One of the key components of Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati's life sciences practice is its longtime representation of biotechnology companies, innovative biotech entrepreneurs, and progressive biotech investors. The firm's work in the biotech community dates back to the formative years of the industry, when bold new companies first began to develop and commercialize scientific discoveries.
Today, the firm's biotechnology practice consists of more than 180 professionals, including attorneys, patent agents, and scientific advisors. A substantial number of our practitioners have advanced degrees in biology, chemistry, engineering, or other scientific fields. Similarly, a large number of our professionals have experience working in laboratory, medical, or research facilities. The team also includes attorneys who have served as in-house legal counsel for major life sciences companies.
WSGR has consistently represented biotech companies at all stages, from formation to exit. Our work with emerging biotech companies is typically focused on two areas that are vital to early-stage enterprises: intellectual property and finance.
Intellectual Property and Patents
WSGR offers biotech clients the benefit of working with the highly skilled intellectual property professionals in our patents and innovation counseling practice. In addition to advising on strategic matters, this team handles a significant number of patent filings. WSGR had 629 U.S. patents issue on behalf of clients in 2016, filing an average of more than 50 U.S. patents each week during the year.
WSGR consistently represents more venture-backed companies than any other law firm in the U.S., according to annual rankings published by Dow Jones VentureSource and PitchBook. A large percentage of our clients that receive venture funding are biotech companies. In fact, in 2015, the firm helped life sciences clients raise more than 140 rounds of venture financing. In a recent five-year span, the firm helped life sciences clients raise more than $1.5 billion in venture financing.
One reason for the firm's unmatched standing in the venture finance space is the long-standing relationships we have built working alongside innovative entrepreneurs to launch successful biotech companies. Another key driver of our success is our experience working with influential sources of funding: WSGR represents more than 100 venture capital and private equity firms.
Collaborations, Partnering Agreements, and Joint Ventures
WSGR has extensive experience advising maturing biotech companies as they reach important developmental milestones. Dating back to some of the most significant, landmark collaborations and partnering deals between industry pioneers, WSGR's attorneys have helped biotech clients structure and execute all manner of sophisticated, strategic transactions, working closely with each client to leverage their valuable intellectual property assets to achieve diverse market objectives.
The firm has advised life sciences companies on the structure of more than 150 major corporate collaborations. Our experience includes developing, negotiating, and implementing:
- Co-branding and promotional agreements
- Cross-border agreements
- Research and development agreements
- Strategic alliances
- Joint development agreements
- Co-investment agreements
- Joint marketing agreements
In addition, our team has vast experience with a broad range of joint venture transactions involving our biotech clients. We have also recently introduced clients to novel, creative agreements—such as build-to-buy agreements—aimed at benefiting multiple parties.
Regulatory and Compliance
Regulatory approvals are critically important to growing biotech companies. WSGR has a dedicated regulatory team that helps place biotech clients in a favorable position to clear regulatory hurdles and secure timely approvals. Our team also helps such clients remain in compliance with strictly enforced regulatory laws in the U.S. and international markets.
Initial Public Offerings
Many of WSGR's successful biotech clients have opted to enter the capital markets, most often through an initial public offering. In the past five years, WSGR has assisted life sciences clients in more than 30 public offering transactions that have raised nearly $3 billion.
In 2016, WSGR represented NantHealth, iRhythm, and Rici Healthcare as issuer's counsel in their IPOs. In 2015, the firm represented NantKwest in its $207 million IPO, which was the largest biotech IPO ever based on market cap, according to news reports.
In addition, WSGR represents biotech companies in their follow-on public offerings. For example, in 2016, the firm represented China Biologic, Avinger, and Xenon Pharmaceuticals in successful follow-on public offerings.
Mergers and Acquisitions
An acquisition can often be an ideal exit strategy for a biotech company, because it can signal the continued viability of a developing product line, as well as broader, even global distribution options that may not have otherwise been available to the company. WSGR has represented a number of biotech clients that reached a point in their development where either selling part or all of the company proved to be the best strategic option.
In the past five years, our attorneys have advised life sciences clients in more than 100 M&A transactions valued at more than $40 billion. While WSGR has represented biotech clients in hundreds of smaller M&A transactions and limited intellectual property asset acquisitions, the firm has also been involved in some of the largest M&A deals in the life sciences industry. For example, WSGR represented Pharmacyclics in its 2015 sale to AbbVie for approximately $21 billion.
As biotech companies grow, they often become involved in a proportionately larger number of business disputes. Our attorneys have successfully represented biotech companies engaged in litigation with competitors, suppliers, service providers, employees, and other entities, with disputes ranging from employment-related lawsuits to high-stakes patent litigation. We have also successfully defended biotech companies in class actions, including antitrust, consumer, and securities litigation matters. In addition to representing companies in federal and state courts throughout the U.S., our attorneys represent companies in arbitrations and mediations.
In short, with more than 700 attorneys, WSGR provides comprehensive representation to biotech industry clients across a broad range of practices, including:
- Corporate Governance
- Employee Benefits and Compensation
- Employment Litigation
- Finance and Structured Finance
- Intellectual Property
- Mergers & Acquisitions
- Real Estate
- Regulatory and Compliance
- Tax and Tax Equity
- Technology Transactions