Innovative industries need “innovative and flexible” law firms. Enter the tech, energy, and finance experts at Orrick…
“We consider ourselves one of the best firms in the world with a focus on three key sectors: finance, energy and infrastructure, and technology,” Orrick’s chief talent officer Siobhan Handley begins. “We’re very well known in the market for having that clear strategy, which is well understood by both our clients and in our talent recruitment.” A laser focus on three specialisms has helped the firm to impressive nationwide Chambers USA rankings in privacy and data security, projects, employment, appellate, startups and emerging companies law. With 14 offices across the US and nearly as many overseas, Orrick is one of the largest California-born firms; its other rankings include top spots in its home state for real estate and for litigation in Washington.
Along with the specific “type and quality of work” on offer at techy Orrick, juniors homed into the firm’s reputation for “keeping associates happy. Being one of the best places to work is part of the firm’s values.” Far from the robot lawyers you might expect of a future-looking firm, our sources described their colleagues as “reasonable humans who are friendly and care about one another.” They picked this up as soon as initial interviews, enjoying a “more relaxed conversation where you’re not trying to parrot all the lines you’ve practiced.”
“Being one of the best places to work is part of the firm’s values.”
Three is once again the magic number when we come to the geographical split of Orrick’s junior associate classes. Just over a third of our list was based in New York, the firm’s largest office; another third was spread across California, with San Francisco, Los Angeles and Silicon Valley taking the majority; as for the rest, DC housed the most, with smaller numbers in Austin, Houston, Seattle, Boston and Portland.
Of the 18 practice areas represented on our junior associate list, the most popular included litigation, IP, energy and infrastructure, structured finance and the ‘technology companies’ corporate group. Associate work assignment varies by office, but most of our sources reported a “combination of both a formal system and free market.” Most groups “have a partner whose role is to coordinate workflow,” but juniors often found assignments came from “repeat transactions for clients” and “informal relationships with partners which then lead to future work.”
“The team has given me a long leash.”
Technology companies are an Orrick trademark: interviewees described the group’s role as “primarily acting as outside general counsel for private tech companies.” The firm’s role runs from “incorporation to financing (often venture capital-backed) and coordinating all of the commercial contracts and tech transaction work.” Some juniors had also come across IPOs or the sale/merger of companies. Orrick has a strong Silicon Valley presence but also advises fast-rising clients in New York, Los Angeles and other tech markets. In most deals, our sources found they acted as “the first point of contact for the client,” and would then “help coordinate the response when they have an issue.” Other common roles include conducting diligence on companies and drafting documents from board minutes to financing agreements. The firm’s dedicated IP group deals with patent matters for these tech clients; juniors were “taking the first crack at drafting discovery responses, letters to opposing counsel and motions.”
TCG clients: Stripe, Go1.com, UpKeep. Advised investment management firm Coatue on its role as lead investor in the $30.2 million Series A2 financing of Berlin-based startup Choco.
The energy and infrastructure team sees the full lifecycle of projects, getting to grips with “development, negotiating project agreements, construction contracts, project finance, and the sale or mergers of companies in that space.” Energy is another Orrick staple: sources there had turbocharged their early practice with “a lot of renewables work, including representing developers of solar and wind farms and assisting them where they’re selling equity in their project to investors.” On the infrastructure side, interviewees had experience “representing public authorities like airport or highway authorities” and “assisting with financings to build new terminals, stations or highways.” Depending on the matter, junior associate tasks ranged from “drafting substantive agreements and interfacing with clients about them,” to relatively menial “project management and pulling together everything you need to cross the deal finish line.” One interviewee reflected on their time: “The team has given me a long leash and a good amount of responsibility to take things and make them my own, but also reach out with questions whenever needed.”
Energy and infrastructure clients: Macquarie Capital, Veolia, TerraForm Power. Advised Colorado-headquartered power producer Southwest Generation on the $680 million acquisition and financing of the Mankato Energy Center natural gas-fired power plant.
Orrick’s disputes practice extends beyond commercial disputes to employment litigation, securities and financial services litigation, as well as white-collar and investigations, which for our junior associate sources meant “providing compliance advice, FCPA investigations and other regulatory and enforcement work.” According to Chambers USA, white-collar and securities are the firm’s biggest litigious strengths in California; our sister guide also highly regards the New York commercial practice.On bigger cases, juniors handled “typical doc review and legal research,” whereas smaller-value matters offered chances to “interact directly with clients and manage the day-to-day of the case.”
Litigation clients: Credit Suisse, Johnson & Johnson, Goldman Sachs. Represented celebrity hairstylist Abell Oujaddou in criminal and civil proceedings for alleged insider trading.
Structured finance was one of the more popular subgroups of the firm’s finance business unit, “focusing mainly on securitizations – we do a lot of issuer and underwriter representation.” One source elaborated: “We deal with a variety of asset types – CMBS, RMBS, municipal bond work, credit cards, car loans, student loans…” Sources also highlighted quirkier matter types like “securitization of a music catalogue, considering future royalties from songs.” Interviewees in structured finance had managed to get experience “drafting main operative documents for securitizations,” which one source declared “is a big deal for a junior!” Sources reckoned “it shows partners are willing to trust you, but they also supervise at an appropriate level too.”
Finance clients: Bank of America, Barclays, Gap. Recently advised Applied Materials on a $2 billion unsecured term loan used to acquire Kokusai Electric Corporation.
Formal training at Orrick begins with a week-long new associate academy, followed by practice group-specific sessions. “Occasionally we do substantive industry presentations where a partner in the group will present on a topic,” sources said. “Those are especially helpful because the partners are industry leaders and they’re willing to take time to speak to the rest of the firm on what they’re seeing in the market.”
“Partners are industry leaders and they’re willing to take time to speak to the rest of the firm.”
Most agreed the firm does a good job of making clear which benchmarks associates should be hitting, and when. Sources also appreciated getting “regular feedback, both formal and informal.” This helped when weighing up their Orrick career prospects… “I first met people here as senior associates when they interviewed me; they’re now partners,” one junior told us. “People really can do it!” Others said there does seem to be a clear path to partnership, but also noted that “there’s never a lot of space at the top in BigLaw…”
Hours, Compensation & Pro Bono
Billable hours: 1,950 target
To be bonus-eligible, associates should bill 1,850 client billable hours (including unlimited pro bono). The last 100 can be made up of “a mix of things like business development, diversity and inclusion activities and other firm participation.” Our interviewees planned different timetables to reach their goal, but most logged on by 9 or 9:30am on most days; they typically signed off around 6:30pm then logged back on for an hour or two later in the evening. The majority had “no problem with compensation” and found Orrick’s bonus system is pretty clear cut. Sources reckoned “it’s really just about hitting your hours” to net a market bonus, “though there are additional bonuses available for business development and firm contribution [and high performers].”
“You’ll see something on the news and he’ll explain how you can work on it.”
“I think the firm has a culture of pushing pro bono, in a positive way,” sources reckoned. One gave an example: “If you hit the minimum 20 hours of pro bono, you get a sticker on your office. You don’t want to be the person without a sticker!” That’s peer pressure we can get behind. Interviewees were also encouraged that the firm doesn’t have a cap on hours and all pro bono counts toward billables; and praised the firm’s “dedicated full-time pro bono coordinator, who does an incredible job of pairing attorneys up with opportunities. He’s well connected – you’ll see something on the news and he’ll explain how you can work on it.”
As proof of the variety of pro bono on offer, everyone we spoke to had been involved in something different. Examples included working with nonprofits on their 501(c)(3)s and other corporate issues; low-income housing projects; landlord/tenant and immigration and asylum cases; election protection work, a big undertaking in 2020; and some criminal defense cases. “If you find something you think is worthwhile, you can bring it to the firm’s attention and they’ll assist you,” juniors added. Orrick’s also recently introduced several racial, social and economic justice fellowships, through which attorneys will be placed with nonprofit organizations for a full year while still being paid their regular salaries. See the firm’s website for a list of the partner nonprofits.
Pro bono hours
- For all US attorneys: 115,000
- Average per US attorney: 154
Junior associates were almost unanimously impressed with Orrick’s vibe: “I was surprised at how personable people were,” one said. “It’s not what you’d expect coming into a large law firm.” Others pointed to a culture of “lending a hand to team mates, rather than doing things to get ahead,” and appreciated that “you can be yourself for the most part. The firm has a variety of personalities and working styles.” All this sounds very lovely, but there’s no escaping some of the inherent stress that comes with top-end legal practice. “It’s still demanding on your time, but the firm as a whole does appreciate that you need to take time to yourself and have an outside life,” juniors agreed.
“The firm as a whole does appreciate that you need to take time to yourself.”
Some pinned this attitude down to Orrick’s California roots, but stressed that the non-Cali offices are similarly respectful of their attorneys’ time. “New York and Northeastern firms are often more high-strung, while I think California firms are more understanding that yes, this is your job and we’re all here to work, but we also have friends and family we should spend time with,” one interviewee said. “We work a lot and work hard, but we all treat each other like people.”
Diversity & Inclusion
Juniors were pleased to see this basic courtesy extended to all. “The firm talks a lot about diversity and inclusion being important, and I have found that to be the case,” we heard from one. “I’ve been pretty impressed that it’s a real thing and not just something in the marketing material.” As at all firms, there is of course room for improvement at Orrick, but insiders were impressed to find that “leadership recognizes we could do better and there is affirmative action being delivered to do so.” Thinking back to their initial interview with Orrick, one source recalled that “it was the only interview slate that wasn’t all white men – that made a huge impact on my decision.” Another weighed in: “Orrick does a good job of recruiting diverse attorneys at associate level, and eventually that will trickle up.”
“I’ve been pretty impressed that it’s a real thing and not just something in the marketing material.”
Highlights of the firm’s formal D&I program include an annual week-long event called Dive/In. “Orrick brings in speakers and tries to encourage people to learn and educate themselves,” we heard. In 2020 the keynote speaker was Professor Ibram X. Kendi, director of the Center for Antiracist Research at Boston University and author of How to Be an Anti-Racist. Orrick is also one of four law firms involved in the Move the Needle Fund, testing new initiatives to create measurable change in the profession.
Strategy & Future
“It’s an incredibly exciting time to be a lawyer – we can see that in the increase in law school applications,” chief talent officer Siobhan Handley declares. “There are lots of challenges facing the country and the world that lawyers are uniquely positioned to help with. And at Orrick, we believe that includes private practice lawyers.” Associates suggested the firm has the right approach to keep up with change – they were most likely to describe Orrick’s strategic mindset as ‘dynamic’ and ‘entrepreneurial’. “We consider ourselves one of the best firms in the world with a focus on three key sectors: finance, energy and infrastructure, and technology," adds Handley. "We’re very well known among clients for that focus. And associates who are interested in those three sectors – whether they want to do deals or litigate, tend to apply.”
The first stage: recruitment on and off campus
OCI applicants interviewed 2021: 135
Interviewees outside OCI: undisclosed
Orrick interviews at 30 OCI programs, seven career fairs – both diversity and practice focused - and participate in targeted resume collection drops; the firm have 5 collection drops scheduled this year. The firm seek for multiple levels of seniority to offer perspectives during the OCI process. As such, interviews are conducted by various individuals, from mid-level associates to partners. Attorneys typically conduct interviews one on one. A hiring source from the firm tells us: “We consider many factors when assessing an applicant's qualifications, including academics, journal membership, work experience and student activities."
Top tips for this stage:
“We encourage candidates to discuss their diverse backgrounds and interests, their interesting life experiences and perspectives that shape their world view. We’ve identified qualities our most successful lawyers have in common: grit, EQ, teamplay and innovation, and look for them when meeting with prospective attorneys.”– Orrick hiring source.
Applicants invited to second stage interview (2020): 504
Callback candidates interview with up to five attorneys, who are again a mix of seniority. “Typically,” the firm tells us, “the hiring partner for each office is involved in the interview.” Things become slightly more forensic at this stage, with questions being “a bit more fine-tuned,” to establish a personal rapport and establish an individual’s career goals. In order to see “if they are a good fit for our team and practices,” the firm use this stage to explore one’s personal and professional interests. The firm note that callback interviews are “fairly standardized across all offices.”
Top tips for this stage:
“We encourage candidates to fine-tune and highlight their diverse backgrounds and interests, their interesting life experiences, and perspectives that shape their world view.” – Orrick hiring source.
Offers (2021): 40
Through a wide variety of communication channels, the firm aim to accommodate incoming summer associate’s practice group preferences. Each summer receives assignments through a formalized work allocation system. After finishing the program, “associates indicate their top practice group preferences. Nearly all new hires are placed in their first-choice practice group.”
The program offers summer associates formal training through a variety of workshops, “touching on legal writing and research skills,” professional development, wellness, soft skills, and more. Bolstering integration efforts, summers collectively attend the Summer Academy in San Francisco for training and team building. The firm also juniors formalised mid and end-of summer reviews, as well as “constructive feedback” on assignments.
A wide variety of social events – from concerts to surfing, Disney Land, MLB games, Broadway shows, and more – foster further integration. With preferences ranked, the firm seek to accommodate and allocate practice group preferences based on the groups’ needs, “as well as the summer associate’s exposure to practicing within the preferred group.” The firm tells us that, “nearly all of our summer associates return as junior associates.
Top tips for this stage:
“Summer associate candidates should take this opportunity to get to know as many people as they can within the practices they are interested in and their specific office they are located in. They should take advantage of opportunities to shadow our attorneys, attend client meetings, participate in events, and all of the targeted trainings we hold.” – Orrick hiring source.
Across the entire process, Orrick identify four sought for qualities from incomers: “Grit (perseverance and passion for your long-term goals); EQ (the other kind of smarts, such as empathy and relationships); Teamplay (motivated by opportunities to collaborate on complex problems); and Innovation (inspired by driving change and making improvements in the way things are done).”
Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP
51 West 52nd Street,
- Head Office: New York/San Francisco
- Number of domestic offices: 14
- Number of international offices: 12
- Worldwide revenue: $1.15 billion
- Partners (US): 308
- Associates (US): 518
- Main recruitment contact: Michael Dee US Law School Relations & Diversity Recruiting Manager firstname.lastname@example.org
- Hiring partner: Vann Pearce, Jr. Partner
- Recruitment website: www.orrick.com/careers
- Diversity officer: Angelique Magliulo-Hager Director of Diverse Talent & Firmwide Training
- Recruitment details
- Entry-level associates starting in 2021: 43
- Clerking policy: Yes
- Summers joining/anticipated 2021: 61
- 21 1Ls, 38 2Ls, and 2 SEOs
- Summers joining/anticipated 2021 split by office:
- Summer salary 2021:
- 1Ls: $3,654
- 2Ls: $3,654
- Split summers offered? Yes, on case-by-case basis.
- Can summers spend time in an overseas office? No
Main areas of work
• Boston College Law School
• Boston University School of Law
• BYU J. Reuben Clark Law School
• Columbia University School of Law
• Duke University School of Law
• Fordham University School of Law
• George Washington University Law School
• Georgetown University Law Center
• Harvard University Law School
• Howard University School of Law
• New York University School of Law
• Northwestern Pritzker School of Law
• Santa Clara Law
• Stanford University Law School
• UC Berkeley School of Law
• UC Hastings College of the Law
• UCLA Law
• University of Houston Law Center
• University of Miami School of Law
• University of North Carolina School of Law
• University of Texas Law School
• University of Virginia Law School
• USC Gould School of Law
• Washington University School of Law
Recruitment outside OCIs:
Please visit our Careers Page at Orrick.com to learn more about employment opportunities at Orrick.
Summer associate profile:
We seek candidates who have diverse backgrounds and interests, and who bring interesting life experiences and perspectives that shape their world view. We’ve identified qualities our most successful lawyers have in common: grit, EQ, teamplay and innovation. We believe in having fun, while working hard on projects that make a tangible impact on the world, locally and globally.
Summer program components:
Your first day as a summer associate is the beginning of your Orrick career. Our goal is to immerse you in the firm, introduce you to our clients, engage you in the issues on which we are working and create opportunities for you to start building relationships that we hope will last a lifetime. Our summer associate classes are small, which means focused and personal attention, practical training, varied assignments spanning different transactional and litigation practice areas, extensive feedback, and hands-on experience with real client matters. The Financial Times has recognized our 2020 virtual summer program as a laboratory for the workplace of the future.
Twitter: @Orrick, @OrrickCareers
This Firm's Rankings in
USA Guide, 2021
- Antitrust (Band 4)
- Banking & Finance (Band 3)
- Capital Markets: Debt & Equity (Band 3)
- Intellectual Property: Patent Litigation (Band 3)
- Intellectual Property: Trademark, Copyright & Trade Secrets (Band 2)
- Labor & Employment (Band 2)
- Litigation: General Commercial: The Elite (Band 3)
- Litigation: Securities (Band 2)
- Litigation: White-Collar Crime & Government Investigations (Band 4)
- Technology: Transactions (Band 2)
- Venture Capital (Band 2)
- Real Estate (Band 1)
- Tax (Band 4)
California: San Francisco, Silicon Valley & Surro
- Corporate/M&A: The Elite (Band 4)
- Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation (Band 3)
District of Columbia
- Bankruptcy/Restructuring (Band 2)
- Intellectual Property: Litigation (Band 4)
- Litigation: General Commercial: Highly Regarded (Band 1)
- Bankruptcy/Restructuring: Highly Regarded (Band 1)
- Corporate/M&A: Highly Regarded (Band 5)
- Intellectual Property: Patent (Band 4)
- Labor & Employment: The Elite (Band 3)
- Litigation: General Commercial: Highly Regarded (Band 4)
- Litigation: White-Collar Crime & Government Investigations: The Elite (Band 5)
- Tax (Band 5)
USA - Nationwide
- Appellate Law (Band 2)
- Capital Markets: Securitization: ABS (Band 2)
- Capital Markets: Securitization: CMBS (Band 1)
- Capital Markets: Securitization: PACE (Band 1)
- Corporate Crime & Investigations: The Elite (Band 5)
- Corporate/M&A: Highly Regarded (Band 4)
- E-Discovery & Information Governance (Band 4)
- Energy: Electricity (Regulatory & Litigation) (Band 5)
- Energy: Electricity (Transactional) (Band 4)
- Energy: Oil & Gas (Regulatory & Litigation) (Band 5)
- Energy: Oil & Gas (Transactional) (Band 4)
- FCPA (Band 4)
- Intellectual Property (Band 4)
- International Trade: Export Controls & Economic Sanctions (Band 5)
- International Trade: Intellectual Property (Section 337) (Band 4)
- Labor & Employment (Band 2)
- Native American Law: Finance (Band 1)
- Privacy & Data Security: The Elite (Band 1)
- Product Liability & Mass Torts: Highly Regarded (Band 1)
- Projects: Power (Band 3)
- Projects: Power & Renewables: Transactional (Band 1)
- Projects: PPP (Band 1)
- Projects: Renewables & Alternative Energy (Band 1)
- Startups & Emerging Companies (Band 2)
- Litigation: General Commercial (Band 3)
- Litigation: White-Collar Crime & Government Investigations (Band 1)
Happiness and mental wellbeing
If you think you don’t have time to work out, imagine how Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg fits it in. Bryant Johnson, trainer to RBG, tells Orrick Chairman Mitch Zuklie how she makes it a priority and how you can, too.
Diversity & Inclusiveness
Hear directly from our team about how Orrick’s Agile Working options give our lawyers the opportunity to work in ways that work for them.
Orrick was honored by MCCA for our efforts to build a more diverse and inclusive workplace. Watch this video and find out why.
To learn more, visit the Orrick Careers site.
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