San Diego vs LA Firms

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sonyvaio18
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San Diego vs LA Firms

Postby sonyvaio18 » Tue Feb 17, 2015 10:40 pm

Hi everyone,

Sorry -- trying to see how much region matters.

Can anyone who's had experience in both markets discuss if firm cultures and quality of life are actually that different? And if they are, how you would characterize their differences?

Someone told me that working in a smaller market is better overall, and my first thought was San Diego. Was curious if anyone with experience with both markets could comment.

Thanks so much!

Anonymous User
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Re: San Diego vs LA Firms

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Feb 17, 2015 10:55 pm

I am a San Diego native and a current junior associate at an LA firm. My thoughts:

(1) San Diego is overwhelmingly IP focused, particularly life sciences IP. There's IP lit and IP transactions, but besides that there is not a lot of sophisticated legal work of the sort you would find in big firms (unless you want to do plaintiff's side securities lit at Robbins Geller or something). It's also a small and fairly insular legal market.

(2) LA is a much more diverse legal market with a lot of jobs. It is also a large, fun, diverse city with a lot of neighborhoods, a lot of restaurants, and a lot to do. By the same token, it is a place that many people loathe. You have to decide for yourself if you want to live in LA.

(3) San Diego is a truly wonderful place to live. I don't know anyone who dislikes it. If you have a family, like the beach, or just generally enjoy a place with good weather and good people, I don't think you can find a much better place to live.

KM2016
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Re: San Diego vs LA Firms

Postby KM2016 » Tue Feb 17, 2015 11:25 pm

It's true, San Diego (at least in terms of Biglaw) is very IP focused, and generally a pretty small market. LA, on the other hand, has a much bigger variety of practice areas, firms, and has many more opportunities. Quality of life is what you'd expect between a huge city and a relatively smaller city. LA is much more diverse, robust, and a bit more cut-throat (but lets be honest, West Coast cut-throat is nothing like NYC cut-throat). SD is very niche, a bit more laid back, and has more a community feel to it.

That being said, unless you have very strong ties to SD (grew up, UG/law school), you're not getting a job there. LA firms are also very picky about ties, but the market is not as insular as SD.

thebobs1987
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Re: San Diego vs LA Firms

Postby thebobs1987 » Wed Feb 18, 2015 8:05 pm

KM2016 wrote:It's true, San Diego (at least in terms of Biglaw) is very IP focused, and generally a pretty small market. LA, on the other hand, has a much bigger variety of practice areas, firms, and has many more opportunities. Quality of life is what you'd expect between a huge city and a relatively smaller city. LA is much more diverse, robust, and a bit more cut-throat (but lets be honest, West Coast cut-throat is nothing like NYC cut-throat). SD is very niche, a bit more laid back, and has more a community feel to it.

That being said, unless you have very strong ties to SD (grew up, UG/law school), you're not getting a job there. LA firms are also very picky about ties, but the market is not as insular as SD.


I don't know how true this is if you are IP though. I have several friends that had no ties to SD and went to law school in the midwest and got offers in San Diego. They were all IP, so I am sure the bolded is true for non-IP and non-biglaw, but the bigger law firms in San Diego didn't seem too concerned about ties

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Re: San Diego vs LA Firms

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Feb 27, 2015 10:15 am

Given the size of the city there are shockingly few SD-based firms

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glitched
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Re: San Diego vs LA Firms

Postby glitched » Fri Feb 27, 2015 11:56 am

anyone know the average billable hours* of SD patent lit firms?

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Re: San Diego vs LA Firms

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Feb 27, 2015 1:34 pm

thebobs1987 wrote:
KM2016 wrote:It's true, San Diego (at least in terms of Biglaw) is very IP focused, and generally a pretty small market. LA, on the other hand, has a much bigger variety of practice areas, firms, and has many more opportunities. Quality of life is what you'd expect between a huge city and a relatively smaller city. LA is much more diverse, robust, and a bit more cut-throat (but lets be honest, West Coast cut-throat is nothing like NYC cut-throat). SD is very niche, a bit more laid back, and has more a community feel to it.

That being said, unless you have very strong ties to SD (grew up, UG/law school), you're not getting a job there. LA firms are also very picky about ties, but the market is not as insular as SD.


I don't know how true this is if you are IP though. I have several friends that had no ties to SD and went to law school in the midwest and got offers in San Diego. They were all IP, so I am sure the bolded is true for non-IP and non-biglaw, but the bigger law firms in San Diego didn't seem too concerned about ties


Anecdotally I had a guy from my class last year get a job in SD, non-IP, zero ties, post OCI, at a V10.

Mikey947
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Re: San Diego vs LA Firms

Postby Mikey947 » Wed Feb 22, 2017 4:18 pm

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Last edited by Mikey947 on Fri Mar 31, 2017 9:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: San Diego vs LA Firms

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Feb 22, 2017 9:05 pm

I've worked in both SD and LA Biglaw offices. From just personal experience and observation, the difference in quality of life is night and day.

Without generalizing too much, SD partners actually enjoy hanging out with their families, taking vacations, and investing in your development. The legal community is also more tight-knit such that reputations matter and there are fewer assholes who stick around and/or succeed. It's true that they are skeptical of people who have no ties to the area, so even though there are fewer firms in town, if you have a connection then it will definitely help you land a job. SD is also a cheaper place to live so it helps in terms of paying down student loans in your first years of Biglaw.

The LA partners I have worked with are what you'd expect, with many looking out for #1, obsessed with their image, and treating associates as expendable because there will always be an influx of talent at the top paying firms. Caveat all of this with the disclaimer that your mileage may vary depending on the group you're in and the partners you're in. I have friends in LA Biglaw who are far happier than I am. The traffic blows too. I was born and raised in LA so I'm not just some jaded outsider.

In terms of actual legal work, the complex matters are usually found more often in LA, but as a junior associate the difference is negligible. LA has more work (both complex and mundane) in general, meaning more hours (or at least the expectation that you work more hours). To the extent you want to work for F500 companies and international firms, LA-based firms are more likely to offer that.

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Re: San Diego vs LA Firms

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Feb 22, 2017 9:41 pm

I clerked for a us district court judge in San Diego. All the notable cases were handled by LA firms. I was unable to land a lit job at an okay paying Sd firm. I got the sense that the few vault firm offices there were smaller and had less turnover so I only saw like 2 openings from vault firms while I was clerking. The offers I landed were 90k (or less) midlaw type firms. I'm doing NYC biglaw now because there are tons more jobs here. I never lived in la so sorry this post isn't entirely responsive.

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Re: San Diego vs LA Firms

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Feb 23, 2017 12:02 am

3L who has yet to find official permanent employment (as in associate offer letter in hand, though I've been asked to come back to my small firm after the bar), so take my word with a grain of salt...

From my experience as someone who goes to law school in San Diego (USD), I constantly hear from my current/former employers and other San Diego attorneys about how "It's a small legal market here, so treat everyone well because everyone knows each other". I hear it super often, so often it makes me think it must be true. My employers seem to regularly know most lawyers brought up to them.. it's kind of weird. All of my employers so far have also graduated from USD (smaller firms and public interest, no big law) and seem to only hire USD students and USD grads. I just interviewed with a mid-sized firm run by a USD law grad who almost exclusively hires USD law grads and also teaches here.

I can't speak for LA, as I still live in San Diego. I am originally from Riverside county and I will tell you as a native southern californian: I fucking hate LA. I hate it so much. The whole city, in my opinion, is a colossal fuck factory and I feel like I get pissed off every time I go there. On the contrary, I've always loved San Diego and it was my dream to live and work in SD, and if not SD, then somewhere nice in the OC like Irvine. But not LA, fuck that. I don't think I could stomach taking a job there unless I lived in a suburb.

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Re: San Diego vs LA Firms

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Feb 23, 2017 1:02 am

Anonymous User wrote:I clerked for a us district court judge in San Diego. All the notable cases were handled by LA firms. I was unable to land a lit job at an okay paying Sd firm. I got the sense that the few vault firm offices there were smaller and had less turnover so I only saw like 2 openings from vault firms while I was clerking. The offers I landed were 90k (or less) midlaw type firms. I'm doing NYC biglaw now because there are tons more jobs here. I never lived in la so sorry this post isn't entirely responsive.


I agree with this. I am a lower-T14 grad who grew up in SD and have tons of ties -- lateraling back to SD from biglaw in a bigger city was almost surprisingly hard. The few biglaw firms have tiny outposts in SD that seem only to be shrinking, not expanding. Most of the law firms will be below typical NYC biglaw market/lockstep -- in many cases *well* below that. I wound up at one such below-market firm (through personal connections, not recruiters) and all my cases are in LA anyway. You will have a significantly easier time snagging something in LA/OC. It's a bummer and it doesn't really make sense given the city's population, but there are just very few well-paying legal jobs in SD (except IP, as others have mentioned). Not a lot of huge businesses in town. Sadly, this is also why the bolts left :(

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Re: San Diego vs LA Firms

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Feb 23, 2017 1:43 am

I lived in SD for a long time before law school and went back to SD from a T14 to work in biglaw. While it is true that lifestyle was better there (I'm in a major non-NYC market now), I would not really recommend it for someone starting out. The SD offices of the big firms do not usually get the best work, and firms are always opening and closing offices there, leading to a lot of unpredictability. The lateral market is also very small.

ETA: Not sure if IP changes things very significantly. Biotech maybe, but high tech, not really. Even most of Qualcomm's legal work (the biggest dog in town) happens outside SD.

LA, on the other hand, is the biggest general legal market in the West.

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Re: San Diego vs LA Firms

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Feb 23, 2017 4:24 am

Who are the big players in San Diego? Does Cooley stand head and shoulders above everyone else?

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Re: San Diego vs LA Firms

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Feb 23, 2017 8:17 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Who are the big players in San Diego? Does Cooley stand head and shoulders above everyone else?


AFAIK the other big players are Latham, DLA Piper and Paul Hastings.

candidlatke
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Re: San Diego vs LA Firms

Postby candidlatke » Thu Feb 23, 2017 8:38 pm

I think Jones Day also has a sizable office down there

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Re: San Diego vs LA Firms

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Feb 23, 2017 10:09 pm

Latham and Cooley are the biggest players, but Paul Hastings is cool if you want to do a ton of M&A

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Re: San Diego vs LA Firms

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Feb 24, 2017 12:38 am

I'm the anon above who discouraged SD starting off. I can think of:
Latham, Cooley, Jones Day, MoFo, Sheppard Mullin, Paul Hastings, DLA Piper, Kilpatrick Townsend, Pillsbury, McKenna Long, Wilson Sonsini, Perkins Coie, Foley & Lardner, McDermott are biglaw and all have offices in SD (might have missed a couple). They are all either in UTC or in Carmel Valley (in addition a couple of them may have downtown offices). Although not biglaw, Robbins Geller is worth considering. For IP ( esp patents), Knobbe.

ETA couple more firms.
Last edited by Anonymous User on Sat Feb 25, 2017 1:19 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: San Diego vs LA Firms

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Feb 24, 2017 5:53 am

Anonymous User wrote:I'm the anon above who discouraged SD starting off. I can think of:
Latham, Cooley, Jones Day, MoFo, Sheppard Mullin, Paul Hastings, DLA Piper, Kilpatrick Townsend, Pillsbury, McKenna Long, Wilson Sonsini are biglaw and all have offices in SD (might have missed a couple). They are all either in UTC or in Carmel Valley (in addition a couple of them may have downtown offices). Although not biglaw, Robbins Geller is worth considering. For IP ( esp patents), Knobbe.


Was it easy for you to transfer from SD to your current market? And was it within your firm or a different firm? How would you assess the exit ops for someone who worked 3-5 yrs at one of the above firms?

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Re: San Diego vs LA Firms

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Feb 24, 2017 6:07 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Latham and Cooley are the biggest players, but Paul Hastings is cool if you want to do a ton of M&A


From my time spent on callbacks with a large part of the San Diego firms and talking with San Diego attorneys this seems to be right at least from the corporate perspective.

I was told basically all the San Diego Corporate work is handled by Latham and Cooley. PH does some private and public M&A for companies not located in San Diego due to their Global M&A guy sitting in the office.

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Re: San Diego vs LA Firms

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Feb 25, 2017 1:16 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:I'm the anon above who discouraged SD starting off. I can think of:
Latham, Cooley, Jones Day, MoFo, Sheppard Mullin, Paul Hastings, DLA Piper, Kilpatrick Townsend, Pillsbury, McKenna Long, Wilson Sonsini are biglaw and all have offices in SD (might have missed a couple). They are all either in UTC or in Carmel Valley (in addition a couple of them may have downtown offices). Although not biglaw, Robbins Geller is worth considering. For IP ( esp patents), Knobbe.


Was it easy for you to transfer from SD to your current market? And was it within your firm or a different firm? How would you assess the exit ops for someone who worked 3-5 yrs at one of the above firms?


It was relatively easy. I switched firms. I got an offer in the practice area I wanted to be in, in the city I was interested in moving to, within a couple of months of starting to look. However, I think I got lucky because I started searching more broadly after getting a call-back at my current firm, and I never heard back from any other firm in the one month from phone interview until I accepted my offer. My previous firm did offer to move me to my current market but I did not take up that offer primarily because they were not paying market. That's another thing to remember -- although many of the biglaw firms in SD start you off at the Cravath scale, the pay is highly compressed going forward.

Exit opps -- it depends. Good for SD government positions. Fine for lateral to firms in OC/SD. Other offices of firms, I think harder unless you can show a compelling reason to move.

In-house: a little weak outside biotech. Biotech exit opps are pretty strong if you gain experience in the life sciences. The few people that left when I was there: (i) went to smaller biotech companies; (ii) government (court staff attorney etc.); (iii) started their own practice; and (iv) lateraled to smaller regional firms in SD.

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Re: San Diego vs LA Firms

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Feb 25, 2017 7:28 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:I'm the anon above who discouraged SD starting off. I can think of:
Latham, Cooley, Jones Day, MoFo, Sheppard Mullin, Paul Hastings, DLA Piper, Kilpatrick Townsend, Pillsbury, McKenna Long, Wilson Sonsini are biglaw and all have offices in SD (might have missed a couple). They are all either in UTC or in Carmel Valley (in addition a couple of them may have downtown offices). Although not biglaw, Robbins Geller is worth considering. For IP ( esp patents), Knobbe.


Was it easy for you to transfer from SD to your current market? And was it within your firm or a different firm? How would you assess the exit ops for someone who worked 3-5 yrs at one of the above firms?


It was relatively easy. I switched firms. I got an offer in the practice area I wanted to be in, in the city I was interested in moving to, within a couple of months of starting to look. However, I think I got lucky because I started searching more broadly after getting a call-back at my current firm, and I never heard back from any other firm in the one month from phone interview until I accepted my offer. My previous firm did offer to move me to my current market but I did not take up that offer primarily because they were not paying market. That's another thing to remember -- although many of the biglaw firms in SD start you off at the Cravath scale, the pay is highly compressed going forward.

Exit opps -- it depends. Good for SD government positions. Fine for lateral to firms in OC/SD. Other offices of firms, I think harder unless you can show a compelling reason to move.

In-house: a little weak outside biotech. Biotech exit opps are pretty strong if you gain experience in the life sciences. The few people that left when I was there: (i) went to smaller biotech companies; (ii) government (court staff attorney etc.); (iii) started their own practice; and (iv) lateraled to smaller regional firms in SD.


In terms of base salary, bonus, or both?

Anonymous User
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Re: San Diego vs LA Firms

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Feb 25, 2017 11:06 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:I'm the anon above who discouraged SD starting off. I can think of:
Latham, Cooley, Jones Day, MoFo, Sheppard Mullin, Paul Hastings, DLA Piper, Kilpatrick Townsend, Pillsbury, McKenna Long, Wilson Sonsini are biglaw and all have offices in SD (might have missed a couple). They are all either in UTC or in Carmel Valley (in addition a couple of them may have downtown offices). Although not biglaw, Robbins Geller is worth considering. For IP ( esp patents), Knobbe.


Was it easy for you to transfer from SD to your current market? And was it within your firm or a different firm? How would you assess the exit ops for someone who worked 3-5 yrs at one of the above firms?


It was relatively easy. I switched firms. I got an offer in the practice area I wanted to be in, in the city I was interested in moving to, within a couple of months of starting to look. However, I think I got lucky because I started searching more broadly after getting a call-back at my current firm, and I never heard back from any other firm in the one month from phone interview until I accepted my offer. My previous firm did offer to move me to my current market but I did not take up that offer primarily because they were not paying market. That's another thing to remember -- although many of the biglaw firms in SD start you off at the Cravath scale, the pay is highly compressed going forward.

Exit opps -- it depends. Good for SD government positions. Fine for lateral to firms in OC/SD. Other offices of firms, I think harder unless you can show a compelling reason to move.

In-house: a little weak outside biotech. Biotech exit opps are pretty strong if you gain experience in the life sciences. The few people that left when I was there: (i) went to smaller biotech companies; (ii) government (court staff attorney etc.); (iii) started their own practice; and (iv) lateraled to smaller regional firms in SD.


In terms of base salary, bonus, or both?


At my prev firm in SD, it was not lockstep. There were different levels, and basically you had to be "promoted" to move up to the next level. So base would start diverging in the senior years. And making hours would generally not get you market bonus -- indeed sometimes no bonus at all if you just made your hours. This gave them the latitude to treat different markets differently. Obviously, I don't know about other firms. But as you might be able to tell from ATL, even the lockstep firms have different bonus levels for SD.

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Re: San Diego vs LA Firms

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Mar 31, 2017 9:42 pm

[quote="Mikey947"]Do a lot of usd kids work in OC and LA after school?

.

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Re: San Diego vs LA Firms

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Mar 31, 2017 9:42 pm

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