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Overview

Introduction

Just over a decade since its founding, Desmarais is an IP-focused trial firm with offices in New York; San Francisco; and Washington, DC. The firm represents technology powerhouses such as Apple, Cisco, and IBM, as well as major life sciences and medical-device clients such as Acelity, Boston Scientific, Enzo Biochem, and GSK. A popular aspect of working here is the lack of billable hours—instead, the firm uses tailored alternative fee arrangements.

Firm Stats


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Total No. Attorneys (2021)


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No. of Partners Named (2020)


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Featured Rankings

Top 150 Under 150...


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No. of Summer Associates (2020)



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Base Salary

1st year: $210,000...


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No. of U.S. Offices

Vault Verdict

Desmarais’ hiring process is a competitive one, with high grades, a good law school, and science or engineering degree being nigh mandatory. Candidates should expect high-level questions during the interview, particularly about the scientific concepts with which they are familiar. The firm’s culture is social, with a catered lunch every Friday (affectionately coined “frunch”) and frequent events in and out of the office. Partners are very respectful of associates, and firm leadership appears to be quite transparent with associates about firm goings-on. Hours aren’t hard to come by at Desmarais, and associates are grateful that there isn’t a billable requirement. Associates also report that the work they do is hugely substantive—and the generous, above-market compensation is also a...

About the Firm

In 2010, John Desmarais left a successful patent litigation practice with Kirkland & Ellis to hang his own shingle with some of his former Kirkland colleagues. The result was Desmarais LLP, now a successful and expanding mid-sized law firm focused primarily on trial and appellate-level patent litigation. The firm represents technology powerhouses such as Apple, Cisco, and IBM, as well as major life sciences and medical-device clients such as Acelity, Boston Scientific, Enzo Biochem, and GSK. The firm prefers in-depth relationships with a limited set of clients, which permits both a robust plaintiffs' practice as well as a top-notch defense practice. 

Small Firm, Big Results

At its core, Desmarais is a trial firm, adept at handling all stages of litigation. The firm’s b...

Associate Reviews


  • “Regarding firm-official events, the big one is ‘frunch.’ Every Friday, the firm buys lunch for everyone, and we all sit together, eat, and catch up. There are other sporadic firm-sponsored events throughout the year such as ‘State of the Firm’ cocktail hours, and other celebratory dinners. Regarding unofficial socialization, I have made several close friends at DLLP and we hang out regularly. If there's a quiet Friday, a group will usually get together to grab a post-work drink.”
  • “Attorneys at DLLP often socialize with each other both inside and outside of the office. [The] firm eats lunch together on Fridays, has occasional firm-sponsored outings, and associates will also meet together over the weekend.”
  • “The lawyers at the firm tend to be very friendly and sociable. Many friendships were formed that extend beyond work. Additionally, because the firm is comprised of patent lawyers, the lawyers all tend to have similar interests and connect well together.”
  • “The firm is extremely social. One of the most enjoyable parts of the firm is the generally close relationship between associates.”
  • “The DLLP partners have always treated me with respect and have shown that they care about my growth as an attorney. The partners I've worked with have always been willing to spend time with me to help me grow and do better, whether that's taking the time to walk step-by-step through an outline, answering endless questions, or even chatting about other cases that I'm working on.”
  • “I have only had positive experiences with the partners I've worked for so far. We do receive some information about the state of business within the firm every year. For our reviews, the partnership writes a paragraph describing our strengths and weaknesses for the year based on the reviews written by five supervising attorneys that we've worked for that year.”
  • “The organization seems flatter than I've seen elsewhere, and everyone is asked to do whatever they are capable of doing, regardless of their seniority. Partners respect and value their associates, and I think they make a strong effort to really get to know folks and mentor younger associates.”
  • “My interactions with partners have been positive. I have worked directly with partners from the start, and those I have worked with have valued my input and have been open in providing feedback. Our firm holds two ‘State of the Firm’ talks each year where the managing partner would share the achievements of the firm, the future of the firm, and other statistics.”
  • “There is no shortage of work to go around, so I think all associates are staying busy. But at least once every couple of weeks, I have had different partners call me to ask how I am doing and whether my workload is too heavy. Just knowing that they care—and are willing to help me make adjustments if needed—is huge.”
  • “Not billing hours is a Godsend. That is not to say that we do not work a lot. When things need to get done, we work until they get done. But when there is not a lot of work on my plate, I do not feel bad about leaving at 6 or not working on weekends. I do not need to find work to hit a bonus target.”
  • “That firm is busy. Associates have the opportunity to do high-quality work. Some partners are quite flexible and allow associates to work from home. Work is not evenly distributed among associates. Compensation is not tied to hours.”
  • “Our firm does not bill hours, and we do not need to track hours.”
  • “DLLP pays top-of-market compensation.”
  • “Base salaries are $20,000 above the Cravath scale for associates. Bonuses are also above-market. The firm does not use billable hours at all, so there are also no annual targets.”
  • “Above-market salaries, health insurance is paid for, and 401(k) contributions.”
  • “We are very generously compensated. I really appreciate the firm's generosity.”
  • “I am happy with the extent and the substance of my work. I have been involved in various aspects of cases and have been given responsibility that I have been able to handle. At the same time, I always know who I can turn to for feedback and direction.”
  • “As a first-year associate, I spend a lot of time doing legal research, drafting motions, and doing diligence on patents. Whenever I do legal research, the partners do a good job of explaining why I am doing the legal research. I can see how the litigation strategy or responses are affected by the research.”
  • “I think the greatest strength of this firm is that associates receive quality, substantive work assignments and significant responsibility early on. I have barely spent any time since I've started here doing menial work; most of it is research, drafting, working with experts, etc.”
  • “I spent a lot of time working on preparing deposition materials earlier in my time at the firm, and now I am doing more writing on expert reports. I think the work is high quality and appropriate for my level.”
  • “We have free health insurance, free breakfast every day, free lunch at least once a week, and discounted gym memberships.”
  • “Just starting out some programs now.  Would like to see more of a focus on work-life balance.”
  • “I think the work environment itself helps a lot with wellness, since there is a greater emphasis on efficiency rather than grinding away for a certain number of hours. I'm not aware of any actual initiatives, however.”
  • “The most significant training is the mock trial held every year in the summer. There are many lectures and interactive sessions beforehand to train associates on the ins-and-outs of oral argument, opening statements, direct examination, etc. There are also excellent training sessions during the year. In particular, the partners gave an excellent lecture on brief writing that was replete with best practices, real life examples, and solid advice.”
  • “The firm has formal training annually, but the timing is not consistent each year. There is certainly room for improvement in the firm's training programs, which tend to emphasize trial, while overlooking more common day-to-day activities. Mentoring and sponsorship opportunities certainly exist throughout the firm, but there is no formal program, nor does the partnership seem to emphasize such opportunities in any meaningful way. Instead, individual associates and partners seem to go out of their way to foster such opportunities.”
  • “I don't feel like there's any specific training or mentoring generally. The training is generally in the summer trial training program, which is awesome. I do think there [are] individual attorneys who are really standouts in terms of mentoring younger associates, but this is based on their personalities and not firm infrastructure.”
  • “Our training is mostly informal. From day one, we have been immersed in the teams that we are assigned to and learn much faster than associates do in other firms. We learn directly from those we work with, and the lawyers at the firm are very generous in providing feedback after each assignment.”
  • “Promotion to partnership seems difficult, but no more so than in any other big law firm, I would say.”
  • “It's certainly possible to make partner. But frequently associates who are up for partner do not make partner the first year they are eligible for consideration. There are ‘of counsel’ roles, but those do not guarantee continued employment. There doesn't appear to be any firm assistance with exit opportunities.”
  • “Associates are still being promoted to partner every year. Exit opportunities for those who have left the firm include other law firms and in-house positions.”
  • “The firm has made and continues to make concerted efforts to ensure associates have opportunities to participate in a variety of pro bono matters.”
  • “The firm sends out a monthly notice of ongoing pro bono cases and organizations we've partnered with, so people [who] are interested can arrange to work on either an existing case or find a new one.”
  • “The firm's partnership is receptive and encouraging of pro bono work. There is a lack of structure to enable associates to get on cases, so it's mostly self-governed.”
  • “The firm has greatly improved its commitment to pro bono work. There is now a monthly newsletter that highlights the pro bono work that the firm is involved in. The firm also hold a pro bono challenge where associates are recognized after completing 50 hours of pro bono.”
  • “The firm is highly receptive to diversity efforts and has been slowly becoming more diverse. This is an area that could always use improvement, especially in the legal industry.”
  • We have many junior/mid-level female associates, but are not very racially diverse.
  • “The firm is doing a better job of recruiting and supporting women. There is now a women's group which holds events throughout the year. With regards to hiring racial minorities, the firm is doing a good job of sponsoring different law school organizations in an attempt to recruit people. The firm is supportive of LGBTQ+ individuals and will provide benefits to same sex partners.”

Why Work Here


We believe that Desmarais LLP is the best place to practice high-stakes, technology-related litigation. Whether you are a law student, a recent graduate, or an experienced attorney, our unique combination of small-firm culture and big-firm work provides a terrific environment to learn and grow your practice.  In addition, our unparalleled practice and training programs offer the opportunity for each lawyer to accelerate his or her professional development.

Firm Culture:  Desmarais LLP is a collegial workplace where all employees are treated with respect. We offer an informal, relaxed atmosphere which includes having lunch together every Friday. 

Getting Hired Here


  • “DLLP looks to hire candidates with good grades, from top law schools, who have engineering and/or science backgrounds. This is a small Venn diagram of prospects, but the firm is looking to grow and will offer many of the students who check these boxes.”
  • “The firm seeks candidates with not only excellent academic credentials, but technical background. Additionally, the firm looks for those who are promising litigators. These factors alone diminish the available pool of candidates. Lately, the most well-represented school as a proportion of the junior associate ranks is Harvard.”
  • “The firm frequently hires from Harvard and NYU. Applicants with a background in technology, especially those with undergraduate STEM degrees such as engineering, have an advantage in the process. We look for people who are excited about trial litigation and technology-oriented disputes.”
  • “The firm generally seems to recruit mostly from top-tier law schools, and I believe that they look for high grades.”
  • “Why do you want to work here? Attorneys will also ask about the applicants' experiences with science and technology.”
  • “I was asked about legal issued I'd worked on in past internships, as well as details about scientific research from my undergraduate years.”
  • “We like to see if a candidate can explain a complicated technological concept in a succinct, clear way to a lay audience. An example might be ‘How would you explain your senior design project (or thesis) to me in one minute?’”

Practice Area Q&A’s


Paul Bondor & Kerri-Ann Limbeek

Partner & Associate

Desmarais LLP