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Philadelphia-based Saul Ewing has hired former Pepper Hamilton attorney John Royer to co-chair the firm’s technology, emerging companies and capital (TECC) group, making him the first business partner the firm has in the Delaware Valley that will focus his practice almost entirely on the venture capital world. Royer, who spent the first eight years of his career at Philadelphia-based Pepper Hamilton before becoming general counsel of two different e-commerce companies in the late 1990s, has spent the last 18 months building up his practice as a solo practitioner. But he said he needed the support of a large firm to handle some of the work his clients demanded. “I didn’t go through the process of examining big firms,” Royer said. I wanted to be out here [in the Chesterbrook office] because I live out this way. I liked the fact that [Saul Ewing business department chairman] David Antzis was out here. And this office has about 22 people — eight or nine of which are members of the business department and another eight or nine are in real estate. There are a few litigators, but most of the people here are transactional lawyers, so this is a good spot for me.” Antzis said the firm was impressed with how Royer built up his practice from scratch with the use of his contacts from being in-house. Saul Ewing has several TECC lawyers in Baltimore, including practice group co-chair Eric Orlinsky and partner Robert Spar. And in the past year, the firm has brought in David Duquette, a former Rogers & Wells partner, to its Princeton office to heighten its life sciences transactional work. “John has a background as a general counsel for two different e-commerce companies and he brings an inside knowledge with him of how those businesses work,” Antzis said. “One of those companies went public and he raised a lot of money for the other one, so he’s had a lot of experience there. On top of that, he was a partner at Pepper Hamilton for eight years.” Antzis, who became chairman of the business department when Steve Aichele took over the reins as firm chairman in January, said one of his chief goals was to develop several practice groups within the department. And one of the primary focuses was on emerging growth and venture capital clients, even though that has been a sagging area since early 2001. “We look at what we’ve done as taking a chance at building now in preparation for the next economic cycle,” Antzis said. “We think it’s just good business.” Royer’s practice encompasses mergers and acquisitions, securities and venture capital transactional work, a wide range of commercial and corporate agreements and general business legal counseling. A 1988 Villanova Law School graduate, Royer spent the first four years of his career in Pepper Hamilton’s Philadelphia office before moving out to the Berwyn site. His practice was geared toward general corporate work with some venture capital clients. While working on a deal in 1996 for one of those clients, XLConnect Solutions Inc., an information technology services provider and equipment reseller, he was asked to become its vice president, general counsel and assistant secretary. The company, which at its height had 1,700 employees in 30 different offices, was bought out by Xerox Corp. a year and a half later. But being the general counsel for a Xerox subsidiary was not as exciting as holding the same post for a start-up for Royer, so he took a job in October 1999 as vice president, general counsel and secretary for 4anything.com Inc., a Safeguard Scientifics-backed Internet, communications, e-commerce and “B to C” portal. But the company never could raise enough capital to be viable as the stock market fizzled in early 2000, so it was forced to cut its workforce in half. Royer said he had decided he had enough contacts to open his own practice and left 4anything in February 2001. Royer had a small office in Devon, with a business law practice focusing on start-up and emerging growth companies and entrepreneurs in a variety of industries, including information technology consulting, telecommunications services, Internet, real estate development, and brokerage, insurance brokerage and food distribution. He served as outside general counsel for several clients as well.

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