SanDisk general counsel James Brelsford will join Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom as of counsel in the intellectual property group in early February.
Working from Palo Alto, Brelsford will advise clients on IP transactions and litigation as well as on how to monetize their patents. Brelsford, who announced he was leaving SanDisk Corp. to return to private practice late last month, will be at the company until December 7. The company has begun to look for Brelsford's replacement, and in-house lawyer Pilar Garcia will serve as acting general counsel during the search, Brelsford said.
Brelsford said he was drawn to Skadden by its strong footings in both Silicon Valley and Asia, where he sees a growing awareness of the value of IP as an asset class. He spent about a third of his time in Asia while at SanDisk, and he expects to do the same at Skadden.
Brelsford's first experience with the firm came about a decade ago, when he co-counseled a case with Skadden lawyers while he was a partner in the technology transactions and M&A group at Jones Day. Skadden began serving as outside counsel for SanDisk in 2008 and now advises the company on M&A, corporate governance and IP litigation, Brelsford said.
Kenton King, partner in charge of Skadden's Palo Alto office, said he approached Brelsford about joining the firm many times over the years. When Brelsford decided to return to the law firm fold earlier this year, King jumped at the chance to add him to the IP group.
"Jim is a seasoned veteran with tremendous experience and skills in an area that is highly important to our clients," he said. "You can't walk into a boardroom in Silicon Valley these days without discussing IP monetization and strategy."
With back-to-back in-house posts under his belt, Brelsford said of counsel is an appropriate post for him as he returns to the law firm fold. He noted that he is interested in becoming a partner at Skadden, though he is not overly focused on his title.
"What really matters is what do you do when you get in," he said. "Everything else sorts itself out."