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Tonkon Torp LLP

Our Survey Says


Tonkon Torp seeks candidates with ties to Portland, who want to remain at the firm long term. Social personalities will feel at home at the firm, which offers abundant opportunities to make friends—although there is no pressure to attend events. One associate described the culture as Goldilocks-esque in that there is just the right amount of socializing. Associates are pleased with their compensation and feel it is appropriate given their work/life balance. Mentoring is a strong point at the firm, and associates are pleased with the collegial relationships they have with partners. Opportunities for early responsibility abound, and there is plenty of formal and informal training to provide sufficient guidance. Those looking for strong pro bono commitment need look no further than Tonkon. And if you are hoping to find a firm for the long-haul, associates are optimistic about partnership chances.



  • “The firm recruits from both national and local (Oregon) law schools through its summer associate program with a strong focus on candidates likely to stay in Portland. Lateral hiring is less structured and often by referral.”
  • “We consider commitment to a business-focused practice in this market, intellectual chops (with law school academics the most obvious proxy), judgment and maturity, and overall whether someone will be able to competently manage client matters and build and maintain client relationships. We hire top students from local schools and candidates from national schools.”
  • “We are looking for people who want to be in Portland, working at a law firm, serving business law clients for the long term. Questions try to determine whether the candidate fits this profile.”
  • “The firm likes to get to know candidates during interviews. It only selects candidates with excellent ‘on paper’ qualifications, so interviews tend to focus on soft skills and personality fit.”


Firm Culture

  • “Tonkon is a social place. People genuinely enjoy each other, and some of us count our closest friends as colleagues here.”
  • “It's a goldilocks amount of official/semi-official firm social life: not too hot, not too cold. We have a few purely social annual events, a robust official associate social calendar but without pressure to always be there, a casual after-work get-together scene that ebbs and flows with workload and season, and a lot of independent social relationships and activities that include multiple firm lawyers but also others.”
  • “The best thing about Tonkon is not only do we work with smart attorneys, we also work with attorneys and staff that we just like to be around. Between our mostly monthly Fireside chats and more informal happy hours, there are always opportunities to hang out with colleagues that have become friends.”
  • “Socializing is organic and optional. I enjoy the company of my colleagues and count many of them as friends.”

Associate/Partner Relations

  • “Great mentorship. Partners take an interest in training associates and look for opportunities to give associates on-your-feet experience (depos, in court, etc.).”
  • “I feel well-supported by the partners and that the firm takes our professional development seriously.”
  • “There are many more partners than associates, and it really varies depending on who you are talking about. Not all partners really work with associates; the ones that do, tend to be good teachers and value building a team. The firm is very transparent about finances and profitability. Reviews are every six months.”
  • “… Associate reviews are conducted twice per year and are structured around the track to partnership, whether the associate is on track, and what experiences the associate needs to move forward. We write review memos looking back six months, all partners can see them, and the partners in our department review them then together discuss each associate. That feedback is incorporated into in-person reviews with the department co-chairs.  The finances are completely transparent with the exception of individual partner compensation. The CFO sends monthly financials out to the whole firm, and our timekeeping and billing system makes just about every number you could want available in granular detail.”


  • “A good balance, for a law firm. People work hard but still have lives outside of work. For example, I have dinner with my family every night, even though sometimes I log on after the little one goes to bed to finish something”
  • “Billable hour requirements are extremely reasonable (much more so than other local firms). Partners generally encourage associates to take weekends and spend time with family.”
  • “The firm is attentive to associate workloads. I have always had plenty to do and support when I need it.”
  • “[There is a] 1,700 billable-hour requirement [with] 50 hours of pro bono credit. [It is] not strictly enforced but goes into consideration for end-of-year discretionary bonuses.”


  • “Lockstep, discretionary bonuses.”
  • “The compensation is excellent for the quality of life.”
  • “Comp is mostly salary, with the possibility of a bonus tied to associate profitability (for associates this is largely based on billable hours, but other things factor in, such as client origination). Salaries rise by a set amount every year, and we get global salary increases every few years based on market forces.”

Quality of Work

  • “Associates get substantive work experience early and often. As a litigation associate, you are taking depositions and arguing motions in court early on, with appropriate supervision and support along the way.”
  • “We really do push work down to the most junior person who can do it well. I got into court a few times in my first year. I've never felt I had an unreasonable amount of ‘grunt’ type work. Both the business and litigation departments are proactive in identifying the kind of work associates want and steering it to them to the extent possible.”
  • “Since the very beginning, I've received substantive, client-facing work. I've been trusted to develop personal relationships with many firm clients, and they often now call me with projects—partners are fine with this.”
  • “In the first three years of practice I’ve argued dispositive and non-dispositive motions, taken and defended depositions, and conducted extensive written discovery on a wide range of cases. The level of independence varies widely by case”

Training & Mentoring

  • “You are assigned a mentor when you start, but the mentoring program is more designed to make sure you are getting the right amount of work as you integrate into the firm and less about training. Instead, the firm excels in informal training. When you get your first couple of projects with any given partner, they make sure to help you understand what is expected. Once you've finished the project, especially in your first 6 months, they almost always follow up with you individually and let you know any tips and tricks moving forward. The firm thrives on this type of mentoring.”
  • We do training in action (i.e., actual experience on transactions/cases/etc. with heavy supervision) as well as formal training through lunchtime CLEs, afternoon workshops, and occasional mini-seminars (for instance, we did a condensed version of the NITA course with all litigation associates recently). The firm also sends litigation associates to actual NITA courses and multi-day practice-specific CLEs and conferences in-state and out of state. We also participate in the bar's new lawyer mentorship program, pairing associates with a partner who goes through a whole curriculum of essentials. “”
  • “Mentorship is major focus and strength of Tonkon. Both formal and informal mentorship happen on a regular basis.”

Career Outlook

  • “We don't hire people who don't have a strong chance of making partner and there is a sincere, well-founded expectation that associates will make partner. The few associates in recent years who haven't advanced into the partnership have primarily gone in-house or to bigger markets. …”
  • “Barring performance issues or the like, every associate has a real path to partnership. Occasionally, associates leave for in-house positions with firm clients. Leaving to go work at other firms is extremely rare.”


Pro Bono Commitment

  • “The firm has a deep pro bono history that it is sincerely proud of, and that serves as an inspiration for current pro bono practices. We are currently partnered with the legal aid organization in a rural county, we have a program run by lawyers here to help youth offenders clean up their records, we're actively involved in the local small business legal clinic, and we do a ton of work on First Amendment and police accountability issues with ACLU. …”
  • “Pro bono opportunities are ample and encouraged. Attorneys also have freedom to pursue pro bono activities they identify on their own.”
  • “Tonkon has never hesitated to support my pro bono work, no matter how much time it takes up."
Tonkon Torp LLP

1600 Pioneer Tower
888 S.W. Fifth Avenue
Portland, OR 97204-2099
Phone: (503) 221-1440

Firm Stats

Managing Partner: Kurt Ruttum
Hiring Partner: Parna Mehrbani
Total No. Attorneys (2020):
50 - 100

Base Salary

1st year: $135,000
Summer Associate: $2,500/week

Employment Contact

Laura Petch
Director of Human Resources
(503) 802-5714

No. of U.S. Offices: 1

No. of International Offices: 0

Major Office Locations

Portland, OR

Major Departments

Bankruptcy & Creditor Rights
Business Immigration
Cannabis Industry Group
Corporate Finance & Transactions
Entrepreneurial Services
Environmental & Natural Resources
Estate Planning
Financial Services & Investment Management
Government Relations
Information Privacy & Security
Intellectual Property
Labor & Employment
Mergers & Acquisitions
Nonprofit & Tax-Exempt Entities
Real Estate & Land Use
Seniors Housing
Tax & Employee Benefits
*See firm website for complete list of practice areas and industries.