Overview

Introduction

For those seeking work with startups, Gunderson Dettmer is the place to be. Associates are given substantial responsibility over interesting work from day one, and the firm's positive culture leads to strong relationships with colleagues and clients. The firm has expanded in the U.S. and internationally over the last few years. With offices in Ann Arbor, Boston, Beijing, Los Angeles, New York, San Diego, San Francisco, Silicon Valley and Singapore, the firm is an international specialist in emerging growth market mat...

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

1st year: $205,000...

Vault Verdict

Gunderson Dettmer seeks humble candidates who demonstrate grit and sincere interest in the venture capital/emerging companies space. Collegiality runs through the ranks, and there are plenty of social opportunities—but they are also balanced with having a life outside of work. Partners are respectful, and associates report strong working relationships. Associates would like more insight into certain aspects of the firm, however, such as details about the path to partnership. The billable-hours requirement of 1,950 hours is satisfactory to associates, but many note they have been especially busy this past year. Associates appreciate that there is plenty of flexibility as to when and where work gets done, and they feel work is distributed as fairly as possible. They are also very sa...

About the Firm

Gunderson Dettmer Stough Villeneuve Franklin & Hachigian is a Silicon Valley firm at heart, and it has already outgrown its status as a premier “boutique” for the technological world. The firm has expanded in the U.S. and internationally over the last few years. With offices in Ann Arbor, Austin, Boston, Beijing, Los Angeles, New York, San Diego, San Francisco, Silicon Valley and Singapore, the firm is an international specialist in emerging growth market matters for corporate and venture capital clients.

Emerging Growth Market, Boom or Bust

In 1995, Bob Gunderson, Scott Dettmer, and four other partners jumped ship from the now-defunct Brobeck, Phleger & Harrison and started a Silicon Valley firm, just before the region's technology boom. In the next five years, the...

Associate Reviews


  • “The firm's culture is a major plus. Partners are very respectful of your time, and the associates genuinely enjoy working together. Pre-pandemic, I could walk down the hall and find someone to grab lunch with almost every day.”
  • “The firm is incredibly collegial. Lawyers and staff are friends outside of work [at] both firm-sponsored and impromptu events.”
  • “GD has great colleagues who enjoy interacting with one another. There is an element of quirkiness and attitude of ‘live and let live.’”
  • “The firm works hard to maintain a very friendly, informal, and approachable culture. I feel comfortable asking any questions to my senior associates and partners, and I believe they value and prioritize people having lives outside of work.”
  • “Partners are very thoughtful about how they treat associates here. I genuinely feel as though my work is valued.”
  • “Transparency varies depending on office and group, but the partners make an effort to communicate firmwide decisions to associates. The process for making partner or counsel is opaque, but there is an effort to make performance reviews more meaningful for associates.”
  • “Partners respect associates and expect them to be autonomous at an early stage in their career. Firm decision making is not always transparent.”
  • “While overall transparency can use some work, the partners I work with are fantastic and I've developed really strong working relationships with them. They are busy but always find a way to make time to answer questions, join client calls if needed, and review work.”
  • “The hours are long, particularly at the moment, but partners still give associates as much flexibility as possible with respect to where and when work gets done, which makes the aggregate time commitment far more manageable.”
  • “There is a staffing coordinator and an attempt to make sure that work is evenly distributed. Billable-hour [requirement is] 1,950, with 100 investment hours counted towards the billable requirement. As with all firms, top performers are often very busy, which can be overwhelming. That said, the firm partners don't hesitate to move matters around and assist with re-staffing when associates are too busy.”
  • “More work than I would like because we are busy, but [I] appreciate that the firm is actively hiring and has hired people into my group to lessen existing lawyers’ workloads.”
  • “I have a lot of flexibility with my schedule. I think I work a lot of hours compared to non-law firm jobs, but a very decent [number] of hours compared to other big firms. I am able to hit the billable-hour goal pretty easily every year but am never way above it.”
  • “It's market compensation with generous bonuses. The billable requirement is feasible, and bonuses, from what I understand, will be pro-rated if you don't meet the requirement.”
  • “Gunderson pays top of market and has matched all raises/bonuses since I have been here.”
  • “Above-market bonuses and generous referral bonuses.”
  • “The firm never fails to be a compensation leader despite its smaller size compared to peer firms.”
  • “All of the work I do as an associate is substantive. I draft commercial documents/agreements, mark up deal documents, draft disclosure schedules, and have had client contact since I started. I've had no ‘busy’ work and feel like the work I do is meaningful.”
  • “Associates get substantive work and client contact essentially from day one. It can be overwhelming when you are learning the ropes, but you get great experience right away and it develops your skills very fast.”
  • “Gunderson is a unique firm in that the responsibility you're given is the responsibility that you are willing to take on and able to handle. There are very few assignments that I haven't been given the opportunity to take a first crack at and we have support and oversight to allow exposure to many different types of assignments regardless of our level.”
  • “Given the volume of transactions we work on at Gunderson and the types of clients we serve, it is inevitable that associates will be fully running deals relatively early in their careers. As a senior associate, I am running nearly all transactions that I work on with minimal partner involvement. …”
  • “The transition to work-from-home was seamless, and I have no complaints about our technology.”
  • “Gunderson just upgraded their systems, which are much better than they were. The firm provided a work-from-home stipend to build out our home offices.”
  • “[I] have had minimal issues with technology. To the extent there have been issues, the IT group has been extremely responsive.”
  • “Yes, we are often getting/testing new software to support the legal services we provide. Working from home has been pretty smooth with Zoom, as I think is true pretty universally.”
  • “We receive free counseling sessions and meditation sessions.”
  • “The firm periodically offers wellness benefits for counseling, mental health, massages, etc., and encourages attorneys to speak to other attorneys or to specialists as necessary.”
  • “It offers resources, but generally folks are too busy to take advantage.”
  • “They do well with mental health services, but I think having a gym stipend would be nice.”
  • “Being a smaller firm, mentorship and informal training thrive. The firm has also ramped up formal training and support programs commensurate with its growth over the past year.”
  • “There are formal mentoring and training programs, such as several day-long boot camps diving into the practice area. While those are very useful, I found the most useful ‘training’ to happen informally and on the job, as partners and senior associates are very willing to help and provide feedback, notes, etc.”
  • “The firm is very proactive on CLEs. Obviously, a lot of training is on the job, but partners and attorneys take time to educate and explain as needed.”
  • “We do so many deals that the informal training is extensive, and it pays for partners to invest in associates so that they can give them more responsibility. Formal training has greatly improved over the past couple of years, with ‘bite sized,’ firmwide trainings on specific topics and regularly scheduled practice group trainings.”
  • “I believe there is a good opportunity to make partner at the law firm. Senior associates can become Of Counsel. We work with a lot of startups, so usually lawyers exit and become GC at those startups.”
  • “Associates talk openly about partnership promotions, and it seems like a realistic achievement if that is what you are targeting. If you are not interested, I've been told by lawyers that partners are involved in helping them find roles outside of the firm (at funds or other clients) based on their career interests.”
  • “I believe promotion to partner is realistic for most hard-working associates.”
  • “Associates in this group at this firm have a lot of opportunities to go in-house, at startups or at larger companies. The exit opportunities are great. I've also seen that a number of senior associates transitioned into other groups within the firm, like knowledge management, rather than follow the traditional partnership track. I have no idea what the partnership process is like.”
  • “No formal pro bono apparatus, but [the] firm does support associates who want to do pro bono.”“While there were limited opportunities to participate in pro bono work during the pandemic (during which pro bono hours counted as billable hours without a cap), on the whole, Gunderson is still building out its pro bono initiatives. …”
  • “Gunderson is working to provide more pro bono work … [and] I am currently staffed on two pro bono [matters]. Both require drafting and/or reviewing commercial agreements, which has been a really interesting and rewarding exercise. Pro bono hours count as billable hours.”

Diversity Efforts

  • “Gunderson has really stepped up its game in terms of diversity efforts over the past couple of years. I do not know what the diversity metrics of the partnership are, but the associate ranks are more and more diverse every year.”
  • “I think Gunderson is working to be better with respect to diversity and [is] making a conscious effort, which is shown in their recent hiring efforts.”
  • “All firms can do better when it comes to diversity. The firm has created a diversity fellowship for the first time this summer 2021. The firm is open and willing to listen and make changes. The firm can do better, but I am happy and feel heard as a person of color.”
  • “As with all firms, there is a lack-of-diversity issue, especially in higher ranks and with retention of diverse attorneys. The firm has a great parental leave policy, which I think has helped in the retention of female attorneys, and the firm has recently started POC affinity groups and offers billable credit for those heading the committees, but not for diversity-related activities otherwise.”

Why Work Here


Since our inception in 1995, Gunderson Dettmer has maintained its leadership and reputation for being the premier firm in venture capital and technology law. As the firm whom works with the next class of innovation, Gunderson counsels emerging growth companies and investors at various stages and serves the venture capital market globally.

We have been recognized by Chambers International, The Legal 500, FinanceAsia, and U.S. News, and were nominated for the LMG Life Sciences Venture Capital Firm of the Year. Additionally, Gunderson was ranked by PitchBook as the #1 law firm globally for high-growth technology and life sciences companies and investors for seven years in a row. 

With offices across major venture hubs such as Silicon Valley and San Francisco, Boston, Ann Arbor, Los Angeles, New York, Beijing, Singapore, San Diego, and Austin, Gunderson continues to make an indelible mark across the globe. Join us and make a lasting impact by being part of a firm at the center of emerging growth and venture communities worldwide.

Getting Hired Here


  • “Credentials are important, as is a strong interest in the venture/entrepreneurial ecosystem. It is also important to be friendly and approachable—we do not want the person who thinks they are the smartest or most capable person in the room.”
  • “The firm does A LOT of interviews with partners and associates. The interviews with associates are a good opportunity to ask about life at the firm. The whole process usually takes about a month, and the firm is actively hiring associates at all level. A good fit for the firm is someone interested in the technology sector.”
  • “We look for people interested in working with our core client base (emerging companies, venture-funded start-ups) and people who can work directly with clients. Candidates also need to be able to give practical advice and take into account business considerations.”
  • “Gunderson definitely has a preference for those candidates that can demonstrate an interest in the VC/startup arena. Prior work experience isn't necessary, but it is definitely a plus and helpful in interviews/recruiting. I think they are overall looking for people that want to work outside of a traditional firm, are eager to work independently and are ready to have the responsibility that the firm places on you early in your career. …”
  • “Gunderson is mostly interested in why a candidate is interested in the startup/VC space. It's important to the firm that the people working there actually want to do the type of work that we do, particularly as it's so niche. Otherwise, questions are standard.”
  • “We tend to focus our interview on questions about [why] candidates are interested in the firm, what type of work they're interested in handling day to day, and what they are looking for in terms of their long-term career aspirations. Fit is extremely important at Gunderson, so assessing whether a candidates' experience and interests line up with our day to day is critical.”
  • “They ask about your background and prior work experience.”
  • “Laterals are very well integrated, as they form a large portion of the firm's attorney base.”
  • “Lateral integration is phenomenal, particularly given the WFH mandates. It took some self-initiative, but partners and associates were very receptive.”
  • “I have felt extremely well supported as a lateral. I have regular meetings with the partner in charge of my group, covering training and other questions I may have. The senior associates are incredibly supportive and helpful and have been really welcoming.”
  • “GD provides a lunch stipend for the first month for a lateral hire, to allow the lateral hire and existing attorneys to go out to lunch on the firm and get to know one another. I felt like I received a lot of attention from the benefits group and other staff as I was onboarded to understand GD's policies and working style, and [I] was able to meet many attorneys as I began working on various projects. I found it to be a smooth and welcoming lateral process.”

Practice Area Q&A’s


Jonathan Goodwin & Saarah Woodby

Partner & Associate

Gunderson Dettmer Stough Villeneuve Franklin & Hachigian, LLP
Maggie White & Vanessa Smith

Partner & Associate

Gunderson Dettmer Stough Villeneuve Franklin & Hachigian, LLP

Perks & Benefits