Foley Hoag has been a major presence in the Boston legal and business community since Henry Foley and Garrett Hoag set up shop in 1943. The firm quickly earned a progressive reputation: In 1979, Charles J. Beard II, a Foley Hoag business lawyer and a pioneer in the legal field of cable television regulation, became the first African-American to be named partner in a major Boston law firm.
Just one year later, The Foley Hoag Foundation was established in the aftermath of Boston’s school busing crisis, a period of profound racial tension. The foundation was the first—and remains the only— foundation to focus exclusively on the improvement of race relations in Boston; so far, it has awarded 495 grants totaling nearly $1.54 million. In addition, the Emerging Enterprise Center at Foley Hoag opened in 2006 to support the entrepreneur and venture capital communities with legal and business consulting services.
Foley Hoag was one of the earliest to develop active practices in such cutting-edge areas as energy technology and renewables, and various life sciences disciplines. The firm is also well known for its unusual presence in the area of public international law, representing clients before the International Court of Justice and other international bodies. In the past several years, the firm has been hired by Nicaragua in border disputes with Costa Rica and Colombia, by Ecuador in a claim against Colombia for aerial spraying of pesticides, and by Uruguay in defense of an environmental claim by Argentina. Most recently, Paul Reichler, who leads this practice, represented the Republic of Georgia in filing suit in The Hague against Russia, and obtained an historic ruling ordering a halt to ethnic cleansing.
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Put simply, “Foley Hoag is a great place to work.” With a unique combination of substantive work, “wonderful” mentors and consistent work-life balance, associates have nothing but positive things to say about life at their firm. “The people are great, the work is interesting, I'm learning all the time, and I am encouraged to maintain something of a life outside the office,” notes a Boston contact. Weekend work, the bane of most associate’s existence, is a rarity at Foley Hoag and any last-minute projects can usually be taken care of from home. A junior contact adds, “Everyone is very kind and helpful, but also very professional. Most partners make associates feel like valuable team members rather than underlings.” The firm’s overall culture, too, is described as “friendly, academic and open,” ensuring that associates consistently feel like “valuable team players rather than underlings.”
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Foley associates also cite training and associate/partner relations as firm highlights. One happy contact says, “I have been very impressed by how accessible partners are to associates. It is a reflection of the culture of the firm that these very busy men and women are so willing to share their valuable time with junior associates.” In addition to the firm’s “wonderful” mentoring program, a Boston associate states: “I have had generally excellent relationships with the partners. In my department there is actually a 1:1 ratio of partners to associates, so most of my work is done directly with one other partner.” If valuable training alongside partners is not enough, the firm also has a topnotch professional development coordinator who is devoted to continually improving the firm’s mentoring and training programs. “Formal training is very extensive and is constantly improving based on associate feedback and firm initiatives,” says a midlevel associate. “Informal training, at least in my experience, has been excellent; I genuinely feel that partners care about my learning and development and take time to teach me things.”
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With a “noticeable uptick in business and hiring” and well-positioned practice areas, the outlook for Foley seems positive all around. A junior contact says, “I have enough work available to work as many hours as I choose over the next year or so, and the firm appears to have weathered the financial crisis fairly well.” The firm’s “beautiful, modern and spacious” digs with views of the Boston harbor only seem to add to associates’ optimism. “All attorneys (including summers and first years) have their own offices. The location in the Seaport certainly has some advantages and is especially beautiful in the summer,” notes a source.
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