2011 Chambers USA Clients' Guide Cites WSGR Attorneys for Excellence
-- 44 Attorneys Recognized as Leaders in their Fields --
In the 2011 edition of Chambers USA: America's Leading Lawyers for Business, the firm and many of its partners were recognized once again for excellence in their fields. 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 practice again was recognized by Chambers as among the best in the country. The firm's attorneys, who "excel in hi tech matters," according to researchers, were particularly recommended for their expertise in corporate and M&A matters, with their work on behalf of clients including NVIDIA, 3Com, Sun Microsystems, the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Google, and Netflix referenced as highlights.
The Washington, D.C., team, on which market commentators "have rained compliments" over the past year, was lauded for its "excellent reputation," "skills in merger clearance matters," and high-profile clients. Susan Creighton attracted high praise from peers and clients alike, who described her as "one of the best antitrust lawyers I have ever worked with" and "fabulous in every way—she walks on water." Similarly, Scott Sher was enthusiastically recommended for his "phenomenal work, particularly in merger compliance." According to commentators, peers "think the world of him; he's terrific and enormously reliable."
The antitrust practice in the firm's New York office was described as a "responsive and highly efficient group." As one source noted, "You can guarantee that the partners there will always give you a prompt and precise answer to any query." "Highly regarded" Jonathan Jacobson was singled out by peers and clients as "an experienced litigator with an encyclopedic knowledge of antitrust issues" and "a genuine thought leader in the area." In addition, Charles Biggio was characterized as "bright, practical, and really good on his feet." According to Chambers, his experience working for the Department of Justice makes him "a fine choice" to advise on M&A and joint venture matters before government review.
Meanwhile, the Palo Alto antitrust team was recognized for its "strong relationships with a number of leading technology companies." "Experienced" and "highly adept" Chris Compton garnered praise for his expertise in merger-related matters, and also was recognized for his counsel on antitrust and IP issues arising in the course of marketing, distribution, pricing, and standard-setting activities.
With its "strong presence in the Northern Californian capital markets sector," the firm's capital markets practice again was named among the best in the state. Chambers noted that the team, comprised of "excellent attorneys who have a deep knowledge of the technology sector," is "especially strong on the issuer side" and highlighted its high volume of initial public offerings—including those for Ancestry.com, Fortinet, and TeleNav—and follow-on offerings in recent years. Larry Sonsini was touted as "a legend of Silicon Valley" due to his work on high-profile transactions such as the recent Tesla Motors IPO, and commentators further described him as a "trusted advisor" who is "very well connected and gives sound advice." Jeff Saper, who was credited as having an "excellent reputation" as underwriters' counsel in public and private financings, was described by clients as someone who "can come up with creative solutions and is prepared to be aggressive when necessary." Additionally, corporate finance practice leader John Fore's role as advisor to Netflix on its $200 million debt offering was noted, with sources calling him a "highly strategic consultant who really knows how to structure a deal."
As in years past, the firm's corporate and M&A practice ranked among the country's best. Chambers deemed Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati "a headline act in California" that works on "the area's biggest deals." Researchers recognized the firm as "expert in representing technology companies" as well as clients in the life sciences, media, communications, retail, and financial services sectors. Sources admired the firm's corporate lawyers as having "a combination of technical skill and experience, leading to the rare trait of applicable wisdom" and further described them as "talented folks with an enviable market share."
Hailed as an "icon," Larry Sonsini was described as "preeminent in emerging companies matters." He was further praised by Chambers researchers for his work on major later-stage transactions and his corporate governance advice in the boardroom. Both Marty Korman and Mike Ringler were recognized for their work representing Sun Microsystems in its $7.4 billion sale to Oracle, with clients noting that the latter's "star is rising as his practice grows." San Diego partner Marty Waters earned kudos for his willingness to go above and beyond for his clients, with commentators remarking that he "has become knowledgeable about our business and market to better guide us."
The firm's venture capital practice, with its "tremendous reputation in the market," once again tied for top honors nationally. "Famed for its strength in the technology sphere" and its "substantial experience advising clients on all aspects of early-stage investment," the team won accolades for its ability to "understand a company's business needs and connect the legal work to the business objectives." Clients also noted that the firm's lawyers "go out of their way to introduce you to funders and other clients." CEO Steve Bochner, whom researchers observed has earned a "solid reputation" after serving as lead counsel to some of Silicon Valley's most prominent companies over the past 30 years, was highly regarded by his peers, who lauded his strength in venture capital and corporate transactions. "Highly influential and strategic" Jeff Saper was admired for his extensive experience in cross-border transactions, public offerings, and emerging company financings, while Bob Latta was recognized for his expertise in the semiconductor industry and Casey McGlynn garnered praise for his transactional experience in the medical device field. Additionally, the "very popular" Michael Danaher was commended by clients for his "excellent business insight" and Bob O'Connor was singled out a "talented member of the team" whose clients "especially value his commercial awareness." "He is as much a business adviser as a legal one," they added. Carmen Chang, dubbed a "leading deal expert for Asia," received glowing reviews from clients as a leader of the firm's China practice. Sources remarked upon her "excellent network," "up-to-date advice," and willingness to "make herself available around the clock."
Recognized for its strength in venture capital and public company representation, the Seattle office received kudos for its work in joint ventures, corporate formations, and mergers and acquisitions. Sources praised the attorneys as "hardworking, client-oriented, and service-oriented," observing that they "really understand the business realities of companies around here." Seattle managing partner Patrick Schultheis was described as "extremely knowledgeable about corporate legal issues that public companies face," and Craig Sherman was named "among the top emerging growth company/venture capital lawyers in the city."
In Texas, Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati tied for top honors in the corporate technology category, with researchers characterizing the firm's "skillful" Austin attorneys as "well equipped to deal with venture capital financings, M&A, public offerings, securities law compliance and transactions, and ancillary matters such as employment law." As one client commented, "Wilson Sonsini is as good as or better than any other firm we deal with." Sources were impressed with the work of Austin founding partner Paul Tobias, describing him as "a lead lawyer" with a wealth of experience representing investors in venture capital financings and advising parties on both sides of acquisitions. Interviewees also praised Brian Beard, calling him "a superb counselor with great experience representing public companies. He is super responsive and has a practical approach along with deep expertise."
Employment Law/Employee Benefits & Compensation
Chambers named both the firm's employment law and employee benefits and compensation practices among California's best. The employment law practice was characterized as "particularly renowned for assisting clients in union-organizing efforts, layoffs, and terminations, high-stakes litigation, and the establishment of personnel policies," in addition to wage and hour matters, discrimination and harassment issues, and trade secrets. Commentators also recommended the team for its "strengths at the appellate level" and praised the attorneys' creativity and flexibility. Practice head Fred Alvarez was singled out for his "excellent advice and personable manner."
Meanwhile, Chambers recognized the firm's employee benefits and compensation practice for its extensive experience in executive compensation matters arising from mergers and acquisitions, in addition to its expertise in preparing stock option and purchase programs, deferred compensation plans, and severance arrangements. One client commented, "I always speak highly of this group-it has really provided great value for our company." John Aguirre garnered accolades from commentators as "a much-respected and highly accomplished" attorney who represented Varian in executive compensation and employee benefits matters related to its acquisition by Agilent, among other deals, while Roger Stern was lauded as an expert in creating benefit and compensation programs structured to suit growth companies, as well as the tax, securities, and financial implications of such programs. In addition, Ralph Barry received kudos for his "assured and highly practical approach to matters," with clients commenting that he "really shines" in executive compensation matters arising from mergers and acquisitions.
The firm's intellectual property practice was lauded for its "fantastic service," with one client noting that its "lawyers are "smart, detailed, and good communicators—we are made to feel we are the most important customer." Chambers highlighted the team's coverage of a wide range of IP matters, including trademark, copyright, and patent litigation; technology transactions; and IP counseling and patent prosecution, as well as its work for clients including Pacific Biosciences, Dell, Google, and Par Pharmaceuticals.
Internet and copyright litigation partner David Kramer was singled out for his work as lead litigation counsel for Google and his successful defense of the company and subsidiary YouTube in high-profile copyright litigation against Viacom. In addition, John Slafsky, who was recognized for his trademark, copyright, and advertising expertise, was praised as "smart, experienced, and [someone who] understands the subject matter well." He "knows how to cut straight to the heart of the matter," one source added.
Meanwhile, the Seattle office was admired for its "all-encompassing IP practice" that is "particularly equipped with the necessary expertise to assist clients from the technology and life sciences sectors." Trademark, copyright, and advertising partner Aaron Hendelman was commended by clients for his "ability to deal with matters in a sensitive and elegant, yet determined way."
International Trade: Export Controls & Economic Sanctions
As the leader of the firm's export controls and economic sanctions practice, Josephine Aiello LeBeau was singled out for recognition among her peers nationwide. She won praise for "really understanding the subject matter," as well as her ability to "know when to be conservative and when to make judgment calls."
IT & Outsourcing
The firm's technology transactions practice tied for the top ranking in the California IT and outsourcing category, with Chambers applauding its "deep understanding and expertise in the industry." Reviewers praised the team's "commercial acumen" and client service, noting that the "impressive depth and breadth of the group" is demonstrated through its wide-ranging work for "clients from all segments of the technology industry," from transactions for the development, distribution, and licensing of technology to strategic collaboration agreements. Suzanne Bell, who ranked among the top attorneys in California in the category, was described by clients as an "extremely professional, detailed, and knowledgeable" attorney who has advised many of Silicon Valley's leading companies, while "smart and very solid" Michael Murphy earned mention for his representation of clients in IP, licensing, and partnering matters.
The firm's "successfully diverse" life sciences practice was recognized by Chambers as one of the best in the country, with the guide expressing admiration for its "prestigious client base," which includes biotechnology, drug discovery, and medical device companies such as Acclarent Medical, Amgen, Array Biopharma, Ardian, BiPar Sciences, Mesoblast, and Nodality. Chambers praised the firm's "high-quality service on both the IP and corporate side," as well as its skillful handling of cases ranging from litigation to intellectual property prosecution and M&A transactions. As one source said, "In terms of life sciences IP, this is the best firm I have ever dealt with."
"Terrific" Kenneth Clark was commended for his "first-rate transactional practice" representing clients in the biotechnology industry, while Ian Edvalson was described as "easy to work with" and admired for his "keen eye for detail," with the guide noting that he primarily creates and implements strategies to optimize his clients' technology and other assets. Meanwhile, Casey McGlynn was heralded by sources as a "true legend" and "the go-to guy for start-up and growth technology companies," and Vern Norviel was widely praised by commentators for his "highly sophisticated and business-savvy practice" and his "growing reputation among venture capital clients."
Chambers applauded Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati for having "buil[t] on its Silicon Valley base to become a national player" in litigation, and highlighted its expertise in securities litigation, transactional, and corporate disputes. Sources spoke highly of the firm's "incredibly responsive, hardworking, and commercially minded" litigators, with one satisfied client stating, "They understand the law and they understand our business. I couldn't have more confidence in them." Litigation department head Keith Eggleton was lauded by clients for his "strategic and practical business-savvy approach to handling matters," and "highly experienced" Boris Feldman was recognized for his securities litigation and counseling work, with the guide noting that he has represented companies and their officers in more than 140 shareholder class actions and derivative suits nationwide. Similarly, Nicki Locker was admired as a widely recognized expert in securities litigation.
Barry Kaplan in the firm's Seattle office also received praise from the guide, which reported that he "impresses with his strong experience in securities and corporate governance litigation, class action defense, and complex commercial litigation." In addition, he was "recommended for his skill in handling international disputes."
Privacy & Data Security
Washington, D.C.-based Lydia Parnes won recognition as one of the top privacy and data security attorneys nationwide, with commentators describing her as "knowledgeable and well connected."
Ranked among the top law firms in the country for its renewable and alternative energy projects work, Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati is "fast becoming a notable player" in the field, according to the guide. Chambers praised the firm's "highly successful" and "unique" strategy of assisting venture-backed energy and clean tech companies with their ever-increasing needs in energy project development, which has "attracted the interest of both developers and financial institutions." Chris Groobey earned kudos for his representation of financial institutions and private equity investors in domestic projects, with his representation of Union Bank as lead arranger in a $105 million senior secured debt and working capital financing of a portfolio of landfill gas facilities cited as one example. Meanwhile, "resident solar power expert" Todd Glass garnered accolades for his "notable capabilities in the development, purchase, and sale of renewable assets," and was characterized as "a strong negotiator and an effective communicator." Additionally, Peter Mostow received praise from market commentators, with clients describing him as "extremely easy to work with" and noting that "he listens to the client and delivers excellent results."
Chambers recognized the firm's tax practice for its representation of technology companies in a variety of transactions, including local, national, and international M&A work; joint ventures; spinoffs; and corporate restructurings. According to commentators, the team "really understands the partnering approach" and "always provides extraordinary value to the client." Ivan Humphreys was singled out for his exceptional client service, with reviewers admiring his ability to "talk at a very practical level about the most complex of tax issues." In addition, Jonathan Zhu was commended for his experience in federal income tax planning for national and international investors in a variety of investment areas, with peers describing him as a "highly astute practitioner and genuine rising star."