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Two years after almost jumping ship for Weil, Gotshal & Manges, Wilson Sonsini’s Bruce Vanyo has finally decided to order new business cards � with Kirkland & Ellis’ name on them. Vanyo, who joined Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati in 1984 as the head of litigation and stayed in that position for 12 years, was one of the highest compensated partners at the firm. He started his new job in Kirkland’s Los Angeles office Thursday. “I did want to move to L.A. � better weather and the like,” Vanyo said Thursday. “I wanted to take on a new challenge. I looked around, and Kirkland offered a phenomenal challenge for me.” “Bruce made important contributions during his tenure at the firm, and we wish him the best,” Wilson Sonsini spokeswoman Courtney Dorman said Thursday. Recruiter Larry Watanabe, who brokered the deal, says that in his opinion, “Wilson’s a great firm, but Bruce outgrew the platform. Securities litigation demands, frankly, a broader national platform and resource base.” Vanyo has been described as an arch-enemy of securities plaintiff king William Lerach, of Lerach Coughlin Stoia Geller Rudman & Robbins. Vanyo calls that description not wholly inaccurate. Vanyo has recently been representing Krispy Kreme Doughnuts, which has been investigated by the Securities and Exchange Commission of late. But Vanyo says he isn’t sure which clients will be joining him at his new firm. So, why the move to Kirkland? “Why not?” Vanyo answers. “It is the best litigation firm in the United Sates.” Vanyo joins an office of 115 lawyers, more than 80 of them litigators. He is the fourth equity lateral partner hire Kirkland has made since opening its L.A. office in 1990 with just four people, said Jeffrey Davidson, the Los Angeles member of Kirkland’s firmwide management committee. “I am very excited,” Davidson said. “We have, as you know, a national litigation practice, which includes the securities litigation practice, but Bruce is already a brand name in that area. In one stroke, it will vastly expand our prestige and capability.” It is clear that Vanyo has been retreating from the Wilson Sonsini management for some time now. In the middle of last year, he says he stepped down from the firm’s policy committee and devoted himself almost exclusively to his practice. One former partner said, “He had some personal reasons, but I don’t think he’s been happy there for a long time.” A couple of months ago, Vanyo told Recorder affiliate The American Lawyer that he stayed on at Wilson after “multiple partners on the senior team” assured him that the firm would expand beyond Silicon Valley. “There’s a disagreement about how quickly it’s moving,” Vanyo is quoted in The American Lawyer’s January 2006 issue. On Thursday, however, Vanyo said, “I think Wilson is clearly headed in the right direction. My decision to come here was really independent of that.” Still, lawyers interviewed for this story said Vanyo had reasons for wanting to leave for Weil, Gotshal in 2004, although he changed his mind months later and never made the move. Two partners who were supposed to join him at Weil � Jerome Birn and Lloyd Winawer � remain at Wilson. (Neither is going to Kirkland now.) “[Vanyo] was involved in the securities litigation group, and the idea was that he wanted securities litigation to be a bigger group than it was, and my understanding is that Larry [Sonsini] promised that,” Weil partner Matthew Powers recalls. “I think it is rare for someone to say they are actually going and not actually departing because it can change how you are perceived in terms of the long-term goals of the firm,” said recruiter Carl Baier. Others at Wilson have also made false starts. And it’s sometimes most difficult for those closest to the top. Francis Currie, a high-ranking member of Wilson’s management who left for Davis Polk & Wardwell in September 1999, said he took six months to make up his mind. Though he kept Larry Sonsini apprised all along and the split was amicable, Currie wasn’t offended when Wilson partners asked him to come in over the weekend to clean up his office. “They felt it was uncomfortable,” said Currie. “I understood.” Davidson said the stories about Weil didn’t much enter into the equation in Kirkland’s decision to hire Vanyo. “I think the sign that Weil, Gotshal was very interested in him spoke highly of Bruce,” said Davidson. “That was an additional verification of his quality and reputation.”

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