Martell, whose practice focuses on equity compensation and employee benefits, will work out of Cooley’s offices in San Francisco and Palo Alto, California.
Prior to switching firms, both of which are known for their expertise in advising the technology sector, Martell spent the past 14 years at Fenwick & West, which he joined as an associate in 2004. He was promoted to equity partner at the firm in 2007.
“Cooley’s compensation and benefits practice is very similar to both Fenwick & West, as well as [Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati], except it is a deeper and larger group, so that’s an exciting opportunity for me,” said Martell, who has been a lawyer in Silicon Valley since 2000. “It provides a great opportunity because of the geographic reach of Cooley and its client base.”
Martell started his legal career in 1998 as an associate at global labor and employment giant Littler Mendelson, which has its roots in San Francisco. Before joining Fenwick & West in 2004, Martell spent about four years as an associate at Wilson Sonsini.
“Blake is well-regarded by so many of us here who have worked with him on prior deals,” said a statement from Cooley partner Amy Wood, chair of the firm’s compensation & benefits practice. “His proficiency will help our emerging and public companies clients navigate the complex equity and executive compensation issues they face on a regular basis and during transactions.”
In addition to negotiating and drafting equity compensation and employee benefits plans for companies in support of M&A deals, Martell also advises clients on corporate governance issues and accounting, disclosure, securities and tax treatment with respect to equity awards and pension plans, retention and bonus plans and welfare plans. Cooley said he will be the 26th lawyer in its firmwide compensation group.
“I am looking forward to not just expanding my practice, but the core of my compensation and benefits practice, which is basically M&A, representing emerging companies or venture back companies, and the IPO capital markets,” Martell said.
Fenwick & West did not immediately return a request for comment about Martell’s departure, which is the latest in a series of partner exits from the firm.
This summer, Fenwick & West watched veteran technology industry dealmaker R. Gregory Roussel decamp for Latham & Watkins in Silicon Valley, while Jeffrey Vetter, a former co-chair of Fenwick & West’s corporate finance and securities group, joined rival Gunderson Dettmer Stough Villeneuve Franklin & Hachigian. William Hughes, another former Fenwick & West corporate partner, jumped to Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe to co-head that firm’s capital markets practice from San Francisco. And Polsinelli picked up former Fenwick & West intellectual property partner Darren Donnelly in Palo Alto.
Despite those departures, Fenwick & West has been actively growing its New York office, an East Coast outpost that opened in 2016. The firm, which allows certain lawyers to work from anywhere in the country, has grown its Big Apple base this year by bringing on former Davis & Gilbert technology transactions partner Vejay Lalla and adding six IP partners from White & Case. Fenwick & West also saw its financial performance rebound in 2017, as the firm saw gross revenue rise to $374.9 million, while profits per equity partner hit $1.51 million.