Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati is expanding its life sciences work in Boston with the addition of Ropes & Gray partner Mark Bellomy.
Bellomy has advised public and private companies, investors, and institutions on transactions involving technology and intellectual property, particularly in the red hot life sciences space, for more than 20 years.
The newest member of Wilson Sonsini’s technology transactions practice, Bellomy began his career at Ropes & Gray in 2000, before heading in-house as senior licensing counsel for Wyeth Pharmaceuticals. He rejoined Ropes & Gray in 2007 before becoming a partner three years later.
Bellomy has represented numerous biopharmaceutical, medtech, digital health, medical device, and life sciences companies, like G1 Therapeutics, biotech startup EQRx, AMAG Pharmaceuticals Inc., AstraZeneca, and Pfizer Inc. He’s worked with these clients on transactions related to the discovery, development, supply, and commercialization of their products, technologies, and services.
Though his practice at Ropes & Gray focused more on large pharma and biotech companies, Bellomy said that he decided to make the move to Wilson Sonsini to build a practice working more with emerging companies, particularly in the biotech, medtech and digital health spaces. He said emerging companies have been one of the most robust areas in one of the busiest periods in the life sciences space he has seen in his career.
According to Citi Private Bank’s Law Firm Group life sciences practices can expect to see high levels of growth in 2021. Last year, biotech companies across the globe raised more than $25 billion through initial public offerings, nearly double the amount in 2019, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
Given this amount of activity, law firms have been busy building out their life sciences capabilities. Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe recently added David Schulman, who co-led Dechert’s life sciences practice. Sidley Austin also expanded its life sciences practice with the addition of two partners from Hogan Lovells, including its practice co-head Asher Rubin.
“Heightened business activity among companies and investors in many life sciences sectors—due in part to efforts aimed at battling the pandemic—has increased demand among our clients for deal-making expertise, particularly R&D agreements, collaborations, and other sophisticated transactions,” Doug Clark, managing partner at Wilson Sonsini, said in a statement.
Bellomy’s addition also expands Wilson Sonsini’s footprint in Boston. The firm opened up its Boston office in 2016 to capitalize on the city’s booming life sciences market. The firm now has 35 attorneys and seven patent agents who work with clients primarily in this sector.
Focusing on emerging growth companies, particularly those in nearby Cambridge, Mass., will be a tremendous area of development for Wilson Sonsini, Bellomy said.
He said large pharma companies are looking to expand and bolster their pipelines and supplement their internal research and development by connecting with smaller biotech companies.
“They’ve come to realize that the future is, and will be to a very large extent, partnering with the emerging companies and growing those businesses, and growing those assets, and growing those therapies, and treating patients in partnership with more emerging companies,” he said.
Big Law firms that have traditionally represented Big Pharma clients face challenges in working with this emerging company base, namely ethical and business conflicts, as well as other barriers like fee pricing and discounting that firms have normally structured for large public companies, instead of emerging ones, according to Bellomy.
He said Wilson Sonsini, which has represented many major companies in their early stages, including famously Apple Inc. and Google Inc., has the flexibility to “hit the sweet spot” emerging companies need to manage cash flow along with skill sets to provide input on both business and legal matters.
“That’s what they’re built for,” Bellomy said of his new firm, “to service emerging companies and they’ve intentionally followed a pattern that avoids the potential conflicts and that has pricing and support structures that are directly tailored for the emerging companies.”