Covington & Burling. Photo: Jason Doiy/ALM

California lawyer Denny Kwon, who spent the past decade advising deals at Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, has left the Silicon Valley firm to join Covington & Burling.

Kwon focuses his practice on mergers and acquisitions. He started working in Covington’s San Francisco office Monday as a partner in its corporate practice.

“I have seen complex regulatory issues arise more frequently for technology companies, not only in M&A transitions but also in their ordinary day to day operations,” said Kwon, noting that he was drawn to the Washington, D.C.-based firm’s focus on regulatory and public policy matters.

“The depth and the breadth of Covington’s regulatory expertise, I believe, makes it very well situated to be a go-to adviser for technology companies for years to come,” he added.

Kwon moved the Bay Area in 2008 when his wife, Christine Wong, relocated from New York to serve as an assistant U.S. attorney in the Northern District of California. Before that, Kwon was an associate at New York-based Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison.

Denny Kwon.

During his 10-plus years at Wilson Sonsini, Kwon has represented public and private companies, private equity firms and investment banks. He has also worked cross-border deals involving companies in East Asia, India, Southeast Asia, Israel, Europe and Canada.

According to his firm bio, Kwon advised tech giant Google in more than two dozen transactions, including its $3.2 billion acquisition of Nest Labs in 2014, which produces smart thermostats and smoke detectors.

“Technology and life science deals are getting larger and larger, [and] the increasing scale of the technology companies has made M&A transactions increasingly challenging for acquirers,” Kwon said.

Tom DeFilipps, the West Coast chair of Covington’s corporate practice, said in a statement about Kwon’s hiring that M&A has increasingly become an avenue of choice for public technology companies to reach the growth targets imposed upon them by the public markets. As a result, he said, his firm wanted to add a senior-level buy-side M&A partner with experience and relationships in the technology and life sciences industries.

“Denny will greatly enhance our Northern California corporate offering and our ability to further develop M&A and broader corporate relationships with West Coast-based technology and life sciences clients,” DeFilipps statement said.

At Covington, Kwon is rejoining former colleague Suzanne Bell, a longtime technology transactions partner who spent nearly three decades at Wilson Sonsini. In recent months, Covington’s Bay Area offices also added veteran class action defense litigator William Stern from Morrison & Foerster, and environmental and energy partner Kevin Poloncarz, who came from Paul Hastings.

The East Coast-based firm has about 150 lawyers in Los Angeles, San Francisco and the Silicon Valley. The firm’s San Francisco office, which opened in 1999, has grown to nearly 90 lawyers. Its Silicon Valley office, which opened a decade ago after adding a team of lawyers from now-defunct Heller Ehrman, has 40 lawyers.

In a statement responding to Kwon’s departure, a spokesperson from Wilson Sonsini said, “We thank Denny for his contributions to the firm and our clients, and wish him well.”

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