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Don’t let the “neo” fool you. Latham & Watkins partner Alan Mendelson drew on longtime ties in Silicon Valley to land the job of handling funding for pharmaceutical venture Neosil Inc. It was through attorneys that Mendelson knew from his days at Cooley Goward — Boris Feldman, now a partner at Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, and Andre Manoliu, now a freelance business adviser and investor — that Mendelson got connected with Teddy Shalon of Shalon Ventures. Teddy and his brother, Dari Shalon, were searching for an attorney to represent their incubator fund for early-stage life science ventures. Previously, Shalon Ventures had been represented by Cooley, but Teddy Shalon said he interviewed several firms searching for more of a “life science focus.” The Shalon brothers also heard about Mendelson from others working in that space — including Edward Schnipper, CEO of CellGate Inc., and Thomas Kiley, a patent litigator formerly with Genentech. Mendelson’s first assignment with his new client was a Series A preferred stock financing last month for Neosil. Shalon had seeded the South San Francisco venture to capitalize the breakthroughs of polymer chemist Samuel Sawan of the University of Massachusetts, Lowell. Neosil is developing topical anti-microbial and anti-fungal treatments and plans on becoming involved in other dermatological applications, said Teddy Shalon. The $32 million first-round funding comes from a group of investors led by MPM Capital and Burrill & Co. Mendelson had worked with Steven Burrill previously. In 1975, when Mendelson was a junior associate with Cooley, he completed his first public offering, for Raychem, with Burrill, who at the time worked with the company that is now Ernst & Young. “You meet people and may lose touch with them,” Mendelson said. “But the relationships are what is important down here in Menlo Park.” One of the conditions for securing the financing was landing the right executives to run Neosil. Dr. Eugene Bauer, former dean of the Stanford University School of Medicine, agreed to serve as CEO, while Clarence “Butch” Dellio, formerly with the pharmaceutical company Xoma Ltd., takes over as Neosil’s COO. Mendelson said that Neosil is a good prospect because it plans on being in clinical trials with its first candidate within 18 to 24 months. Intellectual property partner Charles Hoyng, tax partner Joseph Yaffe and corporate associate Michael Torosian also worked on the deal for Latham. Gunderson, Dettmer, Stough, Villeneuve, Franklin & Hachigian partner Bennett Yee and associate Brian Patterson represented MPM and Burrill & Co. on the financing side. Patterson said that from a legal standpoint, the challenge was dicing up the rights to the drugs in different markets. Also working on the deal for the investors on the intellectual property side was Ivor Elrifi from Mintz Levin Cohn Ferris Glovsky and Popeo. — Marie-Anne Hogarth UNION JOB In a deal that involved nearly 130,000 employees and $70 million of annual revenue, the parties in a merger set to be finalized Friday got off easy on legal fees. Only one law firm, and primarily one lawyer, was needed to merge the Service Employees International Union’s 95,000-member Local 250 — which represents health care workers in Northern California — with Local 399, its 30,000-member SoCal counterpart. “You could say we’re trying to control the labor market in health care,” said William Sokol, the partner at Weinberg, Roger & Rosenfeld in Oakland who handled the merger and will represent the new union local, to be called United Healthcare Workers West. “It’ll be the largest single union [local] on this side of the Hudson River,” and the second largest in the country, said Sokol. He previously represented both of the locals, and said the legal work on the deal was relatively simple since there was overwhelming approval by the rank and file. Sal Roselli, the former Local 250 president who will head the combined local, said the two smaller locals — which used to negotiate mainly with individual hospitals — merged to consolidate negotiating power and become a more formidable opponent to large chains that are gobbling up community hospitals. This increased power, Roselli said, includes more resources to take opponents to court. “The union is changing to accomplish our goal of uniting workers,” he said. “And a strategic thing we do is file [legal] claims.” These include suits that Weinberg, Roger files on behalf of consumers that don’t relate directly to union issues but can be valuable in pressuring employers to meet union demands. The new union hopes tactics like these will be useful in situations like the ongoing Bay Area spat with Sutter Health. Sokol said that he generally sees about three union local mergers annually and expects to see more since SEIU’s national leadership has been pushing for bigger, centralized unions to counter large employers. In the hospital industry, Sokol said, this is especially important. “In the face of the increasing oligarchization of health care in the West, we’re finally coming up to speed,” he said. — Justin Scheck

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