Cooley raids Winston & Strawn, Latham & Watkins and DLA Piper to launch Chicago office

Silicon Valley firm makes nine lateral partner hires to support Windy City opening
Aerial view of Chicago downtown at sunset from high above

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Silicon Valley firm Cooley is opening in Chicago as it seeks to tap into the Midwest’s burgeoning venture capital scene and growing tech and life sciences industry, hiring nine new partners to support the launch.

The office is its first in the US since it opened in Los Angeles in 2012. The manner of its arrival, however, more closely resembles its launch in London in 2015, when it hired 20 partners and an additional 35 lawyers, making it one of the most high profile UK debuts of any US firm.

The firm said it was the first ‘elite Silicon Valley law firm’ to open an office ‘to serve the thriving Midwest ecosystem’. 

The partner arrivals include emerging company and VC-focused Rick Ginsberg, Laurie Bauer and Greg Grossman, who join from Winston & Strawn, Latham & Watkins and DLA Piper respectively. Also joining are capital markets partners Christina Roupas and Courtney Tygesson from Winston, M&A partner Erin Kirchner from DLA Piper and funds partner Zach Robert, also from Winston. 

The new recruits are completed by employment partner Ryan Vann from DLA Piper and former Winston executive compensation and benefits partner Nyron Persaud, who will split his time between Chicago and New York. 

Cooley corporate and capital markets partner Yvan-Claude Pierre led the Chicago expansion, and will also split his time between the Windy City and New York.

Joe Conroy, Cooley’s chairman and CEO, said: “Chicago and Cooley align perfectly. As the financial and innovation hub of the Midwest and home to many of our game-changing clients, including high-growth, disruptive companies, venture capitalists fuelling the market and established Fortune 500 companies, we look forward to opening an office in a city and region where we have loved to work for decades.”

Ginsberg joins after roughly two-and-a-half years at Winston – his second spell at the firm, bookending 11 years at DLA Piper. The former chair of Winston’s technology and emerging companies practice said: “We want to be the go-to firm in Chicago and the mid-West for emerging companies and venture capital.”

Bauer, meantime, had been at Latham & Watkins for 16 years, while Grossman arrives after more than 13 years at DLA Piper, almost a decade of which was spent as partner. Roupas was at Winston for almost 13 years, most recently as co-chair of its capital markets and securities practice. Tygesson worked at Winston for more than 10 years, becoming a partner in the capital markets and securities practice in 2018.

Kirchner arrives after almost seven years at DLA Piper, having previously been a corporate associate at Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom for just under four years. Meantime, Robert was at Winston for almost three years; likewise, Vann was at DLA Piper for almost three years, having also previously been at Baker McKenzie for almost a decade and a short spell at Seyfarth Shaw before that. Persaud was at Winston for four years, having had earlier stints at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer and Feld and Skadden Arps, all in New York.

Cooley’s new Chicago office is its 17th worldwide and it expects to make additional Midwest hires in the coming months, including a bench of experienced litigators. It is expected that associates will be joining the office soon to support its 10 founding partners.

The move follows on from the firm's launch in Singapore, in January last year, when it opened in Singapore, having set up shop in Brussels and Hong Kong in 2019.

In April last year, meanwhile, Willkie Farr & Gallagher hired six partners from local firm Jenner & Block, including former chairman Craig Martin, to open in Chicago.

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