2012 Chambers USA Clients' Guide Recognizes WSGR Attorneys,
Practices for Excellence
45 Attorneys Recognized as Leaders in Their Fields
In the 2012 edition of Chambers USA: America's Leading Lawyers for Business, Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati and a significant number of its partners and practice areas were recognized once again for excellence. The listings were compiled by the guide's independent, London-based publisher, Chambers & Partners, which conducted confidential interviews with thousands of law-firm clients and attorneys to assess entire firms, practice groups, and individual attorneys on the basis of their technical legal ability, professional conduct, client service, commercial astuteness, diligence, commitment, and other valued qualities.
For additional information on this year's rankings, please view the online version of the guide.
Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati's antitrust team again was recognized by Chambers as one of the leading practices in the nation. According to researchers, the practice "attracts widespread praise" and is "especially well known for its formidable strength in the hi-tech sector." The group's work on behalf of companies such as Twitter, Netflix, HTC Corporation, Adobe, and Google was referenced, with one client admiring the team's "business-savvy approach to dealing with counseling problems and advice" and describing WSGR's "distinguished practitioners" as "very practical and thorough" and "up to speed on issues we face."
In Washington, D.C., researchers recognized that "notable" clients continue to turn to the firm's "very highly regarded team" for assistance with a variety of antitrust issues, including merger clearance and antitrust counseling. Susan Creighton, heralded as "one of the team's main drawing cards," was singled out as "a deep thinker in the antitrust field, especially for issues related to technology," while the "highly regarded" Scott Sher was recognized for his expertise in merger compliance.
Meanwhile, in New York, Jonathan Jacobson, whose work with major corporations in significant antitrust litigation and investigations was noted by researchers, impressed market commentators with his "unbelievably intricate knowledge of the details and latest developments in antitrust law." Additionally, Charles Biggio garnered praise for his representation of clients in antitrust issues relating to M&A transactions and joint ventures, with sources calling him "a wonderful resource for antitrust counseling."
Having "earned significant praise for the excellent quality of its work," the firm's capital markets practice was named among the best in the country and once again tied for top honors in California. As one source stated simply, "They created the securities market in Silicon Valley and still control it." Chambers further noted that the firm "rivals all when it comes to representing emerging companies in IPOs," and expressed admiration for its "longstanding relationship with the capital markets in Silicon Valley and beyond." Larry Sonsini, lauded by commentators as "the most famous lawyer in Northern California," was recognized for both his "M&A and capital markets brilliance," with his representation of Pacific Biosciences in its $200 million IPO cited as an example of his work. Jeff Saper, described as having "a great reputation" and as "very active in the tech space" by one of his peers, garnered praise for his underwriter-side representation in the high-profile IPOs of Pandora Media, Solazyme, and Active Network. Meanwhile, John Fore was "widely recognized as one of the best lawyers in Silicon Valley with regard to the debt and convert markets," with researchers pointing to his recent representation of Applied Materials in its $1.75 billion senior note offering as an illustration. In addition, Katie Martin, who had "a breakthrough year," according to one peer, earned kudos for her representation of Juniper Networks in its $1 billion global notes offering and LinkedIn in its $352 million IPO. She "continues to raise her profile with the major players in the market," Chambers noted.
As in previous years, Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati's corporate and M&A practice was lauded as one of the best in the country, with sources calling the firm "historically the biggest player in this field." Chambers observed that the firm's "impressive practice continues to play a key role in significant technology sector transactions," and highlighted its representation of Total in its $1.3 billion acquisition of SunPower, Epicor in its $2 billion sale to Apax Partners, and McAfee in its $7.7 billion sale to Intel. One client praised the firm's expertise in this area, commenting that "partners ha[ve] . . . very deep experience and knowledge of our industry and a strong grasp of the corporate dimension of our transaction."
Larry Sonsini, hailed by sources as "the Godfather of Silicon Valley," was described as "a dominant lawyer in a class of his own—a true expert and adviser" and as "widely respected for the breadth and depth of his experience in this jurisdiction." Practice leader and "M&A powerhouse" Marty Korman was commended for his representation of Electronic Arts in its $750 million acquisition of PopCap Games and Oak Hill Capital in its acquisition of Intermedia. In addition, Mike Ringler received recognition for his work on the Total transaction, as well as Seagate Technology's $1.3 billion acquisition of Samsung's hard-disk-drive operations, with market commentators calling him "one of the firm's best M&A assets." In Southern California, Marty Waters, characterized as "a big player in San Diego," was admired for his "strong practice" representing venture-backed companies in the technology space, with one client describing him as "invaluable" and noting that he is "a very astute deal-maker—he totally understands how to build relationships."
WSGR's venture capital practice once again tied for top honors in the country, with Chambers observing that the "hugely active team continues to make waves in the venture capital market, handling an impressive number of venture financings." According to researchers, the firm maintains a "stellar early-stage practice" while also advising companies at later stages in their development. Clients praised the team's commercial awareness, stating, "They know they way we work and they understand what is going on in the venture capital world." "Highly experienced" and "very well known" Jeff Saper was singled out for his ability to "expertly" assist with both public and private financings of emerging growth companies, with commentators describing him as a "terrific funds lawyer." Steve Bochner, whom researchers said "enjoys a strong reputation for his work on venture capital and public offering transactions," was admired for his representation of high-profile and start-up companies in a broad range of transactions. In addition, Michael Danaher was recognized for his "innovative approach to venture capital matters" and Bob Latta earned kudos for his work in the electronic design software space, with market commentators noting that he has "a very, very great reputation among folks in that sector." "Venture capital specialist" Casey McGlynn was called "a guru in the medical device area" by clients and Bob O'Connor was commended for his work in the clean technology arena, as Chambers highlighted his handling of fundraising activity, as well as the development and financing of new projects.
Recognized in Washington State "as a firm at the vanguard of R&D and the venture capital-backed emerging business sphere," WSGR's corporate team in Seattle was admired as "prominent in life sciences and biotechnology as well as software, IT, and cloud computing." Sources were very impressed with the team's corporate work, with one noting that "if you're looking for a securities firm, [WSGR] is among the best." Seattle managing partner Patrick Schultheis was recommended as a "seasoned and widely admired lawyer" who counsels clients ranging from start-ups to public companies on public offerings, private financings, and M&A transactions. Meanwhile, Craig Sherman won recognition for his "powers as a securities lawyer" and his "flourishing venture capital practice," with one client observing that he has "great practical insights and excellent connections within the emerging technology business market."
In Texas, the firm again tied for top honors in the corporate technology category, with Chambers noting that this "established" practice is known for offering technology and growth companies a full service of offerings at all stages of development. Researchers admired the team's ability to advise entrepreneurs and multibillion-dollar global corporations alike, and sources raved that "the firm's commitment to client service is exceptional-their responsiveness is unsurpassed." Austin founding partner Paul Tobias, who "continues to be a strong presence in the market," according to commentators, elicited high praise from clients for his "keen understanding of the client's need" and his "practical and results-oriented advice." Brian Beard similarly was lauded as "a top guy in the market," with Chambers highlighting his representation of emerging growth companies, issuers, and underwriters involved in public offerings and M&A transactions. Researchers also were impressed by Derek Willis, whom they say is "becoming ever more visible in the field" and is "sought after for his expertise in M&A and venture capital financing"; commentators spoke highly of "his deep understanding of corporate securities issues."
Additionally, in D.C., Mark Fitzgerald earned notice for his representation of Augusta Systems in its sale to Intergraph and Angioblast in its partial sale to Mesoblast. Interviewees noted that he's both "innovative and creative in structuring deals" and "very responsive and receptive to clients' needs."
Employment Law/Employee Benefits & Compensation
Both the firm's employment law and employee benefits and compensation practices were ranked among the best in California. According to researchers, the employment law practice "excels across a broad range of employment issues, including employee misclassification, trade secrets litigation, and class actions," and is considered to be a "go-to team for clients in the technology field," such as Comcast, Infosys, and Google. Chambers singled out practice leader Fred Alvarez for praise, noting that "clients appreciate his governmental background and the increased insight into aspects of labor and employment law it provides."
Meanwhile, WSGR's "excellent" employee benefits and compensation practice was recognized for its expertise in advising private and public companies on compensation considerations, including equity incentive plans, 401(k) plans, severance plans, and associated contracts, as well as its handling of mergers and acquisitions. Commentators spoke highly of the firm's EB&C practitioners, with one client stating, "We admire their responsiveness, availability, and technical expertise." John Aguirre was commended by clients for his "solution-oriented" approach, and researchers highlighted his representation of Applied Materials in its $5 billion acquisition of Varian Semiconductor as one example of his work. In addition, Roger Stern earned praise for his work with growth companies on their plans and benefits, with Chambers observing that he is "especially adept at structuring employee stock ownership and nonqualified deferred ownership plans."
Chambers recommended the firm's California intellectual property practice for its wide-ranging expertise in trademarks, copyright, patent litigation, counseling, and patent prosecution, observing that the team continues to be involved in industry-leading matters, particularly those involving clients in the life sciences and technology sectors. David Kramer attracted notice for his Internet and copyright litigation practice, particularly his work on behalf of Google and YouTube in their high-profile copyright litigation against Viacom, while John Slafsky garnered accolades as "a leader in trademark, copyright, and advertising law" who provides IP counsel to such clients as the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and Diageo.
In Seattle, researchers found that the firm is "well attuned to the legal issues facing start-ups as well as developing and established names in the dynamic life sciences, media, engineering, and technology sectors, so it follows that IP-related work is key to the team's success." Aaron Hendelman was admired for his trademark, copyright, and advertising expertise, as well as his representation of clients in connection with IP licenses and Internet and domain-name issues.
International Trade: Export Controls & Economic Sanctions
As the head of Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati's export controls and economic sanctions practice, Josephine Aiello LeBeau was ranked among the nation's best practitioners in her field. According to Chambers, her clients are "highly impressed" by her legal services, with one source commenting that not only is she "very knowledgeable across the range of issues we would face," but she's also "very good at coming up with business-useful advice." Researchers added that Josephine is "valued for her responsiveness."
IT & Outsourcing
WSGR's technology transactions practice again tied for the top ranking in the California IT and outsourcing category, with the guide noting that the "deep" team "earns praise from start-up and Fortune 500 company clients alike for its ability across the board and sensitivity to their business needs." Reviewers expressed admiration for the practice's adroitness in structuring and negotiating strategic outsourcing transactions, calling its attorneys "experts in the purchase, development, manufacture, and sale of technology." Suzanne Bell, who ranked as one of California's top attorneys in this category, garnered accolades for her work on complex outsourcing transactions and strategic alliances, with interviewees describing her as "phenomenal at what she does." Similarly, Michael Murphy, who was recognized for his representation of technology companies in licensing agreements, purchasing arrangements, and patent prosecutions, was applauded by commentators as "unparalleled in his ability to understand the issues."
The firm's "truly interdisciplinary" life sciences practice won acclaim as one of the best in the United States, with sources appreciating its ability to cover a diverse array of matters, from M&A and technology licensing to patent counseling and IP litigation. Further, according to Chambers, WSGR's "legendary" venture capital reputation makes it a top choice of emerging biotech companies." The guide added that the practice continues to be regarded as a "California classic" for life sciences work.
"Tough but effective negotiator" Ken Clark, recognized among the leading life sciences attorneys in the country, was hailed as "one of the best" by commentators for his representation of companies in the biotech industry. Clients also praised his "good sense of the market and strong connections." Ian Edvalson was recommended for his "well-known transactional practice" that "spans both the domestic and international IP markets," with researchers noting that he recently represented Pfenex in several valuable strategic agreements. In addition, Casey McGlynn, who received individual recognition at the national level, was singled out for his representation of clients in financing and corporate transactions and described as possessing a "healthy reputation within the community." Meanwhile, Vern Norviel, heralded by sources as "a fantastic attorney with a great reputation," was admired for his representation of life sciences companies in cutting-edge patent matters.
Chambers recommended Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati's wide-ranging litigation practice, with researchers highlighting the California team's recent successes in class action defense, breach of contract, and antitrust matters. Sources also said that "the team is terrific in the securities field." Keith Eggleton won accolades for bringing "corporate knowledge to his litigation practice," with clients stating that "he knows the drill and has many productive relationships to help the process along." Meanwhile, "powerful securities lawyer" and "clever strategist and outstanding litigator" Boris Feldman was characterized as "the complete analytical package"; interviewees described him as "one of the best securities attorneys in the country because he interacts well across parties, will engage in a productive discussion and enable us to participate constructively on how the matter should proceed." Nicki Locker impressed sources with her "diligence" and "assertiveness," with observers noting that she succeeds in "making clients comfortable." She was admired for her work in internal and FCPA investigations, SEC interactions, and resulting litigation. Additionally, researchers commented that Steve Schatz—whose work on behalf of Hewlett-Packard in a number of derivative actions was referenced—delights clients with his "pragmatic approach and his accessibility," with sources calling him "very effective in motion practice."
In Washington State, Chambers had praise for the firm's Seattle litigators, observing that the team has "a well-earned reputation as one of the Pacific Northwest's leading securities litigation practices." The guide pointed to the team's settlement on behalf of Ambassadors Group in a securities fraud class action as an example of its recent work. Barry Kaplan earned kudos for his "enviable record in matters such as shareholder class actions, banking, consumer product liability, and of course, securities litigation," and was described by clients as having "a pleasant demeanor [that] clients and judges respond to."
Privacy & Data Security
Washington, D.C., partner and privacy practice leader Lydia Parnes was recognized among the top privacy and data security attorneys in the country, with sources calling her "pragmatic," "realistic," and "a clear industry expert in privacy."
Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati again was ranked among the top firms nationwide in the guide's renewable and alternative energy projects category. According to researchers, the firm "remains a major player in the projects sector" and is "increasingly recognized for its activities in the development and financing of cleantech and renewable projects, capitalizing on its world-renowned capabilities in the technology space." Chambers recognized the team's ability to "advise on a variety of financing structures, as well as construction, design, licensing, and permitting issues," and mentioned its work on several biofuel, solar, and wind projects for energy companies, investors, and lenders. Market commentators offered high praise for WSGR's team of "industry specialists," whom they said "tend to be plugged in to both the matter at hand and the market" and "bring both a legal and business perspective."
"Vastly experienced" Todd Glass was described as "a strong leader" in the alternative energy and renewable industry; researchers observed that he has "brought his 'strategic' approach to bear on a number of utility-scale solar project transactions." One client noted that Todd "has a great grasp of every aspect of project negotiations, including an excellent sense of the internal politics involved." Similarly, Chris Groobey's "no-nonsense" approach to corporate and project finance has "won him a number of fans in the alternative energy and renewable space." Sources said that he "continues to apply his solid 'business pragmatism' to a number of biomass and biofuel projects." In addition, Peter Mostow was singled out for his "great way of melding the legal side with the business side" in transactions, with commentators deeming him an "expert" in representing energy and clean technology companies.
Chambers expressed admiration for the tax practice's "expertise in all areas of state, federal, and international tax" law, stating that while "peers are quick to commend its strength in M&A deals," the team also handles corporate restructurings, spin-offs and divestitures, financings, and technology transfers. The guide also highlighted the group's "impressive roster of clients," including SunRun, Google, and Kodak, and sources added that the team's "client service is excellent." Practice leader Ivan Humphreys was commended for his wide-ranging practice, with his peers calling him "great" and "one of the best tax lawyers out on the West Coast." Meanwhile, Jonathan Zhu garnered praise for his handling of tax matters related to both national and international M&A transactions, security offerings, and divestitures, with one client saying, "He is very knowledgeable and thorough and stays on top of everything for us."