San Francisco - Top 7 Big Law Firms

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Anonymous User
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San Francisco - Top 7 Big Law Firms

Postby Anonymous User » Mon May 16, 2011 2:40 pm

Ok, so I have been researching the SF biglaw market (using NALP, primarily). I have also done some searching around the threads on this site. I thought I might just throw this question out there to get some current, word-of-mouth information about the SF biglaw scene (which, I know, is small in comparison to NY and Chicago).

Here is the question: If you were a law student looking to do biglaw in SF, what are the top seven firms you would target and why?

imchuckbass58
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Re: San Francisco - Top 7 Big Law Firms

Postby imchuckbass58 » Mon May 16, 2011 2:43 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Ok, so I have been researching the SF biglaw market (using NALP, primarily). I have also done some searching around the threads on this site. I thought I might just throw this question out there to get some current, word-of-mouth information about the SF biglaw scene (which, I know, is small in comparison to NY and Chicago).

Here is the question: If you were a law student looking to do biglaw in SF, what are the top seven firms you would target and why?


By SF do you mean SF proper, or would you also consider Silicon Valley?

Also any interest in corporate vs. litigation? Because the list could vary depending on that (a lot of the SV firms are corporate-heavy).

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IzziesGal
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Re: San Francisco - Top 7 Big Law Firms

Postby IzziesGal » Mon May 16, 2011 2:43 pm

If you're a current law student, you should have access to the full Vault guide (all 700 pages or so), including the breakdown of rankings by region. Also, there is ( I believe) an entirely separate guide for Northern California or the Pacific Northwest. These resources should help give you a more concrete answer to your question than anything we say on here. :D

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Re: San Francisco - Top 7 Big Law Firms

Postby Anonymous User » Mon May 16, 2011 2:57 pm

OP here. Litigation over corporate. Could broaden the question to include Silicone Valley.

IzziesGal - you are right. There is a ton of information in the sources you reference (I always appreciate your answers here at TLS); however, I am interested to see if anyone on this site has a top list of firms they are interested for other reasons (work place culture, quality of life considerations, or other "insider"/personal reasons).

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IzziesGal
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Re: San Francisco - Top 7 Big Law Firms

Postby IzziesGal » Mon May 16, 2011 3:29 pm

Anonymous User wrote:OP here. Litigation over corporate. Could broaden the question to include Silicone Valley.

IzziesGal - you are right. There is a ton of information in the sources you reference (I always appreciate your answers here at TLS); however, I am interested to see if anyone on this site has a top list of firms they are interested for other reasons (work place culture, quality of life considerations, or other "insider"/personal reasons).


Ahhh...I get it. =) Well from what I've heard from others in the Bay, Mofo seems to be the big one "personality" wise - it's supposed to be trendier and a bit hipper than other firms. Also, a friend of mine had an offer at Quinn Emmanuel (which she ultimately declined), but their band tee shirts and jeans dress code totally has me captivated (if I were staying in CA, they'd be my first choice....). Quinn is a litigation-only shop, so that may factor into your decision.

Also....

Kirkland - big and prestigious, yet notoriously stuffy
Orrick - rejects people via phone call. Not a big fan of that (see my other threads)
Gunderson Dettmar (spelling?) - does a lot of venture capital work in SV (Silicon Valley)

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Re: San Francisco - Top 7 Big Law Firms

Postby Anonymous User » Mon May 16, 2011 3:39 pm

IzziesGal wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:OP here. Litigation over corporate. Could broaden the question to include Silicone Valley.

IzziesGal - you are right. There is a ton of information in the sources you reference (I always appreciate your answers here at TLS); however, I am interested to see if anyone on this site has a top list of firms they are interested for other reasons (work place culture, quality of life considerations, or other "insider"/personal reasons).


Ahhh...I get it. =) Well from what I've heard from others in the Bay, Mofo seems to be the big one "personality" wise - it's supposed to be trendier and a bit hipper than other firms. Also, a friend of mine had an offer at Quinn Emmanuel (which she ultimately declined), but their band tee shirts and jeans dress code totally has me captivated (if I were staying in CA, they'd be my first choice....). Quinn is a litigation-only shop, so that may factor into your decision.

Also....

Kirkland - big and prestigious, yet notoriously stuffy
Orrick - rejects people via phone call. Not a big fan of that (see my other threads)
Gunderson Dettmar (spelling?) - does a lot of venture capital work in SV (Silicon Valley)

Thanks, you awesome Boaltie -- this is exactly the type of info I was hoping this thread would generate.

Any other TLSers out there have anecdotal info? Keep it coming . . .

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FlightoftheEarls
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Re: San Francisco - Top 7 Big Law Firms

Postby FlightoftheEarls » Mon May 16, 2011 4:25 pm

It's going to depend entirely on what type of work you want to do, and asking for a top 7 is pretty hard to evaluate (especially within corporate, since there are various sub-rankings by practice). With a litigation preference, I'd roughly list these as the big names in SF/SV (in no particular order):

Gibson Dunn
O'Melveny
Mofo
Latham
Quinn
Kirkland? (only a Band 4 on C&A and not entirely sure of their SF presence - great for litigation nationally, though)


On the corporate side, some of the bigger names will be:

Latham
Kirkland
WSGR
Gunderson
STB
Fenwick
Cooley
Mofo

These lists aren't perfect and I'm surely leaving some firms off that probably deserve to be included. Feel free to add/correct as you see fit, but I'd list those as some of the heaviest hitters for SF/SV.

Edit: To supplement what Izzies said about Vault, also check Chambers Associate (http://www.chambers-associate.com/) - it does rankings based on practice area and region, and is far (far, far, far) more useful than just the general Vault 100 rankings. In addition to these specific practice area rankings, they have little write-ups on office culture, assignments, advancement/professional development, and that sort of stuff.

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Re: San Francisco - Top 7 Big Law Firms

Postby imchuckbass58 » Mon May 16, 2011 5:12 pm

FlightoftheEarls wrote:It's going to depend entirely on what type of work you want to do, and asking for a top 7 is pretty hard to evaluate (especially within corporate, since there are various sub-rankings by practice). With a litigation preference, I'd roughly list these as the big names in SF/SV (in no particular order):

Gibson Dunn
O'Melveny
Mofo
Latham
Quinn
Kirkland? (only a Band 4 on C&A and not entirely sure of their SF presence - great for litigation nationally, though)


On the corporate side, some of the bigger names will be:

Latham
Kirkland
WSGR
Gunderson
STB
Fenwick
Cooley
Mofo

These lists aren't perfect and I'm surely leaving some firms off that probably deserve to be included. Feel free to add/correct as you see fit, but I'd list those as some of the heaviest hitters for SF/SV.

Edit: To supplement what Izzies said about Vault, also check Chambers Associate (http://www.chambers-associate.com/) - it does rankings based on practice area and region, and is far (far, far, far) more useful than just the general Vault 100 rankings. In addition to these specific practice area rankings, they have little write-ups on office culture, assignments, advancement/professional development, and that sort of stuff.


This is generally consistent with what I've heard. Also second the recommendation of Chambers Associate - it's a great resource that probably has a lot of the info you're looking for.

westbayguy
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Re: San Francisco - Top 7 Big Law Firms

Postby westbayguy » Mon May 16, 2011 5:18 pm

I'd add Keker and Van Nest for boutique white collar litigation (in case you want to include smaller lit firms)

--LinkRemoved--

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sundance95
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Re: San Francisco - Top 7 Big Law Firms

Postby sundance95 » Mon May 16, 2011 5:27 pm

Thanks to the above posters for sharing their insights on this. It's often difficult to get a good sense of firm's relative stature in markets outside of NYC/DC.

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FlightoftheEarls
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Re: San Francisco - Top 7 Big Law Firms

Postby FlightoftheEarls » Mon May 16, 2011 5:28 pm

westbayguy wrote:I'd add Keker and Van Nest for boutique white collar litigation (in case you want to include smaller lit firms)

--LinkRemoved--

Agreed - I was hesitant to put them because I was thinking they'd be more in the boutique-ish category just based on size and specialization, but they're a very high quality litigation firm.

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Re: San Francisco - Top 7 Big Law Firms

Postby sundance95 » Mon May 16, 2011 5:47 pm

To anyones knowledge, do SF boutiques such as KVN hire graduates or are they looking exclusively for exp'd attys?

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FlightoftheEarls
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Re: San Francisco - Top 7 Big Law Firms

Postby FlightoftheEarls » Mon May 16, 2011 5:50 pm

sundance95 wrote:To anyones knowledge, do SF boutiques such as KVN hire graduates or are they looking exclusively for exp'd attys?

It seems as though they have a SA Program: --LinkRemoved--, and NALP suggests they'll have five 2L SAs this summer.

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sundance95
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Re: San Francisco - Top 7 Big Law Firms

Postby sundance95 » Mon May 16, 2011 10:46 pm

FlightoftheEarls wrote:
sundance95 wrote:To anyones knowledge, do SF boutiques such as KVN hire graduates or are they looking exclusively for exp'd attys?

It seems as though they have a SA Program: --LinkRemoved--, and NALP suggests they'll have five 2L SAs this summer.

Awesome, tyvm.

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jtemp320
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Re: San Francisco - Top 7 Big Law Firms

Postby jtemp320 » Mon May 16, 2011 10:53 pm

sundance95 wrote:
FlightoftheEarls wrote:
sundance95 wrote:To anyones knowledge, do SF boutiques such as KVN hire graduates or are they looking exclusively for exp'd attys?

It seems as though they have a SA Program: --LinkRemoved--, and NALP suggests they'll have five 2L SAs this summer.

Awesome, tyvm.



As a future Boaltie I think its kind of awesome that they do 2L OCI at HYS and Boalt. Thanks to everyone who has contributed to this thread - definitely relevant to my interests.

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jonas
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Re: San Francisco - Top 7 Big Law Firms

Postby jonas » Mon May 16, 2011 11:03 pm

A few others:

Munger Tolles & Olson
Howard Rice
Durie Tangri
Altshuler Berzon

Munger is probably the only one that qualifies as big law. All four firms are fancy and well respected in SF.

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Re: San Francisco - Top 7 Big Law Firms

Postby Anonymous User » Thu May 19, 2011 7:23 am

for the whole bay area (including SV):

Wilson Sonsini: king of emerging tech companies, IPO, venture capital - big, but I hear not the best place to work, also only just recently restored market pay. but the king of SV.
Fenwick: strong VC and IPO, small, SV firm.
Gunderson: same, emerging company firm, also small SV firm
Latham: strong corporate in the bay area, CA, and nationwide, also good litigation. very prominent office in menlo park.
Mofo: most prominent/largest bay area firm, big offices in SF and palo alto, prestigious, bay area leader, also very good litigation (one of the stronges IP lit groups in the country)
Orrick: the second biggest SF firm, but I hear not in the best shape
Pillsbury: stay away
Kirkland: v10, does almost exclusivity private equity in SF (no litigation)
Gibson: middling palo alto practice, all litigation in SF
Cooley: smallish tech firm, very strong in the life sciences
Jones Day: tiny corporate (but growing), big litigation practice in SF
Simpson/Davis Polk/all the big NYC firms: mainly in SV, do heavy hitting capital markets work and NYC style m&a.
There are other elite boutiques such as Kecker and Munger and some decent midlaw like Howard Rice.

SF will have more litigation heavy practices, and SV will have more corporate work. both markets are about the same size, and there is plenty of overlap (only 35 miles apart afterall). In the SV, you can think of there being "indigenous" valley firms (Wilson, Cooley, Fenwick, Gunderson) that work with emerging companies as they get VC funding and IPO, and the NYC transplants that do big m&a stuff. Then there are middle market firms (Latham, Gibson, Mofo) that do a bit of both.

If I was bidding on SF, I'd personally want to work at Mofo. It has the biggest office in the city, highest vault ranking, good recognition and exit opps in the bay, good clients, and supposedly a good culture. True for corporate and lit.

SV would be a bit harder, depending on what you want to do. If you want to do VC/emerging company stuff, head to one of the indigenous firms.

FWIW, bay area firms are doing very well right now. the web 2.0 boom is slamming all the corporate departments in SF and SV...far cry from the crash in 2009 when most firms had to do layoffs.

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Re: San Francisco - Top 7 Big Law Firms

Postby Anonymous User » Thu May 19, 2011 8:21 am

Anonymous User wrote:for the whole bay area (including SV):

Wilson Sonsini: king of emerging tech companies, IPO, venture capital - big, but I hear not the best place to work, also only just recently restored market pay. but the king of SV.
Fenwick: strong VC and IPO, small, SV firm.
Gunderson: same, emerging company firm, also small SV firm
Latham: strong corporate in the bay area, CA, and nationwide, also good litigation. very prominent office in menlo park.
Mofo: most prominent/largest bay area firm, big offices in SF and palo alto, prestigious, bay area leader, also very good litigation (one of the stronges IP lit groups in the country)
Orrick: the second biggest SF firm, but I hear not in the best shape
Pillsbury: stay away
Kirkland: v10, does almost exclusivity private equity in SF (no litigation)
Gibson: middling palo alto practice, all litigation in SF
Cooley: smallish tech firm, very strong in the life sciences
Jones Day: tiny corporate (but growing), big litigation practice in SF
Simpson/Davis Polk/all the big NYC firms: mainly in SV, do heavy hitting capital markets work and NYC style m&a.
There are other elite boutiques such as Kecker and Munger and some decent midlaw like Howard Rice.

SF will have more litigation heavy practices, and SV will have more corporate work. both markets are about the same size, and there is plenty of overlap (only 35 miles apart afterall). In the SV, you can think of there being "indigenous" valley firms (Wilson, Cooley, Fenwick, Gunderson) that work with emerging companies as they get VC funding and IPO, and the NYC transplants that do big m&a stuff. Then there are middle market firms (Latham, Gibson, Mofo) that do a bit of both.

If I was bidding on SF, I'd personally want to work at Mofo. It has the biggest office in the city, highest vault ranking, good recognition and exit opps in the bay, good clients, and supposedly a good culture. True for corporate and lit.

SV would be a bit harder, depending on what you want to do. If you want to do VC/emerging company stuff, head to one of the indigenous firms.

FWIW, bay area firms are doing very well right now. the web 2.0 boom is slamming all the corporate departments in SF and SV...far cry from the crash in 2009 when most firms had to do layoffs.



Great Post. Are you able to give a similar rundown on the San Diego biglaw market?

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sundance95
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Re: San Francisco - Top 7 Big Law Firms

Postby sundance95 » Thu May 19, 2011 1:31 pm

To the above anonymous, could you share why one should stay away from Pillsbury?

jbriggs
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Re: San Francisco - Top 7 Big Law Firms

Postby jbriggs » Sat May 21, 2011 9:52 pm

agree with the above question, is your issue with Pillsbury as a firm or as an SF office?

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Re: San Francisco - Top 7 Big Law Firms

Postby imchuckbass58 » Sun May 22, 2011 12:40 am

sundance95 wrote:To the above anonymous, could you share why one should stay away from Pillsbury?


Among other things:

http://abovethelaw.com/2009/08/canceled ... est-coast/

http://abovethelaw.com/2009/06/pillsbur ... can-start/

http://abovethelaw.com/2009/06/pillsbur ... follow-up/

http://abovethelaw.com/2009/05/pillsbur ... more-time/

--LinkRemoved--

Also just generally about 20-30 years ago Pillsbury was the best/most prestigious firm in SF and has just generally been in decline since then.

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Re: San Francisco - Top 7 Big Law Firms

Postby Anonymous User » Sat May 28, 2011 8:11 pm

The above poster is correct. Pillsbury is just a firm in decline that used to be much better. They did a lot of layoffs, have low associate morale, salary cuts/freezes, terrible bonuses, etc. PPP is under a million which is pretty rare for v100 biglaw these days. I think part of their downfall was a disastrous merger that ended up not really working out as they had hoped.

I do not have similar info on SD firms, but can tell you that SD is a much smaller market. There are only a few biglaw shops in town and its nothing like SF/SV or LA.

I can take other questions on SF firms if you have them.

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Re: San Francisco - Top 7 Big Law Firms

Postby Anonymous User » Sun May 29, 2011 2:05 am

Anonymous User wrote:I can take other questions on SF firms if you have them.


If someone wants to do white-collar work, what SF (by SF, I mean Bay Area: SF, SJ, Palo Alto) firms should I be looking at? I have heard Gibson Dunn and the above-mentioned Keker and Van Nest, but am only beginning my research. I guess relatedly while I want SF, I want to do white-collar more, so does it make sense to primarily target SF or should I be looking at other markets (such as NY or DC)?

I am as of this moment top 5% BMVPDCNG with really really strong ties to SF. Thanks for your (or anyone who can share) help!

flcath
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Re: San Francisco - Top 7 Big Law Firms

Postby flcath » Sun May 29, 2011 2:31 am

The QE culture is famous, but obviously you gotta be Lit.

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Re: San Francisco - Top 7 Big Law Firms

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Aug 27, 2011 11:48 am

interested in thoughts on howard rice. anyone?




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