Doesn’t this sound like a recipe for law firm success? Set up shop in Silicon Valley way back in the 1970s, represent some of the biggest companies in the business that will soon define the California economy, gather a sharp team of young lawyers who gain early experience in key technology battles. Then, watch while the Valley grows up around you and feeds your firm for decades to come.

That’s Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati. That’s Fenwick & West. But that’s also Brown & Bain, a Phoenix firm that had more than 30 lawyers in Palo Alto and a big head start with clients including Apple Computer Inc. Today, it has a lone partner winding things down on the Peninsula and nothing to show for its 20 years in the Valley but a bunch of ex-pats sprinkled around other South Bay law offices.