After opening a San Francisco office five years ago, Kirkland & Ellis last week ventured 30 minutes away and set up a shop in Palo Alto, Calif. It's the firm's sixth U.S. office and its third on the West Coast.
The move, the firm says, is driven by the growth of Kirkland's San Francisco Bay Area practice; business has surged to the point that it needs a larger core of lawyers in the region to draw from.
"It was not an issue of space in San Francisco," says patent litigator Chadd Taylor, the resident partner of the new branch (he had been practicing in the San Francisco office). "We just want full access to the Bay Area for client relationships and recruiting."
The firm's San Francisco office, which launched with 12 lawyers, now has over 100, including 40 IP specialists. The Palo Alto office, which opened on Aug. 4, has about 15 lawyers, says Taylor. Plans are to grow the office by another five lawyers in the near future. (In a statement released by the firm, Palo Alto and San Francisco senior partner Jeffrey Hammes, who is heading the new office, said the space will allow for growth of up to 40 lawyers.) The firm moved some of its own attorneys to Palo Alto and also brought on "a few" laterals, including one from Simpson Thatcher & Bartlett, according to Taylor.
Many of Kirkland's Northern California clients -- including Samsung and Cisco -- will work with attorneys from both offices, Taylor says.
Of the firm's 15 Palo Alto attorneys, a dozen specialize in IP and the rest in private equity. Those two practice areas will make up the bulk of the office's work.
Kirkland's entry into the market coincides with that of several other large law firms, as reported by the Am Law Daily in June. Since January, six firms, including King & Spalding and Baker Botts, have launched Silicon Valley offices. The firms are drawn by the high-end IP and corporate work that the Valley provides.
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