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Mike Lincoln always knew he wanted to be involved in business in some capacity. With his bachelor’s in business administration, he tried out a few options, including running a bicycle-rental shop, a bartending business, and a lawn-mowing service in Washington, D.C., for four years in the late 1980s. But none of those choices was quite right. So he hit the books again, earning his law degree from the University of Virginia in 1991. And today, Lincoln, a partner at Cooley Godward, is one of the top lawyers in the D.C. area, advising emerging-growth companies. Along with his team in Cooley’s Reston, Va., office, Lincoln has handled 19 of the 33 venture-capital deals that, according to a list compiled by PricewaterhouseCoopers, closed in the Washington region in the first quarter of this year. Though the Northern Virginia office counsels a range of industries, Lincoln’s own interest has largely focused on technology and emerging-growth companies. He advised some of the companies that shaped the local high-tech economy during the bubble years, and he’s continued to serve the next generation of tech companies in the region. Since coming to the D.C. area in 1999, he has managed several initial public offerings for local companies. (On the other side of the coin, Lincoln advises venture capitalists, investment bankers, and “angel” investors, as well.) “A significant element of our success is being passionate about helping entrepreneurs build and grow their companies,” says Lincoln. “We’re genuinely interested in seeing new technologies and new drugs being brought to bear in the marketplace.” Cooley’s Northern Virginia office was launched by Lincoln and partner Joe Conroy in April 1999. Their model was the lawyers (including Cooley’s own) who work with Silicon Valley companies. That means Lincoln acts not only as a legal adviser but also as a business adviser to his clients. He attends board meetings, interviews prospective employees, and introduces them to funding sources. Tom Patterson, CEO of Command Information, says that at the urging of several others in the business community, one of the first calls he made when launching his company last year was to Lincoln. Command Information, which advises private and public entities on the next generation of Internet protocol, is based in Herndon, Va. But for its first few months, Command Information lived in one of Cooley’s conference rooms. And over the past year, Lincoln has worked on $20 million worth of funding deals for the company with Carlyle Ventures and Novak Biddle Ventures, as well as its acquisition of Digital Focus Inc. “One of the key decisions any company makes is who they bring in as a corporate counsel,” Patterson says. “He took the time to understand what my business was all about.” Lincoln’s other deals have included raising $150 million in venture capital for Cidera, spinning out Inter.net from PSINet in a management buyout, putting together the acquisition of the Templar Corp. by ChoicePoint, and spinning out CoGenesys from Human Genome Sciences. Most recently, he represented Lightningcast in its sale to America Online. Before landing at Cooley, Lincoln, 44, clerked for Judge Joel Flaum on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit, worked as an associate in the D.C. office of Latham & Watkins, and was a partner in the Tysons Corner, Va., office of Hunton & Williams. He’s inspired, says Lincoln, by the determination of entrepreneurs as well as by the meritocracy that defines the tech business. “The people I work with, it’s not like they went to an Ivy League school or have any connections whatsoever,” Lincoln says. “But capital flows to these companies, notwithstanding the fact that they don’t have any of these things.” All they’ve got is persistence, tech savvy, and a very good lawyer.

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