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Cooley LLP - for many the benchmark venture capital and emerging company firm - stands out for its Silicon Valley status, geographic coverage across key emerging company centers, and its broad industry specialism. Moreover, it remains committed to start-ups, while having the breadth and expertise to help later-stage companies go public or be acquired. Life sciences, tech and cybersecurity are key areas of strength. The ‘top-class’ firm advised Zeltiq Aesthetics on its $2.5bn all-cash sale to biopharmaceutical giant Allergan. It also advised Uber on its joint venture with Russian online taxi booking service Yandex.Taxi. Other clients include BroadSoft, ConvergeOne, Evidon, FrontLine Education, HBM Healthcare Investments, SeatGeek, Thalmic Labs and xAd. Reston partner Mike Lincoln leads the business department and is ‘number one in the Washington DC area’, according to one client. San Diego-based Fred Muto is a leader in life sciences, Jim Fulton is a prominent figure in New York and Palo Alto’s Mark Tanoury has an outstanding reputation in Silicon Valley. Craig Dauchy and Eric Jensen, who is a leader in IPOs and equity offerings, are also big names in the Bay Area.

Fenwick & West LLP is a dominant force in growth company work and is highly active in early-stage financings right through to large-cap M&A and IPOs. It is ‘exceptional’, ‘the go-to firm for tech-related M&A’, ‘top of the class in venture capital and emerging companies’ and has ‘excellent business acumen and industry knowledge’. It has a mighty Silicon Valley presence, strong teams in Seattle and San Francisco, and is a growing force in New York. The firm’s clients primarily operate in the technology and life sciences sectors and it offers substantial corporate, IP, litigation and tax groups to support these clients. The firm has also impressed in a number of niche areas such as digital health, gaming and cryptocurrency. It advised life sciences company GRAIL on its $900m Series B financing, which was the largest venture capital-led life sciences financing in history according to the Wall Street Journal. It also represented Unity Technologies in its $400m financing from Silver Lake. Gordon Davidson and Ted Wang are giants of Silicon Valley, having advised some of the biggest names to have emerged from there. Cynthia Hess is another formidable practitioner, as are Mark Leahy and ‘world classMichael Esquivel, who is a leader in digital health and is regarded as ‘ten out of ten’ and ‘a great partner and strategist’ and who is commended for his ‘ability to network with entrepreneurs and VCs’. Mark Stevens has dominated the gaming sector for years and San Francisco partner Samuel Angus has worked with a range of prominent start-ups such as Airbnb. New York partner Kristine di Bacco has ‘put the firm on the East Coast map’. Attorneys are based in Silicon Valley unless stated otherwise.

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Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati is a giant in the venture capital and emerging company segment, consistently demonstrating its market leadership in Silicon Valley and other key centers such as Boston and New York. It also has genuine international credibility and is increasingly recognized for deals involving later-stage emerging companies. The firm advised Gigamon, the traffic visibility solution provider, on its $1.6bn acquisition by Elliott Management. Firm chairman and highly praised figure Larry Sonsini led the team that advised Tesla on its $1.5bn senior notes offering. In another notable deal, the firm advised UK-based technology company Improbable on its $502m Series B financing led by SoftBank Group. Steven Bochner has legendary status in Silicon Valley, and Jeffrey Saper and Michael Danaher are also highly regarded.

DLA Piper LLP (US) advises on a high-volume of venture financings every year. The firm’s significant market share is down to its intense focus on the emerging company segment and its ‘geographic breadth that other firms don’t have’, which includes offices in the Bay Area, Seattle, Austin, Chicago, Washington DC, Northern Virginia, Boston, New York, Phoenix, Atlanta and Miami. It has experienced a notable uptick in corporate venture work for big names such as GE Ventures and Samsung Venture Investment. It has an outstanding record in tech and has a growing standing in life sciences. The firm is ‘outstanding on all fronts’ and ‘passionate about a client’s success’. The firm advised New Enterprise Associates on a series of investments in 2017, including its $110m Series C financing of Robinhood. Northern Virginia partner Jeffrey Lehrer and Silicon Valley’s Louis Lehot lead the team, which also includes big names Curtis Mo and Mark Radcliffe in Silicon Valley, and Andrew Gilbert in New York and New Jersey. San Diego partner Randy Socol is ‘exceptional’, ‘fantastic’ and ‘a seasoned veteran’. Former Austin partner Paul Hurdlow has joined FloSports as general counsel and senior vice president. In May 2018, Emilio Ragosa joined the Short Hills, New Jersey office from Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP.

Goodwin is an established leader in Boston, but has also achieved considerable success in the Bay Area, where Anthony McCusker, Jonathan Axelrad, Richard Kline and Caine Moss are among the leading names. New York, Washington DC and Los Angeles are also key centers of strength for the practice. The firm earns accolades for its work in the life sciences sector and is a growing force in tech. It advised Qualtrics International, the experience management software company, on its $180m financing led by Insight Venture Partners and Accel Partners. It also represented Cybereason in a $100m investment from SoftBank and advised WePay on its sale to JPMorgan Chase. Boston-based Bill Schnoor and John Egan are co-chairs of the technology practice, while Mitchell Bloom and Kingsley Taft are co-chairs of the life sciences team.

Gunderson Dettmer LLP has a formidable standing in Silicon Valley and New York, and has also gained considerable recognition in Boston, Los Angeles and San Diego. The firm is roundly praised for its commitment to start-ups and early-stage companies, and its leading venture funds practice has enabled it to cement connections to the leading venture capital providers on the West and East coasts. The firm has an impressive record in late-stage deals too and advised immune-oncology company ARMO BioSciences on its Nasdaq IPO in January 2018. It also advised the underwriters, Morgan Stanley and Citigroup, on the IPO of In Silicon Valley, the firm’s founders Robert Gunderson and Scott Dettmer continue to earn widespread praise, as does venture capital fund formation leader Steven Franklin. Kennneth McVay and Ward Breeze are leaders in New York, and Boston’s Jay Hachigian impresses in both life sciences and tech.

As well as being a top international law firm with a significant market share of big-ticket transactions and large-cap clients, Latham & Watkins LLP also maintains a strong focus on the start-up, emerging company and venture capital sector. The team was reinforced by the arrivals of Jack Sheridan and Page Mailliard to its Silicon Valley office from Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati and Chris Shoff to its Century City office from Cooley LLP. The firm is hailed variously as ‘the best’, ‘phenomenal’ and ‘flawless’, and its strong focus on start-ups and growth companies, as well as its breadth of resources across the US and globally, enables it to handle all the requirements of an emerging company throughout its life cycle. Clients include Ginkgo BioWorks, GoEuro, Hearsay Social, Memphis Meats, Formation 8, Eclipse Ventures, Home Chef, Zavante Therapeutics, Catalant Technologies, Tetrascience and Bessemer Venture Partners. It advised 3-D printing company Desktop Metal on its Series C and Series D financings in 2017. Other key partners include Alan Mendelson, who is global chair of the life sciences industry group, and Patrick Pohlen, who impresses in life sciences and tech. Boston’s John Chory is also a key name in life sciences and tech.

Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP has a fine record in regulated industries and is a leading name in biotech, medical devices and digital health; it also has a substantial financial services regulatory group. The firm is noted for its geographic strength across the US, with a diverse client base in Northern California, Boston and the Mid-Atlantic. The ‘true full-service firm’ ‘puts together tremendous teams of attorneys at all levels’, provides ‘strategic value in complex negotiations’ and its ‘complicated legal analysis is unmatched’. Among a series of high-profile deals, Boston partner Michael Conza led the team that advised CarGurus, a global online automotive marketplace, on its $172m IPO on Nasdaq, one of the largest tech sector IPOs of the year. It also advised health technology company Valeritas on its $50m public offering on Nasdaq and represented Vancouver-based technology company Visier in its $45m Series D financing. Other key partners include Boston-based Julio Vega and William Perkins, who ‘anticipate issues before they arise’ and are ‘outstanding at problem solving’. Princeton partner Steven Cohen is prominent in the New Jersey market and Joanne Soslow is a key figure in Philadelphia. Palo Alto’s Tom Kellerman is another established name.

Morrison & Foerster LLP continues to make an impression on the market, thanks in part to its significant presence in San Francisco and Silicon Valley. Its broad offering features significant expertise in intellectual property, technology transactions and employment; although the firm did lose a team of intellectual property specialists to Dentons in 2017. Moreover, the firm’s global presence, including notably in Asia, has brought the US team further success. A team led by San Francisco partner Susan Mac Cormac advised Japan’s SoftBank on its primary and secondary investment in Uber and on its $4.25bn investment into WeWork. The firm advises a wide range of start-ups and growth companies, along with venture capital funds, seed investors, corporate venture funds and sovereign wealth funds. It is widely noted for its life sciences and fintech expertise; the San Diego office has a particularly fine record in life sciences. San Francisco partner Murray Indick heads the department alongside Steve Rowles in San Diego and Northern Virginia’s Greg Giammittorio. Timothy Harris is another big name in Silicon Valley and Thomas Knox is a key partner in Northern Virginia.

Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP has emerging company and venture capital work in its blood. It advises more than 1,600 start-up clients worldwide and has a high market share of US-based unicorn clients (venture capital-backed companies valued at more than $1bn). It also launched a new office in Santa Monica and hired New York-based Peter Fusco from Lowenstein Sandler LLP. The team is considered ‘top tier’ with ‘experienced partners’, according to one client. Clients include Social Finance, Opendoor Labs, Pinterest, Prosper Marketplace, Stripe and CB Insights. The firm has made a particular impression in fintech, cybersecurity and privacy, and the tech space. It advised Social Finance on its $500m Series G financing and its acquisition of Zenbanx. It also represented IronPlanet in its $758m acquisition by Ritchie Bros Auctioneers. Chairman of the global firm Mitchell Zuklie is a start-up company specialist who ‘brings calm, confidence, knowledge, experience and most importantly business and people judgment’. Silicon Valley partners John Bautista, Stephen Venuto, Don Keller and Harold Yu are also prominent names.

WilmerHale is especially notable in relation to the life sciences, although has developed a genuinely broad emerging company practice with considerable activity in fintech, cybersecurity, cryptocurrency and AI. It is ‘excellent and clearly superior’, according to one client. Clients include Aileron Therapeutics, Andela, Blue Apron, BarkBox, Cape Analytics, Daily Muse, Kala Pharmaceuticals and WorkMarket. It also advises a range of venture capital funds and strategic investors. It acted as issuer’s counsel in three IPOs during June 2017, including Blue Apron’s $300m offering and Kala Pharmaceuticals $103m listing. Mick Bain and David Gammell chair the emerging company practice alongside Peter Buckland in Palo Alto. Other key partners include co-chair of the corporate practice group Lia Der Marderosian, and Daniel Zimmermann in Palo Alto. Life sciences specialist Stuart Falber and public offerings expert Jason Kropp are also recommended. Attorneys are based in Boston unless stated otherwise.

Dentons’ truly global venture capital and emerging companies practice has brought an additional pipeline of business to the US team. It now works on a number of venture capital financings for overseas companies, helps foreign emerging companies to establish a footprint in the US and advises US growth companies on establishing themselves overseas. The firm is well plugged into the start-up community and operates incubators in San Diego and Palo Alto. The firm is especially prominent in AI, fintech, cryptocurrency, mobile, life sciences and digital health, and has a large team primarily spread across its New York, Bay Area, San Diego and Los Angeles offices. It is the only international law firm to have a dedicated venture capital and emerging company office in New York’s Meatpacking District, a notable tech hub. It advised Operative Media on its $200m sale to SintecMedia, a Francisco Partners portfolio company. Other clients include DoubleVerify, Voxy, CommonBond and Zype. New York partner Victor Boyajian heads the department, and medical device expert John Cleary heads the Short Hills office in New Jersey where Jeffrey Baumel is recommended for life sciences.

Hogan Lovells US LLP’s ‘top-class’ team excels in life sciences and healthcare, though is active across the emerging growth company segment. It is known for its complementary strengths in intellectual property and regulatory matters, and its extensive resources and geographic coverage mean it is well equipped to advise emerging companies throughout their life cycles, including IPOs, acquisitions and trade sale exits. The firm advised Sky Ventures and 21st Century Fox on their respective $12.25m and $6.55m investments in the $55.5m Series C financing of fuboTV. San Francisco’s Jon Layman is a key team member, as are Nathaniel Gallon in Silicon Valley and New York-based Jeffrey Hurlburt.

Jones Day has an extensive team operating across multiple US locations. The firm is especially well plugged into the venture capital and emerging company scenes in the San Francisco Bay Area, San Diego, Irvine (California) and Chicago. The firm has developed an especially strong record in healthcare, medical technology and life sciences, and in the general tech space has extensive expertise in AI and cybersecurity. The firm advised regular client Adam Street Partners on its investment in Smule alongside several co-investors in a $54m investment round. It also advised KKR as a co-investor in an $88m Series D financing of ForgeRock. Chicago’s Michael Earley leads the team, which also includes the high-profile Timothy Curry in the Bay Area. San Diego’s Kenneth Polin has a fine record in biotech and John Saada is a key name in Cleveland.

O'Melveny & Myers LLP’s strength in both northern and southern California has enabled it to tap into the emerging growth company and tech sector with considerable success. Cross-border transactions involving Asia have also been a traditional strong point for the team, which has impressed in a number of later-stage transactions and exits in recent years. In 2017, the firm launched ‘Momentum’, a cross-practice initiative directed at supporting growth companies throughout their life cycles. It also advised Access Technology Ventures as the lead investor in the $300m financing of smartphone maker Essential Products. Silicon Valley-based Warren Lazarow and Paul Sieben are key members of the practice alongside San Francisco-based life sciences specialist Scott Elliott.

Boston-based Choate, Hall & Stewart has an excellent record in life sciences and tech deals. John Pitfield and Brian Goldstein, who is a ‘straight shooter’ and ensures clients ‘do the right thing the right way’, lead the team, which is ‘very strong in all areas’. Clients include Threat Stack, Deerfield Capital Management, GrandBanks Capital, Broadview Ventures, Nauta Capital, GeNO, Examity and 4D Path. The firm advised a syndicate of investors in a $60m Series E financing of clinical stage biopharmaceutical company Apellis Pharmaceuticals. It also advised the investors on a $55m Series C financing of Milesone Pharmaceuticals. Brian Lenihan and Laurence Naughton are also recommended.

Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP has a fine standing in both northern and southern California, with sector focused lawyers in Palo Alto, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Orange County. The firm has experienced notable growth in Los Angeles, particularly from the ‘Silicon Beach’ start-up and emerging company community. The firm has some 19 partners and 28 associates that operate in the venture capital and growth company space. Social and mobile gaming, ad tech, semiconductors and life sciences are key sectors for the practice. It advised TeleSign, a communications platform as a service company, on its $230m sale to Belgacom International Carrier Services. It also advised Otic Pharma on its $60m acquisition of a 60% stake in Tokai Pharmaceuticals, with Tokai subsequently changing its name to Novus Therapeutics. Los Angeles partner Bradford Weirick and Silicon Valley’s Gregory Davidson head the practice, which also includes life sciences specialist Ryan Murr in San Francisco.

New York-based Lowenstein Sandler LLP is well established in the local market, and has genuine national credibility in the tech space. The firm has excellent connections to start-ups, early-stage growth companies and a variety of top venture capital funds such as Sequoia, Insight Venture Partners, Accel Partners and Bessemer Ventures. It advised Insight Venture Partners and Accel Partners on their $180m financing of Qualtrics International, the experience management software company. Ed Zimmerman is chair of the tech group and has a fine reputation in New York and Palo Alto, where the firm also has an office. An impressive intellectual property department supports him and the team.

McDermott Will & Emery LLP’s national standing in healthcare and life sciences provides the basis for a thriving emerging growth company practice. Tech and alternative energy are also key sectors. The practice encompasses California, Chicago, Boston, Washington DC, New York and Miami, and the firm leverages its international credentials to advise a number of Israeli start-ups and emerging companies. Clients include 23andMe, Advent Life Sciences, Cellect Biotechnology, Gauge Capital, HIG Growth Partners, Lubax and Virttu Biologics. The ‘top-notch’ service is delivered by ‘high-quality lawyers that are dedicated and available’ and the team is praised for its ‘good value structure’. Silicon Valley and Los Angeles based Mark Mihanovic is ‘very thorough, prompt, creative and willing to go the extra mile’. Washington DC-based Samuel Wales is ‘very competent, well connected, quick to respond, strong in negotiations and always available’. In Boston, Albert Sokol advised Advent Life Sciences on its investment in Moximed, part of a $50m Series C financing round.

Though primarily centered in Boston, Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo, P.C.’s venture capital and emerging companies practice also has notable strength in San Diego, San Francisco and New York. It continues to impress in life sciences, though covers a range of sectors including alternative energy. Boston’s Lewis Geffen is co-chair of the department along with the life sciences group. He recently advised Aura Biosciences on its $30m Series C financing. Fellow co-chairs of the department are Daniel DeWolf, who also chairs the technology practice group from New York, and Jeremy Glaser in San Diego.

Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman, LLP has a notable heritage in this segment thanks to its strength in the San Francisco Bay Area and San Diego as well as highly credible teams in New York, Northern Virginia and Austin. It has an impressive client mix of emerging companies and venture capital funds and other financiers/investors. The firm has an especially strong record in the semiconductors sector, along with security, Internet of things, gaming, fintech, e-commerce and big data. It has a particularly high market share of advisory roles on semiconductor company IPOs, and has seen considerable growth in software sector engagements. Clients include Abe Labs, Barefoot Networks, Fortem Technologies, Genome Medical, Mode Analytics, Quilt Data, Shield AI, TechMahindra, Technology Crossover Ventures and Vera Security. A team led by prominent Silicon Valley partner Jorge Del Calvo advised Komprise, an analytics and big data storage developer, on its $12m Series B preferred stock financing. Silicon Valley’s Allison Leopold Tilley, San Francisco partner Michael Torosian and Christian Salaman in San Diego are also prominent.

Foley & Lardner LLP is an established name in life sciences and pharmaceuticals, with a big presence in Boston and a solid standing in San Diego, Chicago and other centers. The firm’s fine intellectual property practice is a key factor in its appeal to the emerging company segment. It has also demonstrated a commitment to the start-up community in the form of involvement in incubators and accelerators. Gabor Garai heads the private equity and venture capital practice, and is co-chair of the life sciences team. A group led by prominent partner Susan Pravda advised Black Duck Software, the provider of automated solutions and open source software, on its $565m sale to Synopsys.

King & Spalding LLP has an outstanding reputation in the life sciences sector, though its commitment to early- and mid-stage growth companies through to unicorns has attracted clients from across the industry, most notably in the tech segment. It recently advised Peleton Technology on its Series B-1 and Series B-2 preferred stock financings, valued at $65m. Other clients include Jounce Therapeutics, Apama Medical, Theatro Labs, GE Digital and GE Ventures. The ‘extremely responsive’ team is spread across the firm’s offices in California, New York, Atlanta and Houston, and is ‘well-versed in the norms of Silicon Valley and outside the Valley as well’; the ‘skilled negotiators’ are ‘first choice for an end-to-end legal support package’. Silicon Valley’s Judy O’Brien is ‘straight talking, knowledgeable, seasoned and measured’ with ‘a very shrewd legal mind’, and she heads the practice alongside San Francisco partner Geoff Leonard. Silicon Valley partner Laura Bushnell is also a prominent name and Atlanta senior associate Nathan Mihalik is ‘experienced, efficient and super detail-oriented’. Matt Stewart joined Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP.

Reed Smith LLP’s strong Bay Area credentials has led it to advise on a growing number of early- to later-stage financings, particularly in the software and life sciences sectors. Healthcare is another key strength further supported by the firm’s highly reputed healthcare regulatory team. The team is ‘swift’, ‘very transparent’, ‘meticulous and clear’. Silicon Valley partner Donald Reinke, leads the department alongside and Matthew Mohn in Pittsburgh. In Century City, Michael Sanders and Deborah Gunny have an excellent record in the life sciences sector. Silicon Valley associate LiLing Poh ‘reduces complex problems to solutions quickly’ through her ‘emotional intelligence’ and ‘ability to communicate potential solutions concisely and in common language’.

Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton LLP has a fine West Coast reputation with strong teams in Palo Alto, San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego. The firm has an impressive record in tech and life sciences, and has strong connections to a number of influential venture capital houses. Clients include Avalon Ventures, Enterprise Ventures, Kleiner Perkins, Samsung Ventures, Confident Technologies, Legend3D, Celula, Chumby, Gojee, mFoundry and Petra Solar. Department head Michael Umansky splits his time between San Diego and Century City (Los Angeles) and covers both tech and life sciences deals. David Lee, Stephanie Zeppa and Tobin Dommer are key names in Palo Alto.

Vinson & Elkins LLP’s practice is primarily located in Austin, where Paul Tobias, William Volk, Wes Jones and Milam Newby are prominent names in the start-up and emerging company community. The firm recently advised Plant Automation Services on its $40m growth investment from Tinicum Partners. It also advised Cognitive Scale on its Series B-1 preferred stock financing led by Norwest Venture Partners, The Westly Group and USAA. Dallas partner Mark Early is also a key member of the team.

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