Photo: Diego M. Radzinschi/ALM

New York-based Willkie Farr & Gallagher has set its sights on Silicon Valley, taking two corporate partners from Paul Hastings in Palo Alto, California, to launch its first West Coast office.

Corporate partners Tiffany Lee and Matthew Berger are leaving Paul Hastings to anchor the new office, which will also be staffed by lawyers moving from New York, Willkie said. 

Lee, who previously practiced at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom and Morrison & Foerster, joined Paul Hastings in 2009 and was promoted partner in 2014. She handles M&A, private equity financing and intellectual property matters for tech industry clients, and counsels on other transactions for companies that provide software, cloud and other software-enabled services. She will be managing partner of Willkie’s new office. 

Berger spent a decade at Morrison & Foerster, where he served as chairman of its technology transactions group in Tokyo, before joining Paul Hastings in 2009. He was global chairman of the technology transactions practice at Paul Hastings. 

The duo has nabbed roles on several high-profile deals, including Paul Hastings’ 2017 representation of Samsung Electronics in its $8 billion acquisition of Harman International Industries Inc.

“With Willkie’s Silicon Valley arrival and the natural synergies between our broad technology transactions experience and highly regarded corporate, M&A and private equity capabilities, we are excited for a greater and more value-added collaboration with current and prospective clients, local, domestic and abroad,” Lee said in a statement.

Initially, Lee and Berger will be joined in Palo Alto by a group of Willkie attorneys specializing in public and private M&A and private equity technology deals who will relocate from New York, the firm noted in a statement. Willkie then plans to grow the office locally, including through lateral partner hires, the firm said.

“We are very excited that [Lee] and [Berger] have decided to join our expanding technology-focused corporate, M&A and private equity platforms and are bringing their extensive and highly regarded technology transactional expertise to our newest office,” Willkie co-chairman Gordon Caplan said in a statement.

“Willkie goes where the highest quality talent and energy is located [and] we have a longstanding and extensive client base in Palo Alto, and California more generally,” he added.

The new office is located at 1801 Page Mill Rd. in Palo Alto.

Willkie’s move out West follows its office opening in Houston in 2014, which at the time was the firm’s first new domestic office in more than 30 years. Since then, the Houston office has grown to some 30 lawyers, including DLA Piper energy transactions lawyer Steven Torello earlier this year.

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