Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP - The Inside View

With over 150 years of history to its name, you might think that the work done at this San Fran-born firm is hist-Orrick, but it’s all about innovation here!

When it comes to BigLaw, innovation at a firm is all well and good, but if it’s being cultivated in a sour atmosphere then surely that negates its impact, right? Our interviewees were quick to tell us that Orrick’s a firm that recognizes how innovation and culture go hand-in-hand. For them, the culture sealed the deal, with one explaining: “The people here really are a cut above when it comes to the people you want to work with and for.” Managing partner Jessica Perry confirms that the firm has “hired over 100 lateral associates in the last year who chose Orrick’s culture.” It’s certainly got a reputation, with sources pinning this to policies and attitudes that promote work-life balance, so “the workplace is more than just a place you go to do a job.” A prime example: Orrick’s attorneys can bill 40 hours of ‘unplugged time’after intense periods of work – meaning they can unplug from emails and plug in to recharge and rest. 

“Being an innovative firm is one of the core parts of Orrick’s DNA.” 

Of course, the type of cutting-edge work that Orrick does is still a major draw for associates, and to keep things simple the firm focuses on three sectors: technology innovations, energy and infrastructure, and finance. This targeted approach seems to be panning out well for the firm, with the Financial Times positioning Orrick in the top three most innovative firms for seven years in a row. “Being an innovative firm is one of the core parts of Orrick’s DNA,” one associate explained. “It’s not a firm overly steeped in traditional ways of doing things.” Our colleagues over at Chambers USA also have plenty of praise to bestow on Orrick,with the firm scooping up top-tier nationwide accolades for its projects (especially in the renewables space), privacy and data, capital markets, international trade, and corporate crime and investigations expertise. Other highlights include its bankruptcy and restructuring practice in New York, its venture capital and tech transactions work in California, and its litigation remit in DC

Orrick is a Top 25 firm for Associate Satisfaction and a Top 10 firm for DE&I and pro bono in our 2023 survey.

Strategy & Future 

The 'power of three' model applies to Orrick’s overall strategy as well. Maintaining its sector-focused approach is the first strategic prong, with Perry highlighting how “we’re increasingly seeing opportunities in areas between those main sectors, such as fintech, energy tech and private investment in public infrastructure.” The second prong is devoted to promoting the culture and diversity and inclusion: “Because clients need inspired, consistent and diverse teams.” Thirdly, the emphasis is on maintaining and increasing the quality and value of work. “To sum up, we want to be sector-focused, a top place to work, and the most innovative law firm we can be,” says Perry. Practice area-wise, Perry tells us that regulatory, litigation, fintech, and energy tech are important growth areas for the firm at the moment.

The Work 

The New York office housed the largest number of associates on our list, closely followed by San Francisco and DC. Orrick has six business units in total: litigation; corporate; IP; finance; energy & infrastructure; strategic advisory & government enforcement (SAGE). General litigation was by far the most populated practice group, but areas such as the technology companies group, IP, energy & infrastructure, and cyber privacy and data innovation also took on a fair few juniors. Associates in the bigger practice groups generally find their work through a work coordinator, while smaller groups tend to not utilize the centralized assignment system. However, associates still have control over their work and often end up sourcing matters more informally: “I think the hybrid system works really well,” concluded one representative source. “I can still be the master of my own career. It was hard to make connections when I first got to the firm, so the workflow system was super-helpful.” 

On the litigation front, white-collar matters are a strength of the firm, and for one associate these were the most gratifying cases to work on: “I consistently feel like I’m part of a team when I’m on those, as I’m actively chatting with people and attending conference calls.” Litigators also get to work on huge court cases with the likes of major tech and financial services companies; other Chambers USA-applauded strengths include shareholder derivatives suits, class actions, and securities cases. We also heard that employment is another especially busy area for the department. If you’re lucky enough to join in the middle of a trial, “you get a very, very large amount of experience in a truncated time.” This source, meanwhile, was glad to tell us that they “didn’t expect to get work that has been as substantive as this – my friends at other BigLaw firms have said that the first year is a bummer, but that hasn’t been my experience. I’ve been brought onto things quickly and have already drafted briefs and motions.”  

Litigation clients: Goldman Sachs, Deloitte Global, Microsoft. Defended McDonald’s in high-stakes litigation against Silicon Valley startup Kytch.  

“Oil and gas is an old sector, but we’re still somehow managing to do new things in that space.” 

We were told that energy and infrastructure is an exciting group to work in right now, with Orrick’s innovative streak coming to the fore again: “Oil and gas is an old sector, but we’re still somehow managing to do new things in that space.” Overall, “Orrick in particular is great for energy since we have a very deep bench in a number of areas.” The work here can be broadly divided into development, energy tech, finance, and M&A matters, with associates enthusing that they get to work with clients across every stage of a project. “It’s really like a puzzle,” one explained, while highlighting work on a novel project structure: “We get to pick the pieces ourselves and put the application together. There isn’t a perfect template, so we get to put a lot into our own project-solving and research skills.” Again, juniors “get responsibility early on – I was three months in and negotiating a construction contract! The partners aren’t hesitant if they think you can take on more responsibility.”  

Energy clients: Apex Clean Energy, Enlight Renewable Energy, Chevron. Advised Apex on an agreement to sell a majority stake in the company to funds managed by Ares Management Corporation. 

The IP practice at Orrick boasts a whole range of clients, including, but not limited to, tech, biomedical, and retail companies. Our sources spoke of copyright and trademark matters, as well as inter partes review work on the patent side. Most of the work encountered was litigious, though interviewees did flag that Orrick has a transactional IP remit and there’s counselling and patent/trademark prosecution matters available. One interviewee had been able to “really get into the weeds when it came to discovery, responses, requests for document production, and drafting letters to other side.” Defending depositions was also a reportedly common activity at an early stage. “We have a first-year on our team,” a source noted, “and they’re excellent, so they’ve already been able to draft multiple briefs with supervision. I personally haven’t done doc review in earnest since the first year!” 

IP clients: Sonos, Microsoft, LinkedIn. Represented Sonos in patent litigation against Google, concerning the infringement of multiroom audio technology.  

Career Development 

“They definitely don’t take a one-size-fits-all approach in terms of developing their associates and attending to their needs,” a junior asserted. Another enthused that “a strength of the firm is that there are tons and tons of resources, from classes to official and unofficial mentoring.” All associates are assigned a formal partner mentor, but we heard that senior associates and partners still provide informal mentorship. First-years are also assigned a midlevel or senior associate adviser who helps to guide them through the year. “In general, people naturally want to mentor here,” an interviewee explained. “I work frequently with my mentor, so we meet a lot, but they also check in multiple times throughout the year.” On the more informal side, this source flagged that their mentors “are champions for me – they push me to get up in front of clients and help to elevate my profile at the firm.” 

Most sources agreed that making partner was attainable if that is what an individual wanted. “I’m already starting to understand what is expected and what the path looks like to get there,” one commented. Again, mentorship is vital here: “My career planning has been more informal – I've had multiple mentors who make the effort to speak with me about my career goals.” 


“The people are of course hard-working and extremely bright, but they are also friendly, laid back, and team-oriented.” 

There’s a good sense of camaraderie and collaboration among lawyers at Orrick, and for one junior that “encourages me to step up more when I know that my team has stuff going on. They have proven to me that they’re going to have my back.” Another associate explained how “the people are of course hard-working and extremely bright, but they are also friendly, laid back, and team-oriented.” This laid-back atmosphere is also reflected through Orrick’s flexible work-from-home policy. An impressive 100% of survey respondents felt that they had complete autonomy over when they could work from home, although the firm of course still encourages people to come into the office!  

However, this has affected the social life for many associates, as “the firm hasn’t fully wrapped its head around how to create social culture in a more virtual setting.” We heard that efforts are definitely being made though, and groups often organize a day per week for attorneys to go in and get lunch together. Another associate saw the benefits of this reduced face-to-face contact, as “now you make it count when you’re in the office.” Associates look forward to business unit retreats, which have recently been held in places like Austin and Nashville. Each business unit hosts a retreat every 12 months or so: “You get three days to get to know your co-workers, which as a junior attorney is really awesome, especially because my practice group is huge!” a source told us. 

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion 

“It’s good to see people openly and authentically as themselves.” 

“We really believe in integrating DE&I into everything we do,” says managing partner Jessica Perry. “It’s not something that’s adjacent to what we do – it’s part of all our systems and processes.” Perry tells us about the firm’s work with an alternative legal services provider, Legal Innovators: “It’s a great program that helps us rethink the way we recruit law students […] and recruit from a broader number of law schools than is typical.” Other highlights that Perry flags include the firm’s Racial Justice Fellowship program (“where we have a class of fellows who spend a year working with community organizations to make a difference”) and the senior allyship program (“where Black and Latinx managing and senior associates are paired up with a board or managing committee member who acts as a sponsor”).

“It’s good to see people openly and authentically as themselves,” one associate mentioned, “and clients also really expect that.” There’s a whole bunch of affinity groups at Orrick and “the groups actually do stuff! They let you know of any resources and make themselves available for networking.” In fact, the firm is hosting a retreat for attorneys of color across its US and European offices, which will involve two days of networking and attending speaker events. The representation of women in Orrick’s offices was something that drew many to the firm. “What I personally find really helpful are the women’s events for progression to partnership,” an associate explained. “There’s a very open and honest discussion about what’s involved in the process, alongside more substantive things that will eventually make the partnership more diverse.” 

Pro Bono 

“When I was at the interview they sold me on pro bono,” an associate recalled. “All firms say that they’re committed, but then you get there and it’s not the same – it absolutely is here.” We heard that the options range from immigration cases to LGBTQ+ rights matters, with clients spanning NGOs, veterans, tech startups, and inmates. Associates also get the chance to use their practice area expertise, as the firm’s pro bono coordinator sources and distributes specialized opportunities.  

“If I have something on my calendar that’s pro bono, it doesn’t matter if a high-paying client conflicts with it. The firm treats it in the same way,” one interviewee explained. “It’s encouraged and it’s a great opportunity. I get courtroom experience and get to do stuff beyond what people of my level do.” A recent policy change encourages attorneys to bill as much pro bono as they want if they are on target to meet 1,800 revenue-generating hours. While we heard that some associates were unsure if they’ll be able to take on more pro bono in the light of this change, there were many who were unruffled by it: “In departments that aren’t so busy, it’s likely the case that they’re having issues. I haven’t had the experience where pro bono is limited, but that might be because I’m billing a good amount of client hours.” We also heard that the firm looks at pro bono contributions on a case-by-case basis, so the 1,800 client billable requirement isn't a hard rule to be adhered to in all circumstances.

Pro bono hours 

  • For all US attorneys: 105,256
  • Average per US attorney: 134+

Hours & Compensation 

Billable hours: 1,950 target

“They're a lot better at trying to enforce work-life balance than I am to myself!” 

Most felt that the 1,950 billable target was achievable. The firm tells us that associates are in the best position to receive a bonus if they bill at least 1,800 revenue-generating hours and fill the rest of the target with a mix of credited pro bono, client development, mentoring and shadowing hours, alongside the 40 hours reserved for individual unplugged time, which is “treated as sacrosanct.”  

Although BigLaw gets intense, juniors told us that the firm cares about work-life balance: “There are busy periods, but I have never felt like I’ve worked so much that it’s affected my mental health or I haven’t had the ability to maintain a social life.” Mentors are known to monitor associates’ hours and reach out to check in if they’re working especially hard. According to one interviewee: “They’re a lot better at trying to enforce work-life balance than I am to myself!” Whether you’re super-busy or not “is based on what stage your matter is at,” said an associate, but respite was in reach after hectic periods thanks to the unplugged time and this ethos: “When there’s an opportunity to give yourself personal time, the firm is really encouraging of that. It’s not a billable hours factory – partners want to avoid you burning out.”  

Get Hired 

NEW: Find out more about lateral recruitment with Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe here. 

The first stage: recruitment on and off campus 

Applicants interviewed 2022: 273  

Orrick recently transitioned to a national, business unit-based hiring model. That is, Orrick’s OCI interview schedules are national in nature (any student can interview for any office on any schedule), and students are asked in their interview which of Orrick’s six business units they prefer: Litigation, Corporate, IP, Energy & Infrastructure, Finance, and Strategic Advisory and Government Enforcement (SAGE). Orrick interviews at approximately 20 OCI programs and four career fairs and participates in resume collection drops. The firm seeks interviewers at multiple levels of seniority – from midlevel associates to partners - to offer unique perspectives during the OCI process. Attorneys typically conduct interviews one-on-one, but, in an effort to continuously innovate, Orrick has recently piloted partnered interviews and is assessing whether that configuration enhances the interviewing experience. 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, team play and innovation, and look for them when meeting with prospective attorneys.”– Orrick hiring source. 


Callback candidates interview with up to five attorneys, who are again a mix of seniority. Orrick engages in “Super Callback Days,” where candidates interested in transactional or litigation practices meet on separate days with attorneys who practice in those respective areas. “Typically,” the firm tells us, “the local hiring partner or a representative designated by the local office hiring partner is involved in the interview process as well.” 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. 

Summer program 

Offers (2022): 35 

2L summer associates are placed within the business unit they identified as their preferred business unit during the interview process. Within each business unit, however, there are a number of subpractices. Summer associates can work in various subpractices, and, in many cases, even take work from other business units if they so choose.  Each summer selects and receives assignments through a centralized assignment database. Workflow coordinators help manage this database and pair summer associates with work in their areas of interest. After finishing the program, “associates indicate their top practice group preferences. Nearly all new hires are placed in their first-choice practice group.” 

Orrick also provides a mentorship program; each summer associate is paired with a partner mentor and associate mentor based on their business unit/subpractice interests and their office location. These mentors meet with their mentees weekly, organically and through planned events and activities. 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 engages in formalized mid- and end-of summer reviews, as well as “constructive feedback” on assignments. 

A wide variety of social events – from concerts to surfing, Disney World, MLB games, Broadway shows, and more – foster further integration. With preferences ranked, the firm seeks 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 the 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. 

And finally… 

Across the entire process, Orrick identifies four sought-after qualities from candidates: “Grit (perseverance and passion for your long-term goals); EQ (the other kind of smarts, such as empathy and relationships); Team Play (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,
New York,
Website www.orrick.com

  • Head Office: New York/San Francisco
  • Number of domestic offices: 14
  • Number of international offices: 13
  • Worldwide revenue: $1.3 billion
  • Partners (US): 328
  • Associates (US): 567
  • Contacts  
  • Main recruitment contact: Michael Dee US Law School Relations & Diversity Recruiting Manager mdee@orrick.com
  • Hiring partner: Vicki Boyne, 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 2022: 28 
  • Clerking policy: Yes
  • Summers joining/anticipated 2022: 83
  • 0L/SEO = 1, 1L = 22, 2L = 60
  • Summers joining/anticipated 2021 split by office: Boston = 2; DC = 14; Houston = 5; LA = 6; NY = 19; Irvine, CA = 2; Sacramento = 1; Seattle = 3; San Francisco = 21; Santa Monica = 1; Silicon Valley = 9
  • Summer salary 2022: 1Ls: $4,134 2Ls: $4,134

Main areas of work

 Corporate, Litigation, Finance, Energy & Infrastructure, Intellectual Property and Strategic Advisory & Government Enforcement.

Firm profile

 Orrick focuses on serving the Technology & Innovation, Energy Transition & Infrastructure Modernization and the Finance and Fintech sectors globally. Clients worldwide call on our teams for forward-looking commercial advice on transactions, litigation and compliance matters. We bring distinctive quality, teamwork and value to the table – and innovate in everything we do.


Law schools attending for OCIs in 2023:
• Boston College Law School
• BYU (J. Reuben Clark Law School)
• Columbia Law School
• Duke University School of Law
• Georgetown University Law Center
• Harvard Law School
• Howard Law School
• Northwestern Pritzker School of Law
• NYU School of Law
• Stanford Law School
• Texas Law
• UC Berkeley School of Law
• UCLA School of Law
• University of Virginia School of Law
• University of Washington School of Law

Recruitment outside OCIs:
Candidates interested in our 2024 Summer Program can apply directly to Orrick through our Careers Page at Orrick.com. For the 19th year, Orrick will host the Bay Area Diversity Career Fair, in partnership with the Bar Association of San Francisco. Orrick will also participate in the Loyola Patent Law Interview Program and Lavender Law Career Fair. Orrick will also collect  resumes collects at over 20 law schools.

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:
Our 10-week hybrid summer program enables summer associates to experience being part of Team Orrick. Summer associates work on substantive legal matters from across the country, while participating in local and national events to get to know our team and each other. Our program offers interesting legal work, client connections, a national in-person Summer Academy in San Francisco and live and virtual teambuilding events, as well as mindfulness classes.

Social media

Recruitment website: www.orrick.com/careers
Twitter: @Orrick, @MitchZuklie, @OrrickTech
Facebook: @Orrick

This Firm's Rankings in
USA Guide, 2023

Ranked Departments

    • Banking & Finance (Band 3)
    • Capital Markets: Debt & Equity (Band 3)
    • Intellectual Property: Patent Litigation (Band 3)
    • Intellectual Property: Trademark, Copyright & Trade Secrets (Band 3)
    • Labor & Employment: The Elite (Band 2)
    • Litigation: General Commercial: The Elite (Band 3)
    • Litigation: Securities (Band 3)
    • Public Finance (Band 1)
    • Technology: Transactions (Band 2)
    • Venture Capital (Band 2)
    • Real Estate (Band 1)
    • Tax (Band 4)
    • Corporate/M&A: The Elite (Band 4)
    • Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation (Band 3)
    • Real Estate (Band 4)
    • Bankruptcy/Restructuring (Band 3)
    • Intellectual Property: Litigation (Band 4)
    • Litigation: General Commercial: Highly Regarded (Band 2)
    • Litigation: Securities (Band 2)
    • Litigation: White-Collar Crime & Government Investigations (Band 2)
    • Public Finance (Band 1)
    • Bankruptcy/Restructuring: Highly Regarded (Band 1)
    • Corporate/M&A: Highly Regarded (Band 5)
    • Intellectual Property: Patent (Band 5)
    • Intellectual Property: Trademark, Copyright & Trade Secrets (Band 4)
    • Labor & Employment: The Elite (Band 3)
    • Litigation: General Commercial: Highly Regarded (Band 3)
    • Litigation: White-Collar Crime & Government Investigations: The Elite (Band 5)
    • Tax (Band 5)
    • Technology (Band 4)
    • Appellate Law (Band 2)
    • Capital Markets: Securitization: ABS (Band 2)
    • Capital Markets: Securitization: CLOs (Band 3)
    • Capital Markets: Securitization: CMBS (Band 1)
    • Capital Markets: Securitization: PACE (Band 1)
    • Capital Markets: Securitization: RMBS (Band 2)
    • Corporate Crime & Investigations: Highly Regarded (Band 1)
    • Corporate/M&A: Highly Regarded (Band 4)
    • Energy Transition (Band 1)
    • 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 5)
    • Financial Services Regulation: Consumer Finance (Compliance) (Band 1)
    • Financial Services Regulation: Consumer Finance (Enforcement & Investigations) (Band 2)
    • Financial Services Regulation: Consumer Finance (Litigation) (Band 2)
    • Intellectual Property (Band 3)
    • Intellectual Property: Appellate (Band 1)
    • International Trade: CFIUS Experts (Band 4)
    • International Trade: Export Controls & Economic Sanctions: Highly Regarded (Band 1)
    • International Trade: Intellectual Property (Section 337) (Band 4)
    • Labor & Employment (Band 2)
    • Native American Law: Finance (Band 1)
    • Privacy & Data Security: Litigation (Band 1)
    • Privacy & Data Security: The Elite (Band 2)
    • 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)
    • Public Finance (Band 1)
    • Startups & Emerging Companies (Band 2)
    • Technology (Band 4)
    • Litigation: General Commercial (Band 3)
    • Litigation: White-Collar Crime & Government Investigations (Band 1)

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