State of the Market: San Francisco
by Evan P. Anderson, Managing Director, BCG Attorney Search

Healthy Practice Areas:

Intellectual Property/Patent Litigation

This practice area continues to be the hottest sector in the California legal market, specifically in Silicon Valley. Hiring has remained steady in this practice for over two years. It seems at times as though supply has outpaced demand; firms have begun looking more seriously at candidates outside the state. Attorneys with electrical engineering and computer science degrees (graduate or undergraduate) continue to be in the driver's seat. Associates across all levels of experience are sought, including the partner level. For patent litigators, firms like to see candidates who have Markman hearing experience as well as ITC experience. Admittance to the Patent Bar is a priority. Candidates with a PhD in a life science discipline will also get interviews although engineering and computer science candidates take precedence. Candidates do not need membership to the California bar.


Activity in corporate hiring in San Francisco and Silicon Valley has remained steady for the last year. Until recently, the demand for mid-levels (3-6 years) with experience in transactions, M&A, general corporate, and securities outpaced all other experience levels but the need for junior corporate associates is strong. Hiring in Silicon Valley for associates with venture capital/private equity and fund formation experience remains steady. Candidates who already reside in the Bay Area and work for a well-regarded firm seem to have an edge over their out of state competitors and are bound to get interviews.