IP people, let's talk Knobbe

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IP people, let's talk Knobbe

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Sep 13, 2011 10:15 pm

Work less, make a little less. I'm sure most people who've been in biglaw for a couple of years would gladly take a $20k pay cut to have a 1700 billable goal (yes, I realize it's actually billed, not billable, but it's still way below 2000).

Pros: 6 year equity partner track, people really take 15 days of vacation. From what I've heard, people actually like their jobs.
Cons: Growing too fast? Jumped from 26 summers to 40 during the recession. Also, I have some reservations about how religious many of the partners are.

Anyone have other info? Are the associates actually happier than ones in more traditional biglaw firms, or is that hype? How is the reputation in California IP compared to other firms with IP practices?

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Re: IP people, let's talk Knobbe

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Sep 13, 2011 10:23 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I have some reservations about how religious many of the partners are.


say what

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Re: IP people, let's talk Knobbe

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Sep 13, 2011 10:30 pm

According to an associate, there are a lot of religious people (mostly Mormons and Catholics). Religion isn't a bad thing at all, I'm just a little worried that the firm culture will be more socially conservative than I'm used to.

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Re: IP people, let's talk Knobbe

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Sep 13, 2011 10:40 pm

Based on my cb interview, Knobbe seems like a great place. I think half of the people I talked with told me that they started their careers at Knobbe and never looked back (quite rare for law firms ...).

Shorter hours, short partnership track, what's not to like? Probably not as "prestigious" and you probably won't get any substantial bonuses, so not the place you want to be at if you want to work on the cases in the headlines (e.g. smartphone litigation - apple, google, etc). The office are decent, but nothing fancy. That being said, they have a good clientele and do work for plenty of places.

They have a particular business model that works for them and they're very proud of it. Patent Litigation in the downturns and Patent Prosecution in boom times, making for a stable firm (as far as law firms go ...). Clients belong to the firm rather than the individual partners, so the partners don't hoard the work.

If you go to Knobbe though, you've got to be certain that you want to do patent work. Also, you're going to have to decide relatively early whether you want to do litigation or prosecution. They tell you that you can do both, but in reality, you've got to pick one or the other pretty early on.

Probably the firm that's closest to Knobbe is Finnegan Henderson (that's who the people in the interview will compare themselves to at least ...)

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Re: IP people, let's talk Knobbe

Postby TheFriendlyBarber » Tue Sep 13, 2011 10:52 pm

Image

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Re: IP people, let's talk Knobbe

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Sep 13, 2011 10:56 pm

Serious question: are Knobbe employees the sort of people who laugh at the ridiculousness of the pronunciation of the name? If so, I'm totally in.

Also, anyone have more insight into the reputation in CA? I don't go to law school there so I'm a little out of the loop.

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Re: IP people, let's talk Knobbe

Postby yeast master » Tue Sep 13, 2011 11:10 pm

I'm not sure the 1700 billed requirement actually translates to much less work than 2000 billables, particularly if you are doing prosecution. You're going to be pretty inefficient starting out. What would really suck about that is that whether and to what extent your hours are cut is largely out of your control, so you can't be sure of how many billables you need to work meet your billed requirement. Furthermore, I know that at some firms the extent to which your hours are cut varies from partner to partner, and if that's the case at Knobbe, that would be pretty frustrating to deal with.

All the above is theoretical, as I don't have experience with working under such a system. However, for what it's worth, I've heard second hand about some Knobbe alums who have said the lifestyle aspect is oversold.

The last thing I have to say is that while it's true that most (all?) of the partners are people who "started their careers at Knobbe and never looked back," their classes are so large that there must be a lot of people who start at Knobbe and quickly start looking elsewhere, not necessarily because they're not happy there, but because so few of them will be able to make partner.

None of this is to say that it wouldn't be a great place to work. The pay isn't bad, and I bet the work is interesting enough. I'm just skeptical that it's all that special in terms of work-life balance.

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Re: IP people, let's talk Knobbe

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Sep 14, 2011 7:21 am

Agreed about the lifestyle aspect being oversold. I've heard the same thing from a friend who works there. Knobbe is a law firm and (like consulting, accounting, etc) you're trading time for money. Thus, if you're making more $$$ than the U.S. median/average, you're probably also working more hours than the U.S. median/average.

Also, re: the difficulty of making hours in patent prosecution, MoFo I believe has an 1800 billable hour requirement for its patent prosecutors.

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Re: IP people, let's talk Knobbe

Postby Big Shrimpin » Wed Sep 14, 2011 7:52 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:I have some reservations about how religious many of the partners are.


say what


Apparently there's quite a few Mormons there. I don't really know what that means/entails. Based upon my CB in OC last year (which was awesome, BTW...plus they put you up in an amazing hotel), the firm seemed pretty cool. Pretty nerdy, but very cool.

Re: 1700 billed hours requirement--I was really wary of this. In the end, it wasn't a dealbreaker for me. If anyone here is familiar with working billable hours, you'll probably agree that, considering this requirement and how associate billables are often "edited" by partners before the bill goes out, it's very likely that associates (at least for the first few years at Knobbe) bill closer to 2000 (e.g. with the expectation that at least 1700 of those will be billed).

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Re: IP people, let's talk Knobbe

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Sep 14, 2011 10:06 am

I figured the lifestyle was a little too good to be true, it is a law firm after all. I'm just looking for a place to work for the majority of my career (not looking for the "work so many hours that I ruin my relationship, burn out, and lateral to a smaller firm for a huge pay cut" career path). With their fast partnership track and low attrition rate, even with a 1700 billed goal, it seems like it's more possible to stay at Knobbe for a long time than at a GP with a large IP group. Of course, I am a little worried about how many summers and new associates they've been hiring in the past few years.

Side note: fwiw I'm leaning toward litigation, not prosecution. I don't think I'm really qualified for prosecution (no PhD in a field that often requires it for prosecution).

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Re: IP people, let's talk Knobbe

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Sep 16, 2011 3:58 pm

I summered at KMOB.

Perhaps KMOB does oversell the low billing requirement--and you are right to be skeptical. I got the impression that junior attorneys at KMOB work approximately equivalent hours per week as junior attorneys at peer firms. However, it should be noted that vacation days are credited as 7-billed hours, making the hour requirement effectively 1600. It also seemed to me that senior attorneys at KMOB work less than their counterparts at peer firms.

Regardless of the hours, I believe that there are various reasons why the lifestyle at KMOB is pretty good. First, maybe because senior attorneys work less, they have time and are happy to help and mentor. Second, the hour requirement is treated as a quota for review purposes--i.e., the review committee only considers whether you satisfied the 1700-hour requirement. There is no pressure to bill past the requirement. At other firms, the hour requirement is a minimum, and in reality you are competing with your colleagues with respect to hours. Third, and most important to me, KMOB offers comparatively better long-term opportunities. As mentioned above by others, the track to partnership is only 6 years. This puts pressure on the partners to give you work commensurate with your year level because they have to figure out sooner whether you are partner material. Moreover, it seems that making partner is a fairly realistic goal, if you want it.

As a result, KMOB has a relatively pleasant work environment. However, I don’t want to paint too rosy of a picture though. It is still a law firm, and you still have to deal with demanding clients. Additionally, you should realize that my perception is surely warped due to being a SA, and SAs are treated like royalty at most firms.

Regarding the religious concerns, based on my experience, the rumors are a bit overblown and are a non-factor. Yes, KMOB is relatively conservative, and perhaps this is due to religious beliefs of some of the senior partners. However, it is more fiscally conservative than personally conservative. That is to say that KMOB is not so conservative that you, a soon-to-be lawyer, would have to behave differently than how you would behave at another firm.




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