State of the Law Firm 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 and in San Francisco specifically. Firms continue to seek both in-state and out of state candidates to keep up with the demand. Attorneys with electrical engineering and computer science degrees (graduate or undergraduate) continue to be the most desirable candidates and there is no indication that this is going to change. Associates across all levels of experience are sought, including the partner level. ITC experience is always valued. Admittance to the Patent Bar, a requirement for patent prosecutors, has become more of a priority for firms for their patent litigators. Candidates do not need membership to the California bar.


Corporate hiring in San Francisco remains strong. The demand for junior and mid-level associates is high and there has been a recent demand for more senior attorneys (up to 7 years' experience). Private equity hiring has been especially strong at all levels in 2014. Experience in emerging companies/venture capital, M&A, and securities is expected almost unilaterally although a few firms have begun consistently hiring associates with experience in fund formation and debt finance. Associates with experience in the tech and life sciences sectors are consistently in demand. 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.