California: Recovery position
It was the boom to beat all booms, but it was simply too good to last. Jan Harvey chronicles the experiences of Silicon Valley's pioneering law firms and assesses who will be best placed for the upturn
Silicon Valley, 1996, and a group of small unknown tech-focused law firms are rewriting the rulebook of the commercial lawyer. Operating at the epicentre of the global technology boom, they are turning away investment banks and major public companies in favour of unproven start-ups, demanding – and getting – highly lucrative stock options in lieu of fees and hiring associates by the dozen to cope with a seemingly endless stream of IPO work. Visionary lawyers like Craig Johnson and Bob Gunderson are setting up a new type of firm to focus on representing the Valley’s start-ups, which offer the modern-day Holy Grail of stock options for their lawyers.
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