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Morrison & Foerster has poached Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy partner James Pooley, and Milbank has decided to close its 12-lawyer Silicon Valley office. Chairman Mel Immergut said on Wednesday that the 4 1/2-year-old office, though self-supporting, would require a much larger investment from the firm to truly thrive. He said Milbank, Tweed decided it would prefer to deploy its resources elsewhere, including China, where he said the New York firm would open an office in about two months. Two partners now work in the Palo Alto office. IP litigator Pooley confirmed that the firm made the decision to close its Silicon Valley office after he told firm leaders that he had accepted an offer from MoFo. “Milbank, like other out-of-state firms, has put a lot of effort into attempting to attract a building block of a larger operation,” Pooley said. “We tried for some time to attract just the right corporate partner with an indigenous client base here. The firm worked very hard and they supported me.” But Pooley added that, “In the end, we weren’t able to do that. The type of practice we have in IP litigation will thrive and grow faster with a significant corporate practice alongside.” Two of Milbank’s corporate partners, who moved to California to launch the office, had already returned to New York. Joining Pooley at MoFo is Milbank associate Larry Scott Oliver, who was the office’s most senior litigator after Pooley. He joins MoFo as a partner. The other six associates on Pooley’s team are also interviewing at MoFo and Pooley said he expected they would join him. A long-time Valley lawyer, Pooley said he spoke to several Bay Area firms and that MoFo was his top choice. Not only did he know many of the firm’s attorneys � partners Harold McElhinny, Thomas Ciotti and Michael Jacobs, among others � but he was impressed by the firm’s IP and corporate groups. “IP is the core practice [at MoFo] and the firm recognizes that IP issues percolate virtually to all other disciplines of the firm,” Pooley said. “It is a big and deep practice, with several hundred lawyers.” He said his focus on IT complements the biotechnology emphasis in MoFo’s Palo Alto office. “Another attraction is the international scope and how unusually robust it is,” Pooley added. “Even though IP law is territorial, the disputes are cross-border, and having a really strong international focus is very important.” Pooley formerly practiced at Gray, Cary, Ware & Freidenrich and Fish & Richardson. He brings with him a host of clients, including Adobe Systems, ESS technology Inc., Magma Design Automation and Cingular Wireless. The head of MoFo’s litigation department, Lori Schechter, described his as a leading lawyer in the trade secret field, who handles patent, copyright and complex technology-related cases. Milbank finance partner Melainie Mansfield will relocate to the Los Angeles office, where she worked before moving to Palo Alto. Three associates worked with her. Immergut said all the Palo Alto associates have been offered opportunities to relocate with the firm. A timeline for the closing has not been set. Pooley is set to begin work at MoFo on Feb. 1. Anthony Lin is a reporter with the New York Law Journal, a Recorder affiliate. Marie-Anne Hogarth is a reporter with The Recorder.

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