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Last April, David Westenberg took a ride on Space Mountain, the Disney World attraction, at the prodding of his 10-year-old son. “Following his lead, we sat in the front and did the whole arms-in-the-air routine,” recalls Westenberg. A week later, Westenberg, who heads the Internet law group at Boston’s Hale and Dorr, returned to his office and strapped himself in for the real roller coaster: The Nasdaq superslide was already under way. During March and April of last year, the Nasdaq lost about a third of its value, as even longtime Internet darlings fell out of favor, and the index continued to suffer before sliding again in the fourth quarter. Only nine IPOs priced in December 2000, compared to 41 in the previous December. But Westenberg kept the deals flowing at Hale and Dorr, as the sturdy (and profitable) New England tech companies that the firm has represented for years continued to successfully tap into the equities market. Among the most notable offerings led by Hale and Dorr last year: the $279.5 million IPO in June of Waltham, Mass.�based StorageNetworks Inc. and the $195.5 million IPO in March of Acton, Mass.�based ArrowPoint Communications, Inc. (Three months later, the company was acquired by Cisco Systems Inc. for $5.7 billion). All told, Hale and Dorr did more issuer-side equities deals for U.S. clients — 26 — last year than any firm outside California. Only Silicon Valley’s Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati (67 deals), Cooley Godward (45), and Brobeck, Phleger & Harrison (37) did more. And although several East Coast firms handled issuer-side IPOs with a higher total value than Hale and Dorr last year, none of those firms focus exclusively on technology companies the way that Hale and Dorr does. “As technologies and industries have evolved and emerged — and in some cases disappeared — we’ve continued our technology focus,” Westenberg says. “I think it’s safe to say that in the past four decades we’ve represented many, if not most, of the technology leaders in New England.” Westenberg, who also acts as the informal head of Hale and Dorr’s telecommunications practice, traces much of his own tech-filled client base — which includes such familiar names as Prodigy Communications Corporation — back to a handful of Route 128 technology pioneers, such as Boston Technology Inc. That company, one of the first providers of voicemail, was cofounded in 1986 by a graduate of Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Westenberg’s alma mater. (Westenberg graduated in three years with an economics degree before eventually heading off to Harvard Law School.) As entrepreneurial executives left Boston Technology for their own startups, they stuck with Westenberg. “The best source of new clients is old clients,” he says. “You could draw a little tree.” Westenberg, 43, has few of the qualities that typically signal a hotshot technology lawyer. A collector of antique Oriental carpets, he speaks slowly and clearly, and leaves out the buzzword-ridden lingo so popular among his peers. “Sometimes lawyers at that level tend to lecture you or ask for vast amounts of information and then give you no real answer or risk assessment,” says Richard Bugley, general counsel at Portsmouth, N.H.�based Bowstreet Inc., a business Web services vendor that is a client of Westenberg’s. “Lyndon Johnson used to say he was looking for a good one-handed lawyer — one who couldn’t constantly say ‘on the one hand, and on the other.’ That’s David. He doesn’t tend to lecture or pontificate — he tries to understand the issues and offer real-time, real-world, practical solutions.” An even-keeled pragmatism — a remnant of his prelaw days as an economist and mathematician — keeps Westenberg from taking roiling stock prices too seriously. “Now there’s nothing but doom and gloom,” he says. “It’s a view as irrational as all of the speculative brouhaha of last year.” These days, he explains, deals just take longer to get to market. Clients’ capital-raising strategies have changed, and dealmaking requires the steady patience of one trained in the art of approaching and reapproaching sticky problems. “You have to take the long-range view,” Westenberg says. “The IPO market has ebbed and flowed forever. Though it’s been strong for many years, it is actually a cyclical market.” When you make your living in equities, it’s good to know when to settle in for the ride.

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