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Cooley Godward plans to close its Kirkland, Wash., office this month following the departure of two partners to Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe. Christopher Wright and Laurie Smiley, who were the sole partners in Cooley’s Kirkland outpost, jumped to Orrick’s Seattle office Monday, along with associate Eric Scott Carnell. Four associates remain in Cooley’s Kirkland office. “We will likely just wind up that office,” probably this month, said Mark Pitchford, Cooley’s chief operating officer. “Our view is the Pacific Northwest has been hit particularly hard by the [economic] decline over the last 18 to 24 months.” Cooley Chairman Stephen Neal indicated in a firmwide e-mail in November that the Kirkland office might close. Announcing a layoff of associates and staff, Neal said the firm’s management committee and partners in Kirkland “agreed to pursue strategic alternatives for that office.” Cooley opened the office in 1998 to take advantage of the region’s technology sector. At its height in early 2001, Pitchford said it had 15 to 18 lawyers. In June, the firm laid off five associates and five staff members in the Kirkland outpost. Several other Bay Area firms also set up shop in the Seattle area, including Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, Venture Law Group, Gray Cary Ware & Freidenrich, Heller Ehrman White & McAuliffe, and Orrick. Orrick opened a small office in 1999 to service its public finance clients. It was able to expand in the region with the addition of Stephen Graham, a 25-year veteran of Perkins Coie who brought his corporate practice of public and start-up companies to Orrick. The Orrick outpost now has 20 attorneys. Wright, who helped Cooley launch the Kirkland office and served as partner in charge, said Orrick’s success in the region was what made him decide to join the firm. “Orrick was among the strongest Seattle offices for the kind of sophisticated legal work we do,” he said. “It had achieved critical mass, which frankly was the problem at Cooley — we never got over the hump.” Wright joined Cooley from Seattle’s Foster Pepper & Shefelman. His practice focuses on emerging companies in capital formation, business and technology acquisitions and mergers and strategic alliances, as well as representation of venture capitalists. Smiley, who joined Cooley in 2001 from Seattle’s Stoel Rives, focuses on corporate law, securities, mergers and acquisitions and finance. The clients joining them at Orrick include Talisma Corp., CelebrateExpress.com Inc. and Vulcan Northwest Inc., the investment company of Microsoft Corp. co-founder Paul Allen.

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