2019 Vault Rankings
“Exceptional responsibility given to junior associates”
“The people are brilliant and great to work with.”
“Flexibility to work remotely/from other locations”
“The billable-hours requirement”
“Inflexibility regarding vacation time”
From its 19th Century Chicago roots, Winston & Strawn has grown to a global law firm of nearly 1,000 attorneys across the United States, Europe, and Asia, with a robust client roster that includes Abbott Labs, Cisco, Dell, JPMorgan Chase, and Panasonic. Winston is particularly known for its litigation prowess, as well as its IP and sports law practices.
Diversifying with the Times
The firm that became Winston & Strawn opened its doors in the Windy City in 1853 under the leadership of Harvard grad Fredrick Hampden Winston, who played a vital role in Chicago’s emergence as a powerful business and financial center. Winston would leave the practice in the hands of his son Frederick Seymour Winston in 1885 to become the American Minister to Persia under Grover Cleveland. Silas Strawn joined the firm in 1892 and practiced there for the next 53 years, including 40 as managing partner. Strawn’s leadership roles extended to state and federal bar associations and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
Deals and cases that have come to define the firm’s early history and evolution include devising a plan for Chicago & North Western Railroad to sell air rights to Marshall Field & Company without losing its title to the land, a deal that resulted in the construction of the world’s tallest building (circa 1930), and challenging the War Powers Act in 1944 on behalf of department store Montgomery Ward, whose plants had been seized to assist the U.S. war effort. Legal and political heavyweights such as former Veep Walter Mondale and former Illinois Governor James Thompson have further cemented Winston’s legacy and impact in business and government.
While Winston maintains its roots as a Chicago litigation powerhouse under the leadership of former U.S. Attorney Dan Webb, the firm continues to grow through lateral acquisitions and office openings. Winston’s New York presence was solidified by the 2012 addition of a large team of litigators from the former Dewey & LeBoeuf, led by renowned antitrust litigator Jeffrey Kessler, who serves as the firm’s co-executive chairman alongside Webb. The firm has also made significant additions through lateral partner hiring in M&A, private equity, energy, and international disputes.
Bringing the A-Game
NFL Players Association go-to litigator Jeffrey Kessler has earned notoriety for the firm (and ire from the NFL) for his representation of players such as Tom Brady, Ray Rice, Adrian Peterson, and Ezekiel Elliott in high-profile arbitration hearings. As a natural extension of the firm’s sports litigation practice, Winston launched one of the country’s first college sports practices in 2013, and it soon after made national headlines by filing an antitrust suit on behalf of college football and basketball players against the NCAA, challenging its long-standing policies on amateurism (set for trial in late 2018). The firm’s sports practice has also handled the financing for the 49ers’ Levi’s stadium, the acquisition of the Los Angeles Dodgers out of bankruptcy, and the sale of the L.A. Sparks WNBA team.
Winston & Strawn has long been identified with several prominent corporate brands, and the firm represents a range of Fortune 100 companies in diverse transactions and litigation. Its work for Panasonic includes successfully defending against numerous antitrust cartel investigations and litigation around the world like its billion-dollar victory in the lithium battery class action. JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, Discover, Wells Fargo, and other big financial institutions regularly tap Winston to handle a host of matters ranging from large corporate financings to litigation and class actions to investigations and regulatory matters. Winston has a thriving practice as counsel to food-and-beverage industry companies as well, representing Beef Products in its historic defamation suit against ABC, Diamond Foods and other companies in consumer “mislabeling” class actions, and TreeHouse Foods in corporate deals.
Growing at Home and Abroad
The firm has recently grown through extensive lateral hiring. In 2017, Winston brought in a group of lateral partners from eight different firms to open a new Dallas office, which was described in the press as a “seismic shift” in Dallas legal circles. The founding partners in this office have long served as advisors to Fortune 500 companies, private equity funds, and billionaires, including Mark Cuban. Top technology trial lawyer Kathi Vidal joined the firm in 2017 from Fish & Richardson, becoming the Silicon Valley office’s new managing partner. And on the international front, several groups of corporate attorneys joined Winston from Pillsbury in 2016, launching a new office in Dubai and adding a total of 36 attorneys among the firm’s US and UK offices. In 2013, Winston opened a Brussels office focused on European Union (EU) merger control, international and national cartels, state aid, trade/sanctions, free movement, and all other aspects of EU competition law.
IN THE NEWS
The Lawyer designated Winston & Strawn “Masters of the Team Lateral Hire” for wooing 90 partners over the past 14 months. “The real jackpot” was that many of these new hires came to the firm as part of a team. Winston caused a “seismic shift” in Dallas when it opened an office there in February 2017 with 20+ partners from eight firms, followed by “transformational team hires” from McDermott, Chadbourne, and Jenner, among others. The American Lawyer also took notice, reporting Winston’s record growth in a January 2018 feature article.
Fortitude in the face of billions in damages paid off for Winston client Panasonic and its lead lawyer Jeffrey Kessler when the Northern District of California refused—for a second time—to certify a consumer class alleging price-fixing of lithium ion batteries. All of the other defendant manufacturers had previously settled, but the Winston team “made [Panasonic] look like the smartest of the bunch for continuing to fight…” noted The American Lawyer in naming Kessler a “Litigator of the Week.”
Winston’s win for Beef Products Inc. (BPI) in its historic “pink slime” defamation lawsuit against ABC, led by legendary litigator Dan Webb, topped the list of high-profile cases that earned the firm Law360 “Trial Group of Year” honors. The settlement, reached after testimony that ABC intentionally and knowingly made false statements about BPI, vindicated the company and put it on a path to recovery. Law360 also featured two Winston patent infringement trial wins—a jury verdict for the defense involving methods for automated pharmaceutical dispensing and a jury verdict for the plaintiff involving garage-door opener technology.
Winston continues to lead in the renewable energy space, winning the Bonds & Loans Latin America 2018 Power Finance Deal of the Year award for its work on the proposed financing of the El Cortí wind farm in Argentina. This is a “first of its kind” cross-border financing to close under the country’s RenovAr program as well as the first investment by a major U.S. private equity firm in connection with a transaction under the program. Partner Talbert Navia, who recently moved with his team from Chadbourne to Winston, advised on the deal.
Winston has hired the very best people to train, develop, and retain the very best people. After bringing on nationally recognized talent strategy expert Sue Manch in May 2017, the firm elevated its game in September 2017 by adding sought-after career coach Diane Costigan, diversity and inclusion “dean” Sylvia James, and professional trainer Julia Mercier to round out the talent team. Soon after the full team was in place, The American Lawyer highlighted the team’s plans to develop a holistic talent strategy for the firm’s attorneys and professional staff.
“Our employees want to work for an organization that cares,” Winston’s Chief Corporate Social Responsibility Officer Julie Goodman told The Legal Intelligencer in an interview published soon after she was appointed to this new role. The firm’s CSR program has since been branded ‘Winston for Good’ with a focus on making an intentional impact in the community by engaging firm members, clients, and alumni in volunteer, charitable, and sustainability initiatives.
Winston’s Summer Associate Program seeks well-rounded, motivated, imaginative law students who are team players and will work hard for our clients. Our 10-week program runs from mid-May to late July and provides meaningful opportunities to explore a wide range of practice areas, valuable hands-on training programs, and exceptional community service and social events.
The 83 members of our most recent summer associate class have returned to law school with the new skills, experiences, and relationships they gained at Winston. This 2018 Summer Program Yearbook provides an inside view of Winston’s Summer Associate Program.
35 West Wacker Drive
Chicago, IL 60601
Phone: (312) 558-5600
Employer Type: Private
Firm Chairman: Thomas P. Fitzgerald
Hiring Committee Co-Chairs: Suzanne Jaffe Bloom and Bill O’Neil
Total No. Attorneys 2018: 977
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: $3,653/week
74 out of 74 (2Ls) (2018)
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New York, NY
San Francisco, CA
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