SF and LA Legal Job Markets

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saladfiend
Posts: 93
Joined: Wed Aug 05, 2009 11:19 pm

SF and LA Legal Job Markets

Postby saladfiend » Wed Mar 16, 2011 9:33 pm

Scanning the forums, there seems to be an impression that the it is harder to get a firm job in the SF legal market than elsewhere. Why is this and how true is this?

Journeybound
Posts: 254
Joined: Tue Jan 26, 2010 10:12 pm

Re: SF and LA Legal Job Markets

Postby Journeybound » Wed Mar 16, 2011 9:42 pm

Very true. San Francisco is a very small market. This year most of the larger firms were hiring only 2-4 summer associates. there were a few that hired up to 10. Also, SF has fewer attorneys than LA and NY. I think that the LA market is twice as large as SF, and NY is six times larger than SF. Quite a few of the Berkeley students, with good grades, who focused solely on San Francisco were shut out. Think about it: They have 2-4 spots, and they are bringing back 40-50 students for call-backs (yes, true story). So even if you had 6-8 call backs in San Francisco, you probably wouldn't be hired.

adonai
Posts: 1033
Joined: Mon Apr 23, 2007 9:09 pm

Re: SF and LA Legal Job Markets

Postby adonai » Wed Mar 16, 2011 9:44 pm

Journeybound wrote:Very true. San Francisco is a very small market. This year most of the larger firms were hiring only 2-4 summer associates. there were a few that hired up to 10. Also, SF has fewer attorneys than LA and NY. I think that the LA market is twice as large as SF, and NY is six times larger than SF. Quite a few of the Berkeley students, with good grades, who focused solely on San Francisco were shut out. Think about it: They have 2-4 spots, and they are bringing back 40-50 students for call-backs (yes, true story). So even if you had 6-8 call backs in San Francisco, you probably wouldn't be hired.

I think it is only gonna get tougher in SF. Skadden is shutting down their SF office this year.

Anonymous User
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Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: SF and LA Legal Job Markets

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Mar 16, 2011 9:47 pm

saladfiend wrote:Scanning the forums, there seems to be an impression that the it is harder to get a firm job in the SF legal market than elsewhere. Why is this and how true is this?


Former SF biglaw associate here. There's some truth to this, and it's for a couple of reasons.

The first is simple: SF is a "small" legal market, relative to NY, DC, or LA. Speaking anecdotally, it's also possible that a higher than average number of associate spots are dedicated to IP litigation, given the number of Silicon Valley clients. The people I know who have had the easiest success in the SF/SV associate market are focused on IP work.

The second is more frustrating for those of us who relocate to SF from elsewhere. The market is extremely parochial. I've interviewed successfully in LA, Boston, and NY - all markets that were easier to crack than SF. You have to understand that SF has a history of being burned by East Coasters and other non-locals. It's very common for non-Bay Areans to come to SF for a summer or two, or for a year or two, and then solemnly explain that they need to be closer to home/their parents/their friends/etc. Meanwhile, the Bay Area firm is out their time and recruiting expenses. Does SF lose more associates than other markets as a result? Is this concern REALLY legitimately more relevant in SF than in NY or LA? I don't know. But I know that SF interviewers, both private and public sector, emphasize commitment to the area more than any other market I've encountered. I'm admitted to the California bar, have only worked in Northern California post-law school, and have held three jobs there as a practicing attorney. However, because my childhood, undergrad, and law school were all back East, I was asked as recently as two weeks ago in an interview to explain why I moved to SF in the first place (something that happened several years ago, at this point!), and to explain why the office could be sure I'd remain in California in the long term. It's amazing to me that this could be a concern after all this time. I'm not sure what more I could do to demonstrate my commitment to California other than to get a nice permanent tattoo of California with a heart around it; perhaps that would be persuasive. *rolls eyes*

saladfiend
Posts: 93
Joined: Wed Aug 05, 2009 11:19 pm

Re: SF and LA Legal Job Markets

Postby saladfiend » Wed Mar 16, 2011 10:07 pm

Do you think that going to elementary school, middle school and high school in the Bay Area would satisfy this "ties" test even if I went to college and law school elsewhere?

Anonymous User
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Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: SF and LA Legal Job Markets

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Mar 16, 2011 10:11 pm

Anyone have any information on lateraling into SF offices after spending time at a V5/V10 firm in NY? Would it be much easier if the person has ties to SF or California in general?

When would be the best time to lateral? At the partner level? At the senior associate level? Junior associate?

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20160810
Posts: 19648
Joined: Fri May 02, 2008 1:18 pm

Re: SF and LA Legal Job Markets

Postby 20160810 » Wed Mar 16, 2011 10:29 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
saladfiend wrote:Scanning the forums, there seems to be an impression that the it is harder to get a firm job in the SF legal market than elsewhere. Why is this and how true is this?


Former SF biglaw associate here. There's some truth to this, and it's for a couple of reasons.

The first is simple: SF is a "small" legal market, relative to NY, DC, or LA. Speaking anecdotally, it's also possible that a higher than average number of associate spots are dedicated to IP litigation, given the number of Silicon Valley clients. The people I know who have had the easiest success in the SF/SV associate market are focused on IP work.

The second is more frustrating for those of us who relocate to SF from elsewhere. The market is extremely parochial. I've interviewed successfully in LA, Boston, and NY - all markets that were easier to crack than SF. You have to understand that SF has a history of being burned by East Coasters and other non-locals. It's very common for non-Bay Areans to come to SF for a summer or two, or for a year or two, and then solemnly explain that they need to be closer to home/their parents/their friends/etc. Meanwhile, the Bay Area firm is out their time and recruiting expenses. Does SF lose more associates than other markets as a result? Is this concern REALLY legitimately more relevant in SF than in NY or LA? I don't know. But I know that SF interviewers, both private and public sector, emphasize commitment to the area more than any other market I've encountered. I'm admitted to the California bar, have only worked in Northern California post-law school, and have held three jobs there as a practicing attorney. However, because my childhood, undergrad, and law school were all back East, I was asked as recently as two weeks ago in an interview to explain why I moved to SF in the first place (something that happened several years ago, at this point!), and to explain why the office could be sure I'd remain in California in the long term. It's amazing to me that this could be a concern after all this time. I'm not sure what more I could do to demonstrate my commitment to California other than to get a nice permanent tattoo of California with a heart around it; perhaps that would be persuasive. *rolls eyes*

This is a pretty awesomely thorough answer. I think honestly a lot of East Coasters just hear "California" and then act shocked when they show up and discover the weather is closer to Seattle than LA.

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Tangerine Gleam
Posts: 1349
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Re: SF and LA Legal Job Markets

Postby Tangerine Gleam » Wed Mar 16, 2011 11:34 pm

saladfiend wrote:Do you think that going to elementary school, middle school and high school in the Bay Area would satisfy this "ties" test even if I went to college and law school elsewhere?


I would say those are pretty serious ties. Even if your family doesn't live here any longer, I imagine it will sound pretty solid to say, "I grew up here for X number of years and this is where I want to spend my career as a lawyer."

For the record, now that we're talking about SF, is this even considered a "major" market? The city is pretty damn small, but at the same time it feels weird to call it a "secondary" market.

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20160810
Posts: 19648
Joined: Fri May 02, 2008 1:18 pm

Re: SF and LA Legal Job Markets

Postby 20160810 » Thu Mar 17, 2011 3:50 am

Tangerine Gleam wrote:
saladfiend wrote:Do you think that going to elementary school, middle school and high school in the Bay Area would satisfy this "ties" test even if I went to college and law school elsewhere?


I would say those are pretty serious ties. Even if your family doesn't live here any longer, I imagine it will sound pretty solid to say, "I grew up here for X number of years and this is where I want to spend my career as a lawyer."

For the record, now that we're talking about SF, is this even considered a "major" market? The city is pretty damn small, but at the same time it feels weird to call it a "secondary" market.

SF definitely trails NYC and DC by a ton, and it trails Chicago by a bit. But if you add in SV, it's competitive with every other market size-wise.

saladfiend
Posts: 93
Joined: Wed Aug 05, 2009 11:19 pm

Re: SF and LA Legal Job Markets

Postby saladfiend » Mon Mar 21, 2011 10:55 am

Does adding Oakland to the mix do anything?




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