Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP - The Inside View

Driven by innovation, this Cali-born firm distinguishes itself as BigLaw’s Orrickle when it comes to all things tech, finance and energy. 

You don’t get to be a high-flying global firm without demonstrating a knack for innovation. As you might expect from a savvy Cali outfit, Orrick certainly doesn’t lack this vital attribute – it even has its very own dedicated innovation team. One of the group’s most recent creations is ‘The Observatory’, an interactive platform which allows users (like in-house counsel and venture capital investors) to analyze hundreds of legal tech products to gauge their usefulness for a particular need (like contract management or eDiscovery). Pretty snazzy right? All this work has paid off, as Orrick has been recognized among the top three ‘Most Innovative Law Firm in North America’ for six years in a row by the Financial Times. 

“Orrick is one of the top firms when it comes to tech transactions and startups, with a great, stable client portfolio.” 

Orrick also keeps things clear and simple for clients by focusing on three core sectors: energy and infrastructure; finance; and (you guessed it) technology and innovation. Litigation work accounts for around half of the firm’s practice, and Orrick scoops up a wealth of Chambers USA rankings for its contentious work. These include energy-specific rankings in electricity and oil and gas litigation, as well as state rankings ingeneral commercial litigation and white-collar crime and government investigations in New York, Californiaand Washington. Capital marketswork is something of a strong suit for the firm nationwide, as are projects (especially those involving renewable energy) and privacy and data matters. IP, venture capital and tech transactions are also strengths for Orrick on its Cali home turf.  

Among the cultural reasons for joining the firm, several of our sources identified Orrick’s work in the areas of renewable energy and venture capital/emerging companies as a major draw: “Orrick is one of the top firms when it comes to tech transactions and startups, with a great, stable client portfolio.”   

Strategy & Future 

“I feel like the firm is focused on growing in its core areas of technology, energy and infrastructure, and finance,” one source reported, summing up the feeling among others. Orrick has hit upon a formula that works well for it, so don’t expect any big changes in focus any time soon.  

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

The Work 

Orrick’s New York office housed the most associates in one location. However, the largest contingent of the juniors on our list were found to be working across the firm’s collection of Cali offices. A sizable number were also working in DC, while a few were dotted across the firm’s Boston, Houston, Austin and Portland bases. Practice groups with the most juniors included IP, data, emerging companies, general litigation, energy, employment, M&A/private equity,and capital markets

“We have a work coordinator, but with everyone so busy that’s not really put into practice,” commented one source. Indeed, it seemed to be a running theme across groups that work coordinators only stepped in when associates didn’t get enough work via a more informal free-market system: “It’s sort of both [free-market and work coordinator-based], at least on paper. In practice, it’s definitely free-market.” For many associates, a busy 2021 meant there was always something to do: “From day one, it’s been so busy that no one has really needed it [help from a coordinator].” Another source added: “More often than not, I’ve either continued to work with someone on something new or I’ve reached out directly.” 

“We do a lot of investigation work on either DOJ or SEC matters, prior to bringing charges.” 

InIP, “there’s a good deal or work with tech companies in the software area,” an associate explained. “Our practice involves lots of IPR – intellectual property rights – district cases, and work with the ITC – the International Trade Commission.” Typical junior associate tasks revolve around things like drafting inter partes review petitions and pleadings in district courts, as well as taking client calls and sitting in on meetings with opposing counsel. “The work hasn’t been particularly cross-border,” one source told us, adding: “The IP laws are so different in Europe and Asia.” Associates can expect plenty of collaboration with the firm’s other US-based offices, however.  

IP clients: Kite Pharma, Canon, Oracle. Represented Kite Pharma when it was sued by Juno Therapeutics over an alleged patent infringement, in a case worth over $1 billion.  

The white-collar litigation group is one of Orrick’s most prominent contentious teams. It serves as counsel in investigations brought by state and federal authorities: “We do a lot of investigation work on either DOJ or SEC matters, prior to bringing charges,” one junior informed us. Such investigations tend to relate to securities, fraud, anti-bribery or anti-corruption matters. “When the SEC has identified violations, they will require a company to enter into something called a monitorship, and we have a few partners that specialize in that work.” For those working more broadly in general litigation (where you'll find a mix of antitrust, employment, international arbitration, and complex litigation matters), drafting motions was one task up for grabs: “I’ve mostly done motions to dismiss, but also summary judgments, and some informal discovery motions. I’ve purposely tried to put myself on smaller cases where I can, because that’s where you tend to get the best experience.” 

General litigation clients: Credit Suisse, Johnson & Johnson, Deloitte Global. Representing Credit Suisse in all litigation related to its legacy residential mortgage-backed securitization business. 

“I’ve been able to help some quite famous startup companies go public.” 

“We work with a lot of tech and biotech clients” incapital markets, including “startups that want to go public and need help with an initial public offering [IPO],” an interviewee told us. “We have worked with some of our clients for over 20 years.” This means that there can be work “assisting with corporate governance and internal operations,” but when there’s a deal “there’s lots of drafting documents and communicating with clients about the status of a matter or helping them with any issues they may be having.” For this source, “working on several IPOs has been really interesting, because I’ve been able to help some quite famous startup companies go public. I really like my day-to-day work.” 

Capital markets clients: BioAtla, Luminar Technologies, Levi Strauss & Co. Advised healthcare tech company Clover Health on its agreement to be publicly traded via a SPAC (Special Purpose Acquisition Company) merger.  

Culture, Hours & Compensation 

Billable hours: 1,950 target 

“Orrick has seen this idea of ‘unplugged time’ as a real gap in the market.” 

“You hear a lot about East Coast vs. West Coast firms,” one associate explained, “but having so many offices in California [six] really does make a difference.” A big part of what drew our interviewees to Orrick was the understanding that there is more to life than billable hours: “Orrick has seen this idea of ‘unplugged time’ as a real gap in the market,” a junior remarked. ‘Unplugged time’ is an annually allotted period of 40 hours that’s set aside by the firm for each associate and counts toward their hours target. Associates are told to ignore emails and calls, and their work is temporarily assigned to someone else: “I guess the designated ‘unplugged time’ is just holiday, but it’s really incentivized people to do it.  It reminded me of what Orrick cares about.” 

Associates told us that a good working week would total between 40 and 50 hours, but “a bad week is more like 60 to 70.” A source shared: “It sometimes really does feel like two firms. The West Coast is the ‘lifestyle culture’ that the firm bills itself as.The feeling I’ve got is that the New York office is more push, push, push. It might be better than other New York firms – but generally, I have a better lifestyle when working with West Coast partners.” The sage advice one associate imparted was: “For those coming in, understand that it’s still a law firm, it’s still BigLaw, and it’s still a business. It’s going to be a tough, demanding environment that is intense and stressful at times. But, if you’re set on BigLaw, it’s still a great place to work.”  

We heard no qualms about the 1,950 annual billing target, which factors in 100 hours that can be devoted to DEI, business development, innovation, training, and shadowing activities. Interviewees were happy with Orrick’s response to the salary hikes that occurred across the market in 2021. Orrick hasone US salary scale across all its domestic offices for its partner-track associates.

Career Development  

“All the groups are different in terms of the extent to which they continue your legal education,” an interviewee summarized. One felt that the predominant style in their group was “learn on the go,” and described how they learnt a lot about how companies operated via the documents they were reviewing. Another highlighted that their team had “a great balance in terms of letting you get experience early but also leading you through it. When I have led a client call, they sit in the background, and it’s only if I branch off that they’ll correct me.” We also heard of groups hosting monthly meetings to discuss market updates and a centralized website “where you can watch all the training you want! You can learn about specific topics or review old lectures.” 

“The firm definitely has an expectation that people who join will stay."

“The firm definitely has an expectation that people who join will stay,” reflected one source. “It’s definitely ‘Here’s the path we are looking for you to take through your career at Orrick.’” Another reported that nothing would motivate them to leave Orrick except for “moving in-house or to a non-firm job in order to have a better work-life balance.” Almost a quarter of our survey respondents said that they intended to make partner, while just over 40% said they intended to stay for up to five more years. 

Pro Bono  

All pro bono work can be counted as billable and contributes to associates’ 1,850 client-based hour minimum target: “There’s no formal limit to how much you can do, and they really encourage juniors to do it. This year, pro bono probably accounts for a fifth of my hours and last year almost all my work was pro bono! No one gave me a hard time about it then, and no one gives me a hard time about it now.” While we should highlight that it’s rare for juniors to devote all their time to pro bono, all our sources appeared to be actively involved in such matters. There is a “firmly encouraged requirement” for each attorney to complete a minimum of 20 pro bono hours each year. Sources had worked on asylum matters and pointed to a lot of work stemming from the American Civil Liberties Union. The firm’s expertise also draws in startups that are looking for pro bono advice. All our survey respondents agreed that Orrick was committed to pro bono work. 

Pro bono hours 

  • For all US attorneys: 120,417
  • Average per US attorney: 175

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion  

By 2025, Orrick intends for its teams that serve its top 40 clients to be at least 55% diverse, with women, people of color, and LGBTQ+ lawyers occupying senior roles. “I’m seeing progress,” commented one source, “and that progress is played out in the messaging from leadership, in recruiting efforts and in client demand – diversity is taken into account when staffing teams on new matters.” Associates also appreciated the efforts made by those in senior positions: “The diversity partners at the firm don’t leave it all to the minority associates to take the lead. This really helps us to feel like ‘Okay, they’ve got this, and they are making it a priority.’” Another respondent noted that “several female partners have made partner while out on leave, and taking leave does not count against partner track status.” Orrick is also involved in Diversity Lab’s ‘Move the Needle Fund,’ which is testing out new initiatives to increase diversity in the legal industry. 

Get Hired

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

The first stage: recruitment on and off campus

OCI applicants interviewed 2022: 411

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 five business units they prefer: litigation, corporate, IP, energy & infrastructure, and finance. Orrick interviews at approximately 25 OCI programs and four career fairs and participates in resume collection drops. The firm seeks interviewers at multiple levels of seniority – from mid-level 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, teamplay 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): 80

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 Land, 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); Teamplay (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, and Strategic Advisory & Government Enforcement.

Firm profile

 Orrick focuses on serving the Technology & Innovation, Energy & Infrastructure and Finance 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 2022:
• Boston College Law School
• BYU J. Reuben Clark Law School
• Columbia University School of Law
• Duke University School of Law
• Fordham University School of Law
• Georgetown University Law Center
• Harvard University Law School
• Howard University School of Law
• New York University School of Law
• Stanford University Law School
• UC Berkeley School of Law
• UC Hastings College of the Law
• UCLA Law
• University of Texas Law School
• University of Virginia Law School

Recruitment outside OCIs:
Candidates interested in our 2023 Summer Program can apply directly to Orrick through our Careers Page at Orrick.com. For the 18th year, Orrick will host the Bay Area Diversity Career Fair, in partnership with the Bar Association of San Francisco. Orrick will also be conducting resume collects at over 30 law schools. Our partners, Legal Innovators, will also be interviewing at law schools on behalf of Orrick at select 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 matters from across the country, while participating in local 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, live and virtual teambuilding events, and weekly fitness and mindfulness classes.

Social media

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

This Firm's Rankings in
USA Guide, 2022

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)

Orrick podcasts:

Happiness and mental wellbeing

GilbertWhat is the key to happiness? Orrick Chairman Mitch Zuklie turns to Harvard Professor Dan Gilbert, a leading expert on the science of happiness, for insight.

JohnsonIf you think you don’t have time to work out, imagine how Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg fits it in. Bryant Johnson, trainer to RBG, tells Orrick Chairman Mitch Zuklie how she makes it a priority and how you can, too.

KropA Harvard JD, Jon Krop practiced for a while and then became a meditation teacher. Here he shares his perspective with Orrick Chairman Mitch Zuklie on how to incorporate meditation into your day.

Diversity & Inclusiveness

reevesLaw firms talk a lot about what they are doing to become more diverse and inclusive. But what does the research say works? Author and lawyer Dr. Arin Reeves talks with Orrick Chairman Mitch Zuklie.

Hear directly from our team about how Orrick’s Agile Working options give our lawyers the opportunity to work in ways that work for them.


Orrick was honored by MCCA for our efforts to build a more diverse and inclusive workplace. Watch this video and find out why.


haganYou’re a lawyer and you want to innovate. Where you do you start? Margaret Hagan, Director of Stanford’s Legal Design Lab, shares a great primer on design thinking with Orrick Chairman Mitch Zuklie.





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