Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe continues to go from strength to strength, posting yet another round of positive financial results. The outfit saw a 4.8% increase in revenue to $1.38 billion (£1.08 billion) while net income hit $360 million (£282 million), a 6% uplift on the previous year and driven in part thanks to litigation and IP teams that were “on fire”, according to firm chair Mitch Zuklie. Profit per equity partner (PEP) was also up a little over 1% to $3.11 million (£2.4 million). Focusing on London, revenue climbed from £66.2 million to £71.8 million, a rise of 8.4%. It’s worth noting the muted figures follow a 2021 which saw revenues climb a whopping 14% and PEP surge 22% to smash the $3 million mark for the very first time.
Headquartered in San Francisco, Orrick divides its focus among three overlapping sectors: technology; energy and infrastructure; and finance. High profile clients include PayPal and Sony. And it’s billion-bucks stuff. Orrick’s London lawyers previously advised Visa on its multi-billion-dollar acquisitions of FinTech firms Currencycloud and Tink. It also steered German aerospace company Lilium through its $3.3 billion SPAC merger and represented KPMG on Carillion’s multi-billion-dollar insolvency proceedings.
The firm has also appeared on mega deals across the pond. Orrick’s San Francisco and New York lawyers were involved in the $1.9 billion financing of renewable energy developer Primenergy’s Gemini Project which will see the construction of the largest solar and battery storage site of its kind. Its attorneys in Los Angeles have also advised on a $100 million green revenue bond offering whose proceeds have been used to construct an Oscars Museum which opened in late 2021.
Despite the positive results and high profile clients, the firm, like some of its US counterparts, has made cuts. In June 2023, Orrick announced it was laying off around 40 lawyers and 50 members of staff (roughly 6% of its global workforce) in response to “a convergence of market forces” and “reduced client demand” in some areas including tech and data.
In the UK, rookies completing the six-seat TC can expect training which combines “observation and also lots of actual participation”. Insiders say they enjoy the autonomy in shaping their own training because it “allows us to choose topics which we think will be most useful”. It also helps that there’s some top-notch work for newbies to cut their teeth on: “you can be working on projects that regularly feature in the Financial Times. Otherwise, you can regularly be working with pioneers and leaders in the tech sphere.”
Another source summarises their experience so far like this: “In terms of formal training, there isn’t a great deal and it is very much on the job training. Personally, this suits my style of learning and is one of the reasons I opted for a US firm. On the job training is exceptional, people always have time to explain stuff and, especially if you ask lots of questions, you can learn a lot.”
What’s more, with an annual rookie intake of around five, “you aren’t left to fight over who gets to do the scanning as can be the case with some larger intakes”. However, we are told “the style of training differs across departments” (apparently “in corporate you may feel like a paralegal”, whereas in other seats “you are pushed as if you were an NQ”) but “each supervisor is keen for you to learn and help you develop throughout the seat”. Fortunately, the legal tech is “handy” and “advanced” with newbies appreciating ‘Orrick Analytics’ that uses “state-of-the-art technology and probability modelling in document-heavy matters”. Another spy reveals they are “regularly involved in trialling AI, including drafting tools to make mundane, repetitive tasks easier”.
Plus, you are not left completely on your own. This mole reports: “There is a comprehensive on-boarding process at the beginning of the training contract. This is then supplemented throughout the training process with seminars and training lectures. Additionally, more senior trainees offer training sessions to complement the more official routes.”
As is to be expected at a US firm, trainees “work hard and long”, but it can vary through the “peaks and troughs of deals”. Busy spells can be “overwhelming”, according to one source, however “supervisors encourage a work/life balance”. Another tells us “people will make an effort to protect important personal plans and are respectful and appreciative when you are required to work late”. And on the subject of hours, Orrick has in place a policy that allows lawyers to put up to 40 billable hours towards a holiday to ensure they can really “unplug” from corporate life.
Insiders we spoke to confirm that “the firm is making efforts to root out bad working practices”. We are told that “people appreciate that you have a life outside work” and “departments tend to be understanding and like their teams to take a break if they have the opportunity to do so”. Work from home also “really helps with family life even if working late”. Orrick also provides its lawyers with “everything we need to emulate the office space, as well as supplying anything surplus as requested” along with a “generous budget” too. In short, the firm’s done a “really good job” on the agile working front.
Orrick’s small intake helps foster a “close-knit” community among trainees. “Peers, both from my intake and that of the year above, are great – down to earth and good fun to socialise with. The trainees further along the process have been really helpful in giving us a low-down as to all the systems and helping us navigate the day-to-day,” says one.
There’s also “good camaraderie across the firm” that has avoided any stuffiness that sometimes goes with the territory of being in the City. More senior lawyers at Orrick are “very approachable – even up to the head of the London office, they emphasise that there is an open-door policy and always there for a chat. We are given a trainee buddy, seat supervisor as well as a trainee mentor who collectively help to guide us through our training contract, from both a work and pastoral perspective.”
This camaraderie is especially seen where trainee and junior associates go out for lunch and drinks together. Although reports do suggest that attendance at pre-planned social gatherings could be higher and more effort could go into planning ad-hoc events.
This approachability is particularly impressive considering that Orrick doesn’t have an open-plan office – a fact that is much cherished by insiders who appreciate “the privacy and comfort of your own office (shared with one or two people)”. Plus we hear the view from the ninth floor of the firm’s “modern” and “very smart” London office is unparalleled. Downsides are the lack of an in-house canteen and, according to one source, lifts which are “often broken”; an upside is the “great location”, meaning employees can benefit from the plentiful restaurants close to St Paul’s Cathedral.
And junior lawyers have plenty of money to spend in said restaurants; Orrick’s NQ pay is £140,000. The perks are decent too, with lawyers getting access to an app that includes offers and discount codes, subsidised gym membership and private healthcare.
With over 25 offices across ten countries worldwide it’s surprisingly rare for trainees to be seconded abroad. Though one former rookie reports spending four days each in Miami and San Francisco, it is more common for trainees to do a client secondment at places like Big Four member KPMG.