Best place to start career in patent lit: Desmarais vs. big law Forum

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Best place to start career in patent lit: Desmarais vs. big law

Post by Anonymous User » Wed Jan 27, 2021 11:17 am

I am very grateful to have a number of summer offers, from several big law firms with top patent lit practices in NY and from Desmarais. I've seen a number of threads on here treating Desmarais negatively as essentially a patent troll, but it seems they have changed somewhat over the years? It also appears they have recently cut their infamous salaries, but still pay above market. Any tips on whether it's best to start out in patent lit at a place like Desmarais vs. big law?

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Re: Best place to start career in patent lit: Desmarais vs. big law

Post by Anonymous User » Wed Jan 27, 2021 1:34 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Wed Jan 27, 2021 11:17 am
I am very grateful to have a number of summer offers, from several big law firms with top patent lit practices in NY and from Desmarais. I've seen a number of threads on here treating Desmarais negatively as essentially a patent troll, but it seems they have changed somewhat over the years? It also appears they have recently cut their infamous salaries, but still pay above market. Any tips on whether it's best to start out in patent lit at a place like Desmarais vs. big law?
I'm currently a patent litigator at a V10 firm in NYC. I faced a similar dilemma when I was going through OCI (I was choosing between Fish/Finnegan vs. several biglaw firms with strong patent lit practices). I chose to go with the traditional biglaw firm for several reasons: (1) they seemed to be more stable and had more work to go around - even at Fish/Finnegan, the associates who interviewed me shared that they were struggling to meet their hours; (2) the firms overall can weather economic storms better so there is less of a risk of layoffs; (3) if for any reason you decide you don't want to do patent lit anymore, you can more easily switch groups; and (4) increasingly, clients want to have all of their legal needs taken care of by one firm, so the patent lit practices at a lot of biglaw firms are growing considerably.

For the reasons you've mentioned already, I would be very, very careful about Desmarais. Their reputation in patent lit circles is...not great. If you're really set on going to an IP boutique for some reason, Fish/Finnegan would be much safer options.

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Re: Best place to start career in patent lit: Desmarais vs. big law

Post by Anonymous User » Sat Jan 30, 2021 1:11 am

apparently they dont bill hours though which seems kind of good

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Re: Best place to start career in patent lit: Desmarais vs. big law

Post by Anonymous User » Sat Jan 30, 2021 2:24 am

that just means you work all the time. It's like unlimited vacation, which means you don't get any vacation.

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Re: Best place to start career in patent lit: Desmarais vs. big law

Post by Anonymous User » Sat Jan 30, 2021 5:23 pm

Can confirm. Working at a similarly situated no billable hours litigation boutique. We work constantly that sometimes I miss the billable hour :lol: But you also have to consider the experiences you may receive which may be more substantive than in big law at least earlier on.

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Re: Best place to start career in patent lit: Desmarais vs. big law

Post by Anonymous User » Mon Feb 01, 2021 8:24 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Sat Jan 30, 2021 2:24 am
that just means you work all the time.
sure but at least you dont get punished for working efficiently and you don't have to spend the 20 mins a day logging your minutes

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Re: Best place to start career in patent lit: Desmarais vs. big law

Post by Anonymous User » Wed Feb 03, 2021 4:15 pm

I don't have a horse in this race but the person who claims to be at a V10 and says that Desmarais's reputation in patent lit circles is "not great" is...misguided at best. Anyone working in the space knows that Desmarais hasn't done much patent troll work in several years. No one really has since Alice, it's just not profitable anymore.

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Re: Best place to start career in patent lit: Desmarais vs. big law

Post by Anonymous User » Wed Feb 03, 2021 5:42 pm

From the perspective of someone practicing in this space for a while almost exclusively on the defense side, Desmarais is actually one of my preferred opposing counsels - generally pretty reasonable to deal with, not into making the entire case about discovery disputes, etc. If you really liked the people you met there and think you'd fit in, and know for sure what you want to do and it matches what they do, it wouldn't be a mistake at all to go there. They are pretty well regarded by the defense bar likely due to their originating from Kirkland and their generally civil reputation (as compared to many others we see on the other side of the v).

The whole "used to be traditional big law litigator starting a plaintiff focused but also now does a decent amount of defense side" shop didn't exist when I was looking for a job, but for the reasons people have posted above, I would usually recommend starting at a more generalist firm with an excellent reputation in IP lit. Over the years, I've seen IP lit work ebb and flow quite a bit, and when you're at a firm that is more generalized and the corporate side has a great year, you're much less likely to have cuts to bonuses or layoffs even if your group didn't do as well. Similarly, you can end up working on really interesting cross-team litigation with a technical focus at a more generalist firm that is better handled by a larger firm and one with a business litigation department (and cases like that often come from the corporate side or the employment group or what have you).

All that said, go where you'll be happiest. If you want to be at a lean boutique with a great rep, and take the risks but reap higher pay, go there. If you're more risk averse, and found you clicked better with the people at a big law firm, go there.

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Re: Best place to start career in patent lit: Desmarais vs. big law

Post by Anonymous User » Wed Feb 24, 2021 7:01 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Wed Jan 27, 2021 1:34 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Wed Jan 27, 2021 11:17 am
I am very grateful to have a number of summer offers, from several big law firms with top patent lit practices in NY and from Desmarais. I've seen a number of threads on here treating Desmarais negatively as essentially a patent troll, but it seems they have changed somewhat over the years? It also appears they have recently cut their infamous salaries, but still pay above market. Any tips on whether it's best to start out in patent lit at a place like Desmarais vs. big law?
I'm currently a patent litigator at a V10 firm in NYC. I faced a similar dilemma when I was going through OCI (I was choosing between Fish/Finnegan vs. several biglaw firms with strong patent lit practices). I chose to go with the traditional biglaw firm for several reasons: (1) they seemed to be more stable and had more work to go around - even at Fish/Finnegan, the associates who interviewed me shared that they were struggling to meet their hours; (2) the firms overall can weather economic storms better so there is less of a risk of layoffs; (3) if for any reason you decide you don't want to do patent lit anymore, you can more easily switch groups; and (4) increasingly, clients want to have all of their legal needs taken care of by one firm, so the patent lit practices at a lot of biglaw firms are growing considerably.

For the reasons you've mentioned already, I would be very, very careful about Desmarais. Their reputation in patent lit circles is...not great. If you're really set on going to an IP boutique for some reason, Fish/Finnegan would be much safer options.
I think you might be dealing with some bad information there, friend, or confirmation bias. As a current attorney at one of Fish/Finnegan (anonymous for that reason obviously), if I was talking to you in person I would want to know who these people are who claim to be struggling to make their hours, because I want to hand off some of my work. :)

I also want to add a counterpoint to your argument for a V10 over an IP shop. Whether a firm is financially sound or not has very little, in my experience, to do with just broad exposure of the firm to different practice areas. I personally think it has much more to do with management philosophy. Large firms with diverse practices can and do still overextend themselves (just look up the term "to be Lathamed" from the end of the aughts). As long as your business is not dependent on only one client, or only one kind of IP litigation (like if you were hyperfocused on IPRs or something and this NHK Fintiv nonsense blows up further), having a "narrow" exposure to something as broad and lucrative as IP lit I don't think will make the difference, at least for IP shops in the Fish/Finnegan size range.

And you are discounting the value of being the product the firm is selling, rather than just one, largely expendable department. To the GP firms' credit, over the last decade and change they have started to see IP as something worth investing in. But a lot of them still got their IP department by gobbling up smaller firms, and from talking to friends at other shops it still shows with how they are treated sometimes. I would much rather, personally, be at a firm with a conservative management philosophy (might be revealing which of the two I mean, but whatever) where my practice is the star of the show, than at a firm of thousands that takes gambles, and sees IP as more of a value added to draw in business for other sectors like M&A. At the former, if I am going down, the whole firm is going down with me. At the later, I could be cut to help the firm pivot to meet market demands just because someone in management heard something about Alice making patents less appealing. And at the GP firm, if the entire industry tanks (knock on wood) they are still going to cut all the IP lawyers. At least with the IP shop, management understands my industry and is invested in it too.

All that said, that's just my take. Ultimately, this is a personal philosophy decision. And there are a lot of other reasons a general practice firm is attractive that I agree with (e.g., ability to get experience in areas outside IP, larger infirm network for client development or in house prospects, more offices worldwide if you need the flexibility to move, the ability to make a name for yourself internally as just the "patents" person instead of the expert on "101 challenges through motions to dismiss for Fintech cases in SDNY" or something hyperspecific like that).

OP, as for Demarais specifically, I have never litigated against them so I don't have anything to say positive or negative.

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Re: Best place to start career in patent lit: Desmarais vs. big law

Post by Anonymous User » Wed Feb 24, 2021 7:35 pm

I think one ought to think about exit options, not just the current job (what if you hate that firm, IP lit, or the practice of law in general?)

V10 on my resume sounds a whole lot better than Desmarais. I can pivot V10 into a lot of avenues, whereas not many even heard of Desmarais outside of the patent lit circle.

Feel free to look up former Desmarais associates and see where they went after, but from my observation, they ended up at other boutiques--maybe by choice, maybe not, who knows. On its face, the options coming from Desmarais seems much more limited.

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Re: Best place to start career in patent lit: Desmarais vs. big law

Post by Anonymous User » Wed Feb 24, 2021 7:44 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Wed Feb 24, 2021 7:35 pm
I think one ought to think about exit options, not just the current job (what if you hate that firm, IP lit, or the practice of law in general?)

V10 on my resume sounds a whole lot better than Desmarais. I can pivot V10 into a lot of avenues, whereas not many even heard of Desmarais outside of the patent lit circle.

Feel free to look up former Desmarais associates and see where they went after, but from my observation, they ended up at other boutiques--maybe by choice, maybe not, who knows. On its face, the options coming from Desmarais seems much more limited.
might be off but from desmarais, wouldn't it be easier to go in house to tech and pharmaceutical companies at least?

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Re: Best place to start career in patent lit: Desmarais vs. big law

Post by Anonymous User » Wed Feb 24, 2021 8:17 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Wed Feb 24, 2021 7:44 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Wed Feb 24, 2021 7:35 pm
I think one ought to think about exit options, not just the current job (what if you hate that firm, IP lit, or the practice of law in general?)

V10 on my resume sounds a whole lot better than Desmarais. I can pivot V10 into a lot of avenues, whereas not many even heard of Desmarais outside of the patent lit circle.

Feel free to look up former Desmarais associates and see where they went after, but from my observation, they ended up at other boutiques--maybe by choice, maybe not, who knows. On its face, the options coming from Desmarais seems much more limited.
might be off but from desmarais, wouldn't it be easier to go in house to tech and pharmaceutical companies at least?
Not the V10 guy, I'm the F/F guy above, but no... but not because of the name or connections. It's because of the practice you are building. Somewhere like Desmarais, you are going to almost certainly be a litigator first. That is a valuable thing--if you are at a firm. However, the same reason it is valuable at a firm is also why it is less valuable if you are going in house. Companies hire firms for litigations, they don't hire associate general counsels to do them. They might like having a general counsel with litigation experience, but at that point you better also have years of experience with the industry already. Most don't really want to hire young litigators as in house attorneys. They view it as a specialist business, and would rather not have to train you themselves to negotiate licenses or evaluate M&A deals.

This is true even of tech or pharma companies. They are going to have IP folks for sure, but they are far more likely to want someone with patent prosecution or transactional experience, given the option. Which is not to say it is impossible as a litigator, but if you know you want to go in house now, being a generalist is a better option.

Of course, being a litigator at a V10 is not going to fix the issue for you either, as you are still a litigator. But that means the choice is really between being a litigator or something else, not two firms doing the same job.

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Re: Best place to start career in patent lit: Desmarais vs. big law

Post by Anonymous User » Tue Mar 02, 2021 3:56 pm

Associates from DLLP do occasionally leave for biglaw—I know of one who went to Sidley and one to DPW in the last year or so. I don't think they have any issues with exit options, but there is a smaller pool of firms (especially in NYC) that focus on IP lit in NYC and presumably those are the only firms really in play.

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Re: Best place to start career in patent lit: Desmarais vs. big law

Post by Anonymous User » Wed Mar 03, 2021 1:54 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Tue Mar 02, 2021 3:56 pm
Associates from DLLP do occasionally leave for biglaw—I know of one who went to Sidley and one to DPW in the last year or so. I don't think they have any issues with exit options, but there is a smaller pool of firms (especially in NYC) that focus on IP lit in NYC and presumably those are the only firms really in play.
DLLP associate here.

Most laterals move to firms. Some of the associates from the earlier days moved in house at Cisco and IBM (some of our longest-term clients).

Biglaw/EB firms our associates have gone to (both by choice and those asked to leave) include: Reichman (x2); DPW; Sidley; Williams & Connolly; Willkie; Baker Hostetler (Philly); Baker Botts; SullCrom; Kirkland; Perkins Coie (Seattle); Shearman Sterling; Gunderson. That stretches back a ways though.

I don't think the firm today can be fairly compared to the firm even five years ago (we just passed our ten year anniversary). Our big-name defensive client list has exploded recently, which will hopefully open more doors for in house moves down the line (not really any plaintiffs in-house opportunities out there other than IBM outside of the pharma space).

There was some lip service about the firm being open to secondments about a year ago, but nobody has asked about it further to my knowledge.

But ultimately this is a litigation shop for people who really want to learn to litigate and go to trial. Thanks to covid (and some stubborn judges pre-covid) we haven't had a big trial year since 2018, but the trial backlog at this point is getting out of hand and it looks like we have one that will start next month in Texas.

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Re: Best place to start career in patent lit: Desmarais vs. big law

Post by Anonymous User » Wed Mar 03, 2021 9:24 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Wed Feb 03, 2021 4:15 pm
I don't have a horse in this race but the person who claims to be at a V10 and says that Desmarais's reputation in patent lit circles is "not great" is...misguided at best. Anyone working in the space knows that Desmarais hasn't done much patent troll work in several years. No one really has since Alice, it's just not profitable anymore.
I don't have any opinions about Desmarais. However, I felt like I needed to respond to this. No one has done patent troll work since Alice? That's completely incorrect. I do IP lit at a vault 20 firm and we represent big tech companies who are sued by trolls more than 10 times a year. It's incredibly profitable and happens all the time.

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Re: Best place to start career in patent lit: Desmarais vs. big law

Post by Anonymous User » Wed Mar 03, 2021 11:37 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Wed Mar 03, 2021 9:24 am
Anonymous User wrote:
Wed Feb 03, 2021 4:15 pm
I don't have a horse in this race but the person who claims to be at a V10 and says that Desmarais's reputation in patent lit circles is "not great" is...misguided at best. Anyone working in the space knows that Desmarais hasn't done much patent troll work in several years. No one really has since Alice, it's just not profitable anymore.
I don't have any opinions about Desmarais. However, I felt like I needed to respond to this. No one has done patent troll work since Alice? That's completely incorrect. I do IP lit at a vault 20 firm and we represent big tech companies who are sued by trolls more than 10 times a year. It's incredibly profitable and happens all the time.
DLLP associate from above here. We absolutely scaled back our Plaintiffs work post-Alice. It was incredibly profitable, but we made the business decision to move to majority Defense work. Seems like the right call especially with Senator Leahy taking the reigns of the IP subcommittee under Biden instead of someone who would go for 101 reform.

I think the whimper of IV III's RPX deal is a great illustration of the alice impact on patent value/profitability. Although, Albright is doing his damndest to ignore precedent and decency in order to give plaintiffs their dream venue. Between Albright and all the billion dollar verdicts floating around, maybe things change for plaintiffs.

But I don't think Desmarais can or wants to move back to a plaintiff-heavy model--we just have too many conflicts now that we represent almost every big tech company. (EDIT: and this is why you see some folks jump ship from DLLP to Reichman, where they can still handle plaintiffs work)

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Re: Best place to start career in patent lit: Desmarais vs. big law

Post by Anonymous User » Thu Aug 19, 2021 10:17 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Wed Jan 27, 2021 11:17 am
I am very grateful to have a number of summer offers, from several big law firms with top patent lit practices in NY and from Desmarais. I've seen a number of threads on here treating Desmarais negatively as essentially a patent troll, but it seems they have changed somewhat over the years? It also appears they have recently cut their infamous salaries, but still pay above market. Any tips on whether it's best to start out in patent lit at a place like Desmarais vs. big law?
Wanted to bump this thread from January if anyone has current takes. Is it risky to start at a firm like this instead of traditional big law? No billable seems super nice..

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Re: Best place to start career in patent lit: Desmarais vs. big law

Post by Anonymous User » Thu Aug 19, 2021 11:10 am

Any thoughts on IP lit at one of the California QE offices?

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Re: Best place to start career in patent lit: Desmarais vs. big law

Post by Anonymous User » Thu Aug 19, 2021 12:00 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Thu Aug 19, 2021 10:17 am
Anonymous User wrote:
Wed Jan 27, 2021 11:17 am
I am very grateful to have a number of summer offers, from several big law firms with top patent lit practices in NY and from Desmarais. I've seen a number of threads on here treating Desmarais negatively as essentially a patent troll, but it seems they have changed somewhat over the years? It also appears they have recently cut their infamous salaries, but still pay above market. Any tips on whether it's best to start out in patent lit at a place like Desmarais vs. big law?
Wanted to bump this thread from January if anyone has current takes. Is it risky to start at a firm like this instead of traditional big law? No billable seems super nice..
What's risky about it? Desmarais is an established, well-regarded firm at this point and represents some of the biggest tech and pharma companies on the planet. If you know that you want to do patent litigation, you will be doing patent litigation at Desmarais or whatever big law firm you choose. No billable isn't super nice most of the time--as others have said, there's usually so much work that billables simply aren't needed. There are two small benefits. One, if you have a slow week, you don't care because you have no hours to hit. And two, no one is creating BS work to up the billables to clients. But overall it doesn't mean much.

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Re: Best place to start career in patent lit: Desmarais vs. big law

Post by Anonymous User » Thu Aug 19, 2021 12:07 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Thu Aug 19, 2021 12:00 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Thu Aug 19, 2021 10:17 am
Anonymous User wrote:
Wed Jan 27, 2021 11:17 am
I am very grateful to have a number of summer offers, from several big law firms with top patent lit practices in NY and from Desmarais. I've seen a number of threads on here treating Desmarais negatively as essentially a patent troll, but it seems they have changed somewhat over the years? It also appears they have recently cut their infamous salaries, but still pay above market. Any tips on whether it's best to start out in patent lit at a place like Desmarais vs. big law?
Wanted to bump this thread from January if anyone has current takes. Is it risky to start at a firm like this instead of traditional big law? No billable seems super nice..
What's risky about it? Desmarais is an established, well-regarded firm at this point and represents some of the biggest tech and pharma companies on the planet. If you know that you want to do patent litigation, you will be doing patent litigation at Desmarais or whatever big law firm you choose. No billable isn't super nice most of the time--as others have said, there's usually so much work that billables simply aren't needed. There are two small benefits. One, if you have a slow week, you don't care because you have no hours to hit. And two, no one is creating BS work to up the billables to clients. But overall it doesn't mean much.
it also means you dont get punished for working efficiently though. that different mindset can make a huge difference in qol

you also dont spend that 15 minutes a day or whatever tabulating your time

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Re: Best place to start career in patent lit: Desmarais vs. big law

Post by Anonymous User » Thu Aug 19, 2021 5:20 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Thu Aug 19, 2021 10:17 am
Anonymous User wrote:
Wed Jan 27, 2021 11:17 am
I am very grateful to have a number of summer offers, from several big law firms with top patent lit practices in NY and from Desmarais. I've seen a number of threads on here treating Desmarais negatively as essentially a patent troll, but it seems they have changed somewhat over the years? It also appears they have recently cut their infamous salaries, but still pay above market. Any tips on whether it's best to start out in patent lit at a place like Desmarais vs. big law?
Wanted to bump this thread from January if anyone has current takes. Is it risky to start at a firm like this instead of traditional big law? No billable seems super nice..
If you are dead set on patent litigation Desmarais is a great option. Bigger firms do provide flexibility if you are uncertain and want to try your hand at other things. Either place will own your schedule, billable or not.

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Re: Best place to start career in patent lit: Desmarais vs. big law

Post by Anonymous User » Tue Jan 25, 2022 11:34 am

Desmarais announced on their website above market bonus compensation. Anyone know just how much this is??

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