Paul Hastings, already growing fast in California, has now picked up White & Case’s William Choe and his deal team to bulk up its abilities in the Silicon Valley transactions market.
Choe, who most recently served as global head of White & Case’s technology M&A practice and co-head of its global technology industry group, made the move to Paul Hasting’s Palo Alto office Friday. He was joined by M&A partner Jason Rabbitt-Tomita. A team of other lawyers the two partners work with is expected to follow, the firm said.
“Overall, White & Case is an excellent firm, but the Paul Hastings opportunity was really outstanding,” Choe said. “Specifically, it provides a critical mass of attorneys in the Bay Area.”
Paul Hastings has 120 lawyers between its Palo Alto and San Francisco offices, he said.
As more private equity firms pursue mergers and acquisitions in the tech space, Choe added, he was drawn to the opportunity to join forces with Paul Hastings partners Mike Kennedy and Steve Camahort, who have focused their practices on private equity and leveraged buyouts.
“They are [two] of the few top public-company M&A names in the Valley, which is also an important offering to [my] existing clients,” Choe said of new his colleagues, Kennedy and Camahort.
For more than 20 years, Choe has represented technology companies in domestic and cross-border mergers and acquisitions. White & Case brought him on board in 2015 from Morrison & Foerster. He rejoined Morrison & Foerster in 2014 after an in-house stint with Sterling, Virginia-based telecommunications company Neustar Inc.
While at White & Case, Choe helped the New York-based firm build out its M&A practice in the Bay Area. As part of that expansion, Rabbitt-Tomita joined White & Case in 2016. Rabbitt-Tomita came from Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, where he spent 11 years.
“We do a lot of M&A transactions, especially in the private acquisition area, for Intel,” said Choe. “I think clients are excited … to work with Paul Hastings.”
White & Case, in a statement on Choe and Rabbitt-Tomita’s departure, said, “we wish them well in their coming endeavors.” According to White & Case’s website, the firm now has nine remaining M&A attorneys working in Silicon Valley, including two counsels and seven associates.
The arrival of Choe and his team follows a series of additions Paul Hastings has made in its M&A, finance and funds, private equity and capital markets practices, the firm said. They include Roger Barron from Linklaters and Anu Balasubramanian from DLA Piper in London; Joyce Xu from Simpson Thacher & Bartlett and Ira Kustin from Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld in New York; and Kfir Abutbul from Willkie Farr & Gallagher in Houston.
But Paul Hastings also saw two corporate partners, Tiffany Lee and Matthew Berger, leave late last year for New York-based Willkie, to launch that firm’s first West Coast office in Palo Alto.
“Our market-leading corporate practices continue to grow through our focus on building where our clients are investing, such as London, New York and Silicon Valley,” Paul Hastings chair Seth Zachary said in a statement. “We are capitalizing on our strengths in global M&A and the tech sector, and the addition of Bill and his team is the latest example of the market-leading lawyers we are attracting as a result.”