Startups can be big business for the law firms that serve them.

The average startup company spends about $77,000 per year on legal costs, a recent report by Kruze Consulting found. The report analyzed over $18 million worth of legal spend by over 140 U.S. startups the agency works with, and found the following firms land at the top of the list in terms of revenue from startup clients.

#1 Fenwick & West Revenue market share: 7.2 percent. About the law firm: Fenwick & West, which saw its gross revenue grow by 14.6 percent to $429.69 million in 2018, is a longtime adviser to startup businesses. With offices in Silicon Valley, San Francisco, Seattle, New York and Shanghai, Fenwick & West said it currently represents more than 600 VC-backed companies.
#2 Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati Revenue market share: 7 percent. About the law firm: Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati represents more than 300 public and 3,000 private companies, according to the firm. And it recently entered into an alliance with Taylor Wessing to cooperate on transactional work in the tech and life sciences industries.
#3 Gunderson Dettmer Stough Villeneuve Franklin & Hachigian Revenue market share: 5.2 percent. About the law firm: Gunderson Dettmer, which now has about 240 lawyers, works with venture-backed technology and life sciences companies, as well as venture capital investors in those sectors. The Silicon Valley-based firm said it represents over 2,500 technology and life science companies, and over 450 venture capital clients.
#4 Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe Revenue market share: 4.7 percent. About the law firm: With over 25 offices in Asia, Europe and North America, Orrick works with technology companies on fundraising, M&A, IP litigation, and employment matters. Orrick said it represents more than 1,600 startups.
#5 Perkins Coie Revenue market share: 4.5 percent. About the law firm: Headquartered in Seattle and with a total of 19 offices across the U.S. and Asia, Perkins Coie represents startups and venture capitalists in a variety of industry sectors. The firm launched startupPerColator in 2012, to offer free legal help to emerging businesses.


Another go-to startup firm, Goodwin Procter, was not ranked within the top five for revenue market share. But in a comparison of client market share, it came in fifth, at 11 percent. (See below for the client market share ranking.) About the law firm: Goodwin Procter, a fast-growing firm in the Bay Area, represents over 1,200 emerging companies and entrepreneurs and 200 venture capital and private equity firms, according to the firm.

Healy Jones, vice president of marketing at Kruze Consulting, said that the data was provided anonymously by startups in Seed, Series A and Series B funding stages.

These startups analyzed their legal spend on a range of services, which varied by company depending on their industry, IP needs, funding round and company-specific HR issues. On average, the startups said they spend $77,150 on legal fees per year, though that may be skewed by top spenders—median legal spend per startup was $38,990.

“It proves why these law firms want to take the startup market, it is a sizable check,” Jones said.

When dividing them up by industries, the report found that health care companies, as well as those in the hardware space, are known for spending a significant amount on legal costs. It should be noted, however, that the analysis excluded most companies’ litigation costs.

The report also said many startups work with more than just one legal service provider, choosing firms with expertise in areas like immigration, employment law, intellectual property, or other disciplines as needed.

The top five firms based on the number of their clients is a very similar list to the top firms by revenue share, but with Goodwin Procter making an appearance instead of Perkins Coie.

Rank Firm Client Market Share
1 Fenwick & West 15 %
2 Gunderson Dettmer Stough Villeneuve Franklin & Hachigian 15 %
3 Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe 13 %
4 Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati 11 %
5 Goodwin Procter 11 %