California Legal Market

Market Overview

Legal work in California is driven by the tech companies, real estate and entertainment industries, but corporate work thrives there as well (especially in Southern California). California firms have relatively small classes of associates compared to New York (think 5-7 summer associates in a class), and the number of attorneys relative to the California population is lower than New York City, the market is highly competitive. The cost of living remains high in California with costs of renting in San Francisco and LA being 1st and 9th in the country, respectively. San Francisco has only two firms with over 200 attorneys while Silicon Valley has three. LA has five firms with more than 200 attorneys (but none exceed 300 attorneys). Historically, LA has been a general practice legal market but the tech industry is bleeding south and growing a bit. San Francisco and Silicon Valley are still dominated by the tech industry. In general, participation in job fairs by California firms is up (more in LA than SF).

Practice Area Overview

What's Hot?
  • Intellectual Property: Especially in areas concerning electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, and biotech.
  • Corporate
  • Real Estate

Tech work is hot in LA as well, not just in the Bay Area. This includes work in entertainment, gaming, cloud-based e-commerce, and social networks.  Microsoft, Facebook and Google all have increased their office space there recently.

What's Not?
  • Bankruptcy/Restructuring
  • Tax
  • Banking and Financial Services
  • International

Entertainment law is a very competitive practice and is concentrated in small firms, some of which do not have websites. It is hard to break into without experience and connections. Concentrate on getting experience first in related areas, such as negotiations, contracts, labor, and film financing.

Growing or New Practice Areas
  • Privacy
  • Technology Transactions
  • Food and Beverage
  • Drones
  • Cannabis

Recruiting Outlook

Many firms have opened California offices in 2015 and 2016, including Baker Botts, Boies Schiller, Cozen O'Connor, King & Spalding, Lewis Roca, McGuire Woods, Troutman Sanders and Womble Carlyle.

If you are thinking of going to California later in your career, corporate and real estate attorneys are having an easier time transferring from New York to California. Litigation lawyers are having a much more difficult time moving as laterals to California.

An interesting fact is that Georgetown Law had the second most alumni promoted to partner in California in 2015.

The highest number of Georgetown Law grads in Southern California can be found at O'Melveny, Gibson, Sheppard and Latham. The highest number of Georgetown grads in Northern California are at Morgan Lewis, Orrick, Cooley and Wilson Sonsini.


OCS Resources
Internet Resources
Local Legal Associations

California has over 240 local, specialty, minority and women voluntary bar associations. Some can be found here and here.

Largest Law Firms

Los Angeles
  • Lewis Brisbois
  • Gibson Dunn
  • Latham & Watkins
  • Sheppard Mullin
  • O'Melveny
Northern California
  • Wilson Sonsini
  • Morrison & Foerster
  • Fenwick & West
  • Cooley
  • Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe

On The Web

Maps & Directions

Google Location Map Georgetown University Law Center 600 New Jersey Avenue NW Washington, DC 20001