Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP - The Inside View

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“WE’RE known as a technology-oriented and innovative firm,” juniors at Orrick declared. A scan of the firm’s Chambers USA rankings backs this data up nicely – zoom in on high nationwide placements for the firm’s start-ups and emerging companies practices, as well as top awards for projects, privacy and data security. Founded in San Francisco, a mere 45-minute drive from the fabled Silicon Valley, Orrick continues to shine brightest in the Golden State with additional high commendations for litigation and venture capital work. 

Most of the juniors on our list were on the West Coast, but New York is the firm’s largest office and also welcomes sizable classes, as does DC. The newest of the bunch as of 2019 is Boston. A client list that includes the world’s biggest and brightest tech companies – Facebook, Apple, Netflix etc. – speaks for itself, but there’s a forward-thinking feel to be found within the firm too. “Orrick’s especially innovative around its cultural semantics and offers a well-rounded life,” we heard.

Strategy & Future

“I don’t think it’s bullshit, the firm is always pushing innovation and improving everything,” one source felt. “On a micro level, every day I work with people who think about the way we operate, how we can utilize tech better and be more efficient.” Recent examples include ‘innovation tournaments’ akin to Shark Tank where groups get to pitch new concepts; 50 hours of ‘innovation credits’ counting toward yearly billing targets; and an in-house tech team tasked with developing new systems to save the firm (and clients’) money. “There’s an understanding that if we want to be at the top, we need to keep innovating,” interviewees concluded. 

“There’s an understanding that if we want to be at the top, we need to keep innovating.”

The Work

Around a third of juniors on our list were in litigious practice groups; another large chunk was in corporate (where much of the focus is on technology companies); and the rest spread between energy, real estate, structured finance and banking. “It’s a diversified firm,” a source said, “with strength in litigation and transactional work as well as public finance plus very well-known tech finance and energy practices.” Each office has its own specialties. Along with tech and start-ups, Orrick’s employment department is “renowned” in California; the DC base handles Supreme Court litigation; and finance is more characteristic of New York“On the East Coast we deal with super new companies doing the early rounds of equity financing,” insiders explained. “It’s more later stage companies in the tech sphere on the West Coast.” The latest to join the party, Boston, comes with an appetizing IP practice after Orrick poached IP litigators from Fish & Richardson in 2020. 

Much of the firm’s corporate work is either “general transactional advice for early stage companies” or “deal work including venture financing and seller-side M&A.” Our sources unanimously loved working with fledgling and innovative companies: “What distinguishes our M&A practice is that because our focus is on emerging companies, we can lead a business through each round of its financing, and if that business grows to acquire others or be acquired you see it through that growth. We see all stages of the company’s lifecycle.” It’s not all tech and futuristic inventions, “Orrick’s client base is varied. We do a lot with energy companies and I’ve even worked with plywood producers.” There’s also a healthy life sciences M&A practice. Cross-border deals are very common at Orrick, but that’s no impediment to juniors’ responsibility. “I’ve drafted an asset purchase agreement already – I didn’t do a great job, but I still did it,” one joked. Another outlined their role on a Series C financing: “I was in charge of drafting all the ancillary documents and coordinating the closing to make sure all the investors signed.” It helps that the Global Operations & Innovation Center “does more of the administrative tasks” like compiling documents and signature pages, leaving juniors time for more exciting roles on deals. 

“It’s cool to be on a journey with a new company and their founders.”

Also falling under the corporate umbrella, the firm’s technology companies group – which advises approximately 20% of all ‘unicorn’ tech firms in the US – was a popular destination for our sources. Working with “anyone from small start-ups to new European or international companies coming to the US, as long as they’re somehow connected to technology,” sources relished the immediate client exposure available in this group. “You have so much direct contact with the client right out of the gate, especially with smaller tech companies,” they explained. “You effectively serve as their general counsel, answering all sorts of questions.” Associates here were required to deal with “licensing contracts, terms of service and policies, as well as guiding the diligence within venture capital and private equity transactions. We also deal closely with some companies’ IP transactions.” The best part of this practice, according to juniors here? “It’s cool to be on a journey with a new company and their founders and when they eventually hit a major milestone with investor financing you get to feel directly involved.” 

Corporate clients: Beyond Meat, Pinterest, Insomnia Cookies. Acted for $20 billion-valued fintech start-up Stripe on all financing rounds and acquisitions since its 2010 incorporation.  

Litigation at Orrick means securities, antitrust, white-collar, public policy and more. Once again, results may vary by office: New York leans toward financial disputes, San Francisco to tech litigation and DC is the government hub. A source in the exciting-sounding cyber litigation practice noted a general excitement in the air: “We’re usually dealing with class action litigation in the cybersecurity space. It’s such a new area of law which is really fun, working in jurisdictions and issues being played with for the first time allows us to be really creative and innovative.” Another junior was equally happy, this time with their freedom to run with their assigned tasks. “I was running the discovery for an antitrust litigation case,” they explained. “I did all the depositions with the experts and within six months, I took a deposition myself with an expert in tow. Responsibility is common and intentional across the board.” Our sources linked this freedom with Orrick’s forward-thinking brand: “For me, innovation is giving first-years tasks like these. My first assignment was a motion for summary judgment; I thought they were joking when I got asked to do it.” Early responsibility can be daunting... “At times I felt like I was in the middle of the ocean, but I knew the life vest was there,” one source confirmed. “I just had to work out when I’d pull the strings.” 

Litigation clients: Apple, PayPal, Goldman Sachs. Advised Netflix on a headline-hitting employee mobility case surrounding the companies’ disputed acquisition of Twentieth Century Fox’s business executives. 

The firm’s IP team deals with “a lot of prosecution and enforcement work” in “large and complex cases,” particularly focusing on trademark and trade dress law. Sources again appreciated the opportunities for juniors: “I’ve been staffed on a large-scale trade dress case and I was in charge of discovery, handling all the document production and collection,” one said. “I then managed the reviewing team, while prepping experts and numerous depositions; and whichever depositions I helped prep, I was able to second-chair at trial. That was really cool.”  

IP clients: Oracle, Kars4Kids, New Balance Athletics. Acted for Canon in a long-running cross-licensing dispute with tech rival Avigilon over security surveillance camera technology. 

Pro Bono 

Sources all commended the firm’s approach to pro bono, with lighthearted reference to some healthy rivalry between its offices: “It gets quite competitive each year, with people putting stickers up to say they’ve done the hours. It’s all good fun though.” The most hardworking pro bono-ers earn individual awards. Orrick champions various causes including immigrants, constitutional and prisoner rights, veterans’ issues and more. Juniors across the firm’s offices also commended the “really strong” dedicated pro bono partner in New York who’s “solely dedicated to pro bono and supporting attorneys across the firm.” We heard that “everyone’s encouraged to do at least 20 hours per year,” but any amount of pro bono can count toward yearly targets. 

Pro bono hours

  • For all US attorneys: 79,214
  • Average per US attorney:  107

Hours & Compensation

Billable hours: 1,950 target

That’s the goal for bonus eligibility, but the firm’s allocation of unlimited pro bono and the 50-hour allowance for innovation credits left interviewees with little to complain about. “I could count on one hand the number of times I’ve worked past 12:30am,” one satisfied source said. Pinning down average hours across the firm was difficult, but there were few horror stories – one outlier recalled a “hellish” period of 8am to 1am days after “a storm of assignments came to a head.” There is a silver lining for the most overworked associates: merit-based bonuses are also up for grabs if you exceed the 1,950 hours target. 

“It’s really nice in the beginning of your career to have such autonomy.”

“There’s such a flexible culture surrounding working from home and being out of office, I was able to work from home pretty much any time I wanted as a first year,” a source in San Francisco told us. A popular remote working policy “makes things far more manageable,” and insiders told us: “It’s really nice in the beginning of your career to have such autonomy and control rather than being chained to your desk.” It’s not just a West Coast mentality – a DC source said: “The firm wants to find better ways of doing things and that bleeds into the idea that it’s not about being here 9am to 7pm every day, but about getting things done. That flexibility allows people to be sharp.” 

Culture & Career Development

“Everyone’s so nice here,” another insider remarked. “It’s really odd for the industry and I have no problem spending as much time here as I do.” Asked about why Orrick stands out from the crowd, they reckoned it’s down to “having the right technological tools with the right management structures to make the whole firm work.” Associates pointed to the widely adopted use of Slack – a work-based messaging service – as a great example of how “the firm wants people to be more connected.” Investment in tech is one thing; another is investment in associates. “Levels of pastoral care and happiness here are out of the ordinary,” interviewees insisted. “You can work reduced hours if you want and there are good parental leave and vacation policies. They really do care about the associate experience.” Some commented that due to the geographic spread of the offices, “there isn’t the same concentrated experience as at some firms,” but technology helps bridge the gaps.  

“I have no problem spending as much time here as I do.” 

Associates progress through three rungs of hierarchy: junior, managing, then senior associate. They usually spend around three years at each stage with “staggered training for each of the levels.” Insiders suggested: “The firm’s made a practice of cultivating talent, it’s not a machine that requires X amount of external labor input.” Instead, Orrick aims to “look for a person who matches the culture” during initial interviews “and nurture them through the ranks. Everyone I’ve worked with understands that as a junior you don’t know a whole lot, and they’re all open to questions.” Corporate juniors championed their sector-specific training “with weekly sessions where we go through documents typically looked at in deals provision by provision, with a partner explaining them in simple terms.” Another source commended the firm’s “comprehensive” training regime, “it’s up to date with the latest market trends.” An online portal provides resources to make Orrick’s partner track more visible. 

Diversity & Inclusion

In collaboration with Diversity Lab, the firm recently launched a five-year plan to drive meaningful change and improve “the diversity of our client teams as we improve the diversity of our firm.” Sources commended this ‘Move the Needle’ initiative alongside DiveIn Day, the firm’s cross-office program highlighting awareness on specific areas of diversity, as proof of genuine commitment to building a diverse and inclusive workspace. “We’re heavily invested in improving the situation,” one source said. “Orrick acknowledges the issue, and presentations at the most recent firm retreat included concrete steps we can all take to be better allies.” 

Get Hired

Orrick - Get Hired

The first stage: recruitment on and off campus

OCI applicants interviewed: 1,363

Interviewees outside OCI: 73

Orrick interviews at 30 OCI programs, seven career fairs – both diversity and practice focused - and participate in targeted resume collection drops; the firm have 5 collection drops scheduled this year. The firm seek for multiple levels of seniority to offer perspectives during the OCI process. As such, interviews are conducted by various individuals, from mid-level associates to partners. Attorneys typically conduct interviews one on one. 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.


Applicants invited to second stage interview: 504

Callback candidates interview with up to five attorneys, who are again a mix of seniority. “Typically,” the firm tells us, “the hiring partner for each office is involved in the interview.” 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: 154

Acceptances: 56

Through a wide variety of communication channels, the firm aim to accommodate incoming summer associate’s practice group preferences. Each summer receives assignments through a formalized work allocation system. After finishing the program, “associates indicate their top practice group preferences. Nearly all new hires are placed in their first-choice practice group.”

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 juniors formalised 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 seek 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 their 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 identify four sought for qualities from incomers: “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: 14
  • Worldwide revenue: $1.046 billion
  • Partners (US): 312
  • Associates (US): 563
  • Contacts  
  • Main recruitment contact: Siobhan Handley (shandley@orrick.com)  
  • Diversity officer: Joi Y Bourgeois
  • Recruitment details  
  • Entry-level associates starting in 2020: 51
  • Clerking policy: Yes
  • Summers joining/anticipated 2020: 62
  • 1Ls: 13, 2Ls: 47, SEO: 2
  • Summers joining/anticipated 2020 split by office:
  • Boston: 3, Houston: 1, Los Angeles: 6, New York: 17, Orange County: 3; Portland: 1, Sacramento: 3, Santa Monica: 1, San Francisco: 13, Seattle: 2, Silicon Valley: 5, Washington, DC: 8
  • Summer salary 2020:
  • 1Ls: $3,653
  • 2Ls: $3,653
  • 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 & infrastructure and finance sectors globally. Founded more than 150 years ago in San Francisco, Orrick today as 1100+ lawyers and offices in 28 markets worldwide including our newest offices in Boston, MA, Houston & Austin, TX and Santa Monica. Our clients include 2700+ high-growth companies, 20% of U.S. unicorns, public companies, global financial institutions, funds and government entities.


Law schools attending for OCIs in 2020:
• Boston College
• Boston University
• Columbia7290
• Duke
• Fordham
• George Mason University
• George Washington
• Georgetown
• Harvard
• Loyola LA
• 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 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:
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 areas, 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, 2020

Ranked Departments

    • 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)
    • Real Estate (Band 1)
    • Tax (Band 4)
    • Corporate/M&A (Band 4)
    • Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation (Band 3)
    • Bankruptcy/Restructuring (Band 2)
    • Intellectual Property: Litigation (Band 4)
    • Intellectual Property: Patent (Band 4)
    • Labor & Employment (Band 3)
    • Litigation: General Commercial: Highly Regarded (Band 3)
    • Litigation: White-Collar Crime & Government Investigations (Band 5)
    • Appellate Law (Band 2)
    • Capital Markets: Securitisation (Band 3)
    • Energy: Electricity (Transactional) (Band 4)
    • Energy: Oil & Gas (Regulatory & Litigation) (Band 5)
    • Energy: Oil & Gas (Transactional) (Band 4)
    • FCPA (Band 4)
    • Intellectual Property (Band 4)
    • Labor & Employment (Band 2)
    • Native American Law (Band 3)
    • Native American Law: Finance Spotlight Table
    • Privacy & Data Security (Band 1)
    • Product Liability & Mass Torts (Band 4)
    • 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)
    • 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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