Proudly, but with some trepidation for he had a wife and young child to feed, he became the first associate at McCloskey, Wilson, Mosher & Martin, a four-lawyer, general-practice Palo Alto law firm. Today, 23 years later, Larry Sonsini chairs the 600-lawyer firm, long since renamed Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, which is at the epicenter of the Silicon Valley explosion.

If he had only built a gargantuan law firm, Sonsini would deserve notice. But he was more than a master-builder. To friend and envious foe alike, Sonsini did not just ride the great wave now known as The New Economy, he was the great wave. Not only did Sonsini ply his trade as a securities lawyer, but he also took on the role of the dealmaker. He was at one with investment bankers and venture capitalists, as comfortable with securities regulations as he is with angel financiers. His was a new breed of full-service firm. New ventures came to him because he knew the players and where to help find the money. In the small town atmosphere of the Valley, he was the hub of the wheel. And once his clients started rolling, he’d ride along as they grew.

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