Looking for microsoft money: The competition has toughened among firms angling to represent all those retired 32-year-old computer millionaires and their well-funded pet startups. On Feb. 2, tech-heavy California firm Gray Cary Ware & Freidenrich L.L.P. opened a Seattle branch with nine native corporate lawyers, whom firm chief Terrence O’Malley wooed from the Riddell Williams firm. Among them is Laura Puckett, who handled last year’s RealNetworks initial public offering and who clearly got hooked on the Bay Area spirit back while she and the rest of Riddell were part of ailing San Francisco firm Graham & James.L.L.P. But after Riddell divorced Graham & James on Jan. 1 and returned to using its maiden name, Ms. Puckett went looking for a more congenial California roost. This one, she thinks, will be better: “I live in Internet time, and the firm moves in Internet time.” Meanwhile, several Rust Belt firms have been sniffing around the Pacific Northwest. Minneapolis’ Dorsey & Whitney L.L.P. almost persuaded the now-70-lawyer Riddell to merge. Notably missing from all this fun is that self-advertised tech haven, Brobeck, Phleger & Harrison L.L.P. Managing partner Tower Snow says that his firm continues to prefer what it sees in New York and Austin, Texas.
The miracle-gro chronicles: In this week’s episode, Piper Marbury Rudnick & Wolfe L.L.P. aims to rev its national profile by plucking 16 lawyers from the decaying corpse of New York’s Gordon Altman Weitzen Shalov & Wein L.L.P. Name partner Theodore Altman, who has worked on Carl Icahn’s deals, is leading the move. His old firm shuts its doors on March 1, while Piper, loaded with 795 lawyers, hopes to survive law firms’ growing lust to rule the nation. “I think there’s going to be a stampede, and a lot of people are going to get trampled,” says co-chairman Frank Burch. And he plans to be the crusher, not the crushed. But Piper faces a squeeze even in its home mid-Atlantic region: Philly’s Blank Rome Comisky & McCauley L.L.P. recently swallowed New York’s Tenzer Greenblatt L.L.P., a move that seems designed to give the firm an office at every depot along the Amtrak’s MetroLiner route. With the move, Blank Rome grew nearly 30%, to 370 lawyers.
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