The dimensions were staggering: Unwind 60 years of combined operations with $47 billion in revenues and create two free-standing companies. So who did Hewlett-Packard Co. — the grandfather of Silicon Valley’s technology industries — turn to when it needed a firm to spin out its precision equipment business into what’s now called Agilent Technologies?

HP kept the project in the Silicon Valley family, so to speak, by awarding the project to Palo Alto’s Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati instead of a more traditional choice, New York’s Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom. Skadden is handling tax issues relating to the spin-out. “One of the primary drivers for not going to New York was we thought we could get quality legal advice from Wilson Sonsini, and they were close,” says Craig Nordlund, who moved from HP to become Agilent’s general counsel and a senior vice president.