Wilson Sonsini vs. Cooley vs. Fenwick vs. Gunderson Forum

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gypsyking

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Wilson Sonsini vs. Cooley vs. Fenwick vs. Gunderson

Post by gypsyking » Wed May 28, 2014 10:47 pm

Could people in the know share the insight into these Silicon Valley firms? Which ones are more selective than others? How do bonuses compare between the four firms?

I am equally interested in VC/Emerging Companies work and M&A.

Due to personal circumstances out of my control, I may need to lateral into another major market such as NYC/Houston/LA after a couple years. Which one of these firms would best allow me to make that move? In other words, what is the perception of these firms from a NYC perspective?

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DELG

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Re: Wilson Sonsini vs. Cooley vs. Fenwick vs. Gunderson

Post by DELG » Wed May 28, 2014 10:48 pm

Why do you ask?

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Re: Wilson Sonsini vs. Cooley vs. Fenwick vs. Gunderson

Post by gypsyking » Wed May 28, 2014 10:54 pm

DELG wrote:Why do you ask?
I am splitting my summer at 2 of those 4 firms. Assuming I get an offer or two, I would consider applying to the remaining 2 at 3L OCI if it would be better for me.

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Re: Wilson Sonsini vs. Cooley vs. Fenwick vs. Gunderson

Post by cookiejar1 » Wed May 28, 2014 11:01 pm

I'm also interested in knowing some key differences between these firms.

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Re: Wilson Sonsini vs. Cooley vs. Fenwick vs. Gunderson

Post by Anonymous User » Thu May 29, 2014 12:21 am

Their selectivity doesn't seem to be that different, though Cooley tends to be the most selective (likely due to smaller class size than Fenwick/WSGR). Gunderson tends to have the lowest median callback GPA of the data I've seen (but this data might not be representative) though Gunderson tends to have the smallest class size of the 4 which can make your odds of getting a callback/offer less predictable than it might be at a firm with more SAs. I don't think bonuses should matter between any of them since it is such a small part of compensation relative to your salary. None of them have bonuses that blow other firms out of the water.

Since the firms are similar, pick the one that you personally like best (and since you aren't interested in lit you don't have to shy away from Gunderson). However, since you may need to lateral out of CA I'd lean a little bit towards WSGR or Cooley (actual associates feel free to correct me if I'm wrong). First, there's a chance that either of those firms may have an office in that city whereas Fenwick/Gunderson likely won't or even if they do the office will be very small (e.g. Gunderson NY). Second, I think because lawyers will be more familiar with WSGR/Cooley due to their more national presence that that will give you an edge. That said, if you liked Gunderson/Fenwick significantly more than WSGR/Cooley for whatever reason I don't necessarily think the latter two's national presence should necessarily trump your personal preference.

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Re: Wilson Sonsini vs. Cooley vs. Fenwick vs. Gunderson

Post by Anonymous User » Thu May 29, 2014 12:29 am

WSGR is huge and gross. I had no interest in their whole siloed thing.

Cooley seems awesome.

I have a friend at Fenwick who loves it, but is getting brutalized with work.

Gunderson himself seems great, but I was a little sketched out by how narrow their focus is. Also, Redwood Shores.

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Re: Wilson Sonsini vs. Cooley vs. Fenwick vs. Gunderson

Post by Anonymous User » Thu May 29, 2014 12:30 am

I think I heard that Wilson was ending the silos but could be wrong on that.

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Re: Wilson Sonsini vs. Cooley vs. Fenwick vs. Gunderson

Post by PwnLaw » Thu May 29, 2014 12:37 am

Anonymous User wrote:Their selectivity doesn't seem to be that different, though Cooley tends to be the most selective (likely due to smaller class size than Fenwick/WSGR). Gunderson tends to have the lowest median callback GPA of the data I've seen (but this data might not be representative) though Gunderson tends to have the smallest class size of the 4 which can make your odds of getting a callback/offer less predictable than it might be at a firm with more SAs. I don't think bonuses should matter between any of them since it is such a small part of compensation relative to your salary. None of them have bonuses that blow other firms out of the water.

Since the firms are similar, pick the one that you personally like best (and since you aren't interested in lit you don't have to shy away from Gunderson). However, since you may need to lateral out of CA I'd lean a little bit towards WSGR or Cooley (actual associates feel free to correct me if I'm wrong). First, there's a chance that either of those firms may have an office in that city whereas Fenwick/Gunderson likely won't or even if they do the office will be very small (e.g. Gunderson NY). Second, I think because lawyers will be more familiar with WSGR/Cooley due to their more national presence that that will give you an edge. That said, if you liked Gunderson/Fenwick significantly more than WSGR/Cooley for whatever reason I don't necessarily think the latter two's national presence should necessarily trump your personal preference.
This is exactly right. Small note that WSGR has moved more toward public company work rather than early stage stuff. Gunderson probably has the best culture/vibe (but it's almost exclusively VC related work).

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Re: Wilson Sonsini vs. Cooley vs. Fenwick vs. Gunderson

Post by Anonymous User » Thu May 29, 2014 12:51 am

I work at one of these.

Wilson: Choose for public company corporate tech work. But beware that once you're stuck with a partner, you're stuck with him.

Cooley: Choose for general corporate or early stage work mostly representing VCs.

Fenwick: Choose for general corporate work or early stage work mostly representing companies, but sometimes VCs.

Gunderson: Choose for early stage work, representing either companies or VCs.


All firms have brutal hours right now. Market is booming.

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Re: Wilson Sonsini vs. Cooley vs. Fenwick vs. Gunderson

Post by gypsyking » Thu May 29, 2014 1:16 am

Why are the hours brutal? Is it because the firms have not hired to meet demand or because people are leaving or some other explanation? What's the pulse on whether this is the temporary result of a tech bubble?

More importantly, what are the firms doing to compensate or alleviate the brutal hours? Better bonuses?


Anonymous User wrote:I work at one of these.

Wilson: Choose for public company corporate tech work. But beware that once you're stuck with a partner, you're stuck with him.

Cooley: Choose for general corporate or early stage work mostly representing VCs.

Fenwick: Choose for general corporate work or early stage work mostly representing companies, but sometimes VCs.

Gunderson: Choose for early stage work, representing either companies or VCs.


All firms have brutal hours right now. Market is booming.

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Re: Wilson Sonsini vs. Cooley vs. Fenwick vs. Gunderson

Post by PwnLaw » Thu May 29, 2014 1:55 am

gypsyking wrote:Why are the hours brutal? Is it because the firms have not hired to meet demand or because people are leaving or some other explanation? What's the pulse on whether this is the temporary result of a tech bubble?

More importantly, what are the firms doing to compensate or alleviate the brutal hours? Better bonuses?


Anonymous User wrote:I work at one of these.

Wilson: Choose for public company corporate tech work. But beware that once you're stuck with a partner, you're stuck with him.

Cooley: Choose for general corporate or early stage work mostly representing VCs.

Fenwick: Choose for general corporate work or early stage work mostly representing companies, but sometimes VCs.

Gunderson: Choose for early stage work, representing either companies or VCs.


All firms have brutal hours right now. Market is booming.
VC/Startup work is very boom and bust, so they generally hire lean. Also, associates get picked off with a far amount of regularity to the companies they work with. End result is that hours edge up pretty quickly during boom times (particularly since associates get lured away more often during them).

Your compensation for brutal hours is more time on the legal treadmill. You need to relieve yourself of any other expectation. Firms will always compensate you below what you think you deserve.

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Re: Wilson Sonsini vs. Cooley vs. Fenwick vs. Gunderson

Post by Anonymous User » Thu May 29, 2014 2:01 am

gypsyking wrote:Why are the hours brutal? Is it because the firms have not hired to meet demand or because people are leaving or some other explanation? What's the pulse on whether this is the temporary result of a tech bubble?

More importantly, what are the firms doing to compensate or alleviate the brutal hours? Better bonuses?


Anonymous User wrote:I work at one of these.

Wilson: Choose for public company corporate tech work. But beware that once you're stuck with a partner, you're stuck with him.

Cooley: Choose for general corporate or early stage work mostly representing VCs.

Fenwick: Choose for general corporate work or early stage work mostly representing companies, but sometimes VCs.

Gunderson: Choose for early stage work, representing either companies or VCs.


All firms have brutal hours right now. Market is booming.
Extremely conservative hiring, especially at my firm.

Bonuses vary, but are at least market. If there's to be any improvement in compensation, there must be an overall shift in base salaries and that has to come from NYC. Tide is very, very slowly shifting toward associates again, so it's decently possible that we'll see a bump in the next 5 years.

Toward pwnlaw's point, I can see myself getting picked up by any of my 30-40 clients. I'm their outside counsel and I know their company inside out. Seems like an easy play.

Don't know if I'd take it. I like my job.

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Re: Wilson Sonsini vs. Cooley vs. Fenwick vs. Gunderson

Post by gypsyking » Thu May 29, 2014 2:09 am

Just out of curiosity, what do you like about your job that would make you want to stay in a firm? The impression I get from this forum is that associates would kill for the opportunity to go in-house. We don't often read about associates wanting to pass up opportunities to go in-house because they like working in a firm.

Would the pay be substantially less in-house?


Extremely conservative hiring, especially at my firm.

Bonuses vary, but are at least market. If there's to be any improvement in compensation, there must be an overall shift in base salaries and that has to come from NYC. Tide is very, very slowly shifting toward associates again, so it's decently possible that we'll see a bump in the next 5 years.

Toward pwnlaw's point, I can see myself getting picked up by any of my 30-40 clients. I'm their outside counsel and I know their company inside out. Seems like an easy play.

Don't know if I'd take it. I like my job.

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Re: Wilson Sonsini vs. Cooley vs. Fenwick vs. Gunderson

Post by Anonymous User » Thu May 29, 2014 2:15 am

Just out of curiosity, what do you like about your job that would make you want to stay in a firm? The impression I get from this forum is that associates would kill for the opportunity to go in-house. We don't often read about associates wanting to pass up opportunities to go in-house because they like working in a firm.

Would the pay be substantially less in-house?
I like the variety I get from working with many of my clients. I feel like I'd get bored if I just focused on one.

Not all in-house opportunities are created the same. Lots of people romanticize it because they think it's dramatically better than biglaw. But thats not always the case. Sometimes the hours are just as bad for less pay. The work is necessarily less complex because all the tough stuff is handed to outside law firms. And you're a cost-center for the company, and--all things considered--i don't like being on that portion of the balance sheet for a company.

in-house pay varies widely. in CA, though, for the kinds of in-house jobs available to associates at these firms, pay is decently close to market all-in, with substantial benefits and equity as well.

assuming you don't go to a google, apple, Facebook, etc., it's also riskier. the startup you join can go up in smoke.

its your duty to make sure you keep hustling--meeting people, making connections, and forcing yourself to get out there even after a long day's work.

i think being counsel at a startup could be fun, though, if your role was quasi-business/quasi-legal. 'but the hours aren't nec better than big law. those guys work hard.

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