Sterne Kessler is an IP powerhouse and over the years has had its hand in multiple cases that shaped the landscape of IP law. The DC-based firm represents clients like Google, Adidas, Apple, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Teva, Pepsico, and the University of California. Associates take pride in the firm's Intellectual Property and Human Rights Pro Bono Practice—the first of its kind—that focuses on the interplay of intellectual property principles and human rights

Firm Stats


Total No. Attorneys (2021)

100 - 150


No. of Partners Named (2021)



Featured Rankings

Top 150 Under 150


No. of 1st Year Associates Hired (2020)



No. of Summer Associates (2021)

8 total (5 2Ls; 3 1Ls)


Base Salary

1st year: TBD

Vault Verdict

As an IP firm, Sterne Kessler seeks candidates with a technical background in addition to impressive law school credentials—and a federal clerkship is highly desired. The firm has a friendly, casual culture with an open-door policy. Socializing is often initiated by attorneys, but associates also enjoy firm-sponsored events like intramural sports, attorney retreats, and holiday parties. Directors (the firm’s title for partners) are heralded for being generous with feedback, and annual reviews are supplemented with ongoing feedback throughout the year. Associates generally feel respected by leadership and appreciate the transparency into firm financial information, which is shared at annual meetings. Hours are cyclical, but the firm has systems in place to help balance workload, in...

About the Firm

Founded a little more than 40 years ago, Sterne, Kessler, Goldstein & Fox has grown to become one of the leading IP firms in the nation, with a focus on the protection, transfer, and enforcement of intellectual property rights. The DC-based firm represents clients like Google, Adidas, Apple, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Teva, Pepsico, and the University of California.

One Plus Three Equals History

In 1978, twenty-something Robert Greene Sterne hung a shingle and launched what would become Sterne, Kessler, Goldstein & Fox. Kessler was joined by Edward J. Kessler, Jorge A. Goldstein, and Samuel L. Fox in the 80s—and the rest is history. Today, Sterne Kessler is home to around 130 lawyers and is a force in IP law, ranking among the top 20 in Vault’s Best Law Firms for Intellectua...

Associate Reviews

  • “The firm has a friendly and collaborative culture. Social events with co-workers are mostly self-driven outside of the summer associate program.”
  • “The associates socialize often outside of work, and I am close friends with many of them. The firm sponsors intramural softball and kickball teams that consist of staff and attorneys.”
  • “The firm is very collaborative and has an open-door policy. I have no hesitations approaching directors and other associates and asking for help when needed. We also have many social events including a retreat for attorneys and holiday parties.”
  • “It's fairly social, but it's a law firm. People are cognizant of their billing. With that said, the practice group feels more like a team than my previous law firms did. ...”

Why Work Here

Sterne Kessler is an intellectual property law firm located in the heart of Washington, D.C. Our team consists of 155 attorneys from diverse backgrounds, with over 50 professionals holding Ph.D.’s in science and engineering. We have cultivated an environment that is welcoming, inclusive, and intellectually stimulating. Our attorneys and staff have voted Sterne Kessler as a Washington Post “Top Workplace” for eight years running and a Washington Business Journal "Best Place to Work" 11 times!

Our attorneys are particularly noted for their technical expertise, industry experience, and litigation prowess. Additionally, we get to work on matters involving cutting edge technologies and legal issues demanded by a broad range of innovative individuals and companies. Some of our clients include Apple, Adidas, Google, Bristol-Myers Squibb, and Amgen.

Diversity at Sterne, Kessler, Goldstein & Fox P.L.L.C.

"Sterne, Kessler, Goldstein & Fox P.L.L.C. cultivates and maintains a dynamic and energetic working environment that is inclusive and welcoming. As a result, Sterne Kessler has earned a positive reputation as a great place to work and has been consistently ranked among the top tier of law firms for having a demonstrated commitment to diversity and inclusion. Our firm aims to provide a workplace that is reflective of our global client base and the diverse cultural mix of the greater Washington, D.C. area where we live and work...."

Getting Hired Here

  • “As an IP-only firm, Sterne Kessler seeks candidates with more than just a law degree. The firm requires its prosecution attorneys hold technical degrees, usually including a post-undergrad degree. And for its litigation attorneys, associates holding a technical degree have an advantage over other candidates. So the competition is usually pretty stiff. While there are no ‘feeder schools,’ the associates are mostly from T14 law schools, and almost all associates are from T50 law schools.”
  • “Washington, DC-area schools are common feeders, but [the] firm hires from all over.”
  • “The firm looks for very high-quality individuals. There is a particular eye toward hiring clerks from the Federal Circuit, and many of the attorneys here are former clerks. The firm takes a holistic approach toward hiring, and those with past work experience are looked on favorably. Many attorneys here have advanced degrees, but that is by no means a requirement. I wouldn't say there are particular ‘feeder schools’ but most people went to top-ranked schools. Personality and diversity are also very important factors, and there is an emphasis in finding candidates that would be a good fit here.”

Practice Area Q&A’s

Pauline M. Pelletier & Chase Hammond

Director & Associate

Sterne, Kessler, Goldstein & Fox P.L.L.C.

Perks & Benefits