(Jason Doiy)

PALO ALTO — Washington, D.C.-based Steptoe & Johnson is planting a flag in Silicon Valley and expanding its IP practice with three partners from King & Spalding, the firm announced on Thursday.

The Palo Alto post, scheduled to open its doors on Jan. 27, will be led by veteran patent litigator William Abrams, whose move The Recorder reported Wednesday. He will be accompanied by Valley IP partner Sanjeet Dutta. Boyd Cloern will be joining Steptoe’s D.C. office as a partner.

According to a statement from Steptoe, the firm’s IP group is comprised of over 70 attorneys in California, Chicago and Washington. Opening an office at “ground zero for the technology world” was “an important thing to do in order to establish that we’re part of this community,” Abrams said in an interview Thursday. The outpost will be the seventh domestic office for Steptoe, which has roughly 500 attorneys and locations in Los Angeles and Century City. .

(Earlier this month, Steptoe’s new chairman, Philip West, told the American Lawyer that the firm would focus on sharpening the firm’s brand and growing key practices, including IP, as well as assessing merger possibilities.)

The Silicon Valley team will primarily focus on technology-related practices, though Abrams said he expects that they’re “going to be involved in other areas where the firm is strong, such as transactional.”

Abrams, who has represented Hewlett-Packard Co., CVS Pharmacy Inc., Stanford University and Google Inc., said his client roster overlaps with Steptoe’s. Dutta’s practice focuses on patent litigation, patent prosecution, and IP counseling. Cloern specializes in IP and antitrust matters.

San Diego recruiter Larry Watanabe, who is helping Steptoe launch the office, said there’s “synergy” between Steptoe’s existing clients and the new group’s clients. “Years ago, a lot of firms came into town regardless of whether they had clients in the Valley or not,” he said.

Watanabe also suggested that Steptoe’s size might attract additional laterals. “Some people don’t need or want to be part of a global behemoth,” said Watanabe, who has helped staff new California offices for five firms in the last 15 months, including setting up Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo and Arent Fox in San Francisco.King & Spalding launched its Redwood Shores office in 2008 with eight attorneys. Earlier this month, the Atlanta-based firm relocated its Valley office to Palo Alto, where it shares space with Wilson Sonsini Goodrich Rosati.

Steptoe & Johnson’s new office is located at 1001 Page Mill Road.

Contact the reporter at npierrepont@alm.com.