Monday, May 2, 2011

Good News Monday!

happyWell, it’s a good news Monday morning, isn’t it?

Osama bin Laden is no longer a U.S. concern, the financial markets are poised for a nice day of gains, searchers found the black box from the 2009 Air France crash in the Atlantic Ocean, a once moribund U.S. company is back in the black.

The wave of fortune doesn’t stop at law’s doorstep, either. At least out in the Bay Area, the legal market is booming like it’s 1999. Could it mean that happy days are back for young and aspiring lawyers?

It’s probably too soon to tell. But the signs are encouraging. According to last week’s AmLaw 100, many law firms are regaining their mojo (click here for a National Law Journal story on the rising fortunes of west-coast firms).

And according to this story in the Recorder, things are going rather swimmingly at Silicon Valley law firms, where “corporate is booming, but litigation, licensing and patent prosecution attorneys are in high demand, too.”

“Even firms that maybe had smaller groups in the past are looking to grow,” said Ryan Kerian, managing director in Major, Lindsey & Africa’s San Francisco office, to the Recorder. “The demand is just extraordinary right now.”

Cooley, for one, has hired 16 associates in its Palo Alto office since January, hiring partner Sally Kay said. Some were first-years, but many were lateral hires. And the office is looking to hire three more midlevel associates in the corporate, patent prosecution and IP litigation departments.

And with rising demand comes rising salaries. Many firms in Silicon Valley are restoring associate salaries to pre-recession levels.

The base salary for a fourth-year associate at Cooley, for example, is now back to $210,000 instead of $185,000. The same is true at Wilson Sonsini now, although the firm did not respond to requests for comment.

“In order to stay competitive with peer firms, now was the time to do it,” Kay said.

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