top 5 firms in silicon valley are....?

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top 5 firms in silicon valley are....?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Feb 07, 2012 7:44 pm

firstly, I'm interested in ranking firms based on their reputation with SV companies doing SV style work - tech companies, start ups, venture capital, IP lit, patent prosecution, etc. I'm not interested in the large NYC style firms that have small offices and do only complex cap markets stuff. yea, they're great firms and they're high on vault, but they are a fundamentally different kind of firm.

so in no particular order:

wilson
fenwick
cooley
mofo
latham

thoughts? I am trying to get a feel for the profile, prestige, and work quality of the firms in the area. thanks!

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Re: top 5 firms in silicon valley are....?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Feb 07, 2012 8:29 pm

I think the answer depends a fair amount on exactly what you're looking for. You'll get a slightly different answer if you want IP lit rankings than if you want venture capital rankings, or if you say life sciences (think Cooley) versus computer-based tech (Wilson). The answer will also be different if you are interested in patent prosecution. In terms of a very general pecking order in Silicon Valley, I'd say it goes Wilson > Cooley >> Fenwick. But you get vastly different evaluations based on firm culture and other factors. I'd personally rather work at Fenwick than Wilson or Cooley. Without more specific parameters (i.e. venture capital, IP lit, etc.) it's especially hard to rank other firms like MoFo and Latham, because they aren't considered "Silicon Valley firms," despite their strong presence there. Another firm you should look at if you're interested in the ones you listed is Orrick, as they've got a large Menlo Park office that has a lot going on.

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Re: top 5 firms in silicon valley are....?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Feb 07, 2012 9:33 pm

There's a lot more than 5, frankly. The Silicon Valley offices of almost any firm are the hottest right now. The key question is a) litigation or venture or patent prosecution and b) what kind of clients.

Orrick has a great emerging companies group, and wasn't on your list. Take a firm that might fly under the radar, for example, like Perkins Coie. Their SV office is only a few years old, but they have ties to Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft, Google, Craigslist and Techcrunch, for example.

Cooley I think is best for life sciences or transactional, not as much litigation. Fenwick is great for early stage startups and also has huge company representation, like Google as well. Wilson is the brand name, and does all kinds of work. Latham is great too. But don't forget about firms like Skadden or STB who obviously do great work in the Valley (i.e. STB on the Facebook IPO).

The bottom line is that Silicon Valley is way ahead of the rest of the country right now in terms of growth and the ecosystem there is actually understaffed and demand for bigfirm legal work is very high. The SV firms took a dual hit from the dot com bust and ITE, creating kind of a vaccuum, so there is enough work to go around to basically all the firms there. Dig deep about who represents what and what your interests are --- there is no traditional or objective top 5. Have a bit of that entrepreneurial spirit!

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Re: top 5 firms in silicon valley are....?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Feb 07, 2012 11:00 pm

Anonymous User wrote:firstly, I'm interested in ranking firms based on their reputation with SV companies doing SV style work - tech companies, start ups, venture capital, IP lit, patent prosecution, etc.

It's really going to depend on what kind of work you're interested in. Different firms specialize in different areas. Many of the top SV firms, for example, don't do patent prosecution at all. And the order of your ranking is going to hinge on whether you're interested in litigation or transactional work. If you're interested in doing IP litigation, then you're definitely going to want to look at Kirkland, Quinn, and Weil. If, on the other hand, you decide to focus on emerging companies/transactional work, then some of the other firms on your list (Wilson, Fenwick, Cooley) would be more appealing.

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Re: top 5 firms in silicon valley are....?

Postby abacus » Tue Feb 07, 2012 11:04 pm

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Last edited by abacus on Sun Jul 22, 2012 7:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: top 5 firms in silicon valley are....?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Feb 07, 2012 11:08 pm

abacus wrote:For things like IP Litigation, do you need a science background?

It helps, but it's not required. In SF/SV, you'll find plenty of lawyers in IP litigation groups who don't have specialized degrees.

Patent prosecution is a different story.

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Old Gregg
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Re: top 5 firms in silicon valley are....?

Postby Old Gregg » Wed Feb 08, 2012 12:03 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:firstly, I'm interested in ranking firms based on their reputation with SV companies doing SV style work - tech companies, start ups, venture capital, IP lit, patent prosecution, etc.

It's really going to depend on what kind of work you're interested in. Different firms specialize in different areas. Many of the top SV firms, for example, don't do patent prosecution at all. And the order of your ranking is going to hinge on whether you're interested in litigation or transactional work. If you're interested in doing IP litigation, then you're definitely going to want to look at Kirkland, Quinn, and Weil. If, on the other hand, you decide to focus on emerging companies/transactional work, then some of the other firms on your list (Wilson, Fenwick, Cooley) would be more appealing.


Weil no more.

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irie
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Re: top 5 firms in silicon valley are....?

Postby irie » Wed Feb 08, 2012 1:59 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Cooley I think is best for life sciences or transactional, not as much litigation. Fenwick is great for early stage startups and also has huge company representation, like Google as well. Wilson is the brand name, and does all kinds of work. Latham is great too. But don't forget about firms like Skadden or STB who obviously do great work in the Valley (i.e. STB on the Facebook IPO).


Just want to point out that STB is representing the underwriters (in particular Morgan Stanley, JPMorgan, and Goldman as leads) and not the issuer (Facebook), which is represented by Fenwick. This seems like precisely the New York capital markets-type firm OP intended to omit from this discussion.

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Re: top 5 firms in silicon valley are....?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Feb 08, 2012 2:11 pm

Patent prosecution exists in a different universe.

None of those firms are well known for patent prosecution. All but Latham do patent prosecution, but they have relatively small groups or low output. Mofo might be the largest on that list. Townsend, Blakely, Schwegmann, and many boutiques do much more work in that area in Silicon Valley.

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Re: top 5 firms in silicon valley are....?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Feb 08, 2012 3:34 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Patent prosecution exists in a different universe.

None of those firms are well known for patent prosecution. All but Latham do patent prosecution, but they have relatively small groups or low output. Mofo might be the largest on that list. Townsend, Blakely, Schwegmann, and many boutiques do much more work in that area in Silicon Valley.


Good point. I think Finnegan has an office in SV that would be great for that, and I'm pretty Allston Bird's SV office does good patent prosecution (quality and quantity).

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Re: top 5 firms in silicon valley are....?

Postby Bosque » Wed Feb 08, 2012 3:36 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
abacus wrote:For things like IP Litigation, do you need a science background?

It helps, but it's not required. In SF/SV, you'll find plenty of lawyers in IP litigation groups who don't have specialized degrees.

Patent prosecution is a different story.


Not exactly. There are lawyers working in Patent Litigation without the requisite technical background, true. But I would challenge you to find a 1-5 year associate working in the area who started there right out of law school. Most of them started back when IP was not such a big deal, or specialized out of a general litigation practice.

If you want to work in IP lit straight out of law school, chances are you are out of luck without the tech background. Not that t doesn't happen, but if you are picking IP because you want to be "IP secure" (or some other such bullshit) don't. You are going to be fighting an uphill battle.

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Re: top 5 firms in silicon valley are....?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Feb 08, 2012 4:03 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Patent prosecution exists in a different universe.

None of those firms are well known for patent prosecution. All but Latham do patent prosecution, but they have relatively small groups or low output. Mofo might be the largest on that list. Townsend, Blakely, Schwegmann, and many boutiques do much more work in that area in Silicon Valley.


Good point. I think Finnegan has an office in SV that would be great for that, and I'm pretty Allston Bird's SV office does good patent prosecution (quality and quantity).


Allson Bird's Silicon Valley office only does biotech, and it's small - it looks like it has less than 5-7 actual prosecutors.

Finnegan seems like it might have somewhere between 10-20, which is a medium-sized practice group for the area. Compared to the rest of the country, the firms/groups tend to be smaller out in Silicon Valley.

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Re: top 5 firms in silicon valley are....?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Feb 08, 2012 8:31 pm

Bosque wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
abacus wrote:For things like IP Litigation, do you need a science background?

It helps, but it's not required. In SF/SV, you'll find plenty of lawyers in IP litigation groups who don't have specialized degrees.

Patent prosecution is a different story.


Not exactly. There are lawyers working in Patent Litigation without the requisite technical background, true. But I would challenge you to find a 1-5 year associate working in the area who started there right out of law school. Most of them started back when IP was not such a big deal, or specialized out of a general litigation practice.

If you want to work in IP lit straight out of law school, chances are you are out of luck without the tech background. Not that t doesn't happen, but if you are picking IP because you want to be "IP secure" (or some other such bullshit) don't. You are going to be fighting an uphill battle.


This is just plain wrong. When I did OCI, I had ~10 OCI offers at market-paying bay area biglaw firms, and I explicitly stated every time that I was interested in patent lit despite not having any semblance of a technical background (much less degree). Granted, I had solid grades from a good school, but I wasn't nearly the top of my class nor was I on law review, nor did I have any relevant work experience. If you want to do IP lit straight out of law school but don't have a technical background, just make sure you have a good answer as to why. It also helps if you have something on your resume (like involvement in your school's IP law club, at the very least) that can back up what you're saying. Out of all the firms I interviewed with, there was only one that required me to have a tech background to get into their IP lit group. A couple of firms during callbacks even went so far as to say that they often preferred people without technical backgrounds because in patent lit you have to distill the complicated technology down into something that is easily explainable to a judge/jury with no knowledge of it whatsoever.

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Re: top 5 firms in silicon valley are....?

Postby camelcrema » Wed Feb 08, 2012 8:48 pm

Anonymous User wrote:This is just plain wrong. When I did OCI, I had ~10 OCI offers at market-paying bay area biglaw firms, and I explicitly stated every time that I was interested in patent lit despite not having any semblance of a technical background (much less degree). Granted, I had solid grades from a good school, but I wasn't nearly the top of my class nor was I on law review, nor did I have any relevant work experience. If you want to do IP lit straight out of law school but don't have a technical background, just make sure you have a good answer as to why. It also helps if you have something on your resume (like involvement in your school's IP law club, at the very least) that can back up what you're saying. Out of all the firms I interviewed with, there was only one that required me to have a tech background to get into their IP lit group. A couple of firms during callbacks even went so far as to say that they often preferred people without technical backgrounds because in patent lit you have to distill the complicated technology down into something that is easily explainable to a judge/jury with no knowledge of it whatsoever.


Do you mind giving a school/grade ranges, and info on whether you had ties to the area? Also, was it SF or SV firms? Thanks!

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Re: top 5 firms in silicon valley are....?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Feb 08, 2012 9:22 pm

Bosque wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
abacus wrote:For things like IP Litigation, do you need a science background?

It helps, but it's not required. In SF/SV, you'll find plenty of lawyers in IP litigation groups who don't have specialized degrees.

Patent prosecution is a different story.


Not exactly. There are lawyers working in Patent Litigation without the requisite technical background, true. But I would challenge you to find a 1-5 year associate working in the area who started there right out of law school. Most of them started back when IP was not such a big deal, or specialized out of a general litigation practice.

If you want to work in IP lit straight out of law school, chances are you are out of luck without the tech background.


Based on my experience at Berkeley, this isn't correct. Most of the top IP lit practice groups in the Bay Area definitely hire Boalties straight out of school without a technical background. And, to address your specific challenge, I met at least a dozen 1-5 year associates last year (during firm interviews) who worked in IP lit, did not have a tech background, and started right out of law school.

To be sure, it helps to have a technical background. In particular, a tech background can help make up for mediocre grades. And most lawyers working in IP lit have either a technical degree or technical work experience. But a technical background is not a prerequisite for landing an IP lit job in the Bay Area, at least not for Boalt and SLS students.

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Re: top 5 firms in silicon valley are....?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Feb 08, 2012 9:31 pm

camelcrema wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:This is just plain wrong. When I did OCI, I had ~10 OCI offers at market-paying bay area biglaw firms, and I explicitly stated every time that I was interested in patent lit despite not having any semblance of a technical background (much less degree). Granted, I had solid grades from a good school, but I wasn't nearly the top of my class nor was I on law review, nor did I have any relevant work experience. If you want to do IP lit straight out of law school but don't have a technical background, just make sure you have a good answer as to why. It also helps if you have something on your resume (like involvement in your school's IP law club, at the very least) that can back up what you're saying. Out of all the firms I interviewed with, there was only one that required me to have a tech background to get into their IP lit group. A couple of firms during callbacks even went so far as to say that they often preferred people without technical backgrounds because in patent lit you have to distill the complicated technology down into something that is easily explainable to a judge/jury with no knowledge of it whatsoever.


Do you mind giving a school/grade ranges, and info on whether you had ties to the area? Also, was it SF or SV firms? Thanks!


Given the amount of potentially identifying info in the first post, I'm reluctant to give too much more so I don't out myself. But here's what I will say: top 10-15% at a top 10 school (not necessarily the bottom part of the top 10, but not necessarily the top either), with bay area ties. Both SF and SV firms.

More generally, if you can demonstrate a strong interest, and you'll probably do just as well as any non-IP focused person at your school with your grades. Technical backgrounds usually just give boosts, as they can make up for being at a lower-ranked school or having sub-par grades.

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Re: top 5 firms in silicon valley are....?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Feb 08, 2012 11:05 pm

Patent litigation doesn't require a technical background, and many, many people without technical backgrounds can go into patent litigation. Most of patent litigation does not involve technical details but legal issues. You have technical specialists to help out, too. What you really need is a technical aptitude. It's just that those who already possess technical backgrounds are a safer bet as to having a technical aptitude.

However, not having a technical background may severely hamper your career in some ways. Much litigation strategy involves parallel litigation and reexaminations, or other procedures within the PTO. If you do not have a registration number, you cannot participate. Your career will be limited to the traditional litigation role. Internal PTO procedures are becoming more prominent, and sometimes preferable due to the lower standard needed to invalidate a patent (among other things).




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