Winston & Strawn Reviews

Updated June 12, 2015
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2.9
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Recommend to a friend
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Tom Fitzgerald
4 Ratings

Pros
  • Very professional, mostly good people, opportunities available within company (in 3 reviews)

  • Great location, fantastic views of city and Lake Michigan, competitive compensation packages (in 3 reviews)

Cons
  • Putting a group of legal secretaries who work in differing practice groups together just because they sit near each other does not constitute a "team" (in 9 reviews)

  • It was not a good fit but secretarial management did not care at all (in 7 reviews)

More Pros and Cons

62 Employee Reviews

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  1. Featured Review

    Helpful (2)

    Accounting Department

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Supervisor
    Current Employee - Supervisor

    I have been working at Winston & Strawn full-time (More than 10 years)

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    A great place to work, don't be fooled by any of the negative information you've heard about Winston. It's a great place to work the people are very nice and friendly, they speak when they walk past you, even if they don't know your name. You are always learning interesting things about the firm, we all work well as a team to help one another.

    Cons

    Winston now has a café called Winston café, the environment is so friendly, you can relax and enjoy your lunch with a group of co-workers or just by yourself. We get free bagels and donuts on payday and on special occasional we do get all kinds of great treats. During open enrollment, were provided with very detailed information at your fingertips. Human resources are always willing to assist you with any issues or concerns you may have.

    Advice to Management

    Great firm and a awesome team of workers firm wide.


  2. Top global firm. Good work experience

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Chicago, IL
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Chicago, IL

    I worked at Winston & Strawn full-time (More than 10 years)

    Recommends
    No opinion of CEO
    Recommends
    No opinion of CEO

    Pros

    Top firm. Smart people. Nice offices. Deep resources.

    Cons

    Often opaque management. Sometimes cliquey.


  3. administrative

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Administrative in Washington, DC
    Former Employee - Administrative in Washington, DC

    I worked at Winston & Strawn full-time (More than 5 years)

    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    Pay and benefits are okay, great office locations, some good people work here. Relatively generous leave policy.

    Cons

    No advancement opportunities unless you are friends with the right people. Secretive. Constant threat of layoffs hanging over you. DC HR/admin are masters of passive aggression and can make your life hell if they don't like you. Rigidly hierarchical. Lots of incompetent middle managers and staff.

    Advice to Management

    Stop treating your staff like fungible cost centers who are regularly squeezed for "cost efficiencies". Stop telling people who have legitimate grievances to take it or leave their job. What you end up with is a staff that is unengaged in their work and only stay for a paycheck. Train your managers, esp. HR, on being impartial and fair managers.


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  5. Helpful (1)

    Sr. Administrative Assistant

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Comp & Benefits
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Houston, TX
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Houston, TX

    I have been working at Winston & Strawn full-time (More than 10 years)

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook

    Pros

    Excellent benefits, great salaries, robust firm resources, training programs available, parking stipend provided, located in Downtown, strong support staff, beautiful/spacious office space.

    Cons

    Work on increasing staff participation in community service volunteer program.


  6. Helpful (1)

    Very conservative environment, limited communication from management about many issues related to associates.

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Associate Attorney in Chicago, IL
    Former Employee - Associate Attorney in Chicago, IL

    I worked at Winston & Strawn full-time (More than 5 years)

    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    Pros

    Compensation is good, very good attorneys.

    Cons

    little mentorship and support for associates. few partners who remember what it was like to be an associate.

    Advice to Management

    Be more open to associates about the firm and how things are going.


  7. Helpful (3)

    Layoffs, Low Morale, Little To No Diversity, HR Does NOT Look Out For You

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Legal Secretary in Washington, DC
    Former Employee - Legal Secretary in Washington, DC

    I worked at Winston & Strawn full-time (More than 8 years)

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook

    Pros

    Health Benefits Are Within The Norm For Big Law Firm
    Free Gym In Building
    Location is Centrally Located In Downtown DC
    Pay Is Low Compared to Other Law Firms

    Cons

    Constant Fear of Being RIFed
    Some Attorneys Don't Treat You Well
    Technology Is Not Where It Should Be
    --------------------------------------------------------------

    I was a Legal Secretary at Winston for a few years. My experience there was not the best. There was a real separation between Attorneys and Staff. Administration or HR really didn't do much to improve morale, and having layoff every year did not help matters. To top it off, if you were a minority, YOU WERE SURE TO BE RIFed!! The last two rounds of layoffs before I left, I believe, were only of African Americans. Winston doesn't value diversity in its staff, let alone in the attorney group. When I was there, there were only around five attorneys who were people of color!! I doubt that the situation has improved since then. Probably it got worse.

    The workload for secretaries increased every year we had layoffs. For the most part, attorneys were okay, but there were some that really didn't view you as a colleague, and instead treated you as if you were their maid. Some even screamed at you and were disrespectful. One of the secretaries had an assignment who berated her and called her dumb every day! HR did nothing about it of course. HR was not looking out for you, since they probably had you on their list crap list already.

    Evaluations were standard and the pay was okay, but not competitive. The only reason I stuck it out for some time was for the health benefits. And even if your evaluations were great and layoffs were around the corner, the attorneys who gave you rave reviews couldn't save your job. HR wouldn't even make them part of the process. They already had a list of staff they didn't like that were going to be written off.

    HR has too much power in that office. They treat staff like children. You have to clock in and out for every single thing. HR Management is not sympathetic to your personal situation when it comes to clocking in. They watch the time cards and you normally get talked to like a child for clocking in one or two minutes past the regular time. Really!!!??? I couldn't enjoy my lunch because I constantly kept watching my watch to see what time it was. I had to time the time I had to run back to my desk to clock in. HR has no tact for sensitive matters either, I wouldn't go to them for real HR help, and they actually don't care to hear it anyways. This would just be another reason to get on their radar and on the short list to be let go for layoff time.

    Improving morale is suppose to be HR's job, but instead they make things worse. Staff appreciation week is a joke, with children 'spin the wheel of fortune' game that offered prizes like a pen, umbrella, and 'made in china' dollar store toys. Toys, that's what you got during staff appreciation week at Winston. Also, HR tried to make every game participant if they were randomly selected, but there was nothing random when some of my good friends were completely left out of 'winning' a prizes. The number of prizes didn't match the number of staff members participating in the game. HR insulted you with cheap gifts, and then they insulted your intelligence by making you think that you didn't know what was going on. We all knew who was on HRs crap list during staff appreciation. They really appreciated you...Not.

    If you want to survive and keep your job and not get fired or RIFed at Winston, you will have to become buddies with the HR Women. They are fake and will talk about you behind your back. They stay close to each other and 'recommend' or 'advise' upper management on who goes and who stays. I survived because I was fake with them. You have a little laugh and say hello and goodbye, and smile. Just like they do with you. It's the worst HR environment I've ever witnessed, and administration is linked to HR, so it wouldn't be a good place to confide in either. Those women look out for each other, they have been there at least ten years, if not longer. NO RIF FOR THEM!!! I wonder why. Maybe the right color perhaps or being friends with the right people to save your job. DON'T TRUST those two departments.

    I never once heard or saw anyone from the Chief Of HR Dept. make their way to DC. If they ever did I would have said something. But I guess these are things that were the norm at Winston, so they wouldn't be bothered to address them. Or maybe these are policies and the type of firm environment that HR Upper Management is happy with.

    If you work at this firm be ready to never be trusted by HR, and to be treated like a child. Be ready for layoffs, and more work for less pay. Be ready to work for some attorneys who don't respect you, and have HR do nothing about it. Be ready to be fake, because that's the only way you'll stay out of HR's radar and survey at least one round of layoffs.

    Advice to Management

    Advice to management??? Administration and HR are Management!!! Is this a trick question Glassdoor? HR at Chicago doesn't make a point to be known at the local level to find out how things are truly run in their offices!

    The office morale was terrible. Attempts to have social hour to hide the fact that you just fired and let go some friends of mine does not make me think that things are okay. And then to learn that most who were let go were minorities, makes you wonder what criteria is used to make layoffs at this office.

    Too conservative, white shoe, and frankly white!!


  8. Helpful (6)

    Eye Opening & Disappointing

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Legal Secretary in Washington, DC
    Former Employee - Legal Secretary in Washington, DC

    I worked at Winston & Strawn full-time (More than a year)

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    Pros

    Working for a large law firm like this one looks good on your resume, as long as you're leaving on your own terms of course. The benefits are good, staff receive 2 personal days, 7 sick days and a floating holiday to be used. Due to the many companies they work with and represent, employees can also take advantage of discounts with many of those companies.

    Pastries/Donuts on pay days

    Cons

    Unfortunately the cons outweigh the pros. During my time at this firm I felt like any day could be my last. Human resources in the office made staff feel like prisoners, actually, they made the staff members that were not "favorites" feel like prisoners. Several employees stated they had at one point or another felt targeted by HR in what could be seen as a racially biased way.

    Their dress policy was not only extremely inflexible but also extremely unclear. Their policies stated "business casual" but they constantly threatened employees that actually wore business casual with write ups. HR also made is a habit to comment on other appearance related things like "tired faces" and what they considered "unprofessional hair", which unlike what you might believe had little to do with crazy hair colors or cuts and a lot to do with how it was worn: curly, straight, wavy, etc.

    Their jeans day policy while appreciated had been thought through far too much. Only denim pants, nothing else. Employees constantly received the reminder that they could not wear denim jackets, skirts, dresses, and the list went on.

    The environment was toxic. Their HR department, which unlike other places should act as a mediator, has created an environment where the employees are constantly worried about what they will be in trouble for. Their staff members are required to clock in/out. Seems easy enough but that too was something that made people constantly worried. If an employee clocked in at 9:08 vs 9:07 they were required to work an extra 15 minutes or they would be docked pay. If an employee worked a few minutes later it became an issue of "why didn't you request prior approval to work overtime".

    Staff is seen a disposable and unintelligent. While not all attorneys behave this way, some of them won't even look at a staff member let alone speak to them if they pass them in the hallway or share an elevator. Several lunches/get together are held each month for attorneys but it's known that staff are not welcome.

    Staff vs staff: other staff members sometimes go out of their way to get HR on someone's case. There's a lot of drama in their office. People bad-mouthing, spying, lying about each other. In some cases they even go as far and searching through the personal property of other employees and reporting their findings to HR.

    Overall the problem doesn't seem to be the attorneys, as many of them express their disdain for the way HR runs the offices. The invisible line that separates the attorneys from the staff (riff raff) is created by those managing the offices, which is HR (seems like a conflict of interest).

    HR "runs the joint", the attorneys have no real say in the future of those staff members they work with. Even when employees get good reviews from their assigned people, they can be written up for petty reasons.

    As far as advancement opportunities...well it depends on what you do. Legal secretaries will stay that way. Their raises aren't exactly generous and neither are their bonuses. Their bonuses "trickle down" so staff gets the short end of the stick.

    Conservative like you wouldn't believe. One of the first things I saw during my time at this firm was a message sent to the whole firm by an attorney that was leaving...where he told everyone he was going to fight to protect the sanctity marriage (between a man & a woman)...in which several homosexual attorneys and staff were included. Yes, the political views of those in positions of power were ok to shove down people's throat. Further proving the lack of respect for others.

    Their weather policy was/is extremely inconsiderate. Since the policies are created by individuals with very easy commutes they do not take into consideration those that need to commute from outside of the city limits.

    Honesty is punished. Employees that leave the firm on their own terms but decide to share with management why they've left are treated like criminals. They are not allowed to say goodbye to their fellow coworkers, instead once the employee expressed why they chose to leave and even give advice they are immediately escorted off the premises as if they were a threat of some sort. Retaliation is also common so if you do change employers, do not provide them information on the new one as some people are known to ruin outside opportunities for those that quit.

    Advice to Management

    Stop treating your employees like disposable bags of meat. Regardless of whether they have a JD or not, they are still humans as well as adults, both worthy of respect. Remove some of the power you've erroneously placed in the hands of your HR departments. Their jobs should be to mediate between management and staff not make staff feel like that have no one to go to with a problem.

    Eliminate things that can become a conflict of issue. Supervisors should not be best friends with those underneath them, especially when they're managing the offices. Employees should feel safe approaching the supervisor or someone who is harassing them or doing something wrong, not feel like things will become worse because they're going to "watch out for each other".

    This one is a stretch, but consider being more generous (financially) with your staff. It's difficult to understand this when you're making 400K plus, but a lot of them struggle daily. If you reduced those bonuses associates and partners get by even 5K, you'd be making a huge difference in your staff's life.


  9. Helpful (1)

    Associate Attorney

    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I have been working at Winston & Strawn full-time (More than 5 years)

    Pros

    Great work life balance. Offers the opportunity to work on a variety of complex transactions. Not a generic large law firm environment.

    Cons

    Historically there were communication issues between partnership and associates. Over the past year the firm has done a solid job of trying to remedy this situation.


  10. False Review, Because Computer App. Doesn't Allow Proper Date

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Document Clerk in Chicago, IL
    Former Employee - Document Clerk in Chicago, IL

    I worked at Winston & Strawn (Less than a year)

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    Pros

    Due to the confidential nature of the legal business I cannot divulge sensitive information, and as such, I must decline to share this experience I enjoyed. I did experience very pleasant working conditions. Although I was initially quoted an annual salary, I apparently was paid per hour, so as to be compensated for the numerous overtime hours. (This was very beneficial, as we were offered many opportunities to work overtime.) I did not have time to exercise, but I found walking around downtown a decent substitute for exercise.
         Another pro was their security, as well as vacation days and benefits, including days off for funerals of close family members. I do not remember for sure, but they may have been paid? I may be mistaken about that, but we were told we could definitely take the day off for the funeral of a close family member with no negative repercussions. The fact that I remember this makes me think that such absences may have been paid. I do not remember for sure, as I was fortunate not to experience that accommodation first hand.
         I wish I could go into the specifics of my work, but as I said, due to its confidential nature I cannot. (That is the nature of a law office and my honesty is noted on letters of reference from various offices I have worked at, including Winston Strawn.) I can compliment my supervisor for working with me when questions arose as to what I should do in given situations.

    Cons

    Due to the confidential nature of the legal business I cannot divulge sensitive information, and as such, I must decline to share any cons which I may have encountered working there. I am tempted to say it was a hassle to get used to working all the way downtown Chicago, but with public transportation I quickly got very used to it, even in the winter. Sitting still on the train for an hour is not good for one's blood system and it was an hour in to the city and an hour out, more or less, depending on which train you were able to take. (Although, when we worked overtime, I could catch the `express train' on the way in, the out-bound late trains ran made MUCH later and longer due to the fact that the later the train, the more stops it made, generally. I believe this had somewhat of a positive influence on me as I got used to some really long days, sometimes.)


  11. Excellent Firm to be a part of

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I have been working at Winston & Strawn full-time (More than 8 years)

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    Pros

    Opportunity for growth, retirement plan contributions, jeans days, awesome new Winston Café lunch room, good benefit options

    Cons

    Dress code is inflexible except for jeans days

    Advice to Management

    Allow for more little perks that go along way (socials, jean days, perhaps contests among employees such as a chili cook off or other events that would create more of a community feeling)



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