Best SF litigation firms for a wannabe AUSA?

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Best SF litigation firms for a wannabe AUSA?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Nov 25, 2012 1:10 am

I recently switched my job search from the East Coast to San Francisco, but I know almost nothing about the firms there. I want to be a trial lawyer, and farther down the line I would love to work at a U.S. Attorney's Office.

If anyone has the scoop, I'd love to know which firms are known for sending people to the U.S. Attorney's Office (for the Northern District in particular). I'd also appreciate any thoughts about the culture at some of the top litigation shops. Right now, the entirety of my knowledge boils down to this:

Keker & Van Nest: very highly regarded
Farella, Braun + Martell: highly regarded, though not as highly as Keker; good quality of life
Quinn: sweatshop

Any help would be greatly appreciated!

Thanks!

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Re: Best SF litigation firms for a wannabe AUSA?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Nov 25, 2012 2:20 am

If you're looking at litigation, I'd also add Orrick, Gibson Dunn, and MoFo. But I don't know which firms send the most lawyers to the USAO.

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Re: Best SF litigation firms for a wannabe AUSA?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Nov 25, 2012 11:27 am

Munger has an SF office. I don't think they take summer associates, and I don't know how it compares to their LA office, but I suspect that they would be a great choice if you could get something. You should also look into Arnold and Porter. They recently enlarged their SF presence by merging with Howard Rice, which was a fantastic SF lit shop. The majority of the lawyers in the SF office are Howard Rice legacy people and I hear that the place still has the feel of a midsize SF litigation firm (though I don't know how long that will last). If you have any interest in insurance litigation you should also look at Covington. I know nothing about AUSA connections, sorry.

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Re: Best SF litigation firms for a wannabe AUSA?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Nov 25, 2012 2:44 pm

OP here. Thanks for your input, guys. I will definitely look into the places you suggested. Whether they have a summer program isn't critical for me since I'm actually looking for something for after my clerkship. I have an offer from a firm back in DC that I really liked, but they don't have an office in SF (where I now want to be for personal reasons). Hopefully it won't be too hard to jump coasts.

anon168
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Re: Best SF litigation firms for a wannabe AUSA?

Postby anon168 » Sun Nov 25, 2012 3:28 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I recently switched my job search from the East Coast to San Francisco, but I know almost nothing about the firms there. I want to be a trial lawyer, and farther down the line I would love to work at a U.S. Attorney's Office.

If anyone has the scoop, I'd love to know which firms are known for sending people to the U.S. Attorney's Office (for the Northern District in particular). I'd also appreciate any thoughts about the culture at some of the top litigation shops. Right now, the entirety of my knowledge boils down to this:

Keker & Van Nest: very highly regarded
Farella, Braun + Martell: highly regarded, though not as highly as Keker; good quality of life
Quinn: sweatshop

Any help would be greatly appreciated!

Thanks!


There are no such things as "feeder firms" for the USAO.

USAO feeder firms are like the Lochness Monster. People talk about it, but no one's ever seen it.

The key isn't trying to find a firm that sends people to the USAO (whatever that means), the key is to find a firm where you will be successful at. Being a success and getting meaningful experience is more important than the firm you are working at.

When I was on the hiring committee at the USAO we never (and I stress never) hired someone because they worked at Firm X. We hired a person because of their credential and/or experience, not because they worked for a particular firm.

Of course, there are certain firms in certain cities that have "pull" or connections within a given USAO at any one particular time, and those connections can help you get an interview, or get your resume looked at, but they doesn't mean a ticket to an offer.

The only time where a person was hired outside of the normal hiring process through so-called connections came from political ones -- not legal ones.

Good luck.

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Re: Best SF litigation firms for a wannabe AUSA?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Nov 25, 2012 3:33 pm

Not to hijack - but I've consistently heard of Morvillo and Lankler Siffert being referred to as "feeder firms" - not true?

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Re: Best SF litigation firms for a wannabe AUSA?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Nov 25, 2012 4:25 pm

Thanks, anon168. I understand what you mean about there being no "feeder firms"; I should have phrased my question as you said: "Which firms are known for giving associates the kind of trial experience that is looked upon favorably by USAOs?"

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Re: Best SF litigation firms for a wannabe AUSA?

Postby anon168 » Sun Nov 25, 2012 4:35 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Thanks, anon168. I understand what you mean about there being no "feeder firms"; I should have phrased my question as you said: "Which firms are known for giving associates the kind of trial experience that is looked upon favorably by USAOs?"


That's really hard to say, because so much of it depends on practice group, who you work with and the types of cases you get staffed on. Lots of it will turn on happenstance and things out of your control.

The firms you've identified like KVN, FB+M and MTO are known as uber-lit boutiques in the Bay Area, but that doesn't guarantee you hands-on experience. The chances are certainly greater, and the names of those firms will garner some attention, so you're on the right track in that regard.

But regardless of where you end up -- either at a boutique like KVN or a biglaw like MoFo -- try like gangbusters to get as much front-line experience as you can. From my experience, the best way to do this is to get staffed on smaller cases where the leverage is closer to 1:1 and/or work on pro bono matters where you can take the lead on running the case.

Good luck.

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Re: Best SF litigation firms for a wannabe AUSA?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Nov 25, 2012 4:55 pm

OP here. Thanks for your insights, anon168. It's good to think that the choice of the firm matters less than the choices you make while working there. That takes some of the pressure off!




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