Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP - The Inside View

This colossal Californian offers an eclectic range of services to techies, financiers and oil giants alike.

ORRICK may not have the disruptive power of an Uber or an Airbnb but it definitely likes to help businesses that do: Microsoft, Apple, Pinterest and Netflix have all sought Orrick's services. Alongside its core strength in the technology market, the firm focuses on finance and energy & infrastructure, with Credit Suisse, Wells Fargo and Chevron all on the client list. In line with its West Coast origins the firm also has something of a reputation for being a bit more laid back (for BigLaw), which drew in a few of the associates we spoke to. Sources said that "people are understanding of the fact you want to have a life outside of the office" and said there is a "change in culture" taking place, with an effort being made to "encourage working from home and agile working."

The current plan hardly seems to be hurting the firm. Across its 12 domestic and 13 international offices Orrick pulled in $974.6 million in revenue in 2017. Chambers USA awards the firm rankings for an array of practices, including top marks for appellate law, projects and energy across the US and recognition for areas including capital markets, intellectual property, and work for startups.

The Work

Orrick's juniors are spread across the firm's eclectic mix of practice areas. Litigation takes in most followed by technology, energy, intellectual property, public finance, supreme court & appellate and real estate. Banking & finance, corporate and white-collar litigation had just a couple of juniors at the time of our research. Most juniors enter the New York, DC and San Francisco offices, with a few each year joining the smaller offices in Silicon Valley, Houston, Sacramento, Orange County and Seattle.

Across offices work is typically handed out by a coordinator, though the degree to which juniors' work streams are determined by the coordinators varies. For example, litigators found that it's "a very controlled system so you don't have to go around asking for work," while those in the Supreme Court appellate practice reported "a volunteer system where matters are circulated so people can do stuff they're interested in and the work is distributed fairly." Technology juniors experienced "an informal system in which you get about 80% of your work from partner mentors. It helps to be a self starter as there's no platform you can pull assignments from."

"It's fun to dig into the legal questions and learn new things."

Orrick's supreme court & appellate group is spread across San Francisco, New York and DC, though "cases  are staffed across locationsso your physical placement is irrelevant." The team represents the mighty of the financial and tech world tackling "the biggest and most important legal questions. It is all very interesting and relatively high-level as cases are at the appeal level." Juniors "research and draft a litany of briefs. One recent example was a lengthy memo evaluating the weaknesses of the legal theories the government was relying on." Juniors even sometimes get to draft entire briefs. "It's fun to dig into the legal questions and learn new things, but there is a bit of a learning curve. I have not yet had time to obtain relevant background knowledge on all the areas of law I am doing research on."

Litigation clients include "financial institutions, telecommunication businesses andconsumer products firms" like Citigroup, Hemlock Semiconductors and PayPal. Juniors get to explore various areas, which "isa good way to take some control. For example, I don't particularly like white-collar workbutI don't have to take any on." Juniors work on discovery, "handlingcase development, getting documents produced and reviewing what has been done so far,"  but the work gets "really exciting when you are putting together a cross-examination during a trial."

The Technology Companies group handles corporate work for tech companies – "everything from setting up companies to taking them public, securing them financing, helping them manage their board and merging them." Juniors spend their time "responding to emails, reviewing documents andnegotiating deals." The firm works with startups and recently founded businesses like 23andMe and Stripe, so juniors may find them directly opposite clients providing advice. "You could betalking a founder through a difficult situation orproducing a capitalization model in Excel," a junior reported. Given the financial bent of the work, "it's hugely helpful being numerate. Associates have an easier time if they can make their way around an Excel spreadsheet."

The energy & infrastructure team handles two types of matters. Public-private partnership work involves "representing either a developer partnering with a publicentity or vice versa to get the tax benefits needed for a project like an airport, bridge or tunnel." Then there is more "traditional" project finance and energy work. Juniors spend their days helping partners turn agreements. One explained: "I gointo the document, make the first editsand send them to the partner. Sometimes I sendit back to the client or I takequestions from opposing counsel." Those hoping for an easy ride, be warned! Sources found it "a hell of an experience: you have to learn a lot quickly and are always kept on your toes. The hours can be brutal: you can spend nights working until 2am busting your ass. You have to do that to get the right experiences to develop."

Training & Culture

While opportunities will come at you thick and fast, Orrick's management wants associates to take up those experiences which suit them best. 'Chart your own course' is the big strapline on its careers web page. In this vein the firm has what it calls a 'Talent Model' career development program, which essentially gives associates the freedom to move more quickly up the career ladder if they perform exceptionally. In practice, associates thought "it tends to be quite rigid, butat least we do have opportunities to advance outside the traditional lockstep system."

"One of the best parental leave policies."

Another way Orrick offers associates choices in their development is through external career coaches. The setup helps juniors to feel "totally free and open to discuss career goals," a source told us, whether that be inside the firm or elsewhere. "You do hear stories about folks saying that they're not happy and are ready to do something different and the firm has been very supportive of them."

Orrick also attempts to give its lawyers more flexibility through an agile working system. This enables associates to "work remotelya couple of days a week or a month." Alongside this the firm "has one of the best parental leave policies" – it offers 22 weeks of paid primary care giver leave, the most generous offering of any firm featured in Chambers Associate. "It's pretty cool how flexible it is."

Insiders traced all these flexible supportive policies to Orrick's origins as a “Californianfirm, meaningit'sa bit more laid-back than a typical New York firm.” Sources emphasized that the working culture also means informal feedback is good too. "Partnersare pretty good at sitting down with you and saying,'Next time think about this,'" one reported. In addition, "people are genuine so mentoring does not feel forced. For example, as a summer a lot of the seniorassociates take you out to lunch and give you off-the-cuff advice on how you should handle certain situations or people in the firm."

Social Life & Offices

Given associates' positive views of their colleagues, we wondered if they got up to much together socially. Well, yes they do. On top of summer program events and an annual diversity and inclusion retreat there are numerous things going on in each office. Those in the finance, energy and tech-focused New York office can participate in things like "a Mentoring and Margaritas program, karaoke nights" and occasional fun and games in the office during quieter moments. In DC, home to a good part of the firm's energy and appellate practices, "it's very common on a Friday to hear, 'Hey does anyone want to grab a beer tonight?'" and in energy-centric Houston the "managing partner is a big fan of running so we recently did a cross-country trail run."

On the West Coast, in the firm's full-service San Francisco HQ juniors were happy to discover "a partner in the public finance group who organizes happy hours every Friday" as he has abar cart in his office. "It's a nice way to create a sense of community – people have busy lives so it can sometimes be hard to meet outside the office." Finally, juniors nearby in the tech and IP-focused Silicon Valley office experienced a working environment that is "more suburban, meaning things tend tobe little more quiet. Alot of folks just want to get home to their family."

Hours & Compensation

Orrick is still a BigLaw firm, so despite all this fun and flexibility plenty of hard work awaits newbies. To be bonus eligible, the firm suggests a guideline of billing 2,000 hours, though some associates bag a bonus despite not meeting this figure. Generally sources felt the target "is going to push you, but it's not completely unrealistic."

Start times range from 8am to 9.30am with work finishing between 6.30pm or 7pm on a normal day, though litigators typically finish later, perhaps as late as 10pm. As is the case at any BigLaw firm hours do fluctuate, meaning that during busy times associates could have their heads down till "10pm or midnight." One source told us: "The latest night I ever had was staying till 5am, though that was inextraordinary circumstances."

Diversity & Inclusion

Sources felt that "diversity and inclusion are definitely a focal point and something that everyone at the firm from top to bottom cares about." Practically speaking, Orrick organizes an annual Dive/In ('diversity and inclusion') program, 'a worldwide celebration of the different backgrounds and cultures that constitute our global community' according to the firm's website. Associates reported that "we invite guest speakers" and "artists from different backgrounds come in and display their art."

Orrick's diversity stats are perhaps slightly better than those of its competitors, but insiders felt that "there is room for improvement. For instance when you look at our management committee there are plenty of women but there are not many people of color." Five of the 11 members of the management committee are currently women or from a minority background.

Pro Bono

Juniors can take on pro bono cases from "a fantastic coordinator who handles all pro bono inquiries." An interviewee reported: "You can go to him and say, 'I'm interested in immigration pro bono,' and he will basically have five cases you can help with." Other opportunities include things like "campaigning for bail reform, financing nonprofit energy projects and writing papers on policy issues."  We heard that lawyers at the firm were involved in matters related to President's Trump travel ban in 2017. "When the travel ban came in we did a lot with the ACLU and the National Immigration Law Center," a source reported.

"When the travel ban came in we did a lot with the ACLU and the National Immigration Law Center."

Pro bono hours

  • For all US attorneys: 93,617
  • Average per US attorney: 134

Strategy & Future

CEO Mitch Zuklie splits Orrick's strategy into four parts. The first is a focus on three sectors: technology, energy & infrastructure and finance. Zuklie comments: "Increasingly we find clients asking for market insights because innovation is outpacing regulations. We think a sector focus helps us provide such insights." The second strand of the strategy is "being the best place to work," says Zuklie. "That means a commitment to coaching and feedback and a great respect for women and diversity." And "being a leader in technology and innovation" is the third part of the strategy. As an example Zuklie highlights "Orrick Labs, an internal project launched in November 2017  designed to developlegal technology for us which we cannot get in the marketplace." And finally, aiming to “achieve financial results to reinvest in our people, our clients, our firm and our communities” rounds off the firm's guiding philosophies.

Get Hired

Orrick hosts summer programs in all of its domestic offices.  Those hoping to impress at the interview stage should bear in mind that the firm has four elements that it likes to see in candidates: the ability to work as part of a team, grit, emotional intelligence (EQ), and a passion for innovation.  With regards to teamwork, Siobhan Handley, Orrick's chief talent officer, explains: “We want someone who welcomes and excels in a team-oriented environment. It’s really helpful when candidates are able to describe a team-based experience that was successful and what they learned from it.”

When addressing grit, Handley jokingly comments that “it gets a lot of play in our society now – even my son’s nursery school applications are talking about grit!” However, Handley is clear about why grit is required in the legal industry: “Lawyers face challenges on almost every legal matter on the way to success.  It’s important to have the ability to step back and be constructive in the face of defeat or challenge when, for example, the court does not rule in your favor or an adversary is not persuaded by your negotiation tactics. Having that approach is incredibly important for setting people up for success.”

Delving deeper into potential examples that candidates can draw upon, Handley tells us that “they could stem from a boss who you’ve worked with and not had synergy with, or a professor in college who didn’t appreciate a paper you wrote. We’d like candidates to tell us about situations that have had a significant impact on them and that they’ve managed to turn around.” Handley continues: “There are many candidates who have faced significant challenges in their professional or personal lives and we have a huge amount of respect for people who have faced serious issues.”

When it comes to EQ, Handley explains that “we want passionate people here – the interview doesn’t have to be entertaining for us, but candidates should be able to demonstrate genuine emotion and empathy. We want someone who is passionate about what they are doing, because that is really important to our clients.” How can Orrick’s recruiters detect EQ? A lot of attention is paid to the way in which candidates describe their experiences: “Genuineness and sincerity are quite transparent – somebody who can speak at length about their experiences and give good, well-considered examples will naturally show EQ. We love it when a candidate gives us a meaningful reflection on their experience. That’s always an inspiring conversation.”


Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP

51 West 52nd Street,
New York,
NY 10019-6142
Website www.orrick.com

  • Head Office: New York/San Francisco
  • Number of domestic offices: 12
  • Number of international offices: 13
  • Worldwide revenue: $975 million
  • Partners (US): 299
  • Associates (US): 541
  • Contacts  
  • Main recruitment contact: Siobhan Handley (shandley@orrick.com)
  • Hiring partner: Eric Hairston
  • Diversity officer: Joi Y. Bourgeois
  • Recruitment details  
  • Entry-level associates starting in 2018: 51
  • Clerking policy: Yes
  • Summers joining/anticipated 2018: 64
  • 1Ls: 10, 2Ls: 53 SEO: 1
  • Summers joining/anticipated 2018 split by office:
  • Houston: 3, Los Angeles: 4, New York: 17, Orange County: 4. Portland: 1, Sacramento: 4, Santa Monica: 1, San Francisco: 15 Seattle: 1, Silicon Valley: 8, Washington, DC: 6
  • Summer salary 2018:
  • 1Ls: $3,400
  • 2Ls: $3,400
  • 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

 Technology and innovation, energy and infrastructure, finance, corporate, litigation, appellate and intellectual property.

Firm profile

 At Orrick, we focus on serving the technology and innovation, energy and infrastructure and finance sectors globally. Founded more than 150 years ago in San Francisco, Orrick today as 1000+ lawyers and offices in 25 markets worldwide including our newest offices in Houston and Santa Monica. Our clients include 1600+ high-growth companies, 20% of today’s unicorns, public companies, global financial institutions, funds and government entities.


Law schools attending for OCIs in 2018:
• Boston College
• Columbia
• Duke
• Fordham
• George Mason University
• George Washington
• Georgetown
• Harvard
• McGeorge
• Northwestern
• Notre Dame
• Santa Clara
• Stanford
• Tulane
• 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
• Vanderbilt
• Yale

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 three qualities our most successful lawyers have in common: grit, EQ and teamplay. 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 area, extensive feedback and hands-on experience with real client matters.

Social media

Recruitment website: www.orrick.com/careers
Twitter: @Orrick, @OrrickCareers, @MitchZuklie
Facebook: @Orrick
Instagram: @OrrickCareers,@mzuklie

This Firm's Rankings in
USA Guide, 2019

Ranked Departments

    • 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)
    • 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)
    • Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation (Band 3)
    • 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)