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Why Techies Like To Friend Fenwick & West

Publication Date: 
April 07, 2011
Business Week - Bloomberg
Brad Stone with Serena Saitto

Dean Larry Kramer is quoted by Brad Stone of Business Week on the rise of Fenwick & West, and how the firm's success can be attributed to it's understanding of the Silicon Valley, including the nurture and growth needed for startups.

Gordon "Gordy" Davidson is one of Silicon Valley's top consiglieri. In a career spanning almost four decades, the lawyer has helped Cisco (CSCO) raise venture capital, steered Intuit (INTU) and eBay (EBAY) through their initial public offerings, and helped VeriSign (VRSN) with its $17 billion acquisition of Network Solutions in 2000—still the largest Internet deal ever. He's seen technological waves come and go over the years. The latest, social networks and online media, is a doozy, and his law firm, Fenwick & West, is riding the trend like no other firm in the Valley. "Silicon Valley came out of a recession faster than the rest of the country, and we saw it coming a little bit sooner than our peers," says Davidson, who became chairman of the firm in 1995. "Financially, times are very good."

Unlike larger local rivals such as Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati and Cooley, Fenwick specializes in startups. Its clients are some of the biggest names on the Internet—Facebook, Twitter, and rising stars such as home-rental site Airbnb and cloud-storage company Dropbox. The firm will almost certainly help Facebook through the IPO process, according to a person familiar with the firm's and the company's plans, which could happen early in 2012. Fenwick "is one of the great indigenous firms of Silicon Valley," says Larry Kramer, dean of Stanford Law School. "It understands how the Valley works better than most, everything from how to raise money, where to incorporate, and how to nurture and grow a startup."