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Remember pitch books? Those were the snazzy yet earnest tomes clients once used to measure your worthiness to do a deal or draft corporate governance documents. They’re also a thing of the past for the bulk of Silicon Valley lawyers. “For most Silicon Valley corporate and securities work, you don’t need a pitch book, you need a shield,” quipped Neil Wolff, a Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati partner. Over the past 18 months, as the balance of power shifted from clients to lawyers, entrepreneurs began doing more of the selling in order to obtain a lawyer. One lawyer joked he couldn’t even remember when he last used a pitch book. And when one is dusted off and waved about these days, it’s to accomplish a far different goal than winning a client. Wolff actually brought a pitch book to a client meeting once earlier this year, but he used it to demonstrate the firm’s staffing levels in the areas the client would need instead of the firm’s merits. The prospect, PeoplePC Inc. of San Francisco, was convinced Wilson could handle its demands. And for their part, Wilson lawyers were satisfied PeoplePC — which is backed by Softbank Technology Ventures among other big names — had a lot going for it and took it on. Wilson also owns nearly 100,000 shares in the company. “While prospective clients are still willing to listen to the traditional pitch-book materials, what they’re really interested in hearing is whether the firm has the capacity to do the work,” Wolff said. Pitch books are, indeed, “a dying art,” said Mark Radcliffe, Gray Cary Ware & Freidenrich partner. That’s not to suggest Fortune 100 clients, particularly those from the East Coast, don’t still expect the bound equivalent of a song-and-dance number. Radcliffe said such companies still require traditional presentations, some of which take days to put together and include input from numerous partners. And big-ticket litigation still largely requires the pageantry. What hasn’t gone out of the style, and likely won’t any time soon, is the obligatory firm marketing info-packet. Like security blankets, the colorful folders can still be found at meetings in abundance for clients to take home and — supposedly — to read.

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