Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer has signed a 10-year lease on 40,000-square feet in a new office building in Silicon Valley, less than a year after the firm landed in California.
The office is in downtown Redwood City, located between Palo Alto and San Francisco. It will feature outdoor terrace space the firm says can be used for client events when the building opens in early 2022.
The lease comes as some Big Law firms are redoubling their efforts to build out a Silicon Valley presence, lured by the success of the technology industry before and during the coronavirus pandemic. It also highlights at least one firm’s optimism that lawyers will soon return to the office.
“Everybody has enjoyed on some level working from home,” Sarah Solum, managing partner of Freshfields’ Silicon Valley office and head of its U.S. capital markets practice, said in an interview.
“But lawyering is really an apprenticeship and we all do miss being together,” Solum said. “And we look forward to having that space for doing that, which also is very flexible and very distinct in Northern California, in that it has great outdoor space as well.”
Solum and Alan Mason, Freshfields’ managing partner, wouldn’t commit to a number of lawyers the office will hold, noting that “flexibility” would be paramount in the design process. The firm is working with design firm Gensler to build out the space.
Freshfields landed in Silicon Valley in July with the hiring of five partners from firms including Davis Polk & Wardwell, Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, Latham & Watkins, and Sidley Austin. The firm’s website now lists nearly 15 lawyers in that office.
Other major firms recently expanding into Silicon Valley include Willkie Farr & Gallagher, which opened in 2018, and Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, which hired nearly 10 partners in Northern California.
Freshfields’ Silicon Valley lawyers work with pre-IPO companies to large, publicly traded operations such as AstraZeneca. Partner John Fisher is advising AstraZeneca in its $39 billion acquisition of Alexion Pharmaceuticals. The group focuses on technology, life sciences, and healthcare clients.
Freshfields will be the anchor tenant for the building at 855 Main in Redwood City, moving from a temporary office in Menlo Park.
Mason said the lease shows the firm is committed to Silicon Valley and the goal to “establish ourselves as one of the leading players in the Bay Area legal community and business community.”