Jacobson was most recently a partner at King & Spalding, a firm he joined in August 2014 after serving as co-head of the technology and outsourcing practice at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer in New York. The veteran transactional lawyer said his move to Ropes & Gray was in part based on a desire to return to California.
“When I left California in 2005, you really didn’t do much cross-border or highly regulated deal work from the Valley, it didn’t play back to the Valley in the same way,” Jacobson said. “Now we are at a point where the general growth of technology and different trends such as sector convergence, international technology activity and regulatory developments like CFIUS are affecting the Valley in more direct and meaningful ways. It is an exciting time to come back.”
Before joining King & Spalding four years ago, Jacobson spent nearly a decade at Freshfields, having joined the Magic Circle firm’s New York office in May 2005 after five years in-house at what was then Hewlett-Packard Co. Jacobson helped the Palo Alto, California-based company—now known as HP Inc.—execute a range of M&A, investment and joint venture deals, including HP’s $25 billion tie-up with Compaq Computer Corp. in 2002. Jacobson joined HP in 2000 from Brobeck, Phleger & Harrison, where he spent three years as an associate at the firm, which collapsed when the dot-com boom ended.
“If you look at the growth Ropes had, I think there has been pretty good momentum on both coasts,” said Jacobson, adding that he was drawn to the opportunity to help the firm expand its M&A and private equity prowess in the Bay Area. Jacobson, who will work out of the firm’s offices in East Palo Alto and San Francisco, said he has previously worked with the firm’s global M&A head Paul Scrivano, a lateral hire from O’Melveny & Myers in early 2017.
“Matt’s experience spans a number of key sectors that are important to our clients, including technology and life sciences,” said a statement from Scrivano announcing Jacobson’s addition to the firm. “His precision when guiding industry-leading companies through complex negotiations will prove to be an asset.”
Ropes & Gray, one of several Am Law 100 firms known for its robust private equity practice, has nearly 200 lawyers focused on strategic transactions and other M&A-related work firmwide. In San Francisco and Silicon Valley, the firm has more than 110 lawyers total, according to Ropes & Gray.
In September, Ropes & Gray sought to refocus a London office that it opened nearly a decade ago by pushing out at least four partners, according to sibling publication Legal Week. Ropes & Gray, which late last year named partner Julie Jones to succeed longtime chairman R. Bradford Malt in late 2019 and earlier this year tapped David Djaha to serve as its next managing partner, has recently watched a number of partners leave its ranks.
Ropes & Gray spun off a 100-strong patent prosecution practice last year into its own firm, Haley Guiliano, and this past summer watched Richard McCaulley, the former chairman of its intellectual property litigation practice, leave to launch his own firm. Harry Rubin, co-leader of Ropes & Gray’s IP practice, left last week for Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel in New York. And earlier this week Chinese firm Haiwen & Partners hired Ropes & Gray corporate partner Jieni Gu in Shanghai.
Despite the defections, Ropes & Gray has continued to hire in other practice areas, picking up former General Electric Co. anti-corruption expert Maria Gonzalez Calvet last month as a partner in Washington, D.C., while also welcoming aboard finance partner Carol Van der Vorst in London from The Goldman Sachs Group Inc. In Hong Kong, Ropes & Gray hired finance partner Jackie Kahng earlier this year from Simpson Thacher & Bartlett, where she was an associate.
As for Jacobson’s former firm, King & Spalding, it was the subject of a recent feature story in The American Lawyer examining its growth into a global legal giant.