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A year after quitting his job at Palo Alto, Calif.’s Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, partner Jonathan Axelrad got his job back Tuesday — and then some. Axelrad has been tapped to head Wilson Sonsini’s eight-lawyer fund services group. The ailing group, fraught with turnover and bleeding clients over the past year, will be revamped under Axelrad. Axelrad, a top tax lawyer, had departed the group last January to join Idealab — a Wilson Sonsini client and technology start-up incubator. Idealab, which seeded such companies as eToys, filed to go public in April. But it withdrew the offering in October as the stock market grew increasingly inhospitable to tech companies. As hopes for an Idealab IPO dimmed, lawyers from other firms turned on the charm and tried to lure Axelrad over. He said he seriously considered moving to another firm but decided he wanted to go home. A meeting with Wilson Sonsini chairman Larry Sonsini put him over the top, Axelrad said. “I walked in, sat down and he started to talk, and talked for 20 minutes,” Axelrad said. “I didn’t have to convince him of a single darned thing.” Still, the 38-year-old had spent almost a year in the business world, where he learned to shop and compare. He admits it would have been hard to make any other choice. “I grew up with these people, and I have so much affection and respect for my partners, it would have been difficult to compete with them,” Axelrad said. As for rebuilding the fund services group, Axelrad is looking to bag lateral partners from other firms and has $1 million to spend over the next year on technology for the practice. He also hopes to lure back some of the clients that left Wilson Sonsini in the last year as partners like Axelrad, Francis Currie, Gail Husick and Jeffrey Bloom departed. “As the leading technology firm in the U.S., it would be entirely inappropriate for Wilson not to be engaging in serving the venture capitalist community,” Axelrad said.

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