Money-Gavel

Fish & Richardson is offering six-figure bonuses for the first time to former judicial clerks from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.

The leading patent litigation firm counts 28 former Federal Circuit clerks in its ranks, which Fish & Richardson claims is the most of any firm. The firm raised its bonus offerings to former Federal Circuit clerks by 30 percent this month.

“The Federal Circuit clerks come to us with a unique skill set that’s not necessarily apparent in the market every day,” said Adam Shartzer, national recruiting principal for Federal Circuit clerks at Fish & Richardson and a member of the firm’s diversity committee.

Shartzer, himself a former Federal Circuit clerk, noted that it’s the only circuit-level court in the country with every judge—and therefore every clerk—under a single roof.


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Starting this month, Fish & Richardson is offering $115,000 bonuses to clerks with two years of experience at the Federal Circuit. Former clerks with 18 months’ experience will rake in $105,000 bonuses and former clerks with one year of experience will earn $100,000 bonuses.

Fish & Richardson has roughly 400 lawyers. Data gleaned by ALM Intelligence shows that the firm brought in more than $416 million in gross revenue last year. Fish & Richardson has honed in on Federal Circuit clerks over the years as the firm recognized their value in the intellectual property field across its 11 offices, the bulk of which are in the U.S., save for an outpost in Munich that opened in 2007.

Shartzer said that unlike other courts’ clerks, Federal Circuit clerks who enter private practice or become in-house counsel often continue to work together. Fish & Richardson has sought to corner the market on former Federal Circuit clerks, which the firm said has translated into it filing appearances in 11 percent of all cases before the Federal Circuit in 2017.

Fish & Richardson appeared in 44 more cases at the Federal Circuit, according to data collected by the firm, suggesting that other IP-focused outfits will have to swim upstream in order to compete with the Boston-based market leader, which late last year reached a truce in a trademark fight with another IP firm using the Fish name.

U.S. Supreme Court clerks, however, continue to command Big Law bonuses that dwarf clerks from other courts. Former Supreme Court clerks had hiring bonuses of $350,000 waiting for them in 2017 when they left the nation’s highest court, which was nearly $100,000 larger than the justices’ salaries, according to a December 2017 analysis by The National Law Journal.