Overview

Introduction

Fenwick seeks tech-oriented, entrepreneurial types who thrive on autonomy and flexibility to work with its innovative client base. Associates who go above and beyond are rewarded here—the firm is known to dole out trips to the tropics. Well known for its innovative work with technology and life sciences companies, Fenwick is home to nearly 500 attorneys across seven offices. The firm has grown beyond its Silicon Valley roots, with three thriving offices in California, an established office in Seattle, a rapidly growing office in N...

Firm Stats


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Total No. Attorneys (2021)


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No. of Partners Named (2021)


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Featured Rankings

Vault Law 100...


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No. of 1st Year Associates Hired (2020)



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No. of Summer Associates (2021)



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Base Salary

First Year: $202,500...

Vault Verdict

A demonstrated interest in tech is crucial to Fenwick, which counsels many technology companies and innovative startups. The firm’s culture is reminiscent of its clients—casual, social, and quirky. The free-market work system incentivizes partners to treat associates well, but they are genuinely interested in mentoring and developing associates anyway. Regular town halls provide transparency into firm performance and other updates. The firm has been incredibly busy this year, so associates have been pulling long hours—but there are active hiring efforts underway, and partners encourage vacation when possible. Compensation is market—often above, with bonuses—and for high billers, there are “R&R” perks, which include use of the firm’s condos in Hawaii and the Caribbean. Ther...

About the Firm

Well known for its innovative work with technology and life sciences companies, Fenwick is home to nearly 500 attorneys across seven offices. The firm has grown beyond its Silicon Valley roots, with three thriving offices in California, an established office in Seattle, a rapidly growing office in New York, an international office in China, and a newly opened office in Washington, DC.   

The Founding

In 1972, four attorneys left New York City and headed to Palo Alto, California, to launch their own firm based on their vision that the newly named Silicon Valley would become a future tech epicenter of the world. They were right.

Just four years after its founding, Fenwick retained future tech icons Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak as clients, eventually helping th...

Associate Reviews


  • “Fenwick has a ‘startup’ culture. The teams are lean, the structure is relatively flat compared to other law firms, the pace is quick, and we rely on a free-market system to distribute work assignments.”
  • “We have a tight-knit, relaxed atmosphere. I have a strong social network at my firm, which has been especially important in the remote/shelter-in-place environment during the last year, where my colleagues have become not only my work interactions, but also social interactions.”
  • “Friendly, quirky, [and] casual, with lots of room to be one's individual self. The staff is amazing—the true heroes—and are treated like the respected colleagues they are.”
  • “Pre-COVID, we regularly socialized at lunches, happy hours, and other events. Over the last year, the firm has done a great job of hosting virtual events to encourage continued social interactions. There is a strong culture [in] that anyone can have a good idea, and suggestions are always taken seriously and discussed, regardless of the source. Generally, there is a great team spirit with staff and attorneys alike being willing to stretch to help each other out.”
  • “The partners are great—they truly value associates, make an effort to get to know you personally, and take an interest in development from an early stage. Firm leadership is transparent about finances and promotion. Performance reviews are conducted annually by each practice group, so there is variation, but [they] are generally transparent conversations.”
  • “The firm does not feel very hierarchical. All partners treat associates with respect and are very understanding of personal limitations and boundaries if you ask for them.”
  • “Because of our free-market system, associates do not have to work [with] any partners, so that puts the onus on the partners to treat the associates they work with with respect. I have enjoyed working with the partners at the firm, and I get the sense that they genuinely do care about our well-being beyond the billable hour. However, we have not done any upward reviews since I started at the firm, which has been unfortunate.”
  • “Partners are very invested in associate training, including frequent one-on-one mentorships and trainings. The firm is very transparent in its town hall meetings regarding performance, bonuses, and hiring/retention. …”
  • “The past year saw particularly high demands, so attorneys billed consistently high amounts across the board. However, the firm is working ceaselessly to hire more attorneys and make the workload manageable.”
  • “I think much of workflow is up to how you manage the free-market system. Work is plentiful, and having too little work is rarely the issue. Acclimating to what is taking on too much takes time as you navigate expectations of different clients and practice areas.”
  • “There are two levels of billable hours possible according to your preference and complete support for opting for the lower requirement.”
  • “The startup market has been absolutely manic, but the firm is doing a good job of trying to help us distribute work evenly and put structures in place to ensure we can take meaningful vacations. There is a 1,950-hour billable requirement to receive a bonus at year end, and in a more typical year, I think most attorneys bill just above 1,950 if they are focused on startup work, which makes work-life balance achievable.”
  • “The firm pays market salary and bonuses to associates that meet the billable-hour requirement, along with extra rewards to encourage vacation and other relaxation for associates going above and beyond.”
  • “The firm generally aims to keep compensation comparable to competitor firms, sometime even leading the market.”
  • “Business boomed during the pandemic because everyone was working long hours. However, despite the fact the pandemic affected everyone, pandemic bonuses were only given to attorneys on the 1,950 [hours] track.”
  • “The firm has been hugely successful financially in the past year and has generously shared the wealth with associates.”
  • “The work we have is meaningful, substantive, and supports important causes. Within my first two years of practice, I had taken over two dozen depositions and was in charge of multiple expert reports. Associates are given direct client interaction early on.”
  • “Because of the firm's growth, associates get a wide range of work—some that are a lot of responsibility and challenging, while other types of work that are more managerial because the work needs to get done. Either way, associates always have something to do.”
  • “At Fenwick, you will be given as much responsibility as you can successfully handle. Class year or seniority is not a limitation. Associates are encouraged and egged to stretch themselves and push the boundaries of their comfort zone.”
  • “I have been transitioning over the last few years into predominantly managing IP portfolios, providing strategic business advice, and supervising junior attorneys. I am regularly stretched but have the resources available to get guidance when needed.”
  • “Excellent tech support for remote working. 24/7 tech support. Easy VPN access. Responded positively to requests for additional Zoom licenses.”
  • “Fenwick is ahead of the curve from a technology perspective, which is not surprising given the firm’s location and client base. The firm already had the systems in place to make the transition to remote work easy.”
  • “The firm is dedicated to utilizing and developing technology to aid in the practice of law.”
  • “Fenwick is always trying to integrate [the] new and the best tech. With change, there are always hiccups. But the IT and training teams get us all up to speed quickly.”
  • “We get stipends for health and wellness expenses and have regular challenges and events to encourage good habits. We have received additional stipends for ergonomic equipment for home offices in view of the pandemic.”
  • “The firm offers a slew of resources and programming aimed at mental and physical wellness. On an individual level, senior lawyers are great about making sure junior attorneys are happy and able to excel, notwithstanding what can, at times, be challenging workloads due to client demands.”
  • “I think the firm tries to encourage wellness and to respect time off, but it is difficult when there is so much work.”
  • “Fenwick does vacation reimbursements, condo rental weeks, and BeWell (Health and Wellness) reimbursement.”
  • “The firm take mentoring and sponsorship seriously and has expanded its efforts since I joined the firm to provide opportunities for associates to learn and advance as we should.”
  • “Every associate is assigned two mentors. I have a partner and associate mentor and both have been invaluable. My associate mentor has become a good friend, and I feel like I can approach her for things both professional and personal. My partner mentor always takes the time to provide me with detailed feedback on career growth and development.”
  • “Fenwick offers ‘Fenwick U’ training for various associate levels, which is a one- or two-day event, sometimes off-site, that trains associates from all practice groups about how to improve as a lawyer and colleague. Very valuable.”
  • “While there is formal training, the main form of training at Fenwick is taking on substantive work opportunities as soon as you display the competence and trustworthiness to do so.”
  • “Fenwick works with the top tech companies out there, and having that experience is great for your career. Whether you're staying long term or moving in-house, you get to work with people and clients doing amazing things.”
  • “Partnership is realistic and non-partner positions are realistic. The firm is flexible with working arrangements, including reduced hours; they will fit a role to your particular needs. Because we're a tech/IP/privacy litigation department, exit opportunities to in-house roles are strong.”
  • “The firm promotes a large number of home-grown partners, and partnership is a realistic option. Exit opportunities are plentiful and include in-house positions (frequently at startup and other clients), lateraling, government, etc.”
  • “[The] partnership process becomes more transparent at senior associate level, with support to achieve goal.”
  • “The firm remains very committed to pro bono and celebrates pro bono wins equally to billable wins. One hundred pro bono hours automatically count [toward] billable requirements, though ongoing work is always approved. The firm offers a mix of standalone clinics (which especially appeal to corporate attorneys) and ongoing casework. I've recently worked on a successful Ninth Circuit appeal on FOIA access to government databases, and there is a whole pro bono program for Ninth Circuit appellate work.”
  • “Pro bono work is promoted regularly, there are exclusive pro bono attorneys, and pro bono hours count up [to] a limit, with [the] ability to expand beyond with permission. I did a pro bono M&A sell-side transaction for a nonprofit recently.”
  • “We get regular emails regarding firmwide pro bono opportunities. However, you can also bring in your own pro bono opportunity with firm approval. …”
  • “… All attorneys are encouraged to do at least 50 hours of pro bono work a year, with those who put in pro bono hours being recognized with firmwide acknowledgement. In the last 12 months, I've written a patent application, pro bono; helped a green card holder apply for citizenship; represented two asylum seekers; drafted contracts for a local artist; and performed research for the Giffords Center for Gun Violence and [the] ABA.”
  • “The firm has a number of formal initiatives to foster diversity, including a diversity committee, a program for diverse 1L summer associates, diversity hiring initiatives, benefits, child care, parental leave, mentoring, diversity-focused staff, and affinity groups. The firm was involved in a number of initiatives supporting recent racial justice movements and offered billable credit for work on those initiatives.”
  • “There is a long way to go for any BigLaw firm to be diverse. Fenwick is leading the market's diversity efforts and is very cognizant of its social and moral responsibilities here.”
  • “Fenwick works extensively to hire and promote diverse persons (women, race and ethnic diversity, gender/LGBTQ+ diversity, and individuals with disabilities).  For many years, the majority of summer associate classes have been diverse. Fenwick also has regular firmwide or group-wide meetings about promoting diversity in hiring and promotion. Each year, Fenwick participates in San Francisco Pride, and we have regular firmwide events with diversity speakers.”

Why Work Here


Diversity at Fenwick

"Advancing the cause of diversity and inclusion has been a core value of Fenwick & West since the firm was founded in 1972. Throughout its history Fenwick has been routinely acknowledged as one of the best firms in the country on the issue of diversity and inclusion -- to cite but two examples, in 2019 The American Lawyer ranked us as one of the top five most diverse law firms in the country (for the fourth consecutive year) and Euromoney Legal Media Group named us North America's best law firm for women in business law. We recognize the..."

Getting Hired Here


  • “The firm is looking for collegial, friendly, intelligent self-starters interested in our client base.”
  • “The firm focuses on hiring attorneys with a demonstrated interest in law and technology and excellent educational credentials. Lower-ranked or state schools matter less if the person can show dedication to the practice area and competence through past experience and writing samples.”
  • “Grades and prior work experience are very important, as is cultural fit. There are guidelines for interviewing.”
  • “We have high standards and generally hire from T14 schools with some demonstrable experience with tech. We also have hired a few laterals back from in-house roles at some of our large clients. Generally, most of our associates come from UC Berkeley, Stanford, and Harvard.”
  • “We look for fit, drive, professionalism, and desire to join a leading tech firm.”
  • “We ask about relevant work experience, interest in both the law and in working at Fenwick, and examples of ‘self-starter’ behavior.”
  • “Although there are suggested interview questions and guidelines about things not to ask about, we don't have specific questions that must be asked. I often like to ask candidates about the work they have done, what they enjoy the most, and what motivates them.”
  • “I recall interview questions that were focused on my resume and on assessing my fit with both the natures of the firm's work and the firm's culture. ‘Why Fenwick’ was definitely amongst the questions.”
  • “Very good considering I moved during COVID. Lots of associate meetings (Zoom), and they have made sure that mentorship with partners and associates at my home office has happened.”
  • “They do a lot to try to integrate you, but the free-market work system makes it somewhat more difficult. But I do feel pretty well integrated after a month here. I know the people I work with well and have been getting assignments fairly easily.”
  • “[I] was immediately put on diverse projects with great partners. [I’ve had] routine workload check-ins and active review to make sure I’m getting appropriate exposure. [I] feel fully integrated.”

Practice Area Q&A’s


Kat Duncan & Thomas Kang

Partner & Partner

Fenwick
Sarah Chambless

Partner

Fenwick
Dawn Belt

Partner

Fenwick
Nicholas Plassaras

Associate

Fenwick
Daniel Brownstone

Partner

Fenwick

Perks & Benefits