Maynard Cooper’s James Childs (left) and Gregory Curran.

Maynard Cooper & Gale, a Birmingham, Alabama-based firm that broke into the Bay Area legal market four years ago this month, is now hoping to bring a little bit of Silicon Valley back to the South.

The 222-lawyer firm recently announced the formation of Maynard Venture Partners, a multidisciplinary team of more than 40 lawyers and other advisers who will focus on representing emerging growth companies and investors in core entrepreneurial markets.

The launch of the group came after Maynard Cooper brought on a group of lawyers from several different firms. Among them is venture capital partner Jamal Al-Haj, who was most recently an associate at Morrison & Foerster in San Francisco.

Jamal Al-Haj

Al-Haj was one of the five lawyers hired by Maynard Cooper earlier this month. Four of those new hires—of counsel Robert Blackburn, Nathaniel Cartmell and Bradley Siegal, as well as associate Stephanie Gossett—will be based in Birmingham. (Maynard Cooper also hired nine new associates in September.)

The new division is led by James Childs, one of the six lawyers who joined Maynard Cooper a partner in June from regional rival Bradley Arant Boult Cummings.

“Several of our team members have been working with emerging growth companies and investors for decades, and we are very passionate and enthusiastic about wanting to work them more closely and find new and innovative ways to deliver great value to them,” said Childs, who now serves as chair of Maynard Cooper’s venture capital and emerging growth practices. “That was the genesis behind the new team.”

Although Childs is primarily based in Birmingham, he will now split his time between San Francisco and Maynard Cooper’s other offices that have a high concentration of clients in the emerging growth and entrepreneurial space.

“We have been representing emerging-growth companies and investors for many years across the country, and obviously we really like the momentum, the value of activities and the innovation going on in the Valley, and it was a natural place for us to expand into,” said Childs about Maynard Cooper’s plans to expand in California.

Childs will work closely with Maynard Cooper chairman Gregory Curran, who is a longtime leader of the firm’s legacy emerging-growth practice, to build a strong team to support entrepreneurs in the eight markets where the firm has offices. Maynard Cooper currently has a presence in Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco and Washington, D.C., as well as its four Alabama outposts in Birmingham, Huntsville, Mobile and Montgomery.

“James and I believe that Birmingham has reached a tipping point and is experiencing a wave of growth and innovation that makes it an exceptionally good place for startups to launch and grow their businesses,” said a statement from Curran. “We are excited to join forces to enhance our services to help drive the continued success of our thriving local entrepreneurial market and serve clients in other markets who prosper from what we have to offer.”

Maynard Venture Partners offers legal and business services to companies in the entrepreneurial ecosystem throughout all stages of their life cycle. The group was formed to serve a broad range of emerging sectors, such as cybersecurity, data science, digital media, financial technology, health care information technology, software as a service and more.

“James and I have always been business advisers first and legal advisers second,” added Curran in his statement. “This is the approach that will drive this group and that will be central to our offering in the markets that we serve.”

Maynard Cooper’s San Francisco office has grown gradually since its opening. Last year, the firm snagged former Sedgwick commercial litigation partner Nicholas Boos in the city. In January, Maynard Cooper hired of counsel Chitra Kalyanaraman for its intellectual property group in San Francisco. There have also been a few departures.

Christopher Rillo, an ERISA litigator who joined Maynard Cooper in late 2014, jumped to Jenner & Block’s San Francisco office last year. Joshua Van Hoven, an IP litigation partner who came aboard in 2015, left earlier this year to join Ropes & Gray spin-off Haley Guiliano in San Jose, California. And Brandon McGathy, a former Ropes & Gray associate who joined Maynard Cooper’s San Francisco office as a private equity partner a year ago, also recently left to become an of counsel at Greenberg Traurig.