Allen & Overy hires seven-partner White & Case team to launch in Silicon Valley and San Francisco

Magic circle firm joins London rival Freshfields in targeting booming West Coast tech market
The Golden Gate Bridge with San Francisco in the background

By kropic1; Shutterstock

Allen & Overy is growing its presence on the West Coast with two new offices in San Francisco and Silicon Valley after hiring a seven-partner tech-focused team from White & Case to lead the next step in its California venture. 

The move marks the UK firm’s biggest play for its rapidly expanding US business since it announced its plans to open an office in Los Angeles with a six-partner project finance and renewables team from Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld in March. 

And it emulates a similar move by Magic Circle rival Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, which opened a seven-partner Silicon Valley office last summer after hiring five partners from four US rivals.

Last week, Refinitiv reported that technology deals totalled $765bn so far during 2021, more than double the previous year-to-date record of $374bn recorded in 2000.

Veteran technology partners Bijal Vakil and Daren Orzechowksi will lead the new team as global co-heads of A&O’s technology group. The duo combines for more than three decades of experience practising at White & Case, where they covered a wide range of technology transactions and disputes across various industries, including software, semiconductors, information technology, drones, and autonomous vehicles, among others. 

Vakil and Orzechowski will be joined by partners Shamita Etienne-Cummings and David Tennant in Washington DC, Adam Chernichaw in New York, and Eric Lancaster and Alex Touma in Palo Alto. The team handles technology disputes and transactions with specialities in patent litigation, intellectual property, and tech-focused transactions, including fintech deals. 

Wim Dejonghe, A&O’s senior partner, said the additions to its West Coast outfit were made in response to mounting client demand in Silicon Valley as a result of the increased emphasis placed on technology in all aspects of conducting business, regardless of industry. 

“All businesses are technology businesses now,” Dejonghe said. “This is truly a top team and integrating them into our existing practice will be game-changing for us, not just in the US, but in our capabilities to serve clients in the key markets of Europe and Asia as well.”

Tim House, A&O’s US senior partner, added: “Allen & Overy is committed to growing the firm’s technology focused transactions and disputes practices and bringing this team’s expertise to our clients globally, whether they are innovator companies or consumers of technology. Our clients will benefit from a global technology law practice that we will continue to develop based on their needs.”

A&O has already made a number of hires from White & Case amid its aggressive push into the US market. It hired leveraged finance heavyweight Jake Mincemoyer as its US leveraged finance head in New York in February, and later added two more leveraged finance partners, Gordon Mak and Stanimir Kosto, to its New York outfit in June. 

It began its heavy investment in its US practice in 2016, when it hired five partners in New York, including a finance trio from White & Case. 

In July, the firm reported a 5% revenue increase to £1.77bn against a 17% jump in profit per equity partner for the latest financial year.

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