Foley & Lardner LLP is expanding its legal team in Northern California, including by adding a high-profile lawyer who left his last firm after being accused of sexual assault by a colleague.
The law firm recently hired Louis Lehot, a Silicon Valley corporate attorney who departed DLA Piper in 2019 when former DLA attorney Vanina Guerrero said she was assaulted by him. Lehot later denied the allegations, saying they stemmed from a consensual relationship. The incident embroiled his former firm in a larger debate over ethics, culture, and protecting rainmakers.
Foley & Lardner Chairman and CEO Jay Rothman said in an interview that the firm did its due diligence with Lehot’s hire as it would with “any lateral or lateral group.”
“We certainly vetted it and are very comfortable with where we ended up,” he said.
Lehot did not immediately respond to request for comment.
Lehot is part of a team of 15 attorneys, paralegals, and administrators, which Foley says it added to expand its technology and life sciences work around the tech rich Bay Area. Rothman said the firm already has attorneys supporting emerging companies raising capital in regions like Florida, Texas, and the Midwest.
“We just haven’t been in the space at the level we want to be in in Northern California,” he said.
The new team, which includes four new partners, is part of a push to represent companies in the area from “garage to global,” according to a firm statement.
Foley joins several firms targeting emerging companies in the life sciences and technology sectors, where funding and deal count have grown significantly over the last year despite broader problems in the global economy.
Biotech companies, for instance, raked in more than $25 billion through initial public offerings around the world last year, nearly double the amount in 2019, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
Since leaving DLA Piper, Lehot has since been working at L2 Counsel, a boutique law firm he founded. Natasha Allen, Brandee Diamond, and Nicole Hatcher also joined Foley as partners.
Eric Chow will join as senior counsel, bringing experience with corporate and securities from his five years at DLA Piper. Alex Ravski and Catherine Zhu will work with Chow as special counsel.
Rothman said Foley & Lardner, which has not yet formally reported its financials from 2020, had a “very good year” despite the coronavirus pandemic. The firm recorded “substantial gains” in profits per partner, he said.
In addition to technology and life sciences, Rothman said the firm will look for more opportunities to grow by targeting healthcare, manufacturing and supply chain work, and both traditional and alternative energy work.