Santa Monica, CA.
Santa Monica, CA. (Photo: oneinchpunch/

Days after Snap Inc.’s nearly $3.5 billion initial public offering, Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe has announced its opening of an office in Santa Monica, California, a mere 15-minute drive from where Snapchat’s parent company is based.

Orrick technology companies group partner Andrew Erskine will lead the new office along with partner Daniel Kim, both of whom made partner in January and previously worked out of the firm’s Los Angeles office. Erskine said the Santa Monica launch is part of a larger effort to expand Orrick’s focus on technology.

Snapchat’s IPO last week signaled that “Silicon Beach”—the startup hub on Los Angeles’ west side and now the fourth-largest venture capital market in the country—has fully matured, Erskine said.

“We’re looking forward to continuing to help develop this community that exists in L.A. for venture-backed companies and tech companies in general,” Erskine said. “I think there’s a level of expertise that has been in short supply. There are good lawyers and good teams here … but it’s still very much its own ecosystem, and I think a lot of service providers have underserved that ecosystem.”

Orrick already has a 70-attorney office in Los Angeles, and most of the 13 lawyers in the Santa Monica office, which soft-opened late last year, are just moving across town, said John Bautista, a former leader of the firm’s technology companies group. Bautista, who is based in the Bay Area, will also spend significant time working out of the new office. He estimated that he currently travels to Silicon Beach once every week or two.

Bautista said the Santa Monica office’s focus will be “tech in a broad way.” It will handle inbound investments from outside the U.S., intellectual property counseling and venture capital work. Four of the seven partners who will operate out of the new office, including Bautista, work with emerging companies, and three are IP litigators.

The Los Angeles-area tech industry clients that Orrick currently represents run the gamut from very early-stage startups—“What I like to call two guys with an idea and a garage opener,” Erskine said—to more established companies like online dating website eHarmony Inc. and Elon Musk’s Space Exploration Technologies Corp.

In the middle of that spectrum are enterprises like green power supplier Inspire Energy Holdings LLC, on-demand storage company Clutter Inc. and political software firm NationBuilder. Orrick is also working with local incubators like Mucker Capital’s MuckerLab in Santa Monica and the USC Viterbi Startup Garage in nearby Marina del Rey, California.

Orrick will measure the success of its new office by several factors, Bautista said, including its market share in Santa Monica and the surrounding area, what percent of the market’s venture deals it handles and how many of the top companies in the market the firm gets involved with. Orrick is hoping to grow the office quickly, both through lateral hires and by bringing on younger lawyers who can be promoted to partner, Bautista said.

A handful of firms, including Cooley and Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, already have offices in Santa Monica. Others, such as Covington & Burling, have offices in downtown Los Angeles or Century City that serve tech clients. But Bautista said he thinks the scale of Orrick’s tech practice sets it apart.

“If you’re a lawyer in Los Angeles and you want to be part of a global technology platform, we may be the only name in town,” Bautista said.

In the Bay Area, Orrick’s recent investments in its tech practice have included hiring Squire Patton Boggs partner Matteo Daste and bringing on Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer’s Glynna Christian as co-head of its global tech transactions practice. Late last year Orrick also expanded its tech companies group to Seattle by hiring Blake Ilstrup, a former lawyer with Cooley and now-defunct Heller Ehrman’s Venture Law Group who previously served as general counsel of biotechnology startup KPI Therapeutics Inc.

Orrick did lose IP litigation star Neel Chatterjee in Silicon Valley last month to Goodwin Procter, while Morgan Lewis recently hired 13 partners from Orrick in Hong Kong, part of a 40-member raid on the firm’s operations in the city. The mass exodus has led Orrick to overhaul its Asian operations, as noted by sibling publication The Asian Lawyer.

Nonetheless, Orrick has also expanded its presence in Europe, picking up Olswang’s Paris managing partner Guillaume Kessler and hiring a team of lawyers from Clifford Chance in the city led by the Magic Circle firm’s Paris competition and European law head Patrick Hubert.