Steptoe & Johnson LLP at a Glance


  • “Good hours”
  • “Friendly and supportive environment”
  • “Direct contact with partners”


  • “Bonuses”
  • “Technology is behind”
  • “Treatment of non-attorney staff”

The Buzz

  • “Top DC firm”
  • “Respected internal investigations”
  • “Old school”
  • “Irrelevant outside DC”

About Steptoe & Johnson LLP

Steptoe & Johnson LLP got its start representing the airline industry, as well as pipelines, railroads, and foreign companies whose assets had been seized during World War II. Today, the firm serves as counsel to a number of blue-chip clients and is routinely ranked among the top firms for international trade, insurance, tax, intellectual property, energy, white-collar criminal defense litigation and evolving Internet law, including "open Internet" policies, privacy, law enforcement and cybersecurity.

Cavaliers Unite

In 1913, Philip Steptoe and Colonel Louis Johnson, both graduates of the University of Virginia School of Law, combined forces to form Steptoe & Johnson in Clarksburg, West Virginia. The match verged on cliché: a pairing of the introverted Steptoe with the extroverted Johnson, who had a way with people and politics.

It was Johnson's inclination for politics that helped pave the road for the future Steptoe & Johnson. Johnson agreed to serve as Assistant Secretary of War in FDR's cabinet in 1937. When he was done, he stuck around the capital and established the firm's Washington, DC presence in 1945. The Colonel didn't waste time diving back into politics, though-he accepted a position as Harry Truman's secretary of defense not long after setting up shop in DC.

In 1980, the West Virginia and DC offices of the firm split in two, creating a name confusion that persists even today-Steptoe & Johnson LLP, which goes by Steptoe, is not to be confused with the still-in-existence Steptoe & Johnson PLLC in West Virginia. With offices throughout the U.S. as well as in London, Beijing and Brussels, the former now has more than 500 attorneys-roughly 300 of whom are located in the DC office.


Steptoe & Johnson LLP is known for its white-collar criminal defense practice, and partner Reid Weingarten is a major player in this area. During his illustrious career, he has represented several high-profile individuals including Enron Corporation's chief accounting officer, Richard Causey; WorldCom chief executive, Bernard Ebbers; Secretary of Commerce, Ronald H. Brown; Secretary of Agriculture, Michael Espy; former Teamsters president, Ron Carey; Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein; and film director Roman Polanski.

Steptoe's international trade group is similarly well-regarded. The group recently represented SKF Inc. in a long-running anti-dumping suit and the government of China in its first-ever case as a complainant before the World Trade Organization.

Rubbing Elbows

Steptoe, like many DC firms, has seen both Beltway business people and politicos come through its doors. Among the firm's alumni are BET's CEO Debra L. Lee, Montana Governor Steve Bullock, and President Truman's Secretary of Defense Louis A. Johnson. Boasting government experience, the firm's roster includes attorneys who formerly served under the Departments of Commerce, Defense, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, Interior, Justice, Labor, State, and Treasury; the Securities and Exchange Commission; the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission; the FBI; the FTC; the IRS; the National Security Agency (NSA); the US Senate Banking and Finance Committees; and the Office of the Vice President. The firm is also home to former members of the House and Senate to round things out.


March 2016
Award-Winning Arbitrators

Steptoe took one of the top prizes at this year's annual Global Arbitration Review Awards ceremony winning in the category "International arbitration practice that impressed in the past year." In particular, Steptoe was selected for its work for the von Pezold family in a successful claim before the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) against the government of Zimbabwe over a "racially discriminatory" land reform program initiated by President Robert Mugabe. The editors noted that the case was a rare example of an ICSID tribunal granting restitution, with the state ordered to return seized agricultural estates or pay US$196 million in damages. Steptoe partner Matthew Coleman led the London-based team.

December 2015
Punishing Piracy

On December 17, following a two-week jury trial, Steptoe won a precedent-setting victory in the Eastern District of Virginia on behalf of music publishing house BMG Rights Management US LLC. BMG sued Internet service provider (ISP) Cox Communications, claiming that Cox was liable for contributory and vicarious copyright infringement by ignoring illegal downloading by its subscribers. The jury awarded $25M in damages to BMG and found Cox liable for willful contributory infringement-the first of its kind against an ISP. The Steptoe team included Michael Allan, John Caracappa, Will Pecau, and Roger Warin, who handled both opening and closing arguments. 

Beating the NRA

Steptoe successfully helped defend the city of Seattle and Mayor Ed Murray in a lawsuit challenging a city ordinance to impose a $25 per firearm tax on retailers to address the costs of gun violence. On December 22, King County Superior Court Judge Palmer Robinson ruled that the city has the legal authority to enact the tax, dashing an attempt by the NRA and several other groups to overturn the law. The Palo Alto-based team was led by Bill Abrams with partner Laurie Edelstein, of counsel Sarah Jackel, and associate David Kwasniewski.

October 2015
Fancying Up the Flagship

Steptoe & Johnson LLP made a long-term commitment to keep the firm's flagship Washington, D.C. office in its current location near Dupont Circle, in a building that will be completely renovated. The firm signed a new lease with Boston Properties to remain as the primary tenant of 1330 Connecticut Avenue, NW for another 15 years. Under the terms of the deal, brokered by CBRE, the building's interior will be taken down to the slab and rebuilt in a more modern configuration with many amenities. Construction on the 230,000 square foot project began in December 2015, with completion anticipated by the end of 2017. 

July 2015
It's Easy Being Green

Steptoe announced a major expansion of its Financial Services practice with the arrival of Micah Green and his six-member team. Mr. Green, who joined the firm as a partner in the Washington office, leads the firm's Financial Services practice and co-chairs the Government Affairs & Public Policy Group. Also joining Steptoe were partners Carolyn Walsh and Matthew Kulkin, and as senior policy advisors Michael Dunn, a former commissioner and acting chair of the Commodities Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) and Richard Shilts, a former director of the CFTC's Division of Market Oversight. Together, the expanded Financial Services practice brought together professionals in the legislative, regulatory, compliance, enforcement and financial litigation practices.

June 2015
Achieving Acquittal

In a precedent-setting victory, Steptoe secured a complete defense acquittal for David Rainey, the highest ranking BP executive charged in the fatal 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster, the largest oil spill in US history. On June 5, following two hours of deliberations, a jury in New Orleans, Louisiana found Mr. Rainey not guilty of the remaining charge against him, making false statements to FBI investigators. The acquittal followed a judge's dismissal of an obstruction of Congress charge earlier in the week. The Steptoe defense team was led by white-collar criminal defense litigation partners Reid Weingarten and Brian Heberlig.

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Steptoe & Johnson LLP

1330 Connecticut Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20036
Phone: (202) 429-3000


  • Employer Type: Private
  • Chair: Philip R. West
  • Hiring Partners: Kendall Enyard and Patrick Linehan
  • Total No. Attorneys 2016: 483

  • Base Salary

    Washington, DC
    1st year: $180,000
    Summer associate: $3,500/week

  • Summer Associate Offers

    14 of 14 (2015)

  • Major Departments & Practices
    Transactions, Tax, Regulated Industries & Public Policy: 
    Tax • Corporate/Securities • Property • Government • Affairs & Public Policy • Telecom • Internet & Media, Energy • Transportation
    Commercial Litigation & Arbitration:
    Intellectual Property • Insurance • Professional Liability • ERISA, Labor & Employment • Complex Commercial Disputes

    Compliance, Investigations, Trade and Enforcement: Antitrust • Government Contracts • Environment • International Regulation & Compliance • International Trade & Investment 

Major Office Locations

  • Washington, DC (HQ)
  • Chicago, IL
  • Los Angeles, CA
  • New York, NY
  • Palo Alto, CA
  • Phoenix, AZ
  • London
  • Brussels
  • Beijing
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