Small Firm San Francisco Salary

(On Campus Interviews, Summer Associate positions, Firm Reviews, Tips, ...)
Forum rules
Anonymous Posting

Anonymous posting is only appropriate when you are revealing sensitive employment related information about a firm, job, etc. You may anonymously respond on topic to these threads. Unacceptable uses include: harassing another user, joking around, testing the feature, or other things that are more appropriate in the lounge.

Failure to follow these rules will get you outed, warned, or banned.
Anonymous User
Posts: 329318
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Small Firm San Francisco Salary

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Feb 08, 2019 11:11 am

Received an offer to work at a small firm in San Francisco. I'd be coming in off the Vale, and I'm not sure what would be a reasonable number. The firm mainly specializes in litigation for small businesses and individuals; any help you could give would be appreciated. I went to a T14 FWIW.

User avatar
acronyx

New
Posts: 34
Joined: Tue Jun 14, 2011 12:33 am

Re: Small Firm San Francisco Salary

Postby acronyx » Sun Feb 10, 2019 12:59 am

1. Cost of living in SF is nuts.
2. My general advice on this one is some variation on: "I'm really more interested in the opportunity and experience." CA prohibits asking what someone is making, and I hate offering up a number. You can always negotiate later once you've proved your worth (or lateral...easier to find a job when you're employed and they can't ask for current salary!)

Whatislaw

New
Posts: 13
Joined: Sat Feb 09, 2019 4:06 am

Re: Small Firm San Francisco Salary

Postby Whatislaw » Sun Feb 10, 2019 4:26 am

I've heard it can range drastically from low 90's to Cravath. Do you have the firm name that you can share?

User avatar
RedGiant

Moderator
Posts: 372
Joined: Sun Feb 17, 2013 10:30 am

Re: Small Firm San Francisco Salary

Postby RedGiant » Sun Feb 10, 2019 5:39 pm

I'd ask for at least $125K. They might tell you that's wildly off. But it costs $2500 to rent a 1BR in the Outer Sunset right now and $3500-$4000 in a better neighborhood. That's post-tax. If you don't want to commute from super-far or have 12 roommates and live like you're 22, ask for at least six figures. You should check out the Lawyer Whisperer blog and also the Robert Half salary reports. Talk to a headhunter too, just in to get more data points.

Anonymous User
Posts: 329318
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Small Firm San Francisco Salary

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Feb 10, 2019 8:38 pm

At one lit boutique in SF, first year associates start at 125k not including bonus.

Anonymous User
Posts: 329318
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Small Firm San Francisco Salary

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Feb 11, 2019 4:20 pm

I am earning 105k. litigation defense. not sure if we are boutique... hours are about 8:30 - 5:30.

Anonymous User
Posts: 329318
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Small Firm San Francisco Salary

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Feb 19, 2019 5:18 am

Anonymous User wrote:I am earning 105k. litigation defense. not sure if we are boutique... hours are about 8:30 - 5:30.


Do boutiques have crazy lifestyles? What year for 105k litigation defense?

User avatar
rcharter1978

Gold
Posts: 4381
Joined: Thu Aug 06, 2015 12:49 pm

Re: Small Firm San Francisco Salary

Postby rcharter1978 » Tue Feb 19, 2019 11:59 am

Cost of living in San Francisco is ridiculous. Bachelor apartments in decent (?) neighborhoods go for $2800 a month. You don't even have a bedroom. Ridiculous. The city is nice, but there are a lot of angry street poopers and rent is high.

Anonymous User
Posts: 329318
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Small Firm San Francisco Salary

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Feb 19, 2019 3:57 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:I am earning 105k. litigation defense. not sure if we are boutique... hours are about 8:30 - 5:30.


Do boutiques have crazy lifestyles? What year for 105k litigation defense?


I'm first year (2018 grad). I have a few friends at firms like lewis brisbois (insurance defense and litigation defense (?)) and wilson elser (also litigation defense and insurance defense). Their hours seem manageable thus far. Nothing crazy (1950/yr required i believe).

If my firm is any indication of a "boutique," then it is very chill. A few crappy things: 1) my secretary is being shared with 2 other partners. They delegate their assignments to her very well... thus leaving me without someone to calendar and/or mail my discovery responses asap; 2) In a similar vein, I have to do a lot of the small non-billable stuff. I.E. make simple "shell" discovery responses. look up local rules. put together a binder. make a timeline for a new case, etc. Paralegals should be doing this (I think); 3) my friends at big law are making 190k; 4) my cases are only somewhat interesting--i have a few class actions. a lot of terminated employees suing clients based on discrimination. wage and hour. etc. Whereas i believe bigger firms will have cases involving big name companies.

Of course there are pros. My hours are a lot less than my friends at biglaw. I get a lot of mentoring from partners (they come into my room and lecture me on how to negotiate, never file a form interrog, etc.) stuff i won't learn from reading a 5 star rated book on Amazon. I will say, however, that I am aiming to lateral out of this firm into a bigger firm, hopefully within 2 years. I do wish I was in biglaw. guess grass is always greener.

Anonymous User
Posts: 329318
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Small Firm San Francisco Salary

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Feb 20, 2019 3:48 am

Thanks for the insight! Any concerns on job stability for smaller boutique firms? Do they expect you to stay late? Or do you work fairly regular 9-5pm? I'm thinking of leaving an insurance D firm (Wood Smith Henning) and I'm planning to hike my butt back up to the Bay Area so I'm hoping for a pay increase as I'm only making like $90,000 currently, which is a huge drag. Are you getting a lot of good training? Like my current firm isn't training me officially. It's all like on the job. I will admit that I'm in one of their smaller So Cal offices as opposed to their big mothership in LA.

Anonymous User
Posts: 329318
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Small Firm San Francisco Salary

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Feb 20, 2019 5:16 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Thanks for the insight! Any concerns on job stability for smaller boutique firms? Do they expect you to stay late? Or do you work fairly regular 9-5pm? I'm thinking of leaving an insurance D firm (Wood Smith Henning) and I'm planning to hike my butt back up to the Bay Area so I'm hoping for a pay increase as I'm only making like $90,000 currently, which is a huge drag. Are you getting a lot of good training? Like my current firm isn't training me officially. It's all like on the job. I will admit that I'm in one of their smaller So Cal offices as opposed to their big mothership in LA.


Stability -- absolutely not. The 2nd and 3rd year associates here tell me to not worry about my billables at all--they only average about 30ish a week or so (again, however, billable in a small/mid-sized firm is a lot more different than hours worked. I.e. they couldve worked 10 hours but only bill 6 that day because of the extra paralegal stuff they have to do (of which they otherwise could've delegated at a big firm)).

Staying Late -- No. Unless there's a trial. I stayed till 9 PM for 3 days straight to prepare for a trial but it was settle on the day of the trial... (at the steps of the courthouse as they would say). Otherwise, I'd say I leave at 4:30 PM about 20% of the time. 5:30 PM about 60% of the time. 6:30 or later the remaining 20%. But this really varies. If i have a lot of work to do, I wouldnt leave at 4:30 for no reason. At the same time, even if I have a lot of work to do, but my gf made plans at a steak house at 6, I would leave at 4:30 to head to steak house. Then perhaps resume work at 9:00 PM when I get home. Point is to really do what you got to do. Litigation is all about deadlines. I'm certainly not lazy--I willingly spend my weekend working if there's an upcoming deadline.

WSHB -- I have a couple of friends at the Concord office, they don't seem to hate it there. Although they told me the hours can suck. Do you have over a year experience? I'd like to bet your lateral experience would be much better with a minimum of one year of litigation experience.

Training -- Well I think I am. Do I have firm-sponsored conferences discussing how to draft an Answer? No... But if I have ANY question at all, and I can't figure it out, then I go to the partner who assigned it. Even if it's not directly needed to do the assignment, I still ask. For example, I would ask a partner how to take a deposition. He lectures me for 1 hour on what he does. Perhaps an example of defending a deposition he taught me: so, if you read any book or do any CLE, you're almost always taught that objections during depos are baseless (e.g. asked and answered) (absent privilege/work prod). In fact, of course you want to narrow a question down to get the deponee to state something unfavorable on the record. The more narrow a question (in a leading question form, of course), the stronger the testimony. However, he teaches me that defense lawyers often object not to preserve any crap, but to indirectly coach the client. You can see how an object to asked and answered might tell a client to refrain from expanding. You can't learn this stuff else where.

At the same time, a couple of my friends are already doing depositions, albeit without too much guidance. I do want to be thrown into the fire, partly because that's a quick way to learn. I would assume WSHB does this.

Anonymous User
Posts: 329318
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Small Firm San Francisco Salary

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Feb 20, 2019 11:00 pm

Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts! I just closed up my second year. That sounds like solid advice you're getting from your Partners, which is fantastic! That's super awesome that you get to come and go as you please and just get your stuff done whenever.

I've heard that the Concord office is one of the bigger offices for WSHB aside from the mothership in LA. I don't know if its uniform, but we get to do depos and such as cases need it. But we also do a shit ton of site inspections where we stand around waiting for contractors to inspect homes and such. Chill billing but boring as hell. I don't know if the pay for the Concord office is better, but our pay here is low. Do you or maybe your friends have any idea where someone from WSHB can lateral to? I know the hip big law firms usually care about where we come from firm wise?

Anonymous User
Posts: 329318
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Small Firm San Francisco Salary

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Feb 21, 2019 11:49 am

Anonymous User wrote:Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts! I just closed up my second year. That sounds like solid advice you're getting from your Partners, which is fantastic! That's super awesome that you get to come and go as you please and just get your stuff done whenever.

I've heard that the Concord office is one of the bigger offices for WSHB aside from the mothership in LA. I don't know if its uniform, but we get to do depos and such as cases need it. But we also do a shit ton of site inspections where we stand around waiting for contractors to inspect homes and such. Chill billing but boring as hell. I don't know if the pay for the Concord office is better, but our pay here is low. Do you or maybe your friends have any idea where someone from WSHB can lateral to? I know the hip big law firms usually care about where we come from firm wise?


One of the most significant factors to successfully lateral to another firm (and, in your case, one with a better pay) is whether you specialize in a practice area. For e.g., in California, our L&E is always going to be hot given the plaintiff-friendly wage and hour laws. I understand that WSHB puts associates into many groups, but if you can emphasize on your interest in a specific area then it'll help when you apply for those jobs that says "require 2-3 years experience, preferably in IP law, deposition experience, court appearances, etc." I would assume you guys do a lot of premise liability/slip and falls since that's what WSHB has been known to have become over the last several years (at least that's what I heard). Nonetheless, insurance defense civil litigation experience is litigation experience. You know (I hope) and have experience in how to do every part of litigation (with trial as the exception). pleadings, discovery, hearings, CMCs, MSJ, etc. If I were in your position, I don't think it'll be that hard to lateral into a similar firm that pays 110-120k in the bay area. There's so many firms who, while also does Ins. Def., also does a lot of other cases. I would put WSHB in the same category as Lewis Brisbois--both are recognized firms (albeit probably in a bad way, but interviewers will know what experience you're getting there).

As to which firm, I wouldn't target a specific list of firms. Aim for linkedin/indeed/craigslist, sfbar, etc. They have many job listings looking for 2-3 years experienced attorneys. You'd fit right in.

Anonymous User
Posts: 329318
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Small Firm San Francisco Salary

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Feb 22, 2019 2:24 am

Thank you!! You're spot on about the experience we get at WSHB and practice groups. We also have a bundle of CD cases too. Although, the groups are very "loose". Like we basically get whatever cases need staffing.

I'm assuming Lewis > WHSB? Or about same in your mind?

Do you have any thoughts on which firms would be reputable as midlaw or just good law firms? It's oddly challenging to find out which firms have a bad reputation.



Return to “Legal Employment�

Who is online

The online users are hidden on this forum.