Some firms might look at the remains of A-1 Liquors in East Palo Alto, California, and see only a pile of rubble. Lawyers at San Francisco’s Brobeck, Phleger & Harrison see a more affordable future home.

For years, the ugly, crime-ridden, liquor-store-filled streets of downtown East Palo Alto were Silicon Valley’s least desirable locale. But the Valley’s gold rush is finally spreading into the largely minority community of 32,000. With the dearth of reasonably priced real estate in the Valley, the area — or at least its raw land — gets more attractive every day. When a developer got the go-ahead to demolish at least three city blocks to build a shiny new office complex and a four-star hotel, Brobeck jumped at the chance to move in.

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