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Orrick Expands Growing Life Sciences Team with MoFo Dealmaker

July 1, 2021, 10:01 AM

Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe is continuing to boost its busy life sciences practice with the addition of Michael O’Donnell from Morrison & Foerster in Silicon Valley.

O’Donnell joined MoFo in 2011 as head of its corporate life sciences practice on the West Coast after 25 years at Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati.

The life sciences sector has been booming in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, which has prompted fast-paced Big Law hiring of attorneys in the space as firms seek to meet demand, especially on the corporate side.

Over the last three decades, O’Donnell has advised public and private biopharmaceutical, medical device, diagnostic, instrumentation, and life sciences companies on matters from venture capital financings to M&A and public securities offerings.

This has included over 300 VC financings, raising an estimated $7 billion for clients. He’s completed public offerings for companies like Illumina Inc., Pain Therapeutics, and Cytokinetics Inc.,according to an archived MoFo bio.

The bio said O’Donnell has also represented clients in major collaborations with leading pharmaceutical companies, including GlaxoSmithKline plc, Amgen Inc., Pfizer Inc., and Johnson & Johnson.

O’Donnell is “a brand” in the life sciences space, said Matthew Gemello, leader of Orrick’s global corporate practice, in an interview with Bloomberg Law this week.

O’Donnell’s experience on the company-side, representing clients from end to end, was a good fit for how the practice goes to market, according to Gemello, who said the firm is largely modeling its life sciences growth after what it’s done in its emerging companies practice and leveraging that.

“I’m thoroughly impressed with Orrick’s holistic approach to building a life sciences practice and the talent the firm has assembled,” O’Donnell said in a statement.

O’Donnell will be reunited at the firm with his former MoFo colleague Stephen Thau, who co-chaired MoFo’s life sciences group before joining Orrick in New York in 2019.

Orrick represents about 450 life sciences companies across the globe, Gemello said, and success that’s resulted from lateral hires and home-grown talent in the space has given the firm confidence to invest further.

In the last two years, Orrick has added several life sciences hires as well as several partners who work in adjacent practices focused on patents, technology companies, capital markets and IP licensing and tech transactions.

The firm has brought on Gunderson Dettmer life science partners Gregg Griner and Albert Vanderlaan, the former general counsel of Velocity Sciences Shana Solomon, and corporate partner Ed Lukins and capital markets partner Ed Dyson in London from Cooley.

Earlier this year, Orrick also added David Schulman, former co-leader of Dechert’s life sciences practice in Washington, as well as Morgan Lewis Bockius partner Gargi Talukder to head its life sciences patent strategy and prosecution practice.

The life sciences lateral market has remained hot for Orrick’s competitors too.

Barnes & Thornburg recently announced it was opening a six-partner Boston office focused on growing the firm’s IP and life sciences work. Sidley Austin, Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, Cooley, and WilmerHale are among the many other large firms that have lately acquired life sciences lawyers.

As it grows the core of its practice with partners and attorneys that work with founders and companies, Gemello said Orrick is also considering hires on the licensing side as well as in other practices that expand out from that work.

“We’re not slowing down on the building side by any stretch of the imagination and if anything, we’ve been emboldened by the success that we’re having,” he said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Meghan Tribe in New York at mtribe@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Rebekah Mintzer at rmintzer@bloomberglaw.com; Chris Opfer at copfer@bloomberglaw.com

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