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One big question for technology lawyers in the wake of Brobeck, Phleger & Harrison’s demise appears to have been answered: The firm’s biggest client, Cisco Systems Inc., is taking its corporate work to Fenwick & West. Wooing the largest maker of computer network equipment counts as a major victory when it comes to bragging rights for Fenwick lawyers. And, of course, any corporate work is cause for celebration given the dearth of new Silicon Valley clients. But how big a contribution the Internet bellwether will make to Fenwick’s bottom line remains to be seen. Gordon Davidson, Fenwick’s chairman, says he is optimistic about Cisco’s ability to weather the downturn and regain its prominence as a dealmaker. “They have a history of doing many mergers and acquisitions deals, and if the market returns, maybe that pattern will continue,” he says. Davidson wouldn’t estimate how much revenue Cisco could represent for his firm, saying only that the volume of work “was significant to Brobeck, and we have every reason to believe” it will be the same for Fenwick. Cisco had a seemingly inexhaustible appetite for buying companies during the technology boom. From 1998 to 2000, it bought 50 companies, according to its Web site. Brobeck managers have said that during the boom, the firm had 50 lawyers or more working on Cisco matters at any given time. But Cisco isn’t buying companies the way it was when its stock was flying high. The stock peaked at $80 per share but lately has been trading in the mid-teens. Since the beginning of 2001, Cisco has acquired eight companies. Davidson says he’s been trying to win Cisco’s business for the past eight years, making formal pitches annually to company lawyers. And the firm has picked up a few projects for the company in the past. But Cisco’s longtime attachment to Brobeck appeared to be unshakable. Now that Cisco has made the switch, Fenwick will represent the company for M&A deals and other transactions along with everyday corporate work, tax issues, some licensing and intellectual property counseling. “In this rapidly changing environment, we will look to [Fenwick] to partner with us as we continue to drive best practices across a broad spectrum of corporate activities,” says Mark Chandler, Cisco’s general counsel, apparently alluding to recent changes in corporate governance laws. Cisco, however, is still spreading its legal work around Silicon Valley. The company farms out some of its licensing work to Cooley Godward. And former Brobeck lawyers who moved to Clifford Chance last year — chiefly Brobeck’s ex-chairman, Tower Snow Jr. — continue to represent Cisco in securities-related litigation. For IP litigation, Cisco has traditionally turned to Weil, Gotshal & Manges for big-ticket patent battles. But the company also has pending matters with Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe and Morgan, Lewis & Bockius through that firm’s recent hire of a team of former Brobeck partners.

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