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After months of negotiations, O’Melveny & Myers has signed Brobeck, Phleger & Harrison corporate rainmaker Warren Lazarow along with four other partners, a counsel and 12 associates from Brobeck’s business and technology group. Several local firms, as well as out-of-towners wishing to build up a corporate practice in Silicon Valley, had been pursuing Lazarow and his group. But the lawyers picked O’Melveny and the deal was finalized Thursday when O’Melveny partners voted them into the partnership. “We could have gone to any number of law firms,” Brobeck partner David Makarechian said in a Friday conference call with the press. The group chose O’Melveny because “it has legal firepower and a commitment to build a top-flight Silicon Valley practice,” as well as a global reach with 14 offices worldwide. O’Melveny partner Karen Dreyfus said the hiring of the Brobeck team “together with other initiatives” the firm has undertaken — including the acquisition of the New York private equity boutique O’Sullivan and the recent opening of a Beijing office — would enable O’Melveny to serve its clients with a breadth and range of expertise. The other Brobeck lawyers joining O’Melveny are partners Timothy Curry, William Chuang, Sam Zucker and counsel Rahul Kapoor. Along with the associates O’Melveny also is hiring several Brobeck staff members. The acquisition of the Brobeck team is a coup for O’Melveny, which set up shop in Silicon Valley two years ago as the tech boom was beginning to collapse. By contrast, Brobeck was among the first Bay Area firms to carve out a Silicon Valley practice and had been one of the top players in the number of initial public offerings and M&A transactions it handled. But as Brobeck’s fortunes fell in the last year-and-a-half, partners fled the firm. And when merger discussions with Philadelphia’s Morgan, Lewis & Bockius collapsed late last month, Brobeck’s nine-member policy committee immediately decided to disband the firm. Former Brobeck partners said Lazarow, who was a member of the policy committee, was one of the driving forces behind the decision. Lazarow did not return calls for comment Friday. Lazarow, who headed Brobeck’s business and technology practice for Northern California, is reputed to have a book of business in the $10 million to $15 million range. In 2001 and 2002 he was included on Forbes magazine’s “Midas Touch List” of the top 100 venture capital dealmakers in the United States. With the move to O’Melveny, the Brobeck partners may boost their income back to the record levels Brobeck hit in 2000 when profits per partner soared to $1.1 million. While O’Melveny had that level of partner profits last year, Brobeck’s had sunk to $555,000. Lazarow had interviewed with several firms prior to inking a deal with O’Melveny. One of the firms was Chicago’s Mayer, Brown, Rowe & Mawe, which opened a Palo Alto office a year and a half ago. “I think he’s a terrifically talented lawyer,” said Cabell Chinnis, partner in charge of Mayer Brown’s Palo Alto office. While a deal with Lazarow didn’t come to fruition, Mayer Brown is still looking to build its corporate practice. Chinnis said he hopes to have 20 to 30 lawyers in the office in the next 12 to 30 months. There are currently two partners based in its Silicon Valley outpost. The lion’s share of Brobeck partners are going to Morgan, Lewis. The firm offered jobs to partners in Brobeck’s San Francisco, Los Angeles, East Palo Alto, Irvine and San Diego offices last week. More than 50 had accepted by Thursday afternoon and a Morgan, Lewis spokesperson said 10 more agreed to join the firm Friday. Also on Friday, employee benefits partner James Baker joined Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe. Other Brobeck partners are expected to make a decision about their moves by the end of the week, when Brobeck officially closes down its operations. But even after Brobeck lawyers find new homes, there could be further movement among firms, recruiter Avis Caravello said. “Because partners, practice groups and acquiring firms had to act quickly we will unfortunately see fallout from these rushed decisions,” Caravello said. “Lawyers may not be landing at the right place. It’s hard to clear conflicts and know the synergies between people in a week.”

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