White & Case is expanding its M&A and capital markets practices in Silicon Valley with the addition of two former in-house lawyers: Eric Hwang, formerly with Oracle, and Christopher Rose from CODA Automotive. Both join as partners.
"Their reputation and experience is going to be well-known by everyone they come in contact with," said Bijal Vakil, who heads the firm's Silicon Valley office. "When you have our global platform plus their experience, that's going to be appealing to someone who has global operations or global aspirations."
Recruiters say looking in house for talent is a good strategy in the Valley's fierce lateral market. In 2010, White & Case hired former Oracle Corp. associate general counsel Brady Mickelsen.
"It is an innovative and fresh approach to recruiting," said Avis Caravello, of Avis Caravello Attorney Search Consultants. "They are going against the grain by doing it this way, but they're recognizing that if you go the traditional route, you may have to wait years to grow your office."
White & Case opened its Silicon Valley office in 1999 and in recent years has struggled to build the office and retain lawyers. In 2009, the firm lost a team of three IP litigators to Cooley, who took with them patent work for clients such as Facebook Inc.
Vakil said clients had been asking the firm to increase the depth of its corporate practice, and he's talked to many qualified candidates in recent months. What set Hwang and Rose apart, he said, was the fact that both had experience as in-house lawyers and outside counsel.
Hwang and Rose both said they were attracted by the firm's global reach. But seeing the success Mickelsen has had building his practice at White & Case made the move even more appealing. And they're looking forward to working with Mickelsen again, whom they worked with at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom.
"I think we'll be able to replicate Brady's success," Rose said. "Brady needed more feet on the ground, and now that the three of us are working together again, we have critical mass."
Hwang and Mickelsen had also worked together in Oracle's legal department. Before leaving the company, Hwang was director of corporate development and managed acquisitions, such as the purchase of social media marketer Vitrue and project portfolio management vendor Skire. From 2007 to 2010, he was a senior M&A counsel and worked on nearly half of Oracle's acquisitions, including its $7.4 billion purchase of Sun Microsystems Inc.
Before moving in house, Hwang had spent almost four years as a corporate associate at Skadden in New York. He's looking forward to handling global deals at a big firm again.