California Legal Market
Legal work in California is driven by the tech companies, real estate and entertainment industries, but corporate work thrives there as well. California firms have relatively small classes of associates compared to New York (think 5-7 summer associates in a class), and 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 5th in the country, respectively. San Francisco has only two firms with over 200 attorneys while Silicon Valley has only one. LA has five firms with more than 200 attorneys (but only one exceeds 300 attorneys). Orange County and San Diego also have distinct legal markets with a contingent of small to medium-sized offices (Orange County has three law firms or offices with over 100 attorneys while San Diego has five). Historically, LA has been a general practice legal market but the tech industry is bleeding south and growing. San Francisco and Silicon Valley are still dominated by the tech industry. San Diego has a growing biotech market supported by San Diego firms.
Practice Area Overview
- Intellectual Property: Especially in areas concerning electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, and biotech.
- Corporate and Private Equity
- Privacy and Cybersecurity
- 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.
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
- Technology Transactions
- Food and Beverage
California Market Resources
Check out the links below for more information regarding the California legal market, networking opportunities, and job listings.
Georgetown Law Resources
- Northern California Job Search Strategy Handout
- Southern California Job Search Strategy Handout
- California Legal Market Presentation by SeltzerFontaine
- 2021 California Legal Market Presentation Slides by SeltzerFontaine
- Strong Practice Areas by Firm by SeltzerFontaine
- Some Other Firms to Know About by SeltzerFontaine
- Selected Recent New California Offices by SeltzerFontaine
- Entertainment Firms 2021 by SeltzerFontaine
- National Law Journal –Los Angeles Market
- National Law Journal –San Francisco Market
- NALP Perspectives on Recruiting (2018)
Local Legal Associations
California has over 240 local, specialty, minority and women voluntary bar associations.