Lateral Look: Gunderson

Looking to capitalize on your first career venture? This West Coast wonder is a good place to start (up) with.

Gunderson Lateral Profile 2023

It goes without saying that you’ll need an interest in startups if you’re looking to join California-born Gunderson. The firm was founded during the boom of the dot-com era and has since built a reputation for itself as one of the go-to firms for anything related to emerging companies and venture capital work (as exemplified by its top Chambers USA accolades in these areas).

Gunderson is a West Coaster at heart and its Bay Area office (Silicon Valley) is the largest. Alongside its overseas bases in Beijing and Singapore, the firm recently launched an outpost in Sao Paulo to bolster its extensive Latin America practice. Partner Brian Hutchings tells us, the new office “serves as the firm's hub for our thriving Latin America practice and underscores our confidence in the growth potential of the region’s venture ecosystem.” 

View the firm’s Chambers USA rankings

Read the firm’s Inside View feature on junior associate life

Why did you join your firm? Associates say…

“Opportunity to work closely with VC firms and relaxed culture.”

“Interesting work, great people, and work life balance for BigLaw.”

“Good client contact.”


 Strategic Recruitment Focuses 2023

Emerging & late-stage companies (corporate) careers

The view from the firm: Gunderson’s corporate lawyers focus exclusively on the emerging technology and life sciences market, guiding entrepreneurs through early stage issues, helping them to scale their companies, accelerating their businesses, and preparing for an M&A or capital markets exit.

We’ve handled thousands of U.S. and international M&A transactions worth tens of billions of dollars for clients across a wide range of technology and life sciences industries. The firm’s lawyers represent technology and life science companies of all sizes in the US, India, China, Europe, Latin America, Middle East and other markets globally.

Emerging & late-stage companies clients: Cirkul; Bowery; Flexport; Daily Harvest; Kavak; Overtime; Webflow

Recent work highlight: Represented client Tia, a modern medical clinic for women, in its new investment from Pivotal Ventures, a Melinda French Gate’s company.

Licensing, strategic partnering & commercial transactions (tech) careers

The view from the firm: The firm’s technology team works on strategic transactions to leverage unmatched business knowledge and sophisticated insights to develop, acquire and monetize technologies, even creating new business models to bring products to market. Our practical guidance and sophisticated perspectives become more valuable as our clients mature and grow.

Having negotiated every type of deal and counseled clients in every industry, Gunderson tech lawyers have worked across AI, cyber security, consumer products, health tech, medical devices, biotech and life sciences, financial technology, media, ad tech, software and SaaS, as well as disruptive technologies, including blockchain, crypto and web3.

We see around corners for our clients and can help plan for future outcomes, including buy-side and sell-side transactions or an eventual IPO. Regardless of the stage of our clients, we understand the structures and strategies that produce win-win deals.

Recent work highlight: Represented Replicate Bioscience in its collaboration with Precision NanoSystems to deliver up to 15 new srRNAs.

Venture capital & growth equity (corporate & fund) careers

The view from the firm: Gunderson is the recognized leader in the venture capital and growth equity fund formation marketplace. We routinely negotiate close to one-third of every venture capital dollar raised worldwide. We serve as general counsel to more than 500 venture capital and growth equity firms, representing many of today’s most prominent venture capital firms since their inception; facilitating their ascent to household names and their exploration of new investment strategies, emerging economies and international expansion. 

Additionally, Gunderson negotiates more than 1,000 venture and growth financings every year. We assist the world’s preeminent venture and growth-stage technology investors to develop financing structures and strategies that are inventive yet practical. We have extensive expertise in structuring and negotiating cross border investments at all stages and are intimately familiar with the tax, regulatory and comparative law aspects of these transactions.

Venture capital & growth equity clients: Cowboy Ventures; Greenoaks; NextView U.S. Venture Partners; Volition Capital

Recent work highlight: Represented Thrive Capital in the $6.5 billion Series I financing of Stripe.

Tax careers

The view from the firm: From formation to financing to exit, the firm’s tax lawyers advise founders, executives and investors on tax matters at each stage of the business growth cycle. Gunderson’s tax team provides guidance on structuring transactions and ongoing counsel for tax planning and compliance issues. The firm recognizes that tax advantages and business purposes often conflict, and the tax team is adept at figuring out how to achieve the right balance to serve its clients.

The Gunderson tax lawyers communicate tax issues, however complex or arcane, clearly, to tech-focused founders, seasoned financial advisers, an experienced CFO, Wall Street legal peer or Big Four partner. We advise clients on financings, restructurings, spin-offs, and exits, with an emphasis on IPOs and taxable and tax-free M&A.

Recent work highlight: Represented Power, a modern credit card management platform, in its pending acquisition by Marqeta, a global card issuing platform.


Career Development & the Path to Partnership



2.1 : 1


partners made in 2022

associate : partner gearing

of associates intend to make partner




felt partnership was achievable for attorneys with children felt partnership was achievable at the firm agreed partners
are nurturing
future leaders


The view from the firm: At Gunderson Dettmer, our work is at the crossroads of legal, technology and innovation.  As a result, our associates are exposed to high-profile clients, cutting- edge transactions and business and leadership development opportunities early on in their careers.  As a result, the firm’s strategic staffing and feedback structures and comprehensive training curriculum, combined with the ability to work closely alongside thought leaders in the legal industry helps ensure that our attorneys hone the substantive legal and professional skills needed to meet our clients’ needs. In addition, the firm’s mentoring programs offer both formal and informal opportunities to help facilitate essential career conversations and build connections with colleagues across the firm. 

Importantly, Gunderson has a demonstrated commitment to fostering a diverse, equitable, and inclusive community. The firm has various initiatives in place to support the recruitment, development, and retention of traditionally under-represented groups. Our affinity groups led by attorneys and business professionals provide educational programming and social activities to raise awareness and celebrate the contributions of these groups to the firm and community at large.


 Hours & Compensation





billable hours

average number of vacation days associates took in one year

average number of hours associates worked in one week




agreed they had a good work-life balance

said the benefits package makes the workload worthwhile

found the bonus allocation fair and transparent



1st year: $215,000

2nd year: $225,000

3rd year: $250,000

4th year: $295,000

5th year: $345,000

6th year: $370,000

7th year: $400,000

8th year: $415,000


The view from the firm: Associate compensation is lockstep and is determined by class year.

The firm’s billable target for bonus eligibility is announced by firm management on an annual basis.  As noted elsewhere, bonuses are discretionary and are based on hours billed, including pro bono and board attendance hours and up to 100 investment hours, business development, quality of work, and other contributions to firm citizenship.

The firm offers pro bono opportunities but there is no minimum pro bono hours requirement. 

Reduced hours arrangements are supported by the firm, as outlined by the firm's part-time work policy. Attorneys with reduced hours arrangements may be eligible for annual true-up should they work more than targeted hours for a calendar year and are eligible for a discretionary annual bonus.


 Is Gunderson the right firm for you?




were happy in their current role

     agreed the work is interesting

The view from the firm: Successful candidates are self-starters, team-oriented, collaborative, and enthusiastic about working with clients in the start-up and venture capital ecosystem. We also seek to enrich our firm by recruiting, retaining and promoting lawyers from diverse backgrounds, and with wide-ranging experiences. We believe that a workforce comprised of individuals with a broad set of backgrounds, experiences and beliefs is essential to advising our clients effectively and providing fresh and innovative solutions.

Overall, we seek attorneys who are passionate about the EC/VC ecosystem, and can work collaboratively to provide impactful and substantive work for our clients.

Our three core practices are corporate, tech and fund:

  • Corporate: represents start-ups and emerging growth companies, seed and venture capital financings, public offerings, mergers & acquisitions, and/or underwritings.
  • Tech: strategic and/or commercial contracts drafting and negotiation and/or deal management of tech, commercial and IP aspects of venture financing and/or M&A transactions, who are looking to expand their practice to include more holistic company counseling.
  • Fund: focus on growth equity and venture capital fund formation and will have relevant experience in the corporate group, tax group, or investment management group of a top-tier law firm.

We asked survey respondents what stands out about the firm’s culture?

“Relaxed work environment; humbleness of partners.”

“People are outstanding--casual and friendly but whip-smart.”

“Overall perspective on work-life balance, the partners' respectful and patient personalities, reputation for the firm's attrition rates, and respect and gratitude for associate's time.”


 Diversity, Inclusion & Wellbeing





reported strong performance in inclusivity training

of partners are women

of associates identify as ethnically diverse

Pro Bono




average pro bono
per US attorney    

    agreed the firm is committed to pro bono


Pro bono highlights: Casa Cornelia (immigration); Black Connect (civil rights); United Way (community & small business support); Tahirih Justice Center Clinic (civil rights); Public Counsel (children’s rights, domestic violence)



Learn more about opportunities at the firm

Recruitment contact: Colleen McNulty, Director of Legal Recruiting,