Lateral Look: Wilson Sonsini

With its foot firmly planted in the Silicon Valley tech scene, Wilson Sonsini helps innovators and lawyers startup their careers.

Wilson Sonsini Lateral Profile 2023

As a firm sitting shoulder to shoulder with the boffins in Silicon Valley for over half a century, it’s no surprise that associates felt Wilson Sonsini’s client base was “unmatched in tech.” In fact, Wilson brought some of the biggest names in Silicon Valley to market (Apple, Twitter, Google and Tesla are just some examples). Anchored with a key base in Palo Alto, offices across San FranciscoLA, and San Diego, and stations on the East Coast including New York and DC, Wilson’s reputation is well recognized across the US. Case in point, our sister guide, Chambers USAhas awarded the firm’s startups & emerging companies work top honors.

But make no mistake, this is no one-trick pony. The firm has actually racked up a total of 20 rankings for everything from IP and tax to antitrust and privacy.

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…

"Reputation for excellence in antitrust practice."

"Premiere life sciences / technology firm, serving emerging companies, with a good interpersonal culture."

"Outstanding reputation in Silicon Valley, cutting-edge technology clients, and kind people."


 Strategic Recruitment Focuses 2023

Patent careers

The view from the firm: Wilson Sonsini’s expertise services a diverse client base from start-ups to established industry leaders on global patent portfolio development and management. Associates learn from the best through early, hands-on experience and comprehensive training and development opportunities. You will draft and prosecute patent applications, prepare patent opinion letters and provide IP counseling to clients as well as supervise junior attorneys and patent agents. We want to hear from you if you have 1-4 years of patent prosecution law firm experience, patent bar membership, and a background in one of the following fields: cell or molecular biology, immunology, biochemistry, bioinformatics, medicinal chemistry, cancer biology, pharmacology, organic chemistry, biophysics, or digital health focused disciplines.

IP clients: Lyft; DoorDash; Roblox

Recent highlight: Represented pharmaceutical company Amphastar in its acquisition of Eli Lilly's BAQSIMI nasal spray.

Tax careers

The view from the firm: Our tax attorneys leverage their wide-ranging expertise in federal, state, and international tax law to advise innovative and dynamic clients throughout their stages of development. Our team works closely with the M&A and Capital Markets practice on many domestic and international transactions and counsels clients on tax planning. You will need at least five years of transactional tax experience to be a strong communicator and to assist clients with equity financings, technology transfers, complex licensing, and collaboration arrangements.

Tax clients: Lunar Energy; Momentive; Pismo

Recent highlight: Represented Twitter in its $44 billion acquisition by Elon Musk.

Real estate careers

The view from the firm: Our real estate team’s comprehensive expertise means we regularly advise clients on all aspects of real estate transactions, facility needs, and environmental issues. If you have 3-5 years of real estate transactional experience at a law firm, join our Palo Alto office in this exciting practice.


 Career Development & the Path to Partnership



2.3 : 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: Our professional and career development programs range from substantive legal training to career coaching to business skills. We offer practical training from first-year associates to senior partners and take a blended approach to training, incorporating academies, online self-directed courses, live webcasts, interactive workshops, booster training sessions, just-in-time microlearning videos and interactive eLearning modules. We provide continuing education opportunities for attorneys at all levels through internal training classes, external programs, and online compliance tracking.

New associates are welcomed to the firm with entry-level training classes which provide context for each department's practice, highlights sensitive issues, and provide practical instruction on matters for which newer associates typically are responsible. Additionally, we have formal structures for mentoring and feedback such as our First Year Guides, Lateral Links, WS Connects, and one-on-one career coaching. Senior associates who are interested in becoming partners receive mentors to talk about the partnership process. This is combined with content at the seventh year academy addressing the partnership process.

Wilson Sonsini is committed to the principle that diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) are vital components of a thriving organization. We incorporate DEI considerations into all talent management practices, including recruiting, hiring, reviews, partner promotions and retention.


 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: We offer competitive compensation, market-relevant benefits, and an environment that encourages attorneys to do the best work of their careers. Year-End merit bonuses recognize the individual contributions and performance of attorneys, and also reflect the firm's financial performance.

Associate benefits include: healthcare; income protection; pregnancy disability leave/bonding pay; survivor benefits; financial programs; paid time-off; work life & convenience services; social activities; bar exam; bar membership dues and continuing education; relocation expenses; employee referral bonus; and part-time policy.
Wellness-related benefits include: flexible work arrangements; monthly wellness reimbursement program; emotional support program; and separate employee assistance program offering free, confidential support to employees and family members.
The firm provides new parents with up to 26 weeks of time off following the birth or adoption of a child and additional support such as 24x7 online access to newborn care consultants; part-time options; one-on-one career coaching for working parents, backup care options for children from 6 months to 12 years of age; and milk shipping for nursing mothers traveling on business.
Unlimited billable-hour credit is given for time spent on pro bono projects to encourage attorneys to pursue excellence in the practice of law while at the same time serving the community.

 Is Wilson Sonsini the right firm for you?




were happy in their current role

     agreed the work is interesting

The view from the firm: At Wilson Sonsini, we constantly strive to add experienced and skilled attorneys to our practice. Whether you're an experienced attorney or a judicial clerk, practicing at Wilson Sonsini is a challenging and rewarding experience. Our broad spectrum of practices and our entrepreneurial spirit afford our attorneys exceptional opportunities for professional growth and exploration.

We look for candidates who embrace the entrepreneurial spirit both inside and outside the firm, as well as for those whose practical work experience will benefit the unique needs of our technology and growth clients. We hire lateral attorneys to complement practices that already exist at the firm, and also strive to add new expertise to enhance the spectrum of services we are able to offer our clients.

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

"Lack of hierarchy - great communication among the partner and associate levels."

"Great training and personal development."

"People are respectful about PTO, weekends, and openly share their lives outside of work."


 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: The Center for Justice & Accountability; ACLU of Utah and the National Center for Lesbian Rights; The Asian University for Women



Learn more about opportunities at the firm

Click here for recruitment contacts