Incoming Associate Compensation

Susman Godfrey typically compensates our associates at or above the national market.  Susman Godfrey’s salary for first year associates—those who join the firm after a one-year clerkship directly out of law school—is $215,000.  All associates receive salary credit based on their graduation year from law school.  Susman Godfrey’s associate salary scale is the same in all offices—Houston, Seattle, Los Angeles, and New York:

Graduation Year Salary















Susman Godfrey requires that all incoming associates complete a federal judicial clerkship for a district or appellate judge before joining the firm.  As discussed in the “Policies” section, all federal clerks receive a clerkship bonus of at least $125,000.  In addition, Susman Godfrey associates starting in the Fall are eligible for an additional bonus in December of that year at the firm’s discretion.

Many of our associates clerk for multiple years before joining Susman Godfrey, either with multiple federal judges or in a two-year clerkship for the same federal judge.  As discussed in the “Policies” section, associates joining the firm after clerking for two or more years at the federal district or appellate level receive an additional $25,000 clerkship bonus, resulting in a total clerkship bonus of $150,000. In addition, Susman Godfrey will advance up to $25,000 of an incoming associate’s clerkship bonus upon their acceptance of their offer of employment and its incoming associates’ bar exam fees (including preparation courses), bar membership fees, and reasonable moving expenses.

Merit Bonuses

Susman Godfrey also pays year-end merit bonuses to associates. Merit bonuses take into account each associate’s work and results, as well as the firm’s overall success that year and are usually generous.  Our merit bonuses have historically accounted for 20% to 60% of an associate’s annual compensation and can be far in excess of bonuses paid by our competitors.

Associates’ merit bonuses for the past five years are as follows:

Calendar Year Bonus Range


40,000 – 140,000


65,000 – 175,000


105,000 – 250,000


110,000 – 235,000


70,000 – 180,000

Additional Compensation and Benefits

In addition to salary and bonuses, Susman Godfrey provides other significant compensation and benefits to associates.  The firm encourages associates to participate in its 401(k) program, matches contributions made by its associates, and makes a substantial profit-sharing contribution into every associate’s 401(k) account annually.

Exemplifying Susman Godfrey’s entrepreneurial focus and culture, all associates have their own individual business development budget.  The business development budget is intended for the firm’s associates to create and maintain the network of professional contacts and relationships that will help them generate business as they progress in their professional careers.

In addition, the firm pays for associates’ life, accidental death, and dismemberment insurance; long-term disability and major medical insurance; garage parking; bar membership fees; and membership fees in professional organizations.  The firm also provides unlimited pregnancy and parental leave for associates.


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David PetersonPartner

"From the moment I started at Susman Godfrey, my experiences have been incomparable. I argued in court in my first week, deposed witnesses in my ... Read More

Elisha BarronPartner

"I knew I wanted to be at Susman Godfrey after I watched a young associate argue a crucial motion with millions of dollars at stake when I was... Read More

Letting Fast Runners Run Fast

Susman Godfrey does not have a required minimum number of hours each lawyer must work. The level of our business sets the workload for each of us, and fortunately our business has been good. Within the firm, there is considerable variation regarding hours. While we value hard work, we always have placed a premium on quality over quantity.

In addition to billable time, all attorneys are asked to perform non-billable services for the firm. The firm meets weekly to discuss issues important to our practice, and all attorneys are encouraged to attend and participate. The firm is managed in part through a series of committees, and all lawyers are expected to participate on one or more of these committees. The firm also encourages all attorneys to attend in-house and outside seminars and training programs at the firm’s expense.

At a time when some law firms are creating apprenticeship tracks — offering new associates sharply reduced salaries in exchange for on-the-job-training — and law school enrollment numbers are plummeting, Susman Godfrey is taking the opposite tack — and with impressive results.

Unlike apprenticeship law firms, Susman Godfrey encourages its new associates to handle significant cases and trial work right from the start on its bet-the-company cases. Recruiting from the cream of the crop — Susman Godfrey only hires lawyers who have clerked for federal judges — the firm expects new attorneys to hone their skills not by “shadowing” partners, but by trying cases in front of a jury.

“In the first year our associates get more experience taking depositions, arguing motions and actually putting witnesses on at trials than lawyers typically get in the first 10 years at other law firms,” says Stephen Susman the firm’s founder. “The reason for this is that we leverage results, not efforts, for we staff cases very leanly and try to assign to the youngest lawyers the biggest tasks they are capable of handling.”  Click here to read Stephen Susman’s article on how we give new associates significant responsibility early on and as a result achieve better results for our clients.

Susman Godfrey’s firm structure also gives new associates an equal vote on accepting new cases, hiring and other important firm matters. The newest associate has the same vote as the managing partners.

That vote of confidence in new associates pays off. In the past year alone, new Susman Godfrey attorneys have argued and won summary judgments in state court, argued motions in federal court, and second-chaired an arbitration victory against opposing counsel’s veteran partners. Other associates just a few years out of law school have played key roles in such cases as Susman Godfrey’s historic $1.6 billion settlement in the Toyota unintended acceleration case.

The Susman Godfrey Summer Associate Experience

Susman Godfrey offers a unique, four-week summer program to second-year and pre-clerkship third-year law students. As a summer associate, you will gain meaningful experience doing real legal work on cases for the firm’s clients under the supervision and guidance of Susman Godfrey trial lawyers.

Our summer program is designed to give you a realistic look at what it is like to be a full-time associate at Susman Godfrey. Unlike many other law firms, our summer associates do not receive make-work or “practice assignments.” Instead, you will play an important role as a member of our trial teams as we work up our cases and prepare for trial.

Susman Godfrey summer associates receive the same type of challenging legal work as our full-time associates. For example, if you are assigned a legal research project, you also will be tasked with incorporating your research into the final brief or argument. In addition, you will receive advocacy-related experience, such as assisting our attorneys to prepare an oral argument or creating a line of questions for a deposition.

We strive to make sure that our summer associates have the true “trial lawyer” experience. Our summer associates regularly observe Susman Godfrey lawyers in action at trials, depositions, mediations, client meetings, and other business activities.

But it’s not just work – we want you to get to know our people, too. During your four weeks here, you will have the opportunity to get to know our attorneys through a wide range of social events.

As a summer associate, you will receive a brief yet realistic glimpse at the challenges, excitement, and unparalleled opportunities our full-time associates experience on a daily basis.

2021 1-L Summer Diversity Fellowship

We are seeking diverse students who excelled in their first semester of law school and are interested in trial work at one of the nation’s preeminent litigation boutiques. We encourage women, racial minorities, LGBTQ students, and anyone from a group that is underrepresented in the legal profession to apply.

Each fellowship recipient will spend two weeks doing substantive legal work.  Fellows will receive $5,000 (less applicable withholding taxes) upon completion of the program.

How to apply:

Apply by February 12, 2021. We encourage you to submit as early as possible, as we may make offers on a rolling basis.

Click here to complete the fellowship application.

  • Applications must also include: cover letter indicating the Susman Godfrey LLP office in which you want to work; A current resume; A law school transcript containing first semester grades and your undergraduate transcript; The name, phone number, and email address of at least two references. One of your references should be a law school professor who can comment on the quality of your work; A 500-word or less statement about your background, detailing your diversity, how that diversity has shaped who you are, and what you hope to do to increase diversity in the legal profession.

Please submit your application to:

Kimberly Young
Susman Godfrey L.L.P.
1000 Louisiana, Suite 5100
Houston, Texas 77002

Federal Judicial Clerkships:

All incoming associates are required to complete a clerkship for an Article III federal district or appellate judge before joining Susman Godfrey. Associates who join our firm after clerking for one year receive a $80,000 clerkship bonus.  Associates who join our firm after clerking for two or more years at the federal district or appellate level receive an additional $20,000 clerkship bonus, for a total clerkship bonus of $100,000.  All incoming associates receive credit toward salary based on their graduation year from law school and credit for partnership eligibility as described below.  United States Supreme Court clerks receive additional credit toward salary and partnership eligibility and a bonus which historically has matched market rates.

We strongly believe the federal clerkship experience is an excellent way to begin a career in litigation. We routinely interview and hire judicial clerks who have not participated in our summer associate program.

Academic Qualifications:

To be competitive for an associate position at Susman Godfrey  candidates must display outstanding academic achievement, be a member of the law review or journal at their law school, and show the desire and ability to become a successful trial lawyer.  We regularly interview second- and third-year law students on-campus at many of the top law schools.  We also welcome resumes from top students at law schools where we do not conduct on-campus interviews as well as current federal judicial clerks.

Pro Bono:

The firm accepts pro bono matters that are approved by the firm’s attorneys. In the past we have handled a number of substantial pro bono cases. Time spent on pro bono matters is counted as billable time.


Associates at Susman Godfrey generally become partners much earlier than associates at large firms in Houston, Seattle, Los Angeles or New York. The firm does not adhere to a rigid “class” system. That is, attorneys from the same law school class will not necessarily be treated alike in terms of compensation or advancement in the firm. We strive for a merit-based system.

We do not adhere to any arbitrary quota for the number of associates who ultimately will become partners. Each associate is evaluated on his or her own performance. The most important criterion used in deciding to make an associate a partner is the associate’s ability to handle cases effectively and independently. Other important criteria are the associate’s dedication to the firm’s practice as reflected by the associate’s quality of work, amount of time spent working, long-run potential for generating new business for the firm, facility for leadership, and ability to work with and supervise other attorneys.

Generally, we consider associates for partnership after completing six years with the firm.


Susman Godfrey is committed to diversity among our lawyers. We believe this commitment is important to maintaining our position as a premier litigation firm, enriching the experience of our lawyers, and achieving the best results for our clients.  Susman Godfrey seeks to attract the brightest minds in the country to work here, drawing from a broad range of talent. The firm strongly encourages women and members of minority and other underrepresented groups to apply. Susman Godfrey does not discriminate on the basis of race, creed, religion, color, national origin, ancestry, sex, age, marital status, disability, or sexual orientation.

Susman Godfrey sponsors a two-week minority and women fellowship for 1L students.   We encourage women, minorities, LGBTQ, and anyone from a group that is underrepresented in today’s legal profession to apply. Each recipient will spend two weeks doing substantive legal work with us and getting exposure to our trial practice and will receive $5,000 upon the completion of the program.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Susman Godfrey’s Diversity Committee at

Like new lawyers at most firms, new lawyers at Susman Godfrey learn by doing. Nonetheless, we try to approach the training of new lawyers, and the continuing education of all lawyers, in an organized manner. Subject to the approval of the Training Committee, a lawyer at the firm may attend seminars about areas of the law in which he or she is interested, at the firm’s expense. In addition, the firm periodically conducts in-house seminars on litigation practice. These are conducted by lawyers at the firm and cover topics such as the drafting of pleadings, discovery requests, and motions; motion practice in state and federal courts; preparing for, conducting, and defending depositions; examining and cross-examining witnesses in court; and arguments to the court and the jury. We also encourage new lawyers to attend a mock trial advocacy program run by the National Institute of Trial Advocacy. These programs typically cover ten days and are intensive trial advocacy programs. The firm also has an orientation and training program specifically geared for new attorneys at the firm.

During a new lawyer’s first three months at the firm, a substantial portion of his or her time will be set aside for observation of the firm’s practice, including meetings with clients, depositions, hearings and trials. Three of the firm’s attorneys, at varying levels of seniority, will be assigned to each new lawyer to manage training during this orientation period, and to provide specific opportunities for observation and discussion. Assignments on billable projects will be limited during the three-month orientation period in order to permit participation in the observation and training program.

David Peterson
"From the moment I started at Susman Godfrey, my experiences have been incomparable. I argued in court in my first week, deposed witnesses in my first month, and tried my first case a few months later. My cases have taken me from rural Texas to Europe and everywhere in between. My practice has been extremely diverse, including energy, contract, defamation, patent, bankruptcy, securities, class actions, corporate mergers, and real estate disputes. Through it all, I've had the privilege to work alongside the most talented and dedicated trial lawyers in the country. There's simply no other law firm providing young lawyers the same opportunity for meaningful experience in the highest caliber lawsuits."
Elisha Barron
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"I knew I wanted to be at Susman Godfrey after I watched a young associate argue a crucial motion with millions of dollars at stake when I was clerking. Upon joining the firm I hoped and expected to be thrown into the deep end—my expectations were met and exceeded when, within a year, I had taken depositions all over the country, interviewed potential witnesses, prepared experts for depositions, and argued in federal court. Less expected, but just as rewarding, were the phone calls I received from partners after a deposition, congratulating me and asking me how it went, the invitations to baby showers and weekend bike trips, the impressive late-night karaoke skills and the enormous sense of pride and enjoyment the attorneys at Susman Godfrey take in being part of such an exceptional firm."