Cooley LLP at a Glance


  • “Community culture”
  • “Work with emerging companies and venture capitalists”
  • “Autonomy and flexibility”


  • “Lack of transparency on bonuses”
  • “Unpredictable hours”
  • “Lack of feedback”

The Buzz

  • “Hip”
  • “Startups love them”
  • “Techy sweatshop”
  • “They think they are cool Californians”

About Cooley LLP

Cooley LLP was founded in 1920 in San Francisco by Arthur Cooley and Louis Crowley. The practice they started went on to become a major player in California, as it prospered in the Silicon Valley boom years (and survived the bust). Since then, the firm has expanded its reach to Southern California, the Rockies, the East Coast, the Pacific Northwest, the Far East, and the UK, while maintaining a relatively comfortable size.

Tops in Tech

In 1980, Cooley opened an office in Palo Alto, the epicenter of American technology. The firm began working with venture capitalists, life sciences companies, and emerging technology startups, representing the likes of Adobe Systems and Gilead Sciences; it also took Genentech and Amgen public in 1980 and 1983, respectively. But Cooley's IT roots pre-dated personal computers-it advised Raychem on its founding in 1957 and helped form National Semiconductor in 1959. It also advised on the formation of Draper, Gaither and Anderson, the West Coast's very first venture capital partnership. These days, the firm's Palo Alto attorneys have added expertise in intellectual property, patent issues, employment law, and complex business and securities litigation.

The firm expanded into Southern California in 1992 with the launch of its San Diego office. Representing well-known San Diego companies like QUALCOMM, Amylin, and Sony. The San Diego office advises on corporate and litigation matters in a variety of industries, ranging from biotechnology to Internet and electronic commerce to telecommunications.

Eastward Bound

Of course, venture funds and emerging technology companies aren't confined to California. Cooley was the first Silicon Valley firm to establish itself in the Rocky Mountain region with the opening of a Colorado office in 1993, taking advantage of the burgeoning tech boom in that state.

The firm's first East Coast office opened in Reston, Virginia in 1999, and once again, its goal was to serve entrepreneurs and technology companies (public and private), as well as the venture capitalists, private equity funds and the financial services companies that work with them. A second East Coast office opened in 2005 in Washington, DC. Now, that office boasts many of the firm's regulatory groups, helping tech companies navigate the complex regulatory agencies.

Even More Growth

In 2006, the firm that was known as Cooley Godward (for Arthur Cooley and early partner Bill Godward) merged with New York firm Kronish Lieb Weiner & Hellman, a well-regarded boutique with an emphasis on bankruptcy, tax, and commercial and white collar litigation practices. The next stop in Cooley's expansion was Boston, where the firm opened its doors in 2007. One year later Cooley came to Seattle, where it focused on high technology and life sciences in the Pacific Northwest, as well as the Pacific Rim. In late 2011, Cooley launched its first international office with the opening of an office in Shanghai, China. In 2012, Cooley opened its 11th office in Santa Monica-the heart of convergence of tech, media, and venture capital in greater Los Angeles. Most recently, in 2015, Cooley launched its first European office in London.

Not Just a Niche Player

Although Cooley remains best-known for its technology work and life sciences clients (Yelp!, eBay, Facebook, Google, and Gilead, to name just a few), the firm has also won awards for its capital markets, intellectual property litigation and privacy practices. It has also cast its net far beyond the typical Silicon Valley client, working with companies in the retail, insurance, sports, and investment banking industries.


March 2016
Fortune-ate Employees

Fortune magazine has named Cooley to its prestigious "100 Best Companies to Work For" list for the third consecutive year. Cooley rose to #28 and is the #1 law firm on the list, which is the result of one of the most extensive and respected employee surveys in corporate America. In addition to this list, last year Cooley earned places on Fortune's lists of the Best Companies for Women, Millennials, Camaraderie, Flexibility, and Giving Back. Other national and regional publications have also consistently recognized Cooley as a great place to work, including Crain's New York Business, Washington Business Journal, and Working Mother magazine. The Human Rights Campaign also recently awarded Cooley a perfect score on its 2016 Corporate Equality Index.

January 2016
A Most Active Year

Cooley ranked as the #1 most active law firm for advising on both early and late-stage VC financings in Pitchbook's Q4 US Venture Industry Report for 2015. Cooley advises investors and companies on more than 650 financings annually. Cooley advises 35% of US-based companies on the Wall Street Journal's Billion Dollar Startup Club, including The Honest Company, Jawbone, and SpaceX.

December 2015
Practice Groups of the Year

Law360 named Cooley's capital markets and privacy and data protection practices Practice Groups of the Year. This is the fourth time in five years that the privacy and data protection group has won this recognition and the first for Cooley's capital markets group, in what has been another record year.

November 2015
London Calling

Cooley was named London Office of the Year at the British Legal Awards 2015. UK publication Legal Week, which organizes the awards, commented: "The US firm only opened in the capital in January this year - but it has certainly made a splash. Not content with its initial launch with 20 partners, it went on to make a series of hires from rivals to continue on its growth path." Cooley opened its London office in January 2015, with 20 partners and more than 55 lawyers and other professionals. From the outset, the office has offered depth across key areas, including corporate/M&A, complex litigation, venture capital, technology transactions, IP, tax, competition, and privacy.

July 2015
A Balm in Gilead

Cooley was recognized by The American Lawyer at its third annual Global Legal Awards. According to American Lawyer Media, the contest attracted 225 entries across 30 categories. Cooley was honored in the Commercial Arbitration category for its winning representation of Gilead Sciences in the lawsuit F. Hoffmann-La Roche v. Gilead Sciences. In addition to this recognition from The American Lawyer, Cooley's work for Gilead has been highlighted by The National Law Journal in Cooley's profile for the publication's annual "IP Hot List" and by The Recorder for its "IP Litigation Department of the Year" awards. Lead partner and Cooley chairman Steve Neal was also recognized in The American Lawyer's "Litigator of the Week" series and named a Law360 "Trial Ace" for spearheading the victory.

June 2015
Hot! Hot! Hot!

Cooley was named to The National Law Journal's "IP Hot List," which is comprised of just 15 firms "that accomplish great things in the realm of intellectual property law." In selecting Cooley, the NLJ highlighted its work on behalf of a "who's who of Silicon Valley companies." It also recognized the firm's 2014 victory in defending Gilead Sciences' rights to the hepatitis C drug Sovaldi, and the firm's representation of HTC and Motorola in a US ITC trial that led to a favorable settlement involving smartphones and tablets.

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Cooley LLP

3175 Hanover Street
Palo Alto, CA 94304
Phone: (650) 843-5000


  • Employer Type: Private
  • Chairman: Steve Neal
  • CEO: Joe Conroy
  • Hiring Partner: Ryan Naftulin
  • Total No. Attorneys 2016: 900

  • Base Salary
    All offices
    1st year: $180,000
    2nd year:$190,000
    3rd year: $210,000
    4th year: $235,000
    5th year: $260,000
    6th year: $280,000
    7th year: $300,000
    8th year: $315,000
    Summer associate: $3,462/week

  • Summer Associate Offers
    37 out of 37 (2Ls) (2015)

  • Major Departments & Practices
    Antitrust & Competition
    Asset Recovery
    Commercial Litigation
    Capital Markets
    Class Action Litigation
    Compensation & Benefits
    Corporate Restructuring & Bankruptcy
    Credit Finance
    Debt Securities Transactions
    Health Care & Life Sciences Regulatory
    Higher Education
    Emerging Companies
    Employment & Labor
    Environmental Litigation
    Estate Planning & Personal Representation
    Fund Formation
    Government Contracts
    Health Care & Life Sciences Regulatory
    Intellectual Property Litigation
    International Trade
    Insurance & Reinsurance
    Life Sciences Corporate Partnering & Licensing
    Mergers & Acquisitions
    National Security
    Patent Prosecution & Counseling
    Privacy & Data Protection
    Private Equity & Buyout
    Pro Bono
    Public Companies
    Real Estate
    Securities Litigation
    Tax Transactional/Controversy
    Technology Transactions/Outsourcing
    Trademark, Copyright & Advertising
    Venture Capital
    White Collar & Regulatory Defense

Major Office Locations

  • Boston, MA
  • Broomfield, CO
  • London Los Angeles, CA
  • New York, NY
  • Palo Alto, CA
  • Reston, VA
  • San Diego, CA
  • San Francisco, CA
  • Seattle, WA
  • Washington, DC
  • Shanghai
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