There's a lot more than tech work on offer at this West Coast headquartered firm.
GIVEN Orrick's HQ is in San Francisco you probably won't be surprised that it has a focus on the tech world. Microsoft, Apple, Salesforce, Facebook and Netflix have all recently sought the firm's counsel, and Chambers USA recognizes the firm nationally for IP and startup work and in California for IT transactions.
But this is a firm with much more going on than just tech work in California: it has global revenues pushing toward $1 billion, 12 offices in the US and 13 abroad. Orrick is ranked by Chambers USA in California, DC, New York, Washington and Texas for areas ranging from banking & finance to white-collar crime. Besides tech, energy & infrastructure and finance are both a big focus, and the firm is Chambers-ranked in these areas both in California and nationwide.
Orrick's juniors are scattered across a whole host of practice areas from e-commerce and IP to private equity and antitrust. At the time of our research around a quarter of juniors were in purely litigation-focused practices (e.g. civil litigation, Supreme Court and appellate, and securities litigation); a couple were in the general corporate team (which is focused on tech), while other teams with a significant numbers of juniors were energy, employment, public finance, IP, and the technology companies group. The New York and San Francisco offices have the biggest junior associates classes, followed by DC and LA. The Silicon Valley, Houston and Orange County offices take only a few juniors a year.
How work is handed out depends on the practice area. In the general litigation and corporate practices, a coordination partner "sends out emails with a brief description of the projects available," but juniors are also able to "go bug particular partners you want to work for." We heard that in the Supreme Court and appellate team most work is assigned through a posting system, while energy has the complete opposite with work coming largely from "partners swinging by." This had caused some issues previously, with energy associates being overstretched, but the recent introduction of a workflow coordinator "has been a huge improvement and really addressed the cons."
"The firm is supportive of you exploring particular interest."
The general corporate group takes on a range of M&A and capital markets work, though the New York office has a distinct lean toward energy clients, and San Francisco and Silicon Valley focus more on the tech market. Juniors spend most of their days "conducting due diligence and staying in contact with the partners and specialists on the team." There's also the chance to get involved in drafting but it "really depends on the partner. Early on some give you the responsibility, but others won't." The experience can be heterogeneous in other ways too. One junior told us they enjoyed working with the same clients at various stages of their life cycle, whether as an emerging company or more mature business –"the fact they already know me means it's natural for me to have a bigger role as time goes on." Other interviewees liked the fact they could try different things as time when on. "The firm is supportive of you exploring particular interests," one interviewee said. "For instance you might want to get more experience of the privacy, ERISA or tax aspects of a matter."
Corporate clients: Seacrest Capital Group, Unity Electric, Michelin, and Yelp. Advised Humble Bundle, an online video game vendor, on its acquisition by IGN Entertainment.
The firm's complex litigation group “represents large multinationals in what some may call bet-the-company litigation.” Recently juniors have been working on a high-profile case defending Johnson & Johnson against a large numbers of claims alleging the company sold asbestos-contaminated talcum powder which led to users getting cancer. Working on these cases means “you give up a diversity of clients, but you don’t give up a diversity of legal substantive work because so many issues come up,” chirped one junior. Explaining that they get to “do all the briefing, take depositions, and go to trial,” rookies reported “working with a senior attorney to come up with a strategy to approach cross-examination.” General litigation meanwhile handles disputes for financial institutions, tech companies, energy firms, and chemical companies. As in corporate, different offices have different leanings: New York handles more financial disputes and San Francisco has more tech clients. White-collar work was thought to be least exciting –"nearly 100% of my work is doc review,” grumbled one junior. However, interviewees did enjoy whatever legal research and analysis they got to do, "because the disputes often relate to the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which is typically not litigated in court, so there's a lot of gray area on what the law is."
Litigation clients: Microsoft, Credit Suisse, PayPal, and Dow AgroSciences. Defended Netflix in an dispute over its recruitment of 20th Century Fox's business executives.
"There is grunt work – things like combing through lots of documents."
The Supreme Court & appellate group works largely for tech and financial services clients, with cases relating to all kinds of stuff including "employment, telemarketing and patents." Day to day, associates either work on discrete tasks for larger cases like "writing a small portion of a brief" or they take on "a smaller case on which you're responsible for most or all of a brief" with senior lawyers simply reviewing their work. While juniors called the work "really interesting,fun and exciting," they also pointed out: "There is grunt work – things like combing through lots of documents during preparation for an oral argument."
Supreme Court & appellate clients: Johnson & Johnson, Ericsson, and Apple. Defended Credit Suisse against a $3.8 billion suit brought by U.S. Bank related to residential mortgage-backed securities.
Across the San Francisco and Houston offices Orrick's energy teams serve a mix of private equity, oil and gas, and renewables clients. The team takes on "pretty much anything in the energy and infrastructure industry: renewables, traditional power, project development and project finance."Houston has a notable focus on the oil and gas industry. Juniors said their typical tasks are "pretty similar" from one matter to the next: "We will have phone calls with our client to walk through an issues list, then we'll have multiple other calls to negotiate the high-level issues. After that we turn the key transaction documents." Sources said this repetition was a positive and that they enjoyed "negotiating, drafting and revising documents – it's like a puzzle."
Energy clients: Energy Transfer Partners, Borealis AG, BlackRock, and GE. Advised Chevron on the sale of its $510 million interest in the Elk Hills oil field in the San Joaquin Valley of California.
Three themes came up when we asked juniors about Orrick's culture. First, we heard of a "casual," "West Coast vibe" from the top down. "The chairman is pretty chill – he is very unpretentious and soft-spoken," one source said. In addition, "there's a business casual dress code. I see people taking advantage of that to varying degrees. Being able to dress casually makes a big difference: it doesn't make sense for me to be all fancily clad to sit in my office in front of my computer." There isn't much of difference between the offices in terms of culture (or dress code), though Silicon Valley has a somewhat more relaxed feel.
"The chairman is pretty chill – he is very unpretentious and soft-spoken."
The second theme we heard about was that juniors felt partners showed a genuine interest their career development. "They will try and give you opportunities to shine," one source said. "Everyone is pretty busy, but the firm tries to provide lots of information about how to build a practice and stuff like in a manageable and timely way."
Finally interviewees highlighted that agile working and being able to work from home is "a real morale booster as you can get that extra hour of sleep and do your laundry in a ten-minute break." Interviewees also felt their time off is respected. One reported: "If you have a vacation booked partners will jump in to assist you with some of the minutiae of your work so you can go away."
Hours & Compensation
This is still BigLaw though, so "there's plenty of work, let's put it that way," a tired junior told us. One upside of this is that the 2,000-hour billable target is well within reach. Interviewees said their typical day starts at around 9am, while the time juniors leave the office depends on an individual's preference for working from home (or not). Some sources said they usually leave at around 6:30pm and then put in a few extra hours from home. Others prefer to finish off their work in the office and leave at around 7:30 or 8pm. Either way late nights see juniors working in the office until midnight or later.
For associates' first three years raises are lockstep; after that Orrick runs a mixed compensation system where associates' salary is set by fixed bands, but whether an associate moves up a band depends on merit. Bonuses are paid out when associates hit their hours, though above-market bonuses are also paid out on a discretionary basis for those who particularly impress. Generally sources liked this mix, as well as the welcome news that Orrick raised salaries to match the Milbank scale in 2018.
Associates at Orrick progress up three levels, with attorneys normally spending three years at each one and moving upward based on demonstrating particular skills and experience. Rookies start as associates, move on to become managing associates, and then become senior associates, after which they can make partner. While keen on associates rising through the ranks, "the folks in charge recognize that not everyone is going to be aiming for the top, and they make it easier for people to have lives outside of work and still be fully functioning members of the team." As a result, reduced work schedules are available along with external career coaching and client secondments.In practice many associates"leave or go in-house around the fifth-year mark." Interviewees suggested attrition is currently lower in the smallerHouston office given its relative youth.
"The folks in charge recognize that not everyone is going to be aiming for the top."
Opinions were mixed on exactly how much the Orrick name adds to your CV. For example, those in the energy practice felt it was a big boost. "I have done everything I could have, and the partners train us so well," one energy associate said.Others, such as those in IP, were less boastful. One said: "I think Orrick's reputation will be relatively helpful, but I don't think our name is out there as much as it could be."
Diversity & Inclusion
The associate cohort as a whole at Orrick is pretty diverse: the gender split is 50:50, while 40% of associates are non-white. The partnership is less diverse, though one in five partners are non-white. We heard quite a lot of praise for the firm's DiveIn program, a series of events to promote diversity with guest speakers and art exhibits. We also heard of an attorneys of color retreat and a diverse summer associate program. Our interviewees, who came from a mix of backgrounds themselves, were a little unclear on the exact impact of these diversity efforts, though one noted positively: "A lot of people look out for me and make sure I feel comfortable."
Associates are required to do at least 20 hours of pro bono a year, with those hitting the target getting a sticker outside their office in recognition. Achieving the 20-hour target isn't tough as "there's a coordinator who will literally get you work within an hour." Associates can count all their pro bono hours toward the 2,000-hour billable target. "I've empirically tested the firm's commitment," revealed one junior. "I billed something like 500 or 600 pro bono hours and that was not looked at as something funny."
We heard of juniors taking on immigration cases, criminal defense appeals and housing matters, plus transactional matters like "working on the formation of public interest companies that will hopefully become paying clients." Although much of the firm's pro bono work is up for grabs nationally, "offices make a concerted effort to reach out to organizations in their local community." For example, DC works with the Washington Lawyers' Committee on housing matters.
Pro bono hours
- For all US offices: 99,000
- Average per US attorney: 120
Strategy & Future
The firm tells us Orrick’s growth and lateral hiring will continue alongside an ongoing sector focus on the technology & innovation, energy & infrastructure and finance sectors – both in the US and globally. “Our vision is to offer top five practices in areas that are important to clients in these three sectors globally,” chief talent officer Siobhan Handley tells us. “For example, our opening in Boston earlier this year was all about tapping into the incredible tech and innovation focused litigation and transactional talent in that market.” Handley goes on to say that the firm will pursue the same sector focused model as it looks to grow in Europe, particularly in Paris and London.
Orrick also has an in-house tech team, Orrick Labs, which develops useful software for the firm, and last year it announced the launch of a corporate venture capital fund focused on legal technologies.
Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP
51 West 52nd Street,
- Head Office: New York/San Francisco
- Number of domestic offices: 14
- Number of international offices: 14
- Worldwide revenue: $1.046 billion
- Partners (US): 312
- Associates (US): 563
- Main recruitment contact: Siobhan Handley (email@example.com)
- Diversity officer: Joi Y Bourgeois
- Recruitment details
- Entry-level associates starting in 2019: 51
- Clerking policy: Yes
- Summers joining/anticipated 2019: 62
- 1Ls: 13, 2Ls: 47, SEO: 2
- Summers joining/anticipated 2019 split by office:
- Boston: 3, Houston: 1, Los Angeles: 6, New York: 17, Orange County: 3; Portland: 1, Sacramento: 3, Santa Monica: 1, San Francisco: 13, Seattle: 2, Silicon Valley: 5, Washington, DC: 8
- Summer salary 2019:
- 1Ls: $3,653
- 2Ls: $3,653
- Split summers offered? Yes. Must spend a minimum of 8 weeks at Orrick. Can summers spend time in an overseas office? No
Main areas of work
• Boston College
• Boston University
• George Mason University
• George Washington
• Loyola LA
• Notre Dame
• Santa Clara
• UC Davis
• UC Hastings
• UC Irvine
• University of Chicago
• University of Houston
• University of Michigan
• University of North Carolina
• University of Pennsylvania
• University of Texas
• University of Washington
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.
Twitter: @Orrick, @OrrickCareers, @MitchZuklie
This Firm's Rankings in
USA Guide, 2019
- Antitrust (Band 3)
- Banking & Finance (Band 3)
- Capital Markets: Debt & Equity (Band 3)
- Intellectual Property (Band 4)
- IT & Outsourcing: Transactions (Band 3)
- Labor & Employment (Band 2)
- Litigation: General Commercial (Band 4)
- Litigation: Securities (Band 2)
- Litigation: White-Collar Crime & Government Investigations (Band 2)
- Venture Capital (Band 2)
California: San Francisco, Silicon Valley & Surro
- Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation (Band 3)
District of Columbia
- Antitrust Recognised Practitioner
- Bankruptcy/Restructuring (Band 2)
- Intellectual Property: Litigation Recognised Practitioner
- Litigation: White-Collar Crime & Government Investigations Recognised Practitioner
- Bankruptcy/Restructuring Recognised Practitioner
- Corporate/M&A: Highly Regarded Recognised Practitioner
- Intellectual Property: Patent (Band 4)
- Labor & Employment (Band 3)
- Litigation: General Commercial: Highly Regarded (Band 4)
- Corporate/M&A (Band 5)
- Real Estate (Band 1)
USA - Nationwide
- Appellate Law (Band 2)
- Capital Markets: Securitisation (Band 3)
- Corporate Crime & Investigations Recognised Practitioner
- Energy: Electricity (Transactional) (Band 4)
- Energy: Oil & Gas (Transactional) Recognised Practitioner
- FCPA (Band 5)
- Intellectual Property (Band 4)
- International Trade: Export Controls & Economic Sanctions Recognised Practitioner
- Labor & Employment (Band 3)
- Native American Law (Band 3)
- Native American Law: Finance Spotlight Table
- Privacy & Data Security (Band 1)
- Product Liability & Mass Torts (Band 3)
- 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)