2019 Vault Rankings
- Pro Bono#3
- Firm Culture#22
“Pro bono commitment”
“Attention to lifestyle concerns”
“Transparency from management could be better”
“Lack of diversity, especially at the partnership level”
Founded in Texas in 1945, Akin Gump has grown to become one of the world’s largest law firms, with over 900 lawyers working across a vast array of practices in 20 offices around the globe. Long a force in national politics via its lobbying and policy work (and even longer a preeminent presence in the Lone Star State), the firm is known for its work in practices in areas such as antitrust, communications, corporate and M&A, cybersecurity, energy, entertainment, environmental, financial restructuring, global project finance, health care, international trade, investment funds, IP, labor, litigation, public law and policy, real estate, tax, and white collar.
The Akin Gump story begins in 1945, when former FBI agents Richard Gump and Robert Strauss started up a small legal practice in post-war Dallas. Strauss, whose political involvement dated back to Lyndon Johnson’s first congressional campaign, went on to become chair of the Democratic National Committee and chaired Jimmy Carter's successful presidential campaign in 1976. Carter returned the favor by appointing Strauss to a cabinet position as Special Trade Representative and hired him as a personal representative in the Middle East peace negotiations. Strauss also worked in George H.W. Bush's administration, serving as Ambassador to the Soviet Union.
Today, Akin Gump features the country’s largest lobbying practice by revenue, and many politically connected people are currently with the firm, including Bill Clinton adviser Vernon Jordan, former U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson, former congressmen Tom Loeffler (R-TX) and Vic Fazio (D-CA), and a number of former ambassadors, congressional staff, and government officials.
Akin Gump lawyers are often at the forefront of headline-grabbing and precedent-setting work. Firm lawyers led largest-of-their-kind deals, like the cross-border effort for the development of the world’s largest solar plant. Akin Gump litigators have delivered wins that established new case law like the landmark reversal of the largest False Claims Act award in history and a victory before the Supreme Court in a closely-watched tribal rights case. And the firm’s government-facing practices secured first-of-their-kind results, like an unprecedented, underdog win for a foreign government in a trade dispute.
And the Award Goes To…
The firm and its lawyers are regularly recognized for its exemplary, innovative work, having recently collected awards for practice and pro bono work from The American Lawyer, The Lawyer, The National Law Journal, Financial Times and Law360, among many others. Beyond recognition for client work, in 2017, the firm received the Thomas L. Sager Award, presented each year to a large law firm that demonstrates “sustained commitment to improving the hiring, retention and promotion of diverse attorneys,” and received its 11th consecutive perfect score on the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s Corporate Equality Index (CEI), earning the firm the designation as a Best Place to Work for LGBTQ Equality.
Pro Bono Pros
Akin Gump’s commitment to pro bono work spans the history of the firm. In 2017 alone, Akin Gump lawyers and other personnel from every office and practice group joined together to devote more than 88,000 hours to pro bono clients. Their efforts included: creating and sustaining a program to assist refugee women and children detained by the Department of Homeland Security in Karnes City, Texas; leading a group of nearly 200 major law firm leaders to successfully oppose plans to eliminate the Legal Services Corporation, the largest single funder of civil legal aid in the U.S.; and providing transactional know-how to community groups and social ventures to allow them to grow and tackle important issues such as climate change insurance and public school funding.
IN THE NEWS
For the first time in history, a former head of state sat before his accusers in a U.S. human rights trial. A jury in federal court found a former Bolivian president and his defense minister liable under the Torture Victim Protection Act for the extrajudicial killings of eight Bolivian citizens. For more than 10 years, Akin Gump and a team of academics and other law firms provided pro bono representation to survivors and families of the victims of the massacre, ultimately securing a $10 million award in compensatory damages for the plaintiffs in this historic case.
A team from the firm’s American Indian law and policy and Supreme Court and appellate practices delivered a critical U.S. Supreme Court win for the Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band of Pottawatomi Indians in a property disputes case that involved claims against the tribe by a landowner in Michigan. The high court affirmed a D.C. Circuit Court dismissal of the suit, thereby providing the tribe certainty and security in its crucial land-development efforts.
Akin Gump represented VCA, a leading U.S. provider of pet health care services, in its $9.1 billion acquisition by Mars, Inc., one of the world’s leading pet care providers and a pet nutrition industry leader. Aside from its notable value, the acquisition presented significant antitrust concerns, given that VCA and Mars operated the two largest networks of veterinary hospitals in the United States. However, working under a tight timeline, a cross-practice team from Akin Gump guided the transaction through Federal Trade Commission approval and a successful closing.
In a precedent-setting victory that continues to have a huge impact on False Claims Act (FCA) law, Akin Gump obtained a landmark win for client Trinity Industries, Inc., when a unanimous panel of the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a $663 million judgment and rendered judgment as a matter of law in favor of Trinity in an FCA qui tam suit. This is one of a series of victories that the firm has scored for Trinity, whose highway guardrail end terminal system is the subject of litigation at the federal and state levels. The 5th Circuit win has already been cited by the Justice Department internally in a memo encouraging its prosecutors to seek dismissal of meritless FCA actions.
A collaboration between Akin Gump’s labor and international trade practices yielded a precedent-setting victory for the government of Guatemala, as an arbitral panel ruled favorably in the first international labor arbitration proceeding brought by the United States (at the urging of the AFL-CIO) under the labor chapter of the Central America–United States Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA–DR). The Akin Gump team successfully refuted the U.S. claims of noncompliance in a case that, according to the AFL-CIO, should have been “a slam dunk for the U.S.” The end of the nine-year-long dispute not only clears Guatemala’s international image, but also clarifies the legal standard to demonstrate violation under CAFTA-DR’s labor chapter.
A cross-border team from Akin Gump advised Abu Dhabi Water & Electricity Company and its parent company, Abu Dhabi Water & Electricity Authority, on the successful development and financial close of the 1,177 MW (DC) Sweihan Solar PV Independent Power Project (IPP) in Abu Dhabi. Sweihan will be the world’s largest solar photovoltaic (PV) project and is scheduled to enter into operation in Q2 2019.
Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP is a leading global law firm providing innovative legal services and business solutions to individuals and institutions. We are one of the world’s largest law firms, with more than 900 lawyers and professionals in 20 offices. Our firm’s clients range from individuals to corporations and foreign governments.
Robert S. Strauss Building
1333 New Hampshire Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20036
Phone: (202) 887-4000
Employer Type: Private
Chairman: Kim Koopersmith
Recruiting Chairs: David H. Botter (New York and Firmwide), Matt Zmigrosky (Dallas), Susan Leader (Los Angeles), Alison Chen (Houston), Charlie Johnson (Washington, DC), Katherine M. Katchen (Philadelphia)
Total No. Attorneys 2018: 950
1st year: $190,000
2nd year: $200,000
3rd year: $220,000
4th year: $255,000
5th year: $280,000
6th year: $305,000
7th year: $325,000
8th year: $340,000
Summer associate: $3,700/week
56 out of 56 (2Ls) (2018)
Fort Worth, TX
Los Angeles, CA
New York, NY
San Antonio, TX
San Francisco, CA
Aerospace & Defense
American Indian Law & Policy
Communications & Information Technology
Cybersecurity, Privacy & Data Protection
Employee Benefits/Executive Compensation (ERISA)
Entertainment & Media
Environment, Natural Resources & Land Health Care
International Corporate Transactions
Labor & Employment
Mergers & Acquisitions
Public Law & Policy
Real Estate & Finance
Securities Enforcement & Litigation
Supreme Court & Appellate
White Collar Defense & Corporate Investigations