Manhattan as seen from the One World Trade Center Tower in New York. REUTERS/Mike Segar
- Fenwick’s NYC office opened June 2016
- Client demand, legal talent search sparked NYC office opening
- Office has seen growth in sell-side M&A
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(Reuters) – Silicon Valley law firm Fenwick & West celebrated the fifth anniversary of the opening of its New York office in June, which has grown to 100 lawyers since launching in 2016 with just six partners and two associates.
Reuters spoke with Fenwick corporate partner Ian Goldstein, who was among the New York office’s original attorneys, about the location’s growth, the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on its mergers and acquisition work, and reopening plans. The interview has been edited for length and clarity.
REUTERS: Why did Fenwick decide that it was time to move to New York?
GOLDSTEIN: What really drew the firm to open in New York was client demand. As New York City grew and matured as a really broad-based and successful technology and life sciences ecosystem, Fenwick was drawn here by a broad range of venture-backed company clients and larger institutional clients. Our West Coast partners were finding themselves in New York more.
On top of that, New York is as deep of a legal market as you get. So it was a combination of client demand and being able to access not only innovative clients in New York and on the East Coast on a more regular basis, but also a deep legal talent pool.
REUTERS: How has the pace of M&A and other deals-related work in the New York City office changed? And what do you think is driving that change?
GOLDSTEIN: As our office has grown and our M&A team has grown, we’ve been handling significantly more sell-side M&A work here in New York because our portfolio of startup company clients has grown significantly. Our partners and associates who are representing strategic buyers have also been more active in the representation of those clients in serial acquisitions of smaller technology and life sciences companies.
REUTERS: How has the pandemic affected the pace and flow of M&A work?
GOLDSTEIN: We’ve really seen an acceleration over the second half of 2020, and the first half of 2021 in our M&A practice, both buy side and sell side. Part of that has also been the sell side in the SPAC market, where many of our clients are in the process of pursuing M&A, and capital markets exits via SPAC transactions.
REUTERS: What is your post-pandemic strategy for returning to the office?
GOLDSTEIN: I don’t think we’ve landed on exactly how we’re going to come back to the office. One thing that we do know is that we really value time in the office. Spending quality time building relationships and collaborating will definitely be a primary cornerstone of our go-back-to-the-office strategy when we’re able to do that.
REUTERS: Technology startups have been popping up outside of Silicon Valley in cities like Austin and Chicago. How is Fenwick preparing for a potential geographical shift in where tech clients are based?
GOLDSTEIN: Even though we have our hubs in some key areas, Fenwick lawyers are actively representing startup companies and other tech and life sciences companies all across the country and the globe. We don’t feel like we have to be in every single market that has a tech hub in order to service clients in those hubs. We’ve just concluded that New York, and more recently, Santa Monica, are two areas that reached a critical mass where we felt like opening an office was the right thing to do. As far as other markets, that will be something that we’ll evaluate on a regular basis from time to time.
Sierra Jackson reports on legal matters in major mergers and acquisitions, including deal work, litigation and regulatory changes. Reach her at email@example.com