03 Nov 2021

Wilson Sonsini signs up Utah Supreme Court justice for Salt Lake City office launch

Palo Alto firm has also hired a partner from Holland & Hart as it becomes latest firm to target Silicon Slopes

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Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati is to launch an office in Salt Lake City as part of a bid to tap into Utah’s emerging technology and life sciences markets. 

The office will consist of Utah Supreme Court justice Deno Himonas, who will join the firm’s litigation and appellate practices upon his retirement from the bench in March, and Marc Porter, who joins the firm as a partner from Holland & Hart. The duo will also be joined by current firm partner Matt Squires, who will relocate to Salt Lake City from Wilson Sonsini’s office in Seattle. 

Porter is moving across after 13 years at Holland & Hart, where he was a partner. He specialises in handling corporate matters in the technology sector. Squires, meanwhile, is head of the firm’s Latin America practice group. 

The new office builds on Wilson Sonsini’s existing presence in Utah which it established in 2019 through a partnership with legaltech company SixFifty, which develops automated tools geared at making legal processes more efficient and affordable. 

“The firm has recognized Utah as a site of innovation, and the opening of a firm office here just confirms that,” said Kimball Dean Parker, chief executive of SixFifty and director of Brigham Young University Law School’s legal design lab LawX. 

Wilson Sonsini said that it already holds significant weight in the Utah legal market, having advised more venture capital firms on Utah-related deals and more Utah-based issuers on IPOs than any other firm in the last five years. 

It currently ranks fourth among law firms in advising on M&A in Utah in the same period, the firm added. 

Allison Spinner, Wilson Sonsini’s corporate head, said “The addition of Marc Porter and relocation of Matt Squires cements our long-term presence in Salt Lake City and makes it even easier for us to address the sophisticated needs of clients in the growing Utah market."

Several other US firms have looked to Utah as of late, with Kirkland & Ellis setting up an on-the-ground presence in Salt Lake City in September in a bid to establish stronger ties with Utah schools like Brigham Young University’s J. Reuben Clark Law School and the University of Utah’s S.J. Quinney College of law as part of its continued strategy to recruit leading legal talent. 

Milwaukee-based Foley & Lardner also planted its flag in Salt Lake City this year, hiring a quartet of IP litigation specialists from Maschoff Brennan in a move intended to strengthen its offering in the tech and life sciences sectors.

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