San Francisco Biglaw Associate taking questions

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San Francisco Biglaw Associate taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Feb 06, 2014 5:22 pm

Slow day at work, so I thought I'd try to give back a bit. The SF market is a tough nut to crack, so ask away!

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ph14
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Re: San Francisco Biglaw Associate taking questions

Postby ph14 » Thu Feb 06, 2014 5:31 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Slow day at work, so I thought I'd try to give back a bit. The SF market is a tough nut to crack, so ask away!


How much does SF's incredible cost of living bother you? Do you wish you had gone to a less expensive market?

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Re: San Francisco Biglaw Associate taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Feb 06, 2014 5:34 pm

Thanks for taking questions!
What are the major non-T14 law schools your firm tends to hire from? (besides the obvious USC and UCLA)

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Re: San Francisco Biglaw Associate taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Feb 06, 2014 5:51 pm

ph14 wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Slow day at work, so I thought I'd try to give back a bit. The SF market is a tough nut to crack, so ask away!


How much does SF's incredible cost of living bother you? Do you wish you had gone to a less expensive market?


Apart from housing, SF prices are actually fairly comparable to my hometown. So, while housing sucks, that was the only sticker shock. TBF, though, housing costs suck. I live in the city, but don't know how long we'll stay before we head to Oakland/Berkeley/etc. Probably 3 years or so. There's just so damn much to do here and I really like being only a couple of miles from everything - plus, BARTing into the city from the east bay for weekend shenanigans is tough.

I don't wish I had gone to another market, though. I love the city. I like my firm, I think I have a pretty good work-life balance here.

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Re: San Francisco Biglaw Associate taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Feb 06, 2014 5:55 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Thanks for taking questions!
What are the major non-T14 law schools your firm tends to hire from? (besides the obvious USC and UCLA)


At my firm, it's really just Hastings and Davis. We don't hire from USF/GGU, and don't hire that often from Santa Clara (though it isn't unheard of, especially in IP). There are some random schools mixed in, generally ones partners went to back in the day, but I'd say 1/3 are SLS/Berkeley/Hastings, and about 1/2 are other T14.

Generally, every non-T14 person clerked, most in N.D. Cal. or on the 9th, or went to Stanford/Berkeley for undergrad.

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Re: San Francisco Biglaw Associate taking questions

Postby brotherdarkness » Thu Feb 06, 2014 6:03 pm

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Last edited by brotherdarkness on Sun Jun 29, 2014 4:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: San Francisco Biglaw Associate taking questions

Postby drumstickies » Thu Feb 06, 2014 6:11 pm

Thanks for taking questions! I'd love to work in the Bay, though I'm more interested in the peninsula than the city. What's the norm for billable hours in your area and how does this translate to hours per week? I hear biglaw in NYC can be bad, regarding hours, and I was wondering if it was any different in the Bay.

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Re: San Francisco Biglaw Associate taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Feb 06, 2014 6:14 pm

brotherdarkness wrote:What practice area are you in?

What led you to choose SF as opposed to, say, LA?


I'm in litigation. I do a little bit of everything, to be honest, and haven't zeroed in on which narrower practice group I'll eventually join.

I only really briefly considered LA, and mainly chose between SF and smaller markets. I fell in loev with the city (even with today's shitty weather), a lot of my friends were here, and I thought I could do high-end work without super crazy hours. Thus far, that's proven true.

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Re: San Francisco Biglaw Associate taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Feb 06, 2014 6:17 pm

drumstickies wrote:Thanks for taking questions! I'd love to work in the Bay, though I'm more interested in the peninsula than the city. What's the norm for billable hours in your area and how does this translate to hours per week? I hear biglaw in NYC can be bad, regarding hours, and I was wondering if it was any different in the Bay.


No problem :)

In my group, I'd say billables average 40-45 per week. I get in around 8:30 and am out around 6 every night, with some exceptions, and my billables are a little lower than that. I have friends at firms in SF that bill 55-60 a week, and some that are really slow. A couple lawyers in my office billed over 2200 last year, but most people were in the 1900-2100 range.

There seems to be a lot of variance, but with a few exceptions, my friends who are lawyers and I don't seem to work much past 7pm.

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Re: San Francisco Biglaw Associate taking questions

Postby brotherdarkness » Thu Feb 06, 2014 6:36 pm

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Re: San Francisco Biglaw Associate taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Feb 06, 2014 6:56 pm

Are ties important to get a biglaw job in San Francisco? What about other places in CA? If ties are important, is it enough to have just gone to law school in the state?

Thanks again for taking time to do this!

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Re: San Francisco Biglaw Associate taking questions

Postby thewaves » Thu Feb 06, 2014 7:03 pm

Can you discuss what qualifications give you the best shot at the SF market?

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Re: San Francisco Biglaw Associate taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Feb 06, 2014 9:14 pm

brotherdarkness wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
brotherdarkness wrote:What practice area are you in?

What led you to choose SF as opposed to, say, LA?


I'm in litigation. I do a little bit of everything, to be honest, and haven't zeroed in on which narrower practice group I'll eventually join.

I only really briefly considered LA, and mainly chose between SF and smaller markets. I fell in loev with the city (even with today's shitty weather), a lot of my friends were here, and I thought I could do high-end work without super crazy hours. Thus far, that's proven true.


We're in desperate need of rain, so I'll deal with today's shitty weather. It's supposed to rain through Sunday, btw.

Anyways, I assume you're a first or second year associate if you haven't yet narrowed in on a practice group? Thus far, what have been the pros and cons of biglaw? Anything that surprised you about biglaw (good or bad)?

Is your firm's SF offices one of the firm's larger offices, or is it a satellite of a big NYC firm? If it's a satellite office, what are the pros and cons of being there?


OP here. Got given something to do, sorry. And yes, we desperately need the rain. I'm just missing the whole "Let's go to the Headlands and hike in January" weather we had last month.

I'm within my first two years, yes. Beyond the normal pros (pay, prestige), I can think of at least one other: having a top-notch support staff there to save your ass when you're a newbie. This is clutch. My list of cons aren't that interesting or unique - occasional tedium, occasional angry partners (though I have actually not yet been legitimately yelled at here), not feeling like you're getting real experience. My big surprise was how leanly my cases are staffed - in more than half, I'm the only associate working with a single partner (or two partners). It's probably somewhat the nature of the cases and the practices here, but that was not something I expected.

The SF office is a solid size for SF (between 50 and 125 lawyers), and is a satellite. So, basically, I'm not at MoFo or one of the boutiques. I don't mind being at a satellite - the shittiest part is being a few time zones over from some of the bigger offices and having to coordinate stuff on multi-office cases. There seems to be some disconnect between "the mothership" and our office, but nothing crazy. I can't really say I'd enjoy being in the main office more.
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Re: San Francisco Biglaw Associate taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Feb 06, 2014 9:19 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Are ties important to get a biglaw job in San Francisco? What about other places in CA? If ties are important, is it enough to have just gone to law school in the state?

Thanks again for taking time to do this!


Yes. I was questioned a ton about my ties, and I did one of my degrees at Berkeley/Stanford. It's not that they're worried about you fleeing, really, since SF is really desirable and isn't some podunk place where people up to move to NYC at the first instance, but there's no denying they're critical here. I can't speak to anywhere else in CA - I only briefly thought about LA, and didn't end up following through with firms there.

I think all the normal ties (undergrad, law school, grew up here, spouse is from here, etc.) are fine. I think law school at Stanford or Berkeley is probably the best tie you can have coming into recruiting (it is at my firm), apart from having grown up in the city or east bay. I think cultural ties are readily explainable (especially if you're gay and coming from somewhere less than gay-friendly). But, yeah, in my summer class, we only had one person who had no real "ties" to SF, and he had stellar credentials (from what I can tell).

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Re: San Francisco Biglaw Associate taking questions

Postby Typhoon24 » Thu Feb 06, 2014 9:26 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Are ties important to get a biglaw job in San Francisco? What about other places in CA? If ties are important, is it enough to have just gone to law school in the state?

Thanks again for taking time to do this!


Yes. I was questioned a ton about my ties, and I did one of my degrees at Berkeley/Stanford. It's not that they're worried about you fleeing, really, since SF is really desirable and isn't some podunk place where people up to move to NYC at the first instance, but there's no denying they're critical here. I can't speak to anywhere else in CA - I only briefly thought about LA, and didn't end up following through with firms there.

I think all the normal ties (undergrad, law school, grew up here, spouse is from here, etc.) are fine. I think law school at Stanford or Berkeley is probably the best tie you can have coming into recruiting (it is at my firm), apart from having grown up in the city or east bay. I think cultural ties are readily explainable (especially if you're gay and coming from somewhere less than gay-friendly). But, yeah, in my summer class, we only had one person who had no real "ties" to SF, and he had stellar credentials (from what I can tell).


thank you for taking the time. I am interested in SF big law, but don't have ties to the area. I read that for SF big law for people with no geographic ties, the law schools that give you the best chances of cracking this nut are S > HY > boalt > rest of t14. Would you say this is true? and if so, to what extent?

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Re: San Francisco Biglaw Associate taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Feb 06, 2014 9:27 pm

thewaves wrote:Can you discuss what qualifications give you the best shot at the SF market?


Best shot: Top third of your class at Stanford or Berkeley. From talking with folks, firms around here view the upper end of both schools nearly identically. My firm, for example, has nearly identical grade cutoffs for both, factoring in Berkeley having HHs and Stanford having class prizes.

If you've never been here, or have just tangential ties, you'll really be at a disadvantage. There just aren't that many summer positions in SF. My only tie was my school, to be honest. I wasn't a complete outsider during the process. I met a few people who had no ostensible tie to the bay area before they summered, and they all had great grades, were hard science/IP people, or were diverse, with maybe 1-2 exceptions.

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Re: San Francisco Biglaw Associate taking questions

Postby DildaMan » Thu Feb 06, 2014 9:29 pm

Thanks for taking questions.

Do you get to work on general IP as part of general litigation or is that subject matter a different practice group? Would you recommend SF or SV for general IP litigation (not necessarily patent only)?

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Re: San Francisco Biglaw Associate taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Feb 06, 2014 9:32 pm

Typhoon24 wrote:thank you for taking the time. I am interested in SF big law, but don't have ties to the area. I read that for SF big law for people with no geographic ties, the law schools that give you the best chances of cracking this nut are S > HY > boalt > rest of t14. Would you say this is true? and if so, to what extent?


To be honest, and this is anecdotal and likely to be disagreed with, I think Berkeley has an easier time, all things considered, for someone with no ties wanting to crack SF. It's just that the back up options are far worse if you don't do well as a 1L. Granted, if you get into Harvard and Berkeley but not Stanford, you should definitely choose Harvard unless there's something demanding you be in the Bay or you get a full ride from Berkeley and only want to be a lawyer if you can live in SF.

Berkeley and Stanford are viewed pretty similarly in SF, from what I can tell. As I said above, we have the same grade cutoffs from each at my firm. Those that do well at either will get lots of SF offers. Stanford gets a big pull for those at and around median, who are probably still "safe" for SF. But I know a few people who had 0-2 Hs at SLS and struck out in SF. Stanford's safer in general, but SF seems to really love both schools.

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Re: San Francisco Biglaw Associate taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Feb 06, 2014 9:38 pm

DildaMan wrote:Thanks for taking questions.

Do you get to work on general IP as part of general litigation or is that subject matter a different practice group? Would you recommend SF or SV for general IP litigation (not necessarily patent only)?


I do get to work on some IP, though I tend to stay away from it due to personal preference. Some firms, though, do that differently, so it'll be firm and sometimes office-specific.

What I would recommend is working in the part of the Bay Area where you want to live. Both SF and SV will have a ton of IP matters. Unless you want to work with a single partner doing a specific thing, you generally won't hamstring yourself by picking SF over SV for IP work. But adding 2 hours a day to your commute back and forth if you want to live in the city while working in SV is brutal. I have several friends who jumped firms within their first 1-2 years because they just couldn't deal with that commute anymore.

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Re: San Francisco Biglaw Associate taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Feb 06, 2014 9:59 pm

What I would recommend is working in the part of the Bay Area where you want to live. Both SF and SV will have a ton of IP matters. Unless you want to work with a single partner doing a specific thing, you generally won't hamstring yourself by picking SF over SV for IP work. But adding 2 hours a day to your commute back and forth if you want to live in the city while working in SV is brutal. I have several friends who jumped firms within their first 1-2 years because they just couldn't deal with that commute anymore.


SV associate who lives in SF here. Couldn't agree more with your description of the brutality. When your commuter friends burned out on the commute, did any of them ask their firms to transfer (if their firms had both SF and SV offices), and if so, what was the response? For those who moved laterally, how did SF firms interpret their fairly short stays at the first firms? Did they discuss the commute as part of why they wanted to lateral on a shorter-than-normal timeframe and if so, how was that received by SF firms?

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Re: San Francisco Biglaw Associate taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Feb 07, 2014 1:31 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
What I would recommend is working in the part of the Bay Area where you want to live. Both SF and SV will have a ton of IP matters. Unless you want to work with a single partner doing a specific thing, you generally won't hamstring yourself by picking SF over SV for IP work. But adding 2 hours a day to your commute back and forth if you want to live in the city while working in SV is brutal. I have several friends who jumped firms within their first 1-2 years because they just couldn't deal with that commute anymore.


SV associate who lives in SF here. Couldn't agree more with your description of the brutality. When your commuter friends burned out on the commute, did any of them ask their firms to transfer (if their firms had both SF and SV offices), and if so, what was the response? For those who moved laterally, how did SF firms interpret their fairly short stays at the first firms? Did they discuss the commute as part of why they wanted to lateral on a shorter-than-normal timeframe and if so, how was that received by SF firms?


I'm not exactly sure the conversations re: transferring offices or just lateraling, but most of them are now at different firms than they started. Shortest one made a move in 8 months. A few just switched offices (Fenwick, for example, supposedly lets you switch to the SF office after a set amount of time if you want to, though I'm not sure how true that is), but most jumped ship and went to new firms.

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Re: San Francisco Biglaw Associate taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Feb 07, 2014 2:11 pm

In your experience regarding ties to SF and employment, would having lived out there for a year after undergrad count for much? Been plotting on how to return since I left, but UC Hastings seems a sub par school given todays legal climate and out of state at Berkley is ~300k.

Probably a difficult question to answer, but I thought I'd shoot anyways.

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Re: San Francisco Biglaw Associate taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Feb 07, 2014 2:58 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Thanks for taking questions!
What are the major non-T14 law schools your firm tends to hire from? (besides the obvious USC and UCLA)


At my firm, it's really just Hastings and Davis. We don't hire from USF/GGU, and don't hire that often from Santa Clara (though it isn't unheard of, especially in IP). There are some random schools mixed in, generally ones partners went to back in the day, but I'd say 1/3 are SLS/Berkeley/Hastings, and about 1/2 are other T14.

Generally, every non-T14 person clerked, most in N.D. Cal. or on the 9th, or went to Stanford/Berkeley for undergrad.


So if im interpreting this correctly, clerks who went to Stanford/Berkeley for undergrad have a good shot in SF big law market? Obviously not asking about N.D. Cal or 9th Cir., but what if clerks were from other districts within 9th Cir--competitive still? What about clerks with Stanford/Berkeley undergrad but from other regions of the country?

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Re: San Francisco Biglaw Associate taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Feb 07, 2014 3:15 pm

Anonymous User wrote:In your experience regarding ties to SF and employment, would having lived out there for a year after undergrad count for much? Been plotting on how to return since I left, but UC Hastings seems a sub par school given todays legal climate and out of state at Berkley is ~300k.

Probably a difficult question to answer, but I thought I'd shoot anyways.


It'd definitely count for something. I think a well-reasoned answer to the why SF question in that situation would be something like "I lived and worked in SF after graduating, and knew that I wanted to come back after law school, but, financially, taking a large scholarship at X school made the most sense for my education." Rough, but you get the jist. It'll be hard to say "I didn't want to go to Hastings" because you'll almost certainly (unless you're interviewing at MTO, Gibson, or Covington) meet at least one Hastings grad during any callback; there's just a ton of them in SF biglaw.

I know some folks at Hastings who turned down T14 (including T14 with some money) to stay in SF, b/c they didn't get Berkeley/SLS. Uniformly, unless you have a family and a full-ride (does Hastings even give full rides?) I think this is a bad choice.

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Re: San Francisco Biglaw Associate taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Feb 07, 2014 3:19 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Thanks for taking questions!
What are the major non-T14 law schools your firm tends to hire from? (besides the obvious USC and UCLA)


At my firm, it's really just Hastings and Davis. We don't hire from USF/GGU, and don't hire that often from Santa Clara (though it isn't unheard of, especially in IP). There are some random schools mixed in, generally ones partners went to back in the day, but I'd say 1/3 are SLS/Berkeley/Hastings, and about 1/2 are other T14.

Generally, every non-T14 person clerked, most in N.D. Cal. or on the 9th, or went to Stanford/Berkeley for undergrad.


So if im interpreting this correctly, clerks who went to Stanford/Berkeley for undergrad have a good shot in SF big law market? Obviously not asking about N.D. Cal or 9th Cir., but what if clerks were from other districts within 9th Cir--competitive still? What about clerks with Stanford/Berkeley undergrad but from other regions of the country?


Not quite what I was saying, but yes. I meant that the non-T14 folks at my firm either (1) clerked in N.D. Cal or the 9th, or (2) went to Berkeley/Stanford for UG. There's some overlap I'm sure, though. And to your second question, absolutely. C.D. Cal. and E.D. Cal. in particular are well-viewed within our office.

And at my firm, for example, a Vandy grad with very good grades who went to Stanford/Berkeley undergrad and clerked in a decent district court would be competitive, and we'd probably not be too concerned about ties (though you'd still get asked, I'm sure, the obligatory "why SF").




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