A.J. Weidhaas, Goodwin partner and chair of the Santa Monica office. Photo: Jason Doiy/ALM

Goodwin Procter, which has been growing fast in California, is setting up shop in Santa Monica to strengthen its ties in technology and private equity.

The Santa Monica office, set to officially open this summer, will be the firm’s second in Southern California, and its fourth in the Golden State. It will be led by partner A.J. Weidhaas, who has been with Goodwin for over 25 years and currently co-chairs the firm’s private equity practice.

“We have been working with the Silicon Beach-based clients for years,” said Weidhaas, noting that many of the firm’s Silicon Valley-based partners travel down to Santa Monica frequently. “They never really come to downtown because all the tech activity is in West L.A., in Silicon Beach.”

Partners Caine Moss and Craig Schmitz will join Weidhaas to help the firm build out the San Monica office. Weidhaas said he expects to have about 15 or more technology and private equity lawyers in the office starting from day one.

“We are in discussions with a half dozen [candidates] and more potential candidates,” he said.

He anticipates filling the Santa Monica office, located at 520 Broadway, with legal professionals experienced in technology, private equity, M&A and fund formation.

“The market here looks a lot more like what the Silicon Valley market looked like 10 years ago,” said Weidhaas. “But, the market has been maturing to the point where it is becoming more of a mid-stage market, which is really what the core of our tech practice is … part of what is driving it is that there is an increasing number of technology entrepreneurs who are relocating from Silicon Valley.”

The firm’s clients in the region include private equity firms Marlin Equity Partners and Greycroft Partners, investment banking company Macquarie Group Ltd., mobile game company Scopely Inc. and media content company Leaf Media Group, as well as startups such as Signal Science, Replicated, Rocket Lab, Thatgamecompany, and Clique Brands Inc.

According to a recent study by marketing agency Mediakix, which analyzed 177 companies headquartered in Los Angeles County, it found that the area’s tech industry is worth more than an estimated $155 billion. The thriving Silicon Beach community presents opportunities for more legal work, attracting lawyers to the area and law firms looking to recruit them.

Earlier this week, Silicon Valley-based Fenwick & West also announced that it has opened its sixth office in Santa Monica. Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe set up its Silicon Beach outpost in 2017.

“In today’s market, as private equity firms increasingly invest in promising technology companies, our clients want to capitalize on our dual strengths in these areas,” said Goodwin chairman David Hashmall, in a statement. “The opening of the Santa Monica office is the logical next step in bringing our unique offering at the intersection of capital and innovation to the heart of Silicon Beach, where more and more of our technology and private equity clients are doing business.”

Goodwin’s downtown Los Angeles office, which opened in 2006, has grown to more than 45 attorneys. According to Weidhaas, the two LA-area offices will also complement each other in other key practice areas besides tech, including life sciences, real estate and intellectual property and complex litigation.

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