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It’s back to the future for five partners from Heller Ehrman’s Venture Law Group who resigned Wednesday to join the law firm of Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe. Silicon Valley partners Glen Van Ligten, John Bautista, David Lee and Michael Morrissey, as well as Edmund Ruffin Jr. in Washington, D.C., will join Orrick within a month. Orrick and VLG used to share clients and once talked of merging. It was a surprise when VLG’s 60 attorneys announced they would align with Heller in September 2003. The defecting Heller VLG partners said they could not comment as they were bound by a 15-day notice period. Orrick Chairman Ralph Baxter Jr. was enthused. “These are terrific lawyers and outstanding people,” Baxter said. “We are excited because we know these people very well.” Baxter said bringing on the group was part of Orrick’s global strategy of expanding in the technology sector. He said the new partners bolster the corporate and venture finance practice, and will help some of the firm’s existing assets — including its IP practice and the securities group brought over from Clifford Chance. The VLG partners will help Orrick form a new, 70-lawyer emerging companies practice group that will span Asia, the West and East coasts of the United States, and Europe. Heller Chairman Barry Levin wished the partners well. “It’s a rare event at Heller Ehrman for partners to go to work at another firm, and we are always sorry to lose people,” he said. “But we are very busy, we are off to a great start in 2005, and we don’t anticipate any impact on our practice or continued success.” Levin said that the departing partners had been brought into Heller as shareholders and had enjoyed the same compensation arrangements as other laterals. Van Ligten had joined Venture Law Group from Brobeck, Phleger & Harrison in 1996. The other partners were part of the original Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati contingent that formed VLG with partner Craig Johnson in 1993. Ruffin once headed up VLG’s office in Reston, Va. One local attorney described the departure as normal fallout from the Heller merger. “We were all wondering if there was going to be some changes at the former VLG group over the couple of years that followed the acquisition,” said Scott Dettmer, of Gunderson Dettmer Stough Villeneuve Franklin & Hachigian. “When you have a big change and you move from a smaller firm to a much larger one, you can expect some changes over the short term.”

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