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R. Todd Johnson doesn’t miss a trick in his mission to build up Jones Day’s Silicon Valley office. He needed office space during the boom so he doubled up with a client. He needs corporate expertise to grow, so he’s been hiring through the downturn. Now, he could use a few more clients and great name recognition in the Valley. So his firm lined up some big names in corporate governance as conference speakers and scheduled an event on the Friday before a long weekend to guarantee a good turnout. “Even with a morning event, you figure lots of people are writing off the day,” Johnson said. The event — co-sponsored by Stanford Law School and held on the Friday before the Martin Luther King Jr. Day weekend — drew more than 100 in-house lawyers, local practitioners and academics. Heavy hitters like Jon Woodruff from Goldman, Sachs & Co. showed up, and former Secretary of State George Schultz sparred with Kayla Gillan, a member of the newly created Public Company Accounting Oversight Board. Jones Day opened a satellite in Silicon Valley in October 2000 with three transplants from other offices, including Johnson, the partner-in-charge. Formerly known as Jones, Day, Reavis & Pogue, the firm shortened its name Jan. 1 to Jones Day. Gaining traction hasn’t been easy. Johnson has been candid about the frustration of trying to hire corporate lawyers at the tail end of the boom. He was waving bundles of cash at locally grown corporate talent only to be brushed aside. But at that time, no one had yet guessed how deep and long the downturn would be. Now he’s in the catbird’s seat when it comes to hiring lawyers — the office is up to 23 attorneys. These days, however, the greatest competition is over clients. Johnson said he doesn’t harbor any fantasies about stealing corporate clients en masse because of a conference, but it helps to get the firm’s name out there. “It helps us raise our profile a little bit in the Bay Area, and maybe get some business out of it,” Johnson said. But, he says, he’s realistic about how big Cleveland-based Jones Day can be in the Valley among technology clients. Johnson said his firm isn’t trying to become the biggest firm in the region. That would be foolish. “That would be like Larry [Sonsini] trying to open up in Cleveland.”

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