Steptoe & Johnson LLP at a Glance


  • “Substantive experience”
  • “Culture is outstanding”
  • “Lean staffing on cases”


  • “Bonuses are weak”
  • “Lack of transparency”
  • “Evaluation procedures are unclear”

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.


May 2017
The Future is Female

Steptoe has been recognized by a report in Bloomberg Big Law Business for having a record of promoting women to partner. The report named Steptoe one of only 18 firms on the Am Law 100 that announced a partner class in 2016 that was at least 50% female. In addition to the strong showing in 2016, women comprised 80% of Steptoe's new partner class announced on January 3, 2017.

November 2016
Pride Alliance

The National Law Journal covered the relaunch of Steptoe's LGBTQ affinity group, Pride Alliance, in a December 8 article titled "How One Firm Is Confronting Its LGBT Diversity Deficit." The Pride Alliance officially revived after a hiatus on November 29 with a cocktail party for about 60 lawyers and staff in the Washington office. The group will offer support and a forum for discussion of issues relevant to the LGBTQ community at Steptoe and is part of the firm's ongoing effort to foster a diverse and welcoming workplace.

Global Giant

For the fourth time in five years, Steptoe has been ranked on The Lawyer's "Global Litigation Top 50" list of the world's top law firms based on litigation and arbitration revenue. The list was compiled by taking the turnover of each firm's most recently completed financial year and applying it to the proportion of revenue that was generated by litigation and arbitration across all groups and departments. In addition to ranking firms by litigation revenue, this year's special report provides an exclusive overview of the health of the global litigation market and headcount trends in the main jurisdictions.

September 2016
International Investigations 

For the second year in a row, Global Investigations Review has named Steptoe to its GIR 30, an independent guide to the world's best firms for international investigations. Through decades of experience, Steptoe has earned a national reputation as a go-to firm for boards, audit committees, special committees, companies, and other institutions in need of outside counsel to handle government investigations, sensitive internal investigations, and compliance reviews. The firm's team includes former officials from a wide range of US law enforcement and regulatory agencies, including the Department of Justice, Securities and Exchange Commission, FBI, Department of Homeland Security, and more.

Death Row Record

Steptoe received the American Bar Association (ABA) Death Penalty Representation Project's 2016 Exceptional Service Award for providing "high quality legal representation to prisoners on death row." The firm, which was unanimously selected for the award, was honored at a dinner in Washington celebrating the 30th anniversary of the ABA Death Penalty Representation Project. Over the course of the past decade, the firm has represented death row inmates in Alabama, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Texas and Virginia. One of its more high-profile cases was that of Teresa Lewis, the first woman on Virginia's death row in close to a century.

July 2016
AmLaw Award

Steptoe has been selected by The American Lawyer as the winner of a 2016 Global Legal Award. The awards, described by the magazine as its "marquee global contest," aim to honor all law offices that played a substantial role in the most distinguished international work across a wide range of disciplines. Steptoe won in the category "Global Legal Dispute: Investment Arbitration (Africa)" for its work for the von Pezold family in a successful claim before the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes against the government of Zimbabwe over its racially discriminatory land reform program.

- Show Less + Show Full Description

Steptoe & Johnson LLP

1330 Connecticut Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20036
Phone: (202) 429-3000


  • Employer Type: Private
  • Chair: Philip R. West
  • Hiring Partners: Kendall Enyard & Patrick Linehan
  • Total No. Attorneys 2017: 479

  • Base Salary

    Washington, DC
    1st year: $180,000
    Summer associate: $3,465/week

  • Summer Associate Offers

    16 out of 16 (2Ls) (2016)

  • Major Departments & Practices

    Compliance, Investigations, Trade & Enforcement
    Anti-Corruption, Anti-Money Laundering, Export Control, Sanctions, CFIUS, Customs, National & Homeland Security, Immigration Antitrust Government Contracts International Trade White Collar & Securities Enforcement

    Commercial ERISA Investigations & Litigation and Labor & Employment Insurance, Reinsurance & Professional Liability Intellectual Property

    Regulatory & Legislative
    Energy Environmental Government Affairs & Public Policy Telecom & Technology Transportation

    Tax, Transactions and Private Client
    Corporate Property Tax & Private Client

Major Office Locations

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