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Steptoe & Johnson LLP

2022 Vault Rankings

At a Glance


“Opportunities to do very interesting/cutting edge work.”

“Supportive partners.”

“Firm culture and the people I work with.”


“Below-market bonuses.”

“Lack of transparency regarding firm finances.”

“Unpredictable hours, but that's all law firms.”

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, and the ever-evolving arena of internet law. 

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, adept at politics and people. Johnson agreed to serve as Assistant Secretary of War for FDR in 1937. When he was done, he stuck around the capital and established the firm’s Washington, DC, presence in 1945, after which he moved on to serve as Harry Truman’s secretary of defense.

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, Hong Kong, and Brussels, the former now has more than 400 attorneys—roughly 260 of whom are located in the DC office.

In the Pipeline

Steptoe is known for its White-Collar Defense practice, and partner Reid Weingarten is a major player in this area. In addition to counseling and defending individuals and companies on criminal prosecutions and investigations, the firm also regularly conducts internal investigations. 

The firm’s Energy group is also highly regarded. In the electric power space, the firm advises clients on various multi-disciplinary areas, including antitrust, investigations, litigation, M&A, power markets, PURPA and distributed energy resources, transmission and power development, and regulatory matters, to name some. Steptoe lawyers also have deep experience in oil and gas pipelines, aiding clients with creation, financing, and operation of oil pipelines around the world.

Rubbing Elbows 

Like many DC firms, Steptoe has seen both Beltway businesspeople and politicos come through its doors. Among the firm’s alumni are BET’s CEO Debra L. Lee and Montana governor Steve Bullock. 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 NSA; the U.S. Senate Banking and Finance Committees; and the Office of the Vice President.

COVID-19 Update

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, law schools pushed their OCI timeline from August 2020 to January/February 2021. Steptoe participated in the law school’s virtual OCI programs to recruit 1Ls and 2Ls for their 2021 Summer Associate Program. All OCI interviewers were conducted virtually, as well as the callback interviews. Steptoe will again be participating in the law school’s virtual OCI programs in July/August 2021 to recruit 2Ls for their 2022 Summer Associate Program. OCI interviews and callback interviews will remain virtual. Steptoe is able to offer OCI programming to more schools in more locations than ever before.

Many of Steptoe’s lateral associates and partners brought in during the pandemic last year (through our recruiting efforts via videoconference interviews) are just starting to meet their colleagues in person as U.S. offices reopen, and Steptoe has made special efforts to integrate these attorneys into their practice groups and the firm at large.

News & Awards

  • On July 17, 2020, U.S. District Court Judge Nathan of the Southern District of New York dismissed with prejudice the government’s Iran sanctions criminal case against Ali Sadr, who was found guilty by a jury in March. The judge’s decision stemmed from a June 5 request by the U.S. attorney for the SDNY to dismiss the case on the grounds that “it would not be in the interests of justice to further prosecute this case.” The stunning move by the U.S. attorney came after Steptoe doggedly pursued proof that the government failed to comply with its discovery obligations, leading to post-trial revelations that prosecutors suppressed a significant volume of exculpatory evidence and made multiple misrepresentations to the court.
  • Steptoe's Insurance & Reinsurance practice, which won the 2021 Chambers USA award for "Insurer Law Firm of the Year," was tapped by both The Hartford and W.R. Berkley to serve as national coordinating counsel for all COVID-19-related business interruption matters. As such, Steptoe has been managing expansive, multi-office teams for each carrier, with large caseloads throughout the United States to help insurers weather the widely predicted storm of business interruption claims set about by the pandemic.
  • A federal court jury in Virginia returned a $25 million verdict in favor of Steptoe client BMG, finding Cox Communications guilty of willful contributory copyright infringement.
  • Best Places to Work for Disability Inclusion, 2018-2021—Disability Equality Index®
  • Corporate Equality Index Best Place to Work for LGBTQ Equality, 2018-2021—Human Rights Campaign
  • Gold Standard Certification List, 2014-2015, 2018-2020—Women in Law Empowerment Forum
  • Top Ten Firms for Gender Equity, 2019-2020—Yale Law Women
  • Corporate Social Responsibility Firm of the Year, 2019—Chambers Diversity & Inclusion
Steptoe & Johnson LLP

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

Firm Stats

Chair: Philip R. West
Hiring Partners: Patrick Linehan and Patricia Palacios
Total No. Attorneys (2021):
250 - 500
No. of Partners Named 2021:

Base Salary

Washington, DC:
Class of 2021: $202,500
Class of 2020: $205,000
Class of 2019: $215,000
Class of 2018: $240,000
Class of 2017: $275,000
Class of 2016: $305,000
Class of 2015: $330,000
Class of 2014: $350,000
Class of 2013: $365,000
Summer Associate: $3,465/week

Employment Contact

Kieran Riley
Manager, Lateral Legal Talent Acquisition
(202) 862-3887
General Recruiting Email (attorneys):

No. of U.S. Offices: 5

No. of International Offices: 4

Major Office Locations

Chicago, IL
Los Angeles, CA
New York, NY
San Francisco, CA
Washington, DC (HQ) | Beijing
Hong Kong

Major Departments

Investigations & White-Collar Defense:
White-Collar Defense |
Intellectual Property:
Intellectual Property |
International Trade, Compliance & Investment:
Export Controls
Economic Sanctions |
Government Contracts
Commercial Litigation
Insurance & Reinsurance
Professional Liability
Employee Benefits & ERISA
Labor & Employment |
Regulatory & Legislative:
Internet, Telecom, & Media
Chemicals & Environment
Government Affairs & Public Policy |
Tax, Transactions, & Private Client:
Private Client
*See firm website for complete list of practice areas and industries.