Willkie hires litigation counsel from Google to bolster West Coast investigations practice

Michael Rome joins as a partner in the firm’s Los Angeles and San Francisco offices

Michael Rome will base part of his practice in San Francisco Shutterstock

Google’s former litigation counsel, Michael Rome, has joined Willkie Farr & Gallagher as a member of its investigations and enforcement practice.

Rome joins as a partner and will sit in the firm’s litigation department, spreading his time between Willkie’s Los Angeles and San Francisco offices. His practice will focus on government investigations, enforcement and commercial litigation, particularly around privacy and consumer protection matters.

Benedict Hur, co-managing partner of Willkie’s San Francisco office alongside Simona Agnolucci, said: “We have worked closely with Michael and believe his deep experience in complex privacy, regulatory and litigation matters make him a tremendous asset to our expanding West Coast litigation team.”

Rome arrives after roughly a year-and-a-half at Google, where he was a regulatory and litigation counsel for products. He previously spent more than seven years at Buckley where he was a litigation partner, having had earlier spells as an associate at Morgan Lewis & Bockius and Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith.

Agnolucci added: “His addition further enhances our position as a go-to firm for technology and other industry clients on bet-the-company privacy and litigation matters.”

Rome’s arrival follows a string of other senior Willkie hires in California this year, including Warner Bros Discovery’s former chief privacy officer Susan Rohol, energy partner Amanda Rosenberg from Mayer Brown, entertainment transactions partner Andrew Kramer from Loeb & Loeb and white collar litigators Koren Bell and Marina Torres from Larson and Halpern May Ybarra Gelberg respectively.

Rome said: “Willkie’s strong California presence, entrepreneurial culture and international litigation platform are a great fit for the next stage of my practice. I look forward to working with my new colleagues in California and beyond to counsel our clients on their most critical privacy, litigation and consumer protection matters.”

Willkie launched in California in 2018 in Palo Alto and opened in San Francisco a year later. It opened its third West Coast office, in Los Angeles, in 2021 with a large team from Venable.

Other firms expanding on the US West Coast this year include Paul Hastings, which last month added two partners from Goodwin Procter and Cooley in Northern California, including Scott Joachim, who joins as global vice chair of its private equity practice in Palo Alto. 

Womble Bond Dickinson absorbed two California boutiques back in July, adding partners in San Francisco, Los Angeles and Irvine. And in June, Nixon Peabody added a 10-lawyer real estate litigation team in San Francisco from Kaufman Dolowich, including partners Ashley Klein and Jeanne Grove.

UK Magic Circle firm Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer also bolstered its Silicon Valley presence in June with the arrival of Beth George and Megan Kayo from Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, who are leading its new strategic risk and crisis management practice.

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