Summer is almost over, but the stream of California lawyers leaving Big Law for more modest pursuits has continued with several lawyers launching their own outfits.
Andrew “Drew” Koning and Blake Zollar, two ex-senior associates at Cooley in San Diego, officially launched their own litigation boutique last month in nearby Encinitas. The two-partner firm handles complex commercial, employment and intellectual property disputes.
“My decision came down to wanting to be the first-chair in every aspect of a case, from beginning to end,” Zollar said about his decision to leave life in the Am Law 100 behind. “And I saw a real opportunity to provide the type of quality and experience that a Cooley attorney can provide, or somebody with that background, to San Diego’s technology companies.”
Zollar spent his entire legal career at Cooley, having first joined the firm a decade ago as a summer associate. Koning came to Cooley in 2012 after nearly four years as an associate at Ropes & Gray, where he worked in New York and Silicon Valley.
“By leaving Cooley, Blake and I could service San Diego startups and the public company community with the experience we gathered and learned [at the firm],” said Koning, noting that he too wanted the first-chair experience in all of his cases.
Koning and Zollar have both represented clients such as Amazon.com Inc., Apple Inc., Google LLC, Qualcomm Technologies Inc. and Space Exploration Technologies Corp. in a range of matters, including IP strategy and litigation, shareholder litigation, breach of contract work and employment disputes. The two newly minted Koning Zollar named partners said several prior clients have come with them to their new firm. Meanwhile, the duo will continue to work with Cooley on a number of matters. (Cooley’s San Diego office has seen several departures this year, including former corporate partner Troy Zander and three restructuring lawyers, all of whom have moved to Barnes & Thornburg.)
“We are not looking to compete with the big firms, I think we offer a different level of service they can’t provide,” said Koning about his new firm. “We see ourselves as the leading, cutting edge in boutique litigation. We can provide a wide range of litigation skills, services to San Diego, all of Southern California’s startups and established tech community.”
As Koning and Zollar prepare for their new endeavor, D’Anne Gleicher is returning to something with which she’s already quite familiar. Roughly a year after joining Jackson Lewis from her own firm, Gleicher left the national labor and employment giant earlier this month to start her own shop near Oakland. She did not return a request for comment about the move.
Prior to moving over to Jackson Lewis in August 2017, Gleicher spent about 11 years at WG+R Law Group, a two-partner firm she helped start as Wise Gleicher in 2006. The labor and employment litigator, who began her career as an associate at Seyfarth Shaw before going in-house at the U.S. Postal Service, focuses her practice on workplace investigations.
Gleicher’s departure from Jackson Lewis is one of several recent quick turnarounds for Big Law in California. Earlier this year Ronald Fernando reconstituted his small IP firm a little more than a year after folding it to Squire Patton Boggs in Silicon Valley. The global legal giant, however, snapped up another IP boutique last month.