King & Spalding is opening a Northern Virginia office to expand its client reach in the areas of technology, including life sciences and health care, aerospace, and government contracting.
The move comes on the heels of its lawyers completing two billion-dollar-plus government contract deals earlier this year.
Instead of being in downtown Washington, the firm said it is locating a 25-lawyer team at Tyson’s Corner in the Virginia suburbs in closer proximity to its technology and other clients.
The D.C. suburbs are home to several growing corridors of technology and aerospace companies, which do a significant volume of business with the federal government. Bloomberg Government forecasts that by the end of the current fiscal year Sept. 30, government spending on outside products and services will reach $600 billion. It’s one of the highest amounts ever recorded.
“We are increasing our footprint to be in the area where our clients are located,” said Charles Katz, the new office’s managing partner. “Increasingly, downtown offices have people who are dealing directly with the government; we are dealing directly with our clients.”
Even as Covid-19 has hammered many businesses, government contracting remains strong, Katz noted, because “the government is the largest purchaser of services, and there is more competition now as the government puts more emphasis on pricing, and legal advice is needed.”
Mergers and acquisitions occur in all the firm’s client industries, Katz said. In March, he helped close a $1.2 billion deal where Reston, Va.-based client information technology company SAIC (Science Applications International Corporation) acquired federal contracting business Unisys Federal to become one of the federal government’s largest IT providers.
Katz is among the 25 corporate/mergers and acquisitions team members who moved to King & Spalding last October from Morrison & Foerster. The group is anchored by Lawrence Yanowitch, who chaired Morrison & Foerster’s M&A practice; Thomas Knox, the former global chair of Morrison & Foerster’s corporate department; Katz and Jeremy Schropp.
The team also was involved in the $1.65 billion acquisition of Dynetics, Inc., an applied research and national security solutions company, by Reston-based Leidos Holdings, the largest tech contractor in the federal market.
King & Spalding in February added Rick Vacura to head its government contracts practice.
He came from Morrison & Foerster where he was the founder and former co-chair of its government contracts practice. The firm also hired Steve Cave, another government contracts partner, from McKinsey & Company. John Harper, with experience in M&A tax matters, also joined the group.
Knox, co-chair of King & Spalding’s global technology industry practice, said that “leveraging King & Spalding’s industry-leading financing, national security, international trade and regulatory practices furthers our ability to counsel clients during this period of uncertainty and opportunity.”
The new Tysons Corner office will work together with the firm’s 250-lawyer Washington office, the firm said. The Virginia office will be the firm’s 22nd office globally, and is open. Katz said being physically present in the office is optional for lawyers because of government sheltering-in-place rules due to coronavirus.