Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, which saw three of its longtime corporate partners decamp for other Am Law 100 firms in April, has nabbed Squire Patton Boggs partner Kenji “Ken” Funahashi to build out its corporate practice in Los Angeles.
The Silicon Valley stalwart has also tapped associate David Yi Wang, who joined Wilson Sonsini from Davis Polk & Wardwell in 2014, to serve as its first corporate strategic innovation counsel and lead firmwide legal innovation efforts for its corporate practice.
Wang, who like Funahashi specializes in corporate and securities law, was promoted to his new role on May 24 when Wilson Sonsini formed a new technology community in order to increase collaboration between its legal practitioners.
“I decided to take this role because the legal industry is changing and I wanted to be a part of that change,” Wang said. “I thought it was natural that a firm focused on tech companies like [Wilson Sonsini] should be a leader in innovating legal practice to match the forward-thinking outlook of our clients.”
Wang explained that his new group is “like the man in the middle,” taking feedback from those at the firm and integrating technologies to improve the efficiency and quality of Wilson Sonsini’s corporate practice. The firm’s technology group currently has six members, including Wilson Sonsini’s chief information officer, Michael Lucas, who was hired in 2016.
Wilson Sonsini’s Funahashi, who joined a then newly-formed Squire Patton Boggs in 2014 after leaving the San Diego office of Jones Day, specializes in advising clients on Asia-focused deals. Funahashi spent four years at Jones Day, where he had worked since 2010 after leaving Baker McKenzie, only two years before the global legal giant shuttered its own San Diego office.
Funahashi is an active member of the angel and startup community in Southern California, and in Wilson Sonsini’s announcement of his hire, managing partner Douglas Clark noted that “entrepreneurial approach” will complement the firm’s corporate practice in the region.
“Ken has established a vibrant practice by representing sophisticated technology and life sciences companies, and his impressive list of M&A and financing deals includes working with respected private equity and investment funds,” Clark said.
Funahashi has worked on a wide range of corporate finance matters. According to the firm, he has handled more than $10 billion in financings, M&A deals, joint ventures and initial public offerings throughout his career, including hundreds of private and public financing transactions for entrepreneurs and investors.
While he was not immediately available for comment to discuss his decision to join Wilson Sonsini, Funahashi said in a statement that ”the combination of Los Angeles’ growing technology and life sciences sectors, plus [Wilson Sonsini's] reputation as the go-to firm for helping innovative companies navigate all stages of growth, makes for a compelling opportunity.”
In addition to practicing in California’s technology clusters for more than two decades, Funahashi also has significant experience in cross-border transactions emanating from Asia and Europe. He has studied and worked abroad in Japan, where he once practiced law in Tokyo and was a Fund for International Education Scholar in 1995 at the Osaka University School of Law.
Funahashi also has worked on many deals involving American and Japanese companies while working at U.S.-based firms. Wilson Sonsini, which saw its financial growth pick up in 2017, has three offices in China but not yet opened an outpost in Japan.
The country has recently once again become a hotbed for foreign firms, many of whom are keen on riding a wave of outbound M&A and project finance deals, as well as increased emphasis on corporate governance matters. Earlier this month, Mayer Brown expanded its U.S.-based Japan practice after recruiting two partners from Morgan, Lewis & Bockius in New York and Washington, D.C.