Knobbe Martens Olson & Bear Reviews

Updated January 5, 2015
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3.2
37 Reviews
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Steven Nataupsky
27 Ratings

Employee Reviews

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  1. Featured Review

    Great Place to Work

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Attorney
    Current Employee - Attorney

    I have been working at Knobbe Martens Olson & Bear

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    Knobbe is a big firm with a small firm feel. In general, the attorneys reflect the Mid-Western politeness of the founders. Knobbe is particularly supportive of business development activities. The firm will financially support most conferences and bar association activities where you have a leadership position.

    Cons

    Using billed out numbers (bills sent to the client) instead of straight written down time for your quota takes some getting used to. You have to build a padding into your time each month. Try to work only on clients that pay their bills without complaint.

  2. Helpful (2)

    Great place to work if you have perspective

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Staff in Irvine, CA
    Current Employee - Staff in Irvine, CA

    I have been working at Knobbe Martens Olson & Bear full-time (more than 10 years)

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook

    Pros

    Speaking from a staff point of view, I love working at this firm. It's no secret that Knobbe Martens pays a little below market value, but I feel they make up for it through the benefits for the staff, and the more years you put in the greater the benefits.

    They provide great health insurance, host an annual health fair (cancer tests, health check ups, flu shots etc.), and provide free workout classes each year. The firm is very relaxed on allowing staff to take vacation. There are several social events throughout the year, along with a holiday party at Christmas. The staff are given gift cards on major holidays throughout the year as well. Kitchens are stocked with coffee, tea and snacks. Having multiple kitchens, microwaves and refrigerators on each floor allow staff to bring breakfast, lunch and dinner. If you are required to work late (which can happen often in the law environment) the firm provides free dinner. Staff receive nice profit sharing benefits as well as year end bonuses based on years worked. All staff have their parking structure fees paid for, and if you commute to work there are multiple carpool programs offered. I could go on, but you get the idea. Hard to put a monetary value on the benefits.

    As far as the work environment goes, I can't complain about it like others have. We're all human, so anytime you have 600+ employees sharing the same workspace there are going to be personality clashes and conflicts between people. That can't be avoided. Overall I think most of the staff get along great, and many employees become friends outside of work, especially if you attend trial. You can become very close to your fellow co-workers when you spend a month on the other side of the country working together in such an environment. All though you work your butt off, it can be very rewarding and will provide shared memories for a long time. I think those employees who have negative experiences tend to be more interested in the gossip and the social circles than working hard and keeping their personal lives outside of the building. Either that or they're disappointed that they don't get high praise and huge salary increases for simply doing what they're supposed to do. Hard work over a period of time is what gets rewarded here.

    Cons

    Not many outside of the small bickering that goes with any job. The pay can be a little low compared to other firms of the same size. Opportunity to climb the career ladder within the firm is pretty slim as well, but with so many staff members competing for the limited opportunities, that's expected.

    Advice to Management

    One suggestion would be to have the supervisors be more engaged with the staff they represent. It is not uncommon to go weeks without speaking or even seeing your supervisor. Of course it's a great benefit not having your supervisor hovering over your shoulder all day, but when the annual review season comes supervisors have to reply on feedback from all the staff or attorneys within the department in order to fill out an individuals review. They generally have no idea how an individual staff member performed throughout the year. Obviously I understand that this is largely due to how many people they have to supervise over, combined with all the time they spend doing their own work, but I believe staff would feel a little more appreciated if their supervisor would swing by their desk a few times a year just to check in, talk a little and see how things are going.

  3. Helpful (2)

    Nice attorneys and overall work environment

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Associate Attorney in Irvine, CA
    Former Employee - Associate Attorney in Irvine, CA

    I worked at Knobbe Martens Olson & Bear full-time (more than a year)

    No opinion of CEO
    No opinion of CEO

    Pros

    People and support staff were great

    Cons

    Hours were long like any firm

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  5. Helpful (1)

    A lot has changed in the last 15 years.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Staff in Irvine, CA
    Current Employee - Staff in Irvine, CA

    I have been working at Knobbe Martens Olson & Bear full-time (more than 10 years)

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    Pros

    The firm provides staff with competitive salaries and great benefits. Work is interesting and never boring. Staff is allowed to be creative when managing their desks.

    Cons

    One reviewer mentioned a high school atmosphere, this statement is accurate.

    Coworkers are encouraged to micromanage each other.

    There isn't a human resources department.

    Internal technology is lacking.

    Overall the firm can be cheap.

    Advice to Management

    Supervisors need to be more engaging. Don't tell staff how to live outside of work, worry about their work product, and support staff with real issues. Don't allow coworkers to micromanage each other, when you should be present and helpful. If an employee has resolved issues they've encountered, let it stay in the past, don't harp on it. Don't gossip.

    Perhaps the managing partner could ask staff something besides what their weekend plans are? Shouldn't he be concerned with how their work is coming along? The managing partner is smug and unapproachable.

  6. Helpful (2)

    Great place to work

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Staff in Irvine, CA
    Current Employee - Staff in Irvine, CA

    I have been working at Knobbe Martens Olson & Bear full-time (more than a year)

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    I've only been at Knobbe for a short time. In the time I've worked here, I've felt well-compensated for the work that I do, I'm very happy with my work-life balance, my hours are flexible, I have better benefits than ever before, plenty of holidays and great supervisors.

    Cons

    It's hard to think of cons. I think it says a lot that so many people have been with the firm for 10, 20, 30+ years. To me, that means the firm has to be doing something right.

  7. Good

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - IP Assistant in Riverside, CA
    Current Employee - IP Assistant in Riverside, CA

    I have been working at Knobbe Martens Olson & Bear full-time (more than 3 years)

    Doesn't Recommend
    Doesn't Recommend

    Pros

    Great paid time off. 7.5 hour work Days

    Cons

    Limited room for advancement. Assignmnets are not challenging.

    Advice to Management

    It is hard to retain motivated individuals if there is no upward mobility for them.

  8. Helpful (3)

    Great Law Firm

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Associate
    Current Employee - Associate

    I have been working at Knobbe Martens Olson & Bear full-time (more than a year)

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    -Partners are easy to work for, good teachers, and understanding about family/life
    -Flexible hours as long as you're doing a good job and making quota
    -Shorter partnership track than most firms
    -Nice people--no yelling, no throwing things, no treating associates like dirt, no horror stories that I hear from my friends about other law firms

    Cons

    -Long hours, just like all law firms
    -Hours will get cut if you're not efficient, the client doesn't get billed for some reason, or you do work that nobody told you to do

  9. Helpful (2)

    Management is Cold

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I have been working at Knobbe Martens Olson & Bear (more than 3 years)

    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    Pros

    The company is everything you would expect from a large firm. Nice perks, stability and the tools to do you job.

    Cons

    The company is extremely conservative and has not embraced a culture in which they value talent. Associates are often worked to the breaking point and there is a lack of mentoring available. Very much a sink or swim mentality. Support staff has work piled on without concern or care for fostering growth. Suggestions and concerns are met with a cold stare as they tell you to go back to work.

    Advice to Management

    Consider that your employees are your most valuable asset.

  10. Helpful (4)

    Great place to work

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I worked at Knobbe Martens Olson & Bear full-time

    Approves of CEO
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    Knobbe is a really great law firm to work, especially to start out. The training is really good. The attorneys are really nice. The dress code is a casual business casual.

    Cons

    I can't think of any specific cons. It's a really good workplace for work-life balance. The benefits are really good.

  11. Helpful (7)

    Turning the Ship Around

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Associate in Irvine, CA
    Current Employee - Associate in Irvine, CA

    I have been working at Knobbe Martens Olson & Bear full-time (more than 3 years)

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    If you read some of the earlier reviews on this website, they paint a pretty horrific picture for associates at the firm. Those opinions were not exclusive to just a few disgruntled associates, they were real problems faced by a significant percentage of the associates at the firm. Consequently, a large number of associates got very upset, left the firm, and justifiably wanted to tell the world about their situation.

    Between word of mouth and many postings on websites like these, law students and other attorneys slowly became aware of the situation and it began to hurt recruiting. Now, every summer associate and interviewee asks directly or indirectly about the associate experience and the reviews on this very website. Associates that you meet from other law firms will say things like, “Oh, you work at Knobbe? That must be rough.”

    So yes, the reviews on this site and word of mouth have been very effective. People from outside the firm, particularly law students, no longer think this is a good place to work.

    However, the partners aren’t stupid. They know how to Google too, and the entire partnership is aware of this website. Many partners have even faced uncomfortable questions from interviewees about associate life based almost entirely on what they’ve read here.

    In response to all these problems, the partnership started instituting some major improvements to fix things:

    1. Patent Counsels - Earlier this year, the firm created non-partnership track Patent Counsel positions. Since the arrival of the Patent Counsels, associates have more flexibility to pursue a much wider variety of work.

    2. Billing out time - Knobbe still uses a sometimes problematic “billed” quota system that you can read about in more detail in the other reviews. Under this system, an associate’s “efficiency” is primarily reflective of the budgets and partners that they work under, rather than their own personal effectiveness. Consequently, there is disparity in the associate experience. Lately, there has been quite a bit of progress here and more associate hours are being billed out than before. Partners seemingly face more scrutiny now for time-cutting and this development seems to have helped a great deal. Nevertheless, the partnership needs to continue taking steps to minimize the unfairness between associates because this problem is a major source of morale issues.

    3. Bringing in more work - Likely due to the improved economy and reduced headcount, all the associates are very busy right now and there seems to be more than enough prosecution and litigation work to go around.

    4. Diversity of Work - Both litigation and prosecution have picked up fairly dramatically. Associates are encouraged and allowed to work in both practice areas, but partners do seem to expect associates to focus in one area fairly early on.

    5. Improved Work Environment - Contrary to what the other reviews might suggest, it is a very collegial work environment. Most of the people who work here are kind and helpful, and you’ll make good friends. Partners and senior associates genuinely seem to care about teaching and mentoring. There are still a few abrasive personalities, but they are the exception and not the rule.

    So basically, Knobbe is on the right track again. It’s a lifestyle firm with much more reasonable hours relative to other big law firms. However, it is still a law firm, so don’t expect a typical 9-5. As with any other job, there will always be some upsides/downsides and the partnership should continue making efforts to resolve some of the pending issues. In the mean time, Knobbe is still one of the premier patent law firms in the country and a great place to start a career.

    Cons

    Please see the details above

    Advice to Management

    Please see the details above

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Knobbe Martens
Irvine Office
Irvine office

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