How big is this Fish? “About as big and successful a firm you can hope to be at if you want to exclusively practice IP law.”
From the outset, our interviewees made clear to us that “career-wise, there is a status that comes with Fish.” One elaborated: “If I was looking for a job, and I explained that I am at Fish, people would know what that means.” Fish & Richardson is certainly a big player in the world of IP. With 116 PhDs between them, Fish’s attorneys boast a level of technical expertise matched by few other firms. For one source: “It’s about as big and as successful a firm you can hope to be at if you want to exclusively practice IP law.” Indeed, Chambers USA awards the firm top-tier rankings for IP in Delaware, Massachusetts, Minnesota, and DC, as well as top-tier nationwide rankings in intellectual property and international trade in IP.
“…there is a status that comes with Fish.”
The firm has specialist expertise in everything from academic, chemical, and medical research, to life sciences, technology, finance, energy, aerospace, and defense. For those with advanced degrees in the relevant areas, there is the opportunity to join the firm as a ‘technology specialist,’ with the option to pursue a law degree later on. Junior associates at Fish are found at all the firm’s US offices, although some of its bases such as Austin, Houston, Delaware, and San Diego only take on one to two associates each intake.
Incoming associates are placed into either patent prosecution or IP litigation (a single associate will also join the trademark group). With almost double the number of junior associates, the litigation team takes on the majority, with around a third joining patent prosecution. As a general rule, work allocation in both groups is free-market, but as is the case at many firms, associates had reservations about the success of this system while working remotely: “I would have to reach out to people I had never met in order to get work, and as a result, the workflow was sometimes a little slow,” one first-year told us.That being said, the free-market system does allow associates the freedom to continue to work with the people they like: “The positive part is that once you find people, you can keep reaching out to them.”
"You’ll have to do a lot of research to understand the patents and your client’s technology.”
The litigationteam at Fish handles defendant-side patent infringement cases, as well as trademark, copyright, and media litigation. Where the bulk of an associate’s work comes from depends on their background, but there are undoubtedly common themes in the life of a first-year: “There is a lot more of the grunt work, although it really depends on the case,” one associate explained. “Of course, there’s diligence work, and you’ll have to do a lot of research to understand the patents and your client’s technology, butmost of the work that I’ve done is on actual cases that have been filed.” Another remarked: “On smaller cases I’ve met with experts, and even drafted a full brief that was then granted by a judge. At my level, the highlights more center around the type of work that I’m allowed to do.”
Litigation clients: Microsoft, Gilead Sciences, Samsung. Obtained a $175 million cash settlement for Power Integrations in its 15-year patent litigation battle with Fairchild Semiconductor and ON Semiconductor. Read more about the case here!
Boston is the central hub of Fish’s patent prosecution practice. Separate from the firm’s litigators, junior associates here spend more time writing patents than they do in a courtroom. “My understanding of the firm was that even during the 2008 financial crisis, the firm’s patent prosecution practice was still strong,” one associate told us. The strength of the group is acknowledged by ChambersUSA, which decorates the firm with state rankings in patent prosecution in both California and New York. One of the firm’s junior associates in Boston told us: “The group does a lot of big biotech work, but I’ve also done a lot of work with smaller chemical clients too.” With attorneys in the group entirely on the prosecution side, “it’s mostly drafting patent applications,” which involves working with a supervising attorney to learn what documents should look like going out. “I get a handful of applications to draft over the course of a couple of weeks, as well as a bunch of office actions,” one source disclosed, adding that “it’s a case of prioritizing which of those is most pressing.”
Patent prosecution clients: Stimwave, DeepSig Technologies.Advised venture-backed startup DeepSig Technologies on the protection of its IP portfolio relating to the application of deep learning in wireless communications. Supported medical device company Stimwave Technologies in growing its patent portfolio on spinal cord stimulation, peripheral nerve stimulation, and related technologies to over 170 issued and granted patents throughout the world.
Of the associates we spoke to, there was a feeling that the firm hires its juniors with the intention that they will one day make partner at the firm: “It seems like they want all associates to get there. The firm has guidance on the type of work you need to be doing, and the experience you need to have gotten each year,” one second-year told us, adding that “it’s invaluable inmaking sure you’re on the right track and getting the right experiences.” Indeed, our survey responses from the firm indicated that not only did associates at Fish feel that partnership at the firm was far more achievable compared to the market average, but a significantly higher number (58%) also intended to make partner.
More formal training opportunities and mentorship seemed to vary across the firm. “We have yearly training on substantive skills like taking depositions or trial work,” one associate in Silicon Valley explained. “I feel like sometimes it misses the mark, but a lot of that has to do with the loss of informal training during the pandemic.” This more informal feedback hasn’t vanished entirely however, and others were quick to highlight how much they had benefited from advice from more senior staff: “When I passed first drafts up the chain and was getting feedback, I was just learning naturally.” Another source added: “The more informal mentors have been great; I feel very comfortable talking to mine and know that she will advocate on my behalf.”
“…most people at the firm took a few years off in between undergrad and law school either to get a PhD or work in industry, and it brings a more humane aspect to the firm.”
“Nerdy, and dedicated.” That’s how associates at Fish describe the culture. But don’t be fooled into thinking this is a bad thing. Associates at the firm wear ‘nerdy’ like a badge of honor: “People are intellectually curious, and that's why we work all the hours that we do,” one associate explained, adding that “most people at the firm took a few years off in between undergrad and law school either to get a PhD or work in industry - it brings a more humane aspect to the firm.” Indeed, the consensus among associates was that the culture made Fish distinct from other firms on the market: “People generally want everyone else to succeed because it looks good on them. It’s a for-profit system, but there’s not really that sense that anybody is hiding the ball.”
Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
“The fact that a lot of people have STEM degrees has probably led to a more diverse intake than at other firms,” one associate remarked.Indeed, the pool of talent that this Fish dips into has meant that the firm benefits from a higher percentage of ethnic minority partners than over 88% of the firms we survey. The firm doesn’t score as highly for gender diversity, but much of this can be traced to wider issues around the participation of women in STEM subjects at a university level.
In fact, associates at the firm were confident that the firm was conscious of this issue and making positive steps in response: “The firm wants a more diversely gendered partnership, and that’s got to make a difference to the kind of people they can attract.” Fish is also Mansfield 4.0 certified for its representation of diverse lawyers in a notable number of leadership roles and is recognized as a best place to work for LGBTQ+ equality by the Human Rights Campaign.
Hours, Compensation & Pro Bono
Associates at Fish have a general hours target of 1,900, at which point they are eligible for a bonus which is merit-based. While associates are expected to meet the firm's minimum hours requirement, sources felt it was not a hard obligation. As one insider revealed: “I didn’t meet my hours in my first year, but the firm didn’t seem to have too much of a problem with that.” Of the associates we spoke to, their hours averaged out at 54 hours a week, “but in a bad week, it can be anything between 60 and 65 hours.”
“One interesting thing is that we do a lot of patent prosecution work pro bono."
The firm makes room for 200 pro bono hours to count toward associates’ billable target, which is factored as standard. “There’s no questions asked, and no approval required,” sources made clear.Each office has a pro bono principal, who is in charge of getting associates onto pro bono cases: “One interesting thing is that we do a lot of patent prosecution work pro bono. I’ve done one via the Intellectual Property Association, who maintain a list of new inventions, and you can volunteer to take over the patent prosecution work for something that interests you.”
Pro bono hours
- For all (US) attorneys: 18,117.
- Average per (US) attorney: 50.7
Strategy & Future
“We have seen more global disputes regarding IP rights over the past year and I expect that will continue in 2022,” John Adkisson, CEO at Fish, tells us. He also highlights that “our work for clients outside the US is one of the fastest-growing segments of our firm's practice.” Indeed, growth is a key element of Fish’s strategy moving forward: “The firm has one of the highest-profile life sciences patent litigation and Hatch-Waxman practices in the world, representing branded pharmaceutical clients. And we also expect our biosimilars litigation practice to continue expanding significantly over the next few years.”
“The firm has one of the highest-profile life sciences patent litigation and Hatch-Waxman practices in the world..."
The first stage: recruitment on and off campus
OCI applicants interviewed: 180
Interviewees outside OCI: 10
Most positions at Fish require a technical or scientific background, and Fish focuses on hiring 1L summer associates in order to find those students with a technical background earlier in the recruiting process. For this reason, the firm participates in a limited number of OCI programs and is focused on resume drops at national schools. They are most active in hiring 2Ls from events tailored to patent law. “One of our major recruiting events is interviewing at the Patent Law Interview Program in Chicago,” hiring partner Betty Chen tells us. The firm is “looking for students who have done their research and are excited to join our premier intellectual property and litigation firm.” Interviewers are usually the principals (partners) and associates who are heavily involved with recruiting. Chen adds: “We also place great importance on hiring judicial clerks, especially from the Federal Circuit.” Every spring Fish hosts events specifically for judicial clerks to learn more about the firm.
Top tips for this stage:
“We pride ourselves on having the technical knowledge to be able to understand what our clients are bringing to us. You don’t have to have a technical background to try a patent case in court, but it certainly helps. If you understand the tech, you’ll be able to communicate it better to a jury and be more persuasive.” – a first-year junior associate
“Know what you want to do and be able to communicate how your education and experiences have prepared you to be an asset to the firm.” –hiring partner Betty Chen
Callbacks are conducted by a mix of associates and principals, and they typically involve four or five attorneys meeting with a candidate over a two to three-hour period. Those who are interviewed can expect behavioural questions during the OCI. Each interview slot focuses on a different skill or characteristic. Candidates will be asked about “their problem-solving ability, leadership, work ethic or other traits we find critical to our work,” Chen explains. By callbacks, candidates have already shown that they have the hard qualifications for the job, so “we’re trying to evaluate how well they’ll perform with clients, on our teams, and in the high-pressure situations we often face.” Interviewers also take the time to answer candidates’ questions that will help them to decide if the firm is a good fit.
Top tips for this stage:
“Be prepared to show us how your interests and experience have led you to Fish, and what will make you successful here. We want to hear what gets you excited, and how you’ll translate that to enthusiasm for the work we do.” – hiring partner Betty Chen
Anticipated acceptances for 2022: 34
Summer associates attend meetings and calls and conduct research for real client work assignments. “Our summer program puts summer associates in the real world of law firm life,” says Chen. The supervised client work is assigned by a work coordinator who “ensures that summer associates receive a variety of projects and work with different attorneys over the summer, and help balance workloads.” The firm’s goal is “to expose summer associates to valuable training and resources so when they return as associates, they can jump right in.”
There is a firm-wide summer retreat during the program – it was held in Las Vegas in 2018 and in Nashville in 2019. After a year hiatus due to Covid, the retreat returned in 2021 in San Diego and will be in Boulder in 2022. All summers get to go for this three-day training and social event. Chen tells us: “It’s something I was passionate about introducing to our summer program because making the connections with the other summer associates and attorneys across the firm really sets the summer associates up for success; they develop a network at Fish that they will call on throughout their career.”
Most summers rejoin the firm as junior associates, though some take a detour through clerkships first.
Top tips for this stage:
“Be aware that our batch of associates is a couple years older than average. It’s because we tend to like people who have prior work experience in a technical field or something similar.” – a second-year junior associate
“First and foremost, work hard. This job can be demanding, and the hiring team is looking for the top performers to join the firm, so put your best foot forward.” – hiring partner Betty Chen
Fish & Richardson PC
One Marina Park Drive,
225 Franklin Street ,
- Head Office: Boston, MA
- Number of domestic offices: 11
- Number of international offices: 2
- Worldwide revenue: $467,063,818 million
- Partners (US): 191
- Associates (US): 117
- Main recruitment contact: Clare Fifield, Director of Legal Recruiting
- Hiring partner: Betty Chen
- Diversity officer: Whitney Smallwood, Diversity & Inclusion Manager
- Recruitment details
- Entry-level associates starting in 2022: 10
- Clerking policy: Yes
- Summers joining/anticipated 2022: 34 1Ls: 18 (SEO: 8), 2Ls: 16 (SEO: 7)
- Summers joining/anticipated 2022 split by office: Atlanta: 2, Austin: 1 Boston: 7, Dallas: 1, Houston: 3, New York: 3, San Diego: 3, Silicon Valley: 2, Minneapolis: 3, Washington DC: 5, Wilmington: 4
- Summer salary 2022: 1Ls: $4,135 per week 2Ls: $4,135 per week
- Split summers offered? Yes
- Can summers spend time in overseas office? No
Main areas of work
Fish & Richardson offers top-rated litigation, patent, regulatory, trademark, and copyright services to help clients maximize the value of their intellectual property.
Fish & Richardson is a global patent prosecution, intellectual property litigation, and commercial litigation law firm with more than 400 attorneys and technology specialists in the US and Europe. Fish is the #1 US patent litigation firm, handling nearly three times as many cases than its nearest competitor; a powerhouse patent prosecution firm; a top-tier trademark and copyright firm; and the #1 firm at the Patent Trial and Appeal Board, with more cases than any other firm. Since 1878, Fish attorneys have been winning cases worth billions in controversy — often by making new law — for the world’s most innovative and influential technology leaders.
Law Schools attending for OCIs in 2022: Harvard, University of Texas, Patent Law Interview Program (Chicago), Southeastern IP Job Fair
Recruitment outside OCIs: We also hire from judicial clerkships, job fairs, resume drops, write-in applications, and our attorney referral program.
Summer associate profile: Fish seeks students with excellent academic credentials and superior writing ability, and for patent litigation and patent prosecution positions, a scientific or technical background is required. Law students are a great fit for our summer program if they: convey a sincere career interest in intellectual property, always want to know how things work; thrive in a fast-paced, deadline oriented environment; and are motivated to take on challenges.
Summer associate components: Fish & Richardson’s summer program is the cornerstone of our recruiting. We bring in the top students from across the country, and through significant investments of time and resources, we begin developing them into the Fish attorneys who go on to become leaders in the industry. To achieve this, our summer program is known for having real work that provides hands-on training and ongoing feedback. Summer associates tackle the tough legal issues that clients come to us to solve, and projects include preparing patent applications; conducting research for litigation; and attending client meetings, depositions, and even trials. Equally important to our summer program are the social events that integrate summer associates into the firm culture, including a firmwide summer associate retreat. Summer associates and attorneys get to know each other at dinners, concerts, and sporting events and through friendly competition across offices. Each summer associate is assigned a mentor who advises them throughout the summer.
Recruitment website: www.fr.com/careers
This Firm's Rankings in
USA Guide, 2022
- Intellectual Property: Patent Litigation (Band 3)
- Intellectual Property: Patent Prosecution (Band 2)
- Intellectual Property (Band 1)
District of Columbia
- Intellectual Property: Litigation (Band 1)
- Intellectual Property (Band 3)
- Intellectual Property (Band 1)
- Intellectual Property (Band 1)
- Intellectual Property: Patent (Band 5)
- Intellectual Property (Band 2)
USA - Nationwide
- Intellectual Property (Band 1)
- International Trade: Intellectual Property (Section 337) (Band 1)