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October 29, 2008

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BitterRenter

Saying that SF law firms don't have a national presence is equivalent to saying that they are too closely tied to the Bay Area economy, which is primarily tech.

NY and LA firms have benefited from the real estate bubble since 2002, while tech hasn't recovered from the dot com bust.

I bet that in the coming few years, with consolidation in the banking and real estate sectors, the remaining SF firms will outperform.

Biglaw Veteran

I am a veteran of four of the firms on that list, including one of the dissolved firms. I can say that with the exception of MoFo and Pilsbury, the SF and Valley firms are, like the city, incredibly parochial, focused on their little parts of the world, with the average lawyer being somewhere between apathetic and hostile to anything foreign. In comparison, the big four LA firms, like MoFo, have aggressively expanded nationally and internationally. While all of the firms which expanded that way have had some reversals and setbacks, they nonetheless were focused on becoming sufficiently large and diversified that they could weather regional and even national setbacks.

The interesting exception is Wilson Sonsini, which is so dominant in the Valley that it does not seem to need significant diversification to remain big and healthy. Wilson's dominance of the biggest Northern California-based corporations is part of the reason that the other Northern California concentrated firms have such a precarious existence--Wilson has a right of first refusal on much of the best work available there.

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