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Tech Employers Targeted as Plaintiffs Lawyers Hit Silicon Valley

Sept. 27, 2022, 8:03 PM

Litigation boutique Sanford Heisler Sharp said Tuesday that it has expanded into Palo Alto, California’s Silicon Valley business hub, in a move to enhance access to tech industry workers.

The New York-founded firm, which has built a reputation for representing workers in employment lawsuits against big corporations and other law firms, is opening the office with six attorneys, according to a firm press release. Qiaojing Ella Zheng and Felicia Gilbert, the managing partners of Sanford Heisler’s San Francisco office, are set to lead the new outpost in downtown Palo Alto.

Chair David Sanford said in an interview that the move makes Sanford Heisler the first national plaintiffs firm to plant its flag in Silicon Valley. He argued the office launch also emphasizes the firm’s focus on representing tech sector employees, Asian American workers and businesses in the Bay Area.

“We thought given all the work we do in the technology space it was important to have a physical presence there,” he said. “About a third of our national practice involves cases in the Bay Area and Silicon Valley.”

Sanford Heisler has roughly 100 lawyers and staff in eight offices spread across the U.S., including three in California. Sanford said he envisions significant growth in the Bay Area in the next two years, including potentially doubling the size of the Palo Alto office.

The firm in 2021 landed an $8.3 million arbitration award against semiconductor company InnoGrit Corporation, which had allegedly denied the firm’s client a share of the enterprise. It also has represented lawyers accusing firms Jones Day and Morrison & Foerster of employment discrimination.

Sanford Heisler in May hired former Seyfarth Shaw partner Nancy Rafuse, who has defended big corporations such as Abbott Laboratories and CVS Pharmacy, Inc., to be its firmwide head of litigation.

To contact the reporter on this story: Justin Wise at jwise@bloombergindustry.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Chris Opfer at copfer@bloomberglaw.com; John Hughes at jhughes@bloombergindustry.com