Perkins Coie LLP - The Inside View

Tech expertise, big clients and a welcoming culture are just some of the many Perk(in)s of life at this Seattle-born firm.

If you’re at all familiar with the Seattle legal market, Perkins Coie is certainly a name you would have come across. It’s been around for more than 100 years, and while it now boasts a collection of offices across the nation (and a sizeable presence in Asia), it still remains one of the biggest names in the Pacific Northwest. According to managing partner Bill Malley, Perkins has made a name for itself by being “a go-to firm for the technology sector.” Though the sector is constantly evolving, Malley highlights how the firm is committed to keeping up this reputation: “We see ourselves at another inflection point, where emerging technologies will create the new industries and companies of tomorrow. We’re working to seize this moment in helping these companies navigate the technological and economic disruptions of our era.” Our colleagues at Chambers USA have certainly picked up on this reputation, recognizing the firm across dozens of its practices, including its nationwide work in privacy & data security, environment and retail. Perkins collects most of its rankings in its Washington home state, with special tips of the hat going to its antitrust, corporate/M&A, IP and litigation practices, just to name a few! 

“Perkins is a choose-your-own-adventure firm!” 

This range of practices and specialisms proved especially enticing for our associate interviewees, with one confidently exclaiming: “Perkins is a choose-your-own-adventure firm! We get to choose what we want our careers to look like.” We heard that this positive perception of the firm is only amplified by its attention to ensuring staff feel happy and supported, with a source explaining how “people acknowledge that you have other priorities outside of your work, but you still get access to great cases.” 

Strategy & Future 



“We aim to serve the companies and industries that are going to be at the forefront in the next wave of innovation,” Malley shares. “Our strategy is to be the law firm of choice for companies that are positioned at the leading edge of new technologies.” Of course, no discussion on cutting-edge technology would be complete without a mention of AI, and Perkins has been involved in the sector for years. As Malley explains, “new leaps in AI are rapidly reshaping our clients' businesses, the economy and our entire society. We believe we’re extremely well positioned as a firm to deliver across the entire spectrum of practice areas that reflect our clients’ emerging needs as AI changes the world around us.” The technology has also made its way to the firm’s doorstep, and Malley tells us how the firm will integrate AI into its own practices: “We believe mainstreaming the use of AI tools into the practice of law is the future. It is already creating new opportunities for our lawyers and will enable us to deliver greater value to our clients.”  

The Work 



While the Seattle HQ took on the lion’s share of associates on our list, they were spread across most of the firm’s US offices, with many more based in San Francisco, DC, and New York. The overarching business, commercial litigation and IP groups took on the largest number of associates, who each join a subgroup within their chosen umbrella. Sources explained how work assignment was more informal as “there’s no formal person watching your caseload, so it takes a little bit of time at the start to network and get your name out there.” For example, one associate started out “just having coffee meetings with people, but once you’re on a case you can see it through to the end.” 

The business group is split into various subgroups, such as emerging companies & venture capital, corporate & securities, M&A and technology transactions & privacy. As the name suggests, the latter group largely works with tech companies, but an associate reflected, “the nice thing about being here is that there’s such a variety of work. There’s so much going on that it’s hard to wrap my head around it all!” Insiders relished the chance to take on matters that aligned with their own interests – thanks to conscious efforts from the firm to pair associates with the work they want to do most – and directly interface with clients. As one satisfied interviewee put it, “I had no idea that I’d get to do this kind of work back in law school!” There are also opportunities to work with tech companies on the M&A side, though sources highlighted healthcare and private equity as other key areas of work. Associates here also get comfortable with drafting ancillary documents and due diligence, taking on some more project management as they progress. 

M&A clients: Amazon, Alliant Energy, National Pickleball League. Advised Microsoft in its acquisition of tech company Fungible. 

The IP group is divided into patent litigation, patent prosecution and TCIA (trademarks, copyright, internet and advertising). Sources explained how newbies in the group can expect to be busy, as “associates are usually involved in everything to do with any given case, which can mean there are a lot of emails!” Typical associate tasks can include doc review, case management and lots of drafting of complaints and motions. Insiders explained how Perkins does plenty of patent work with tech companies and in the medical industry, with plenty of opportunities for juniors to get their own parts of matters and “run with it.” So, sources were happy with the responsibility, but also appreciated using their technical skills to help clients and “see the novelty and innovation of their new adventures.” 

IP clients: Adobe, Intel, Netflix. Represented Google in a successful appeal to overturn a $20 million patent infringement ruling relating to the anti-malware technology used by Google Chrome. 

“I’ve already argued a few motions in court and have done some depositions as well.” 

Subgroups in commercial litigation include white collar & investigations, business litigation, antitrust, construction and privacy & data security. With plenty of work flowing through the group, insiders explained how responsibility comes quickly: “I didn’t do much stereotypical doc review, but I jumped straight into writing summary judgments in my first few weeks.” Sources mentioned that other typical tasks for juniors include drafting motions and complaints, responding to discovery requests, attending mediations and dealing with opposing counsel. “I’ve already argued a few motions in court and have done some depositions as well. It’s been great!” an interviewee enthused. What’s more, juniors appreciated the global scope of the work, with one appreciating how “humbling it is to work on such influential cases. Going to trial has been really eye-opening, and the partners are so encouraging, too.” 

Litigation clients: Boeing, Costco, WeWork. Represented Nintendo of America in several class actions relating to its Nintendo Switch console.  

Career Development 



Our sources were quick to highlight the longevity of partners at the firm, with many considering it an incentive to stay at the firm: “They want to create the perception that everyone has a path to partnership, and they work hard to make that true. It’s encouraging to see how many folks are homegrown partners!” When it comes to career development more generally, sources explained how the firm takes a hands-off but ever-watchful approach where “the onus is on the attorney. The firm has a ton of resources which are readily available to us and you can reach out to foster relationships with mentors. But, like everything else, it’s up to the attorney to work on that themselves.” That being said, associates appreciated feeling “heavily encouraged” to pursue informal mentors on top of their standard, assigned ones. The firm has also introduced a new training series for some business associates, and deposition, trial and expert witness trainings for litigators.

TOP READ FOR ASSOCIATES: How to make a strategic lateral move, with Perkins Coie

“Everyone is important here and the people matter. Everything Perkins does reflects that.” 

Culture 



Associates were keen to praise the firm’s camaraderie across all levels, emphasizing how “everyone is important here and the people matter. Everything Perkins does reflects that.” Interviewees mentioned how work-life balance was a strong point for the firm, lauding its efforts to be “very mindful of associates’ bandwidth. If you’re too overwhelmed, they’re willing to advocate for you.”

On the social side of things, there are monthly ‘all hands’ events, which include activities such as “lunches, happy hours, baking, mini golf and holiday parties. Last year we had a big spring gala!” However, some appreciated the chance to get to know their colleagues through their work. For instance, an M&A associate pointed out how the practice seems to lend itself to networking, so “I’ve been able to make a lot of good friends at the firm. I’m very extroverted and get to have a very good life here at Perkins.” 

Hours & Compensation 



Billable hours: 2,000 target 

Interviewees pointed out that associates can’t just sleep on their 2,000-hour billable target, but instead “have to be diligent and work hard to make those hours.” Within that goal, associates have to bill at least 1,850 client hours, and the remaining 150 can be shared across pro bono, DEI and knowledge management (the latter two have a 50-hour cap each). Knowledge management essentially refers to projects to improve resources within a practice group. For example, one source highlighted how there have been “loads of changes with GDPR, so I’ve been working to make attorneys aware of the changes so that they are more informed and can better counsel their clients.” Insiders also praised the firm's transparency on compensation, which is market-rate.

Pro Bono 



“Perkins prides itself on its pro bono work,” a source said right off the bat, using the firm’s policy as evidence of this. Specifically, associates in their first two years have access to unlimited pro bono, so “you can develop your skill set and have some substantial cases under your belt” before the 150-hour target kicks in from year three. However, some insiders were “pretty upset” at the lack of an unlimited target across years (which had previously been the case) while others felt the cap would likely have little impact, opining that they “don’t think this is the type of firm where you struggle to reach your hours.” What’s more, “the firm doesn’t specify any particular areas of focus,” according to interviewees, so associates can expect a litany of matters related to criminal justice, veterans and asylum. 

Pro bono hours 

  • For all US attorneys: 59,545
  • Average per US attorney: 53.1

“I saw a lot of partners who looked like me. One of the biggest reasons I picked Perkins was because people here looked like me and spoke my language.” 

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion 



Sources spoke highly of Perkins Coie’s diverse list of both associates and partners. One was keen to emphasize, “I work with a tremendous team of female attorneys who are such a powerful inspiration for me and don’t let stereotypes affect them.” In fact, insiders highlighted female representation as one of the stronger facets of the firm’s diversity, noting how “Perkins does a really great job in creating a rewarding atmosphere that helps women thrive.” Associates also pointed out the firm’s continued efforts to recruit diverse individuals across all levels of seniority, with one interviewee passionately exclaiming, “I saw a lot of partners who looked like me. One of the biggest reasons I picked Perkins was because people here looked like me and spoke my language.” This hasn’t happened by chance, and the firm has a number of initiatives and programs it promotes to ensure it can keep this up, allowing associates to bill up to 50 hours spent on DE&I. For instance, Perkins has its own established Diversity & Inclusion Fellowship and hosts mandatory CLE training sessions on a variety of topics such as unconscious bias. 

Get Hired



The First Stage: Recruitment On and Off Campus

On-Campus Interview (OCI) Applicants: 1,291

Perkins Coie conducts OCIs at over 40 law schools across the United States, including the top 20 law schools, as well as regional schools in the same area as the firm’s offices.

In most cases, OCIs are conducted by partners, but Mike Gotham, the firm’s senior director for legal talent, adds that wherever possible, “we like to send attorneys who are alums of that school.” Interviewers use behavioral interviewing techniques, so Gotham says, “students should be prepared to discuss examples of navigating past experiences that could be relevant to the practice of law.”

Perkins Coie also regularly hires judicial clerks who apply during their clerkships.

Top Tips for This Stage:

“Candidates should use this opportunity to help us get a good idea of their interests, goals and experience.” – Mike Gotham

The Second Stage: Callbacks

Candidates are typically invited to spend half a day interviewing with a schedule that includes four to six interviews with a mix of associates and partners. These interviews are often conducted virtually. Some offices host ‘super-recruiting’ events at which up to 15 students participate in round robin-style one-to-one interviews. For callback interviews, questions are more in-depth than those at OCIs, and Gotham advises, “while not every law student has definitively settled on a practice area at the end of their first year of law school, every candidate should be able to provide a thoughtful explanation of what interests them and why.”

Top Tips for This Stage:

“You’re definitely assessing them, too, so don’t disregard that part!” – first-year associate

“Do your homework on the firm and your interviewers and come prepared to ask questions regarding the criteria that will be important to you when you are deciding among offers from different firms.” – Mike Gotham

The Third Stage: Summer Program

Offers for 2024: 33 1Ls and 57 2Ls

Perkins Coie’s summer program spans across 12 offices. The entire cohort is brought together virtually for trainings and firmwide programming. 2L summer associates are typically paired up with a practice group that intends to hire out of the summer class from their office, and they can often work on assignments from multiple subgroups within that practice. Summers are asked to express their practice interests both in surveys before their arrival and during the summer program, as well as through conversations with mentors and hiring committee members throughout the summer experience. Offers are made based on business needs, but Gotham says, “the summer associates’ interests are key to their assignment” as well.

Gotham advises future summers to “get to know your fellow summer associates and the firm’s attorneys, but don’t be so social that it interferes with your work.” The summer program provides a variety of local, in-person social events, as well as opportunities to network with the broader class of summer associates and the firm in general.

Top Tips for This Stage:

“Focus on getting projects that are substantive and significant and that represent a variety of topics so that you have a portfolio of meaningful work at the end of the summer.” – Mike Gotham

And finally….

“Perkins Coie is a national firm, but it’s very much a local firm, too, and wants to be involved in the community,” said one associate. “I had to think about how to showcase that I wanted to be part of both sides during my interview.”

 

Perkins Coie LLP

1201 Third Avenue,
Suite 4900,
Seattle,
WA 98101-3099
Website www.perkinscoie.com

Main areas of work
Perkins Coie’s practice areas include:
• Intellectual Property
• Commercial Litigation
• Business (M&A, Emerging Companies, Corporate & Securities)
• Environmental Law
• Political Law
• Real Estate & Land Use
• Labor Law
• Privacy & Data Security

Firm profile
With more than 1,200 lawyers in 20 offices across the United States and Asia, Perkins Coie LLP represents companies across a wide range of industries and stages of growth— from startups to Fortune 500 corporations. In 2022, 403 of the firm’s lawyers were listed among the ‘Best Lawyers in America’ and the firm was named ‘Law Firm of the Year’ in both environmental law and patent law. Perkins Coie is very proud to have been named one of Fortune magazine’s‘Best Companies to Work For’ for 21 consecutive years.

Recruitment
Law Schools attending for OCIs in 2023:
Arizona State, Columbia, Cornell, Duke, Georgetown, GWU, Gonzaga, Harvard, Howard, Lewis & Clark, Loyola (LA), Northwestern, NYU, Santa Clara, Seattle U., SMU, Stanford, UC Berkeley, UC Davis, UC Hastings, UC Irvine, UCLA, Univ. of Arizona, Univ. of Chicago, Univ. of Florida, Univ. of Illinois, Univ. of Michigan, Univ. of Oregon, U Penn, USD, Univ. of Texas, Univ. of Wisconsin, USC, UVA, Vanderbilt, Wash U (St. Louis), Willamette, Yale

Recruitment outside OCIs: Each year Perkins Coie attends a number of interview or job fairs including the Patent Law Interview Program (PLIP); Lavender Law, the Bay Area Diversity Career Fair, Sunbelt, and the Cook County Bar Association Minority Job Fair.

Summer associate profile: Perkins Coie seeks self-starters who have demonstrated academic excellence, leadership in and service to the community, and dedication to excellence in the legal profession.

Summer program components: Perkins Coie’s summer associate program provides varied work opportunities and social events designed to promote interaction among summer associates, lawyers and staff. Summer associates work on a wide range of challenging legal assignments similar to those given to new associates which typically include legal research, analysis and drafting. Summer associates are invited to attend depositions, mediations, deal closings, client meetings, trials and other professional activities and events. They are welcome and encouraged to work on pro bono projects.

Social media:
Recruitment website: www.perkinscoie.com/en/about-us/careers/entry-level/overview.html
Linkedin: PerkinsCoieLLP
Twitter: @PerkinsCoieLLP
Facebook: Perkins Coie LLP

This Firm's Rankings in
USA Guide, 2023

Ranked Departments

    • Labor & Employment (Band 1)
    • Litigation: General Commercial (Band 2)
    • Natural Resources & Environment (Band 1)
    • Corporate/M&A (Band 2)
    • Environment (Band 1)
    • Litigation: General Commercial (Band 2)
    • Litigation: White-Collar Crime & Government Investigations (Band 1)
    • Real Estate (Band 2)
    • Environment (Band 2)
    • Intellectual Property: Patent Litigation (Band 4)
    • Intellectual Property: Patent Prosecution (Band 2)
    • Labor & Employment: The Elite (Band 4)
    • Life Sciences (Band 3)
    • Real Estate: Zoning/Land Use (Band 1)
    • Venture Capital (Band 3)
    • Real Estate (Band 3)
    • Corporate/M&A (Band 1)
    • Intellectual Property (Band 2)
    • Litigation: White-Collar Crime & Government Investigations (Band 3)
    • Environment (Band 2)
    • Insurance: Policyholder (Band 3)
    • Intellectual Property: Litigation (Band 4)
    • Telecom, Broadcast & Satellite (Band 4)
    • Corporate/Commercial (Band 1)
    • Natural Resources & Environment (Band 1)
    • Bankruptcy/Restructuring (Band 4)
    • Construction (Band 2)
    • Corporate/M&A & Private Equity (Band 4)
    • Intellectual Property (Band 3)
    • Litigation: White-Collar Crime & Government Investigations (Band 3)
    • Technology & Outsourcing (Band 3)
    • Litigation: General Commercial: Highly Regarded (Band 4)
    • Litigation: White-Collar Crime & Government Investigations: The Elite (Band 4)
    • Corporate/M&A (Band 1)
    • Environment (Band 2)
    • Intellectual Property (Band 3)
    • Litigation: General Commercial (Band 1)
    • Real Estate: Zoning/Land Use (Band 2)
    • Labor & Employment (Band 3)
    • Technology: Corporate & Commercial (Band 3)
    • Advertising: Transactional & Regulatory (Band 4)
    • Environment (Band 1)
    • Food & Beverages: Regulatory & Litigation (Band 3)
    • Government Contracts: The Elite (Band 4)
    • Insurance: Dispute Resolution: Policyholder (Band 4)
    • Intellectual Property (Band 3)
    • Intellectual Property: Appellate (Band 2)
    • International Trade: Intellectual Property (Section 337) (Band 3)
    • Labor & Employment (Band 5)
    • Leisure & Hospitality (Band 2)
    • Native American Law: Non-Tribal Counsel (Band 1)
    • Offshore Energy (Band 2)
    • Political Law (Band 2)
    • Privacy & Data Security: Litigation (Band 1)
    • Privacy & Data Security: The Elite (Band 3)
    • Product Liability & Mass Torts: Highly Regarded (Band 3)
    • Registered Funds (Band 4)
    • Retail (Band 1)
    • Startups & Emerging Companies (Band 3)
    • Technology (Band 3)
    • Transportation: Aviation: Litigation (Band 1)
    • Antitrust (Band 1)
    • Banking & Finance (Band 2)
    • Bankruptcy/Restructuring (Band 1)
    • Construction (Band 1)
    • Corporate/M&A (Band 1)
    • Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation (Band 1)
    • Energy & Natural Resources (Band 1)
    • Environment (Band 1)
    • Healthcare (Band 3)
    • Intellectual Property (Band 1)
    • Labor & Employment (Band 1)
    • Litigation: General Commercial (Band 1)
    • Real Estate (Band 2)
    • Tax (Band 1)
    • Intellectual Property (Band 2)
    • Natural Resources & Environment (Band 2)

More from Perkins Coie:

WATCH: The firm's 2019 diversity & inclusion retreat

WATCH: Life as a summer associate at the firm