State of the Market Report: San Francisco

by Claudia Barnes, Manager, BCG Attorney Search

Healthy Practice Areas:
Corporate / Finance
We are going into 2017 with a tremendous need for Corporate and Finance attorneys in San Francisco – particularly at the mid and senior level. Those with experience in any of the following will likely get interviews: private equity, structured and debt finance, corporate finance, emerging company/venture capital, M&A, and securities. Membership to the California Bar is not necessary in most cases, but it does help a lot.
Employment and Labor
The need for labor and employment attorneys at all levels remains steady and strong into 2017. The majority of openings indicate a need for Employment attorneys with experience with wage and hour, discrimination, and client counseling experience as well as class action, deposition, and trial experience. One interesting shift is the need for traditional labor attorneys with union experience and attorneys with OSHA experience. Firms typically want candidates who are located in California and/or have experience with California employment/labor laws.
Litigation continues to be a very strong practice area in San Francisco. The greatest need is at the mid-level (3-5 years), but we are seeing a need at all levels, including the senior level. Candidates with experience in complex commercial and general litigation, insurance coverage and securities/white collar litigation are in demand. In order to get multiple interviews, candidates must have strong academic and professional credentials as well as clerkship experience. Admission to the CA Bar is not always necessary, but most firms expect it.
Patent Agent/Technical Specialist
Much like in our Fall 2016 Report, firms are continuing to hire Patent Agents and Technical Specialists at an ever-growing rate. We have even seen firms lighten up with their academic requirements – PhD’s, while highly valued, are no longer an absolute necessity. There appears to be an even split in need between life sciences and hard science backgrounds. One of the reasons the need for Patent Agents is strong, we believe, is because they can do the same work as junior or mid-level prosecutors for a fraction of the cost to the firm and client.