Salil Gandhi, of counsel at Gunderson Dettmer Stough Villeneuve Franklin & Hachigian, is joining Goodwin Procter’s technology companies group as a partner as the latter looks to capitalize on a growing market for tech clients in New York.
“I think the New York market is growing incredibly fast, it’s still in its infancy but we’re seeing the path to maturity,” Gandhi said. “And with that entrepreneurial spirit, I was excited about joining the young team that’s here in New York that I’ve seen on the opposite side of so many of my deals and [I] was impressed by the level of lawyering and the client base they already had in place.”
Gandhi, who started his legal career in 2002 as an associate in the corporate group at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, specializes in representing startup companies. He advises those clients on a variety of corporate and governance issues, such as corporate formation, venture capital financing and exit transactions.
After two years at Paul Weiss and nearly three at New York-based boutique Frankfurt Kurnit Klein & Selz, in 2007 Gandhi joined Joost, an early content distribution company and precursor to Hulu, as head of content acquisition and director of business and legal affairs. Nearly three years later, Gandhi co-founded Crybaby Media, a content development and creative packaging firm, before joining Gunderson Dettmer in June 2015.
“[I] really got involved in the day-to-day of startups [and] got to really understand the challenges they face, how they think about things, certainly around risk assessment and decision making,” Gandhi said. “It was a really great learning experience to kind of put myself in the shoes of what are my clients now.”
The New York startup market traditionally has operated in a vacuum, lacking the community that exists in Silicon Valley, Gandhi said. However, within the past few years there has been an acceleration in the growth of the city’s technology industries, specifically in the financial and health care sector. That increased activity has spilled over into the law firm lateral market, as previously noted by The American Lawyer.
“What we see is a really evolving ecosystem,” said John Egan III, co-chair of Goodwin Procter’s technology and life sciences practice.
Over the last few years, Egan’s firm has made a significant push into Silicon Valley and Northern California. But Goodwin Procter also believes that the New York market provides the biggest opportunity in the U.S. based on the rate of change in technology industry activity over the last five years. The firm, which hit new financial highs last year in the aftermath of a re-branding, thinks that necessitates the buildup of a New York team that can support the legal needs of startups over their lifecycles.
“As the market matures, we think having that kind of broad range of skillsets is going to be more and more important to these clients,” Egan said.
In February, Goodwin Procter picked up high-profile intellectual property partner Neel Chatterjee from Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe for its litigation and IP practice in Silicon Valley. The firm’s Bay Area base also took the lead for underwriters on the $3 billion initial public offering earlier this year of Snap Inc., owner of photo-sharing and messaging service Snapchat. And just last week Goodwin Procter advised the underwriters on a $300 million IPO by New York-based meal-kit delivery company Blue Apron Holdings Inc.
Currently, Goodwin Procter’s technology company practice has more than 180 lawyers scattered throughout the country. In New York, the firm has close to 30 lawyers on the ground but is actively looking to increase its ranks.
“We don’t think we have enough feet on the street to address the opportunity there so we will continue to look opportunistically for the right people or continue to groom people and sort of advance them in the firm,” Egan said.
In May, Goodwin Procter hired life sciences and private equity partner Roger Cohen in New York from Proskauer Rose, where he was senior counsel. The New York Law Journal reported in February on Goodwin Procter’s addition of a pair of litigators from Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, both of whom re-joined colleague Marshall Fishman, who in January became head of Goodwin Procter’s commercial and financial litigation practice in New York.
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