hidden penalty for using them)," we were told. Most- "but not all"- partners at Mintz Levin respect part-time schedules. One insider informed us that "I work a very favorable (to me) part-time schedule and the firm seems to have no problem with it. I have been doing it since joining and plan to continue that way. I think this firm is outstanding in understanding family pressures and the need to have a different attitude when parents have young children. They seem to take a long term view of using well-trained people in whatever way benefits all" Part-time schedules of four days a week at the firm are becoming "increasingly common," although "it is certainly not guaranteed." One insider remarked that "you have the opportunity to work a four-day work week. Most of the time you can do it; however, if you have a few intense cases going on at the same time, it is difficult to stick to the four days. "When you get very busy and have to work much longer hours, you will still only get 80% of your pay-this can be a drawback," while a second insider noted that "I've heard that women with children find it difficult to get assigned to deals in the corporate section. There are more women partners and associates in litigation than in corporate." Although there are several well-respected minority attorneys in the firm, there are no minority partners at Mintz Levin. The firm has an excellent minority recruiting program and a minority interview workshop (a mock interview program), which has become a "huge success" and is "an example of how the firm is active in its recruitment of minority attorneys." Mintz Levin has several successful gay and lesbian attorneys. One contact remarked that "I don't think that this place makes any distinctions based on race, gender, or sexual orientation. I love working in such a diverse environment," while a second insider noted that "Mintz Levin, founded by Jewish Harvard Law graduates and currently led by Popeo, who grew up in a modest Italian neighborhood in Boston, does not discriminate against anyone with real brains who can help the firm grow. Mintz Levin is great at identifying and promoting talented lawyers regardless of ethnic background or Ivy League pedigree."
Mintz Levin's summer program is noteworthy for its small size. Unlike its Boston rivals of comparable size, Mintz Levin "does not hire dozens of summer associates and then let them compete in some sort of macabre Darwinian struggle for partnership," we were told. Instead, it hires a small group of summer associates and then "emphasizes that they should bond as a group during 'their' summer." The associates in the summer program have "enough exposure to real work to get a sense of the firm's practice and its attorneys; you have to demonstrate your abilities but it is not high stress," one insider observed. A second contact remarked that "I really enjoyed the summer program but at times I worried about getting my work done with so many activities planned. You start to burn out with all the activities and with feeling like you are always 'on.'" Summer associate events are "non-stop" throughout the summer: "baseball games, lunches, Boston Pops, dinner cruises, afternoon tea at the Four Seasons, more dinners, mini-golf, more lunches, Omni Theatre, more dinners, country club outing, more dinners..."
Change though the firm culture has, Mintz Levin continues to be a place that is "friendly in its work environment, aggressive towards the work itself, and liberal in political attitude," we were told. The work atmosphere is very supportive, and associates "really stick together." Most senior associates go out of their way to help junior associates. "Most everyone is working very hard, but people try to make the experience as fun as possible," one insider commented. The firm greatly values diversity. "People are not afraid to say what they think. It's a pretty liberal firm, definitely not old white male conservative," observed one contact, while a second person remarked that "people are not judged for the way they look or what they like to do in their spare time. It's an open and respectful culture. It follows that this is a great place to be women, or a gay woman, or a Latino attorney, or an attorney with a Boston accent." Political enthusiasm is "extensive" at the firm; many people support different parties and different causes. "Mintz is strongly Democrat, but it is far better to be an active Republican than not active at all," observed one insider. Finally, taking note of the changes that have occurred at Mintz Levin in recent years, one contact summed up the current situation by noting that "this place is certainly growing rapidly, but I'm confident that there are enough people here dedicated to keeping the work environment the fun, humane, supportive, and energetic place that it has been known as, to make sure that we don't become just another typical, big impersonal law firm. I hope." Beginning associates at Mintz Levin choose a practice area upon joining the firm, and they have a chance to "rotate at the end of years one and two (and to a limited degree, year three)," we were told. Each department has a section coordinator, who assists in distributing work, but oftentimes "assignments are distributed less formally, placing the burden on the associate to determine when/if his/her work-load is sufficient." Training at the firm has "gotten better and more formalized" over the last few years, so that the two "big" sections, litigation and business & finance, now have very solid training programs, which were lavishly praised by our contacts. One insider, for example, informed us that "the second year trial training program is world class. Judge John Paul Sullivan, a retired superior court judge, designs and teaches the program. He's able to draw on his 40 years of attorney and judgeship experience in expert fashion to teach and critique us through trial practice exercises and mock trials. I'm amazed how much I learned and, at the end, I felt like I'd been through a real trial I have much more confidence now, as well, which is probably the biggest bonus of the program." In corporate, the firm this year revamped its "corporate boot camp," which used to be a one-week intensive course in January. Now, according to one insider, "the sessions begin in October and are spread out over several seeks, which I think gives the associates more time to process the information. Associates and partners both served as 'faculty,' and they did a great job." The mentoring that associates receive from partners varies with the partners. "Some are great, some are not. But most seem open to teaching if you prompt them," noted one insider. Cases at Mintz Levin are well-staffed, providing junior associates a good combination of support and early responsibility. "I've found it to be the perfect mix here. I always feel I have instruction when I need it, yet I am often given a great deal of work to be responsible for. It's like walking the high-wire knowing you have a safety net under you," one insider remarked. A second contact informed us that "I'm amazed with how much responsibility I have. Senior attorneys mostly seem eager to get young people involved. Because of the extensive client contact I have, I know that my work doesn't exist in a vacuum; I see and interact with the people who are depending on my research, my creativity, and my efforts to help them solve their problems." New litigation associates are not "hidden away in a library, you get your own cases (personal injury defense) to handle in their entirety (meaning you do everything): standard legal research; document review; drafting pleadings (complaints, answers, discovery responses, etc.)," one insider informed us. The social scene at Mintz Levin is modest which, according to our contacts, is "satisfactory" because most attorneys have families and personal lives beyond the firm. One insider noted, however, that "it's a little disappointing for single people and others who want to get to know co-workers on a more informal basis." Mintz Levin has a cocktail "drop in" on Friday afternoons with chips, pretzels, wine and beer. "Most attorneys go for about a half hour to an hour to hang out and talk before heading home," according to one insider, a second contact remarked, however, that "recently, with the increased focus on billable hours, fewer people are attending these social events and are choosing to go home instead.'' The firm has men's winter hockey and basketball teams, and a softball team in the summer months for "anyone who wants to play." Mintz Levin sponsors a summer all-attorney outing (a day of golf, tennis, etc, capped with a dinner party) and a holiday party in December, to which all staff are invited (sans guests). The highlight of the evening is the annual traditional "skit" put on by first-years, "making (good-natured) fun of themselves and the rest of the firm," we were told. Compensation at Mintz Levin is competitive with other large Boston firms, but a number of our contacts expressed displeasure with the current salary/billable hours situation at the firm. One critic remarked that "first- and second-years are paid the going rate. Mid-level base salaries are lower but are supposedly made up by higher potential bonuses, although most people don't believe this to be the case. It seems you have to be something of a star here to make what your colleagues at other firms make for just showing up every day, although the new bonus system (which increases bonus potentials to about 20-30% of salary for mid-levels) hasn't been in place long enough to draw definitive conclusions." A second contact noted that "the tradeoff of slightly smaller salaries used to seem fair because associates at ML used to bill less than their colleagues. However, in conjunction with the most recent round of salary raises, the billable target was increased 50 hours (on top of a 50 hour boost one year earlier) such that the target is now 1925." There is also a "new client development/marketing" target of 150 hours per year, which "can be a burden when added to the 1925 billable hour target," one person noted. In addition, associates used to receive a direct percentage of any business they brought in- a filing point which Mintz often touted-but "that practice has been eliminated. Now bringing in business is considered as a factor when determining your bonus, but it is not directly tied to it," we were told. Fringe benefits at Mintz are "less than ideal," according to our contacts. "There is no firm contribution to the associates' 401 (k) plan, the health insurance co-pays (60%) are higher than the rest of the city, and the dental plan is terrible," one insider remarked. A second contact informed us that "the firm will loan an associate $2,500 (interest free) for a home computer, but then it is taken out of the associate's paycheck over a year." On the plus side is the firm's paternity leave policy that gives fathers eight weeks paid leave. "After some initial reluctance, many new fathers are taking advantage of the policy now that they realize it won't have an adverse effect on their careers at the firm," noted one insider. In addition, there is an on-site emergency day care that is paid for entirely by the firm.