Michael Brown, Fenwick & West (Courtesy photo)

Fenwick & West is joining the Silicon Beach cohort, opening its sixth office in Santa Monica, California.

The Santa Monica office is Fenwick’s first outpost in Southern California, a fast-growing tech hub that is attracting a wide array of innovative companies. Leading the new office is Fenwick corporate partner Michael Brown, who plans on splitting his time between San Francisco and the Los Angeles region.

“I have long had clients and contacts down in that region, spent a significant amount of time down there meeting with those folks,” Brown said, explaining the firm’s need for a Santa Monica office. “L.A. is one of the top regions in the U.S. for emerging growth companies.”

Brown joined Fenwick after graduating from law school at the University of California, Los Angeles in 2005, and became a partner at the firm in January 2014. Brown said the Santa Monica office is going to be staffed by other homegrown Fenwick attorneys including partners Faisal Rashid and Ran Ben-Tzur, and associates Elizabeth Gartland, Thomas Kang, Liz Federowicz, Carson Jackson and Christian Olano.

Fenwick has already relocated about 10 lawyers and legal professionals to Los Angeles, and Brown said he expects to hire more local talent there.

“Certainly Los Angeles is one of the preeminent markets in the country for legal talent,” he said.

Prior to launching the Santa Monica office, the 335-lawyer firm had five offices, in San Francisco and Mountain View, California; Seattle; New York; and Shanghai. Fenwick opened its New York outpost in 2016 to serve clients’ technology and life sciences needs on the East Coast.

“Our office in Santa Monica will continue to have a strategic focus on technology and life sciences industries,” Brown added. All of the firm’s offices are united by that strategic focus, he added.

According to the firm, Fenwick serves nearly 200 clients in the greater Los Angeles area, including mobile entertainment company Jam City Inc., orbital launch company Relativity Space Inc., digital media company Tastemade Inc. and online employment marketplace ZipRecruiter. The firm also partners with several venture capital investors and incubators in the area, including Amplify.LA, Upfront Ventures, Alpha Edison, Science Media and Startup UCLA.

“Santa Monica is the center of the L.A. tech scene,” Brown said. “Certainly, it is at the earlier stage than the tech scene in Silicon Valley, but we see many of the same hallmarks from the entrepreneurs, from the companies, from the investors that we see in Silicon Valley and in New York.”

As Silicon Beach takes shape in the region, Los Angeles has become a hotbed of law firm lateral hiring, attracting out-of-town-based and national firms to expand in the area. Fenwick’s Bay Area rival Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe also set up an office in Santa Monica in 2017.

“We take a client-centric approach to setting our growth strategy. Los Angeles is one of the top regions in the U.S. for emerging growth companies, and our practice there has grown substantially over the past few years,” said Fenwick chair Richard Dickson, in a statement. “We’re making this investment to better serve our clients and to respond to the increasing demand in the Los Angeles technology, life sciences and investment communities.”

The Silicon Valley firm, which saw its revenue jump by 14.6 percent to $429.69 million last year, experienced some high-profile departures in 2018. Most recently, it lost two more intellectual property partners Michael Shuster and Kevin Kabler to rival Goodwin Procter. Shuster, who served as the co-chair of Fenwick life sciences group, is taking a roughly 10-person group of lawyers and other professionals with him.

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