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Google Inc.’s much-anticipated initial public offering is the deal securities lawyers are pinning their hopes on to recharge the market for IPOs and technology stocks in general. The Internet search engine’s offering is expected to be the largest in history and could value the company at $15 billion. And that means it is also the deal every law firm in Silicon Valley would love a piece of. “It’s an exciting deal which hopefully will lead to the equity markets opening even wider than they are,” said Gregory Gallo, a Gray Cary Ware & Freidenrich partner. And lawyers are salivating over the chance to represent the underwriters in Google’s IPO. “They’re all hopeful,” Gallo said. Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati is likely a shoo-in as company counsel. Firm Chairman Larry Sonsini incorporated the company in 1998, and David Drummond, Google’s director of corporate development who doubles as general counsel, is a former Wilson Sonsini partner. Despite the long list of investment banks reportedly signed on for the deal, only one law firm will get to represent the underwriters as a group. Google, according to news accounts last week, has hired gold-standard banks like Morgan Stanley and Goldman, Sachs & Co. to lead the deal. Other banks that are part of the syndicate to distribute Google’s shares include Citigroup Inc., Credit Suisse First Boston Corp., J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., Thomas Weisel Partners and WR Hambrecht + Co. Goldman and Morgan did not return calls for comment. A Google spokesman declined to comment. Sonsini also declined to comment. The law firm to land the lead underwriter’s work won’t be public until Google files offering documents with the Securities and Exchange Commission. That’s expected to happen in the next few months. Lawyers who have done work in the past for some of the banks named declined to comment. They cited fears that SEC officials would consider their comments to be pre-offering publicity or declare a cooling-off period on the deal like they did to Webvan Group Inc. at the height of the Internet boom. An SEC spokesman declined to comment. But the mystery of whom Google would hire to underwrite their IPO didn’t stop securities lawyers throughout the Valley from lobbying their banker contacts for the work. “Everybody has indicated how much they would love to work on it,” said Bruce Dallas, a Davis Polk & Wardwell partner. “Someone out there is happy, and as far as I know, I’m not,” he said. There may be more happiness to go around, however, if Google’s IPO translates into a surge in securities work in the Valley, Dallas said. “Everybody with a computer knows Google,” Dallas said. “Everybody is paying attention, from retail investors to institutional investors and analysts.” That could bring a mixed bag for other companies in the wings, like Salesforce.com Inc., a closely watched online database service that filed offering documents last month. “If [Google] goes well, it could encourage investors to get back in the market,” Dallas said. “It could also distract people from other companies in the shadow of Google.”

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