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Having a Silicon Valley address can get you noticed. Just ask John Montgomery. Last month he got his 22nd inquiry from a law firm interested in merging with his corporate boutique. “That’s the most surprising thing about our little enterprise,” Montgomery said. “I had no idea we would attract such interest.” Montgomery’s seven-lawyer Menlo Park shop represents venture capital firms and young companies looking for venture backing. Montgomery said the firm has probably done about 100 venture capital financings since it opened in July 2003. The firm’s clients include AsiaTech Ventures, Draper International, Morgan Stanley & Co. and Technology Venture Partners. The firm’s suitors range from out-of-town firms that want to establish a Bay Area presence or build upon their San Francisco outpost to local firms looking to grow their corporate practice. Montgomery said the most recent inquiries came from a big Boston outfit and a national intellectual property firm that wants to add a corporate practice. So far, though, Montgomery is turning away the callers. “We’re just getting airborne and getting our culture established,” he said. “We’re having fun.” Montgomery launched the seven-lawyer firm with Joe Hayashi, who is now with Dorsey & Whitney, and Daniel Hansen. The three were partners together at the now-defunct Brobeck, Phleger & Harrison. During his three-year term at Brobeck, Montgomery served as co-leader of the firm’s business and technology practice and co-chair of the firm’s venture capital practice. He left Brobeck in mid-2002 and had a yearlong stint at Carr & Ferrell before hanging out his own shingle. Montgomery has been surprised at the expectations of firms looking to hook up with his. Some have told him they were looking for a partner with a $4 million to $5 million book of business. “The discussions ended quickly when I told them I didn’t have that anymore,” Montgomery said. But a year later some of them have come calling again. Montgomery said they found out that there aren’t many partners left in Silicon Valley who have a $5 million book of business. “Those that did are lucky to have a $1 million book of business now,” he said. While Montgomery’s book of business is now in the $1 million to $2 million range, he said he’s better off financially than he was at Brobeck. When he left in mid-2002 he had to write Brobeck a check to cover his share of the firm’s losses, which meant he didn’t earn anything his last six months there. He’s also among 200 former partners who have been sued by the trustee of Brobeck’s estate. The trustee claims the partners took money out of the firm when it was insolvent and should pay some of it back. Montgomery is almost free of the Brobeck quagmire, having taken up the trustee’s settlement offer. “I’ve basically settled,” he said, “subject to a formal agreement” and approval by the bankruptcy court. Montgomery doesn’t feel any pull to return to big-firm life and its fierce focus on the bottom line. “One of the things that becomes apparent in discussions with other firms is that they are still caught up in the pressure that come from profits-per-partner ranking,” he said. “Are there advantages of associating with a bigger firm? Sure. There are also advantages of being small. We can be Switzerland.”

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