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McDermott Will & Emery

At a Glance


“Challenging work.”

“Above-market bonus.”

“The firm culture is generally friendly, open, and supportive.”


“The billable hour.”

“Heavy workload.”

“Could be a little more transparent about partnership prospects and process.”

About McDermott Will & Emery

A Chicago institution since the 1930s, McDermott Will & Emery has, in recent decades, broadened its gaze to new markets in the United States and abroad. The strategy has paid off in spades, with McDermott firmly ensconced among the world’s largest and most elite law firms. 

A Windy Start

McDermott opened for business in 1934 as a tax firm run by Edward H. McDermott and William M. Emery. A mere seven years later, the third and final name partner was added in corporate specialist Howard A. Will. The firm’s name has remained the same ever since, a remarkable feat of continuity in the modern atmosphere of shortened firm names, legal mergers, and buyouts. McDermott added an estate planning division in 1941, and by 1944, the firm had burgeoned to 16 lawyers. Over the next half century and into the 21st century, the firm expanded both domestically and internationally. Today, McDermott is home to more than 1,100 lawyers across 20-plus offices around the world.

Flexing Their Practice Area Muscles

While the firm is still known for its strength in tax, McDermott’s reach has expanded over the decades. The firm counsels its clients on newer areas such as life sciences, renewable energy, and privacy law, which complement its more traditional practices like M&A, antitrust, health care, intellectual property, litigation, real estate, and insurance. 

McDermott is a leader in health care law, holding the No. 1 spot in Vault’s Health Care rankings. The firm uses multidisciplinary, cross-border teams to handle its clients’ sophisticated issues. Hospitals, health private equity funds, digital health companies, home health agencies, hospices, medical device manufacturers—and more—call on McDermott for advice. 

The firm also has a stand-out IP department, with experience in copyright, domain names, International Trade Commission matters, patents and patent litigation, trade secrets, trademarks, and unfair competition. The firm is a regular before the USPTO, including in post grant review proceedings. Among the industries the firm’s IP attorneys serve are energy, life sciences, media, and telecommunications.

Blogging About It

With nine blogs on its website—including an Antitrust Alert blog, Employee Benefits Blog, Energy Business Law Blog, FCA Update blog, Of Digital Interest blog, a Tax Controversy 360 blog, Inside SALT blog, and an Alcohol Law Advisor—McDermott shares the latest on a variety of legal topics with the blawgosphere. The firm also offers three regular podcasts: Governing Health, Of Digital Interest, and Collaborative Transformation: Driving the Deal.

News & Awards


September 2020

McDermott Will & Emery has been recognized by Working Mother magazine as one of the “Best Law Firms for Women.” The recognition honors firms that utilize best practices in finding, retaining, promoting, and developing women lawyers. This is the sixth year that McDermott has been included.

August 2020

McDermott Will & Emery has again excelled in the 2021 edition of The Best Lawyers in America© with a total of 171 individual lawyers recognized across nearly 50 practice areas, including Healthcare, Tax, and Private Client. Nine McDermott lawyers have been named “Lawyer of the Year” for their skill, professionalism, and integrity. This honor, given to a single lawyer in each practice and metropolitan area, is based on peer surveys and reflects the individual’s reputation among other leading lawyers in the same community and practice.

July 2020

McDermott Rise, a new initiative that each year will provide legal services at no cost to 20 Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) business founders and their leadership teams as they start, scale, and grow their ventures. The program is born out of McDermott’s commitment to knocking down unfair barriers faced by people of color and to playing an active role in combating inequality more broadly. Through McDermott Rise, a dedicated global team of lawyers will work closely with early stage and emerging BIPOC-owned companies that have an innovative plan and thoughtful solution to a problem but could use support in launching their venture. Services include legal and business counsel around formation, capitalization, equity compensation, intellectual property protection, employment matters, and other areas pertinent to business growth.

  • McDermott Appellate Team Secures U.S. Supreme Court Victory in Nasrallah V. Barr: The case centered around a provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act that bars courts from reviewing the immigration agencies’ factual conclusions during judicial review of certain noncitizens’ removal orders.

  • McDermott Litigation Team Succeeds In Decade-Long Immigration Case: In a decision of sweeping importance to a range of immigration litigation in federal courts, the Supreme Court held that the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) permits courts of appeals to review the Board of Immigration Appeals’ (BIA) application of law to undisputed or established historical facts.

  • McDermott Advises Longstanding Client Dogfish Head On Strategic Merger With Boston Beer: The merger will bring together two pioneering independent craft breweries and two illustrious founders and brewers, Jim Koch and Sam Calagione. The transaction, valued at approximately $300 million, is expected to close in the second quarter of 2019, subject to closing condition.

  • Tier 1 - Healthcare: Service Providers, 2020—Legal 500
  • Tier 1 – Healthcare: Insurers, 2020—Legal 500
  • Band 1 – Healthcare – 2009-2021—Chambers
  • Band 1 - USA: Nationwide - Private Wealth Law, 2020—Chambers High Net Worth
  • Law Firm of the Year – Trust and Estates, 2019—U.S. News & World Report and Best Lawyers

Why Work Here

When you join McDermott, you become part of a purpose-built, tightly woven network of legal trailblazers who marry global business insights with a deep, focused understanding of the law. Delivering highly effective, often unexpected solutions that propel success, we bring our personal passion and legal prowess to bear in every matter for our clients in 20 locations worldwide.

Our mission is to propel the success of the world’s most respected, dynamic and important organizations. Together, we fuel missions, knock down barriers and shape markets.

McDermott Will & Emery

444 West Lake Street
Chicago, IL 60606
Phone: (312) 372-2000

Firm Stats

Chair: Ira J. Coleman
Co-National Hiring Partners: Lisa Schmitz Mazur and Allison Wilkerson
Total No. Attorneys 2021:
1K - 1.5K
No. of Partners Named 2020:

Base Salary

All offices
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

Employment Contact

Erika Gardiner
Senior Legal Recruiting Manager
(202) 756-8282

No. of U.S. Offices: 13

No. of International Offices: 8

Major Office Locations

Atlanta, GA
Boston, MA
Chicago, IL
Dallas, TX
Houston, TX
Los Angeles, CA
Miami, FL
New York, NY
Orange County (Irvine), CA
San Francisco, CA
Silicon Valley (Menlo Park), CA
Washington, DC
Wilmington, DE I Brussels

Major Departments

Corporate & Transactional
Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation
Global Privacy & Cybersecurity
Intellectual Property
Litigation & Dispute Resolution
Private Client & Wealth Management
Regulatory, Government, & Lobbying Strategies
Strategic Solutions
White Collar
*See firm website for complete list of practice areas and industries.