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Bay Area Law Firms

BAYsic

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Reading the posts, I know there are quite a few attorneys on SF. I am trying to decide between Jones Day and Paul Hastings (San Francisco offices) for a Summer Associate position, and hope some of you guys could chime in.

Generally speaking, which firm has a stronger reputation? Which firm on the resume would make securing a job in the future easier if I find I have to switch firms mid-career.

I hear Jones Day has a strong national reputation but that Paul Hastings is more established in California. Is this true? If so, what should I make of it? Go with local repute or national acclaim?

I am not basing my decision on this factor only, I am mainly looking at office size, "culture", practice areas, etc. I just wanted to know, in terms of prestige, which firm is more of a heavy hitter?

Really, any guidance is much appreciated. And splitting is out of the question because I am already externing half the summer with a Judge, therefore can only be with one firm this summer.

Thanks
 

RJman

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Why don't you ask this on the Vault forums or Findlaw/Greedy Associates? It would get more replies.
 

Manton

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Pillsbury, Madison & Sutro is the ultimate SF white shoe firm. They merged with someone a while back and the name has changed, but that's the name I always think of.
 

RJman

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Now they are Pillsbury Winthrop.

Supposedly they've seen better times.
 

BAYsic

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From what is going around the law school grapevines, Pillsbury indeed has seen better times, to put it lightly.

Thanks for the Vault advice, I dont know why I didn't think of that.
 

lawyerdad

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Originally Posted by RJman
Now they are Pillsbury Winthrop.

Supposedly they've seen better times.


I think that's right.

The Jones, Day office in LA has historically had some trouble gaining traction. Paul, Hastings has a large, vigorous LA office. I know bupkis about the SF office of either, unfortunately. Both are fine firms, with the various pluses and minuses of large firms.

Two things I'd suggest you consider -- at least if you plan to work in SF after graduation. One, to the extent you know what area you'll want to practice in (obviously, it's normal not to have decided this yet) you should make sure there's a strong practice group or at least a strong practicioner resident in the SF office onto whom you can glom for work, mentoring, etc.

Second, I'd look at the size of the SF office, how long it has been there, and how long the key partners have been there. If you can, find out whether the office generates much of its own work or whether it mostly just services clients who are controlled by the home office. When working in a branch office of a large firm, it's a much more comfortable situation if the office has a strong core group of people that give the office both some financial stability and some real standing within the firm. When times get a little rough, branch offices that aren't self-sustaining run the risk of being closed. Even short of that, a branch office run by partners who don't have much pull in the firm may have trouble getting the best work for associates, getting them the best treatment in terms of bonsuses, etc., and ultimately pushing them through to partnership. In other words, having the key partners with whom you work strongly behind you is of limited benefit if they are considered voices in the wilderness by the powers that be.

But as I said, both are fine firms and you're to be congratulated on being in the position to chose between them.
 

itsstillmatt

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Move to Palo Alto and work at Wilson, Sonsini. Every other lawyer seems to.
 

RJman

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Originally Posted by iammatt
Move to Palo Alto and work at Wilson, Sonsini. Every other lawyer seems to.



Has that been the case since the bubble burst?
 

BAYsic

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I know before the bust people were flocking to the valley to work at firms such as Wilson Sonsini to do IP and transactional work. After the bust things were rather hard and Wilson Sonsini let nearly half of their office go. Don't know how things are going now, though they appear to be doing just fine.

Also, I learned from a friend today that Jones Day opened its San Francisco office by taking a large contingent of Pillsbury SF unit. I hear nearly half of Pillsbury left in 2002-03 and joined what is now Jones Day - SF. The rest of the office was cherry picked from around the country.

Could this be the reason for Pillsbury's fall or just a consequence of it?
 

itsstillmatt

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Originally Posted by RJman
Has that been the case since the bubble burst?

No idea. Most of the lawyers I know either no longer practice law, or work in estate/trust/family. Back in the 90s I knew a lot because everybody I grew up with was moving back to SF and many had gone to law school.
 

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