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Fenwick Opens First SoCal Office in Santa Monica

March 6, 2019, 4:37 PM

Fenwick & West has expanded to Southern California, opening an office in Santa Monica to accommodate the growing needs of its technology, life sciences and investor clients in the area.

The new office reflects Los Angeles’ growing power in the tech and investor landscape. It will be led by partner Michael Brown, who’s joined by partners Faisal Rashid and Ran Ben-Tzur, along with five associates and staff members.

“The team is all home-grown Fenwick attorneys, attorneys who have spent their careers at Fenwick, working up in Silicon Valley with our tech clients, but who have ties to Los Angeles,” said Brown, who studied law at the University of California, Los Angeles.

“We’ve had a significant client base down there for many years, but with the growth in that ecosystem we thought this was the right time to open an office there,” said Brown.

The recent boom in venture capital-backed technology start-ups in the Western Los Angeles area has earned the region the nickname of “Silicon Beach.”

Fenwick was founded up north in Silicon Valley, where it first opened its doors in 1972 and has become a top firm for startups and more mature tech companies.

But it’s increasingly looking south as well. Fenwick has just under 200 clients in the Los Angeles region, according to the firm, including mobile entertainment company Jam City, digital media company Tastemade and online employment marketplace ZipRecruiter. The firm also represents area VC firms and incubators like Amplify.LA and Startup UCLA.

Most law firms in the Los Angeles region have offices downtown or in Century City. Other Big Law firms with outposts in Santa Monica include Cooley, Bryan Cave, and Orrick, which opened its office in 2017.

Brown said the firm chose Santa Monica, which is located on the beach just west of Los Angeles, because it is the “center of the tech ecosystem in Southern California.”

“It’s definitely flashy, being out in Santa Monica,” said Michelle L. Fivel, a partner at Major Lindsey & Africa who recruits for law firms in Los Angeles. “It just feels like they really are making an effort to be in the scene, closer to where their clients are.”

The new office location will likely attract the attention of associates interested in working for tech companies on Los Angeles’s west side, according to Fivel.

Brown said the firm hopes to take advantage of the Los Angeles-based talent pool at some point in the future.

The lawyer population in the greater Los Angeles area grew 11.9 percent from 2015 to 2017, according to a 2018 report by CBRE. This makes it the second-fastest growing legal sector in the nation behind Atlanta.

To contact the reporter on this story: Stephanie Russell-Kraft in New York at srussellkraft@gmail.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Rebekah Mintzer at rmintzer@bloomberglaw.com

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