Firm Profile > Fenwick & West LLP > San Francisco , United States

Fenwick & West LLP
United States

Patents: licensing Tier 1

Fenwick & West LLP specializes in due diligence for technology-related transactions, but also excels in licensing work for universities and other research bodies. In a recent technology highlight, Stephen Gillespie advised Github on its $7.5bn acquisition by Microsoft. In the healthcare and life sciences space, Mountain View's Stefano Quintini, alongside Effie Toshav, assisted biopharmaceutical player Loxo Oncology with its collaboration agreement with Bayer regarding a cancer treatment, involving a $400m upfront payment with eligibility for two further potential milestone payments totaling $650m. Also of note, David Hayes in San Francisco advised on its master service agreement with Foxconn Interconnect Technology aimed at applying the client's artificial intelligence expertise to manufacturing processes. Other work came from Invenra, Denali Therapeutics and LG Display. Jake Handy chairs the technology transactions practice group in San Francisco and Vejay Lalla recently joined the New York office from Davis & Gilbert LLPKate Withers joined Kirkland & Ellis LLP.

Technology transactions Tier 1

The ‘very capable, diligent, responsive and pro-active’ team at Fenwick & West LLP handles technology patent transactions as well as outsourcing and M&A-related technology licensing deals. Noted for its ‘excellent ability to digest technical and complex information’, the ‘solutions-oriented’ practice group has an impressive client roster, which includes blockchain developers, automotive companies, fintech groups and healthcare companies. San Francisco-based Ralph Pais has ‘years of practical experience in making the impossible possible’; he recently represented the cloud financial management company Intacct Corporation in its acquisition by the business management software producer The Sage Group. Also in San Francisco, Stefano Quintini advised the biotechnology start-up Invenra on its collaboration and license agreement with pharmaceuticals company Exelixis; practice head Jake Handy (‘exceptional, brilliant, creative and efficient’) assisted in that matter. Vejay Lalla joined the New York office from Davis & Gilbert LLP in July 2018.

Venture capital and emerging companies Tier 1

Fenwick & West LLP is widely recognised for its expertise in early-stage financings and growth company work. The team, which is predominantly based in Silicon Valley, is 'in a league of its own', according to a client. San Francisco and New York are other core hubs for the group. Technology and life sciences matters dominate the firm's workload, and it is also well known for handling cryptocurrency, digital health, and gaming mandates. Highlights included San Francisco-based partner Samuel Angus acting for software development company GitHub in its $7.5bn acquisition by Microsoft, while renowned practitioner Cynthia Hess advised technology fitness company Peloton on its $550m Series F financing, which was led by growth equity firm TCV. In another matter, Michael Esquivel advised mobile marketing platform AppLovin on its $400m investment from KKR. Gordon Davidson is another formidable practitioner, and other key partners include Mark Leahy, who shares leadership of the practice with Hess; Mark Stevens, who has established expertise in gaming sector mandates; and New York-based Kristine Di Bacco. Unless stated otherwise, named lawyers are based in Silicon Valley. Ted Wang has left the firm.

Leading lawyers

Next Generation Partners

Copyright Tier 2

Fenwick & West LLP's practice is highly involved in issues arising from the use of copyrighted content online as well as in software and gaming. Jennifer Stanley co-heads the practice and is particularly strong in the gaming industry. Andrew Bridges also leads the team and defended Cloudflare against a lawsuit by ALS Scan, arguing that the client was liable for infringement due to offering its online security services to websites that allegedly infringed copyright. The third person chairing the practice is Lawrence Pulgram, who is notably skilled in handling copyright issues for the developers of new technology. David Hayes is also a key figure and acted for General Motors in a lawsuit brought by the Alliance of Artists and Recording Companies arising from 'infotainment' systems in the client's vehicles, which allow users to record music and store it in the system. SAP and Soundcloud are also key clients.

International tax Tier 2

The 'solution-oriented and knowledgeable' James Fuller is a key name in Fenwick & West LLP's international tax team. He and Andrew Kim have been advising on a complex US and European tax litigation matter. The team also handles transfer pricing, international inversion transactions, cross-border M&A and joint ventures. Other notable names are the 'technically strongLarissa Neumann, who advised Gigya Inc. on its acquisition by SAP Hybris, and the 'experienced' David Forst, who advised Delphi Automotive on its acquisition of nuTonomy for an upfront purchase price of $400m and earn-outs totaling approximately $50m. Practice head Adam Halpern is a key name. In team changes, Jennifer Fuller and Ron Schrotenboer have retired.

Leading lawyers

Next Generation Partners

M&A: middle-market ($500m-999m) Tier 2

Fenwick & West LLP is 'incredibly responsive, with broad experience in tech sector M&A'. Others praise 'the team of highly expert lawyers, who are efficient and have an impact upon business strategy and execution'. It stands out for its advice to technology and life sciences companies; it regularly advises both large serial acquirers and highly innovative target companies that are bought as strategic acquisitions. High-profile clients are BitTorrent, Cisco Systems, Cloudera, Coinbase, Facebook, Github and Symantec. The team acted for GitHub, a web-based hosting service, in its sale to Microsoft, which was reportedly one of the largest US venture capital-backed acquisitions of the last 10 years; assisted Cloudera, a US-based software company, with its all-stock merger of equals with Hortonworks, which provides global data management platforms, services and solutions; and advised Corium International, a biopharmaceutical company focused on specialty transdermal products, on its agreement to be acquired by Gurnet Point Capital. Also of note, Mountain View-based David Healy and David Michaels acted for Silver Spring Networks, a provider of smart grid products, in its sale to Itron, a global technology and services company. The M&A co-chairs are San Francisco-based Douglas Cogen and Kris Withrow in Mountain View, and Ethan Skerry and Ken Myers are highly regarded New York advisers; Myers 'commands confidence in negotiations with a friendly demeanor but solid background and thorough understanding of the issues'. Cogen and Myers recently advised longstanding client Cisco on six acquisitions, including its acquisition of both Duo Security, an information security and software-as-a-service company, and global communication software and service provider, BroadSoft. In San Francisco, Scott Behar and Bomi Lee were promoted to the partnership, while Stephen Fisher in Mountain View is a highly regarded associate. Gregory Roussel left for Latham & Watkins LLP's Silicon Valley office and Scott Joachim joined Goodwin in Silicon Valley and New York.

Leading lawyers

Next Generation Partners

Patents: prosecution (including re-examination and post-grant proceedings) Tier 2

Fenwick & West LLP has a varied practice group with experience ranging from electronics- and technology-related instructions to mandates involving medical devices and pharmaceuticals. Intellectual property head Rajiv Patel and patent practice chair Michael Farn, both in the Mountain View office, advised electronic design automation player Synopsys on the management and development of its patent portfolio, including worldwide prosecution. Patel also assisted AirBnB with the prosecution of patents covering interaction-related and analytical applications to enable the site to launch new services. A recent highlight from the start-up sector saw Antonia Sequeira advise DeepMap on the growth of its patent portfolio, including patents that cover high-definition maps for autonomous vehicles. Trace Genomics, a start-up conducting rapid micro-biome testing and data analysis also relied on Sequeira for the development of its patent portfolio. San Francisco's Michael Sacksteder and Stuart Meyer jointly lead the post-grant proceedings practice. Robert Hulse is also noted. Other clients include Mynosys Cellular Devices, Tile and Dropbox. Robert Sachs left to found Robert R. Sachs PC.

US taxes: non-contentious Tier 2

The ‘responsive’ team at Fenwick & West LLP’s Mountain View office ‘provides excellent support in transactions and have a good knowledge of the latest tax developments’. The group is especially active in the technology and life sciences sectors, where it advises on tax implications of M&A transactions. Of late, Will Skinner and Julia Ushakova-Stein are advising GitHub on its pending $7.5bn acquisition by Microsoft. Elsewhere, Andrew Kim and Ora Grinberg acted for Cisco Systems in its acquisition of Duo Security for $2.5bn, and Larissa Neumann assisted Callidus Software with its acquisition by SAP SE, a software company based in Germany. David Forst and James Fuller are involved in ongoing discussions and developments with the US Treasury Department and the Joint Committee on Taxation on various issues following the highly publicised 2017 US tax legislation. Jennifer Fuller and Ron Schrotenboer retired in late 2017.

Leading lawyers

Capital markets: equity offerings Tier 3

Among Fenwick & West LLP’s chief attributes, sources highlight its ‘great communication skills’, ‘attention to detail’ and ‘inside-out knowledge of SEC rules and regulations’. The California-headquartered firm is a leading player in technology and life sciences offerings and is routinely involved in some of the most high-profile IPOs in those industries, mainly acting for issuers but also increasingly for managers. In one matter, the firm recently advised the underwriters on the $1bn IPO of Farfetch; the deal was led by group co-chair James Evans (‘a great lawyer on all fronts’), who splits his time between the firm’s Seattle, Mountain View and New York offices. In another manager-side highlight, Evans paired up with ‘outstanding’ department co-chair Robert Freedman, who splits his time between San Francisco and Boise, to advise the underwriters on Pivotal Software’s $638.2m IPO. On the issuer side, Mountain View-based Gordon Davidson advised Bloom Energy on its $270m IPO, while Seattle-based corporate chair Alan Smith advised Smartsheet on its $175m IPO. Other recent issuer clients also include Audentes Therapeutics, Cloudera and Redfin. Former co-head Jeffrey Vetter joined Gunderson Dettmer LLP.

Fintech Tier 3

Technology and life sciences specialist firm Fenwick & West LLP attracts praise in particular for its M&A and investments capabilities in the fintech sector. Recent work highlights include acting for a consortium of 35 financial institutions in connection with a $107m capital investment in R3, an enterprise blockchain software firm, and assisting Axiom Zen with its $12 million financing for CryptoKitties, the world’s first game built on the Ethereum network. The firm also advised Redfin Corporation on its $159.2m IPO, a matter led by Seattle-based practice head Alan Smith Michael Brown, based in the firm's San Francisco office, advised Coinbase on several transactions, including its acquisitions of start-up companies Memo.AI, HardFork and payment platform provider Earn Holdings. Privacy and cyber security group head James Koenig in New York and counsel Daniel Friedberg in Seattle, who heads the firm's payment systems practice, are also key names to note.

US taxes: contentious Tier 3

The team at Fenwick & West LLP is praised for its 'excellent insight, exceptional knowledge and practical advice'. In Seattle, Michael Solomon defends his clients in state, local and federal controversies. He is currently defending national restaurant brand The Cheesecake Factory. In Mountain View, Larissa Neumann has a similar focus, acting for corporate clients in a variety of controversy matters. The 'excellentJames Fuller and David Forst are recommended. Fuller is representing VF, a large public company, in a tax court case involving international structuring in the context of VF’s $2.3bn acquisition of another NYSE-listed company. In team changes, Jennifer Fuller and Ronald Schrotenboer retired.

Next Generation Partners

Cyber law (including data privacy and data protection) Tier 4

The ‘super pragmatic’ team at Fenwick & West LLP has strong expertise in technology, focusing on matters related to digital health, biotech and life sciences, financial services and fintech, cryptocurrency and blockchain, gaming, consumer products as well as regulatory investigation, enforcement and class action litigation. The ‘excellentJim Koenig and Tyler Newby lead the practice from New York and San Francisco respectively. Highlights included assisting Uber with an FTC case in which the client has agreed to comply with an FTC consent decree concerning the creation of a system which allows Uber’s CEO and employees to access riders' and drivers’ location and personal information; the decree was revised after it was revealed that the client had failed to disclose information on security incidents in 2014 and 2016, in which millions of Uber riders' and drivers' data was accessed. Facebook, Vizio and Otsuka Pharmaceutical are other notable clients. San Francisco’s Barbara Sondag and Mountain View’s James Gregoire are also recommended.

Securities litigation - defense Tier 4

Fenwick & West LLP provides 'thoughtful and practical advice on all aspects of disputes - from the first moment of the claim through settlement - and clients always have access to the most senior lawyers to walk them through their strategy'. The firm is regularly engaged by leading technology companies to handle bet-the-company cases. Securities litigation chair Kevin Muck and securities enforcement co-chairs Susan Muck and Michael Dicke are the key contacts in San Francisco, and clients note that 'all three are very hands-on and experienced, and able to make a very tough circumstance more tolerable'. Susan Muck acted for Sunrun Inc in parallel state and federal securities class actions alleging that the company’s registration statement for its IPO misrepresented and omitted material facts. Jennifer Bretan and Catherine Kevane are also recommended.

Trademarks: litigation Tier 4

Reputed for its knowledge of the technology and life sciences sectors, the practice at Fenwick & West LLP is headed by Jedediah Wakefield. He recently represented Delphix and obtained a favorable outcome in the Ninth Circuit; the matter arose from Embarcadero Technologies’ allegation that the client’s ‘DELPHIX’ mark for database management software infringed upon its trademark rights. Eric Ball and Wakefield are defending a high-profile client in a trademark infringement action and counterclaim in the Central District of California. Mountain View-based Sally Abel is recommended. Named lawyers are based in San Francisco unless otherwise stated.

Patents: litigation (full coverage) Tier 6

Fenwick & West LLP's 'client-oriented' team is rated for its 'ablity to see the heart of a patent dispute' and recently bolstered its litigation bench with the arrival of Jeffrey OelkeKevin McGannJames TrainorAdam GahtanRobert Counihan and Ryan Johnson from White & Case LLP in New York. The group recently represented Nutanix and Nexon America in five law suits filed by Uniloc, involving overlapping patents; the team filed a declaratory judgment action for Nutanix in the district court of the Northern District of California rather than seeking to transfer venue following Uniloc's suit filed in the Eastern District of Texas, thereby obtaining dismissal of the case filed in Texas. Other work came from supercomputer manufacturer Cray, mobile game company Supercell Oy and various pharmaceuticals players. San Francisco's Michael Sacksteder and Rajiv Patel in the Mountain View office direct the practice group.

Fenwick provides comprehensive legal services to ground-breaking technology and life sciences companies – at every stage of their lifecycle – and the investors that partner with them. We craft innovative, cost-effective and practical solutions on issues ranging from venture capital, public offerings, joint ventures, M&A and strategic relationships, to intellectual property, litigation and dispute resolution, taxation, antitrust, and employment law. Fenwick has helped some of the world’s most recognized companies become and remain market leaders.


Fenwick was founded in 1972 in the heart of Silicon Valley by four visionary lawyers who wanted to pioneer legal work for the technological innovations they believed would revolutionize the business world. The firm’s history is inextricably entwined with the growth of technology in Silicon Valley. Fenwick incorporated Apple and took Oracle, eBay and Facebook public.

Main areas of practice

In recent years, our corporate group has completed approximately $500 billion worth of M&A transactions. Fenwick has also handled more than 200 IPOs. The firm has represented hundreds of growth-oriented companies from inception through maturity and has over 600 venture capital and private-equity backed clients. The group is ranked by Dow Jones and Chambers among the United States’ top five venture capital practices.

Fenwick’s IP group delivers comprehensive, integrated advice regarding all aspects of IP protection and exploitation. Our lawyers advise clients concerning novel issues under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, domestic and international privacy issues, software and business method patents, evaluating and implementing new business models around open source software, crafting novel technology distribution arrangements and implementing IP audits.

The Fenwick litigation group regularly handles significant cases involving IP, corporate governance, securities, antitrust and general commercial litigation. Corporate Counsel has recognized Fenwick among the Top 10 “Go-To” litigation firms in the U.S. for Fortune 100 companies and the firm’s IP litigation practice receives regularly recognition from organizations such as Chambers and U.S News & World Report.

Additionally, Fenwick has one of the nation’s leading domestic and international tax practices. The dynamic and sophisticated practice stems from a global client base that has included over 100 Fortune 500 companies and over 50 Fortune 100 companies. In 2016, Fenwick was named San Francisco and Silicon Valley’s Tax Firm of the Year and US West Coast Transfer Pricing Firm of the Year by International Tax Review. Two Fenwick tax partners are honored in The Legal 500 Hall of Fame.

Department Name Email Telephone
Corporate Alan C Smith (
Intellectual property Rajiv Patel (
Litigation Jedediah Wakefield (
Tax Adam S Halpern (
Number of Partners : 115
Number of Lawyers : 240
Chairman : Richard L Dickson (
Managing Partner : Rodger R Cole (
Other Offices : Shanghai