02 Feb 2022

Wilson Sonsini targets Colorado's booming life sciences scene with Boulder office launch

Opening comes as Colorado life sciences companies raise a record $2.4bn in financing

Tony Jeffries and Vern Norviel

US law firm Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati is to open an office in Boulder as it looks to deepen its ties to Colorado’s booming life sciences market. 

Set to open its doors in the first quarter of the year, the new office will house corporate partners Vern Norviel and Tony Jeffries who will both split their time between California and Colorado following the launch. The firm said Norviel and Jeffries will be joined in Boulder by six associates and staff professionals. 

The move marks Wilson Sonsini's second office launch in the last three months — the firm planted its flag in Utah back in November when it hired a partner from Holland & Hart and Utah Supreme Court justice Deno Himonas to target the Silicon Slopes in Salt Lake City.

Wilson Sonsini said it already boasts a significant presence in the Boulder life sciences market with clients spanning a number of areas including drug discovery, biotech, pharmaceuticals and health services. 

The firm advised on Boulder-based clinical-stage biopharma company Edgewise Therapeutics’ IPO last March and provided legal advice to Aurora-based Foresight Diagnostics on its Series A financing round, which closed at around $12.5m in June. 

“Wilson Sonsini opening an office in Boulder validates Colorado’s status as a magnet for the disruptive companies that the firm has long represented and should provide valuable legal and business advisory insights to the growing life sciences industry here,” said Jake Chabon, co-founder and CEO of Foresight Diagnostics. 

More than 700 life sciences companies are located in Colorado, according to a recent report by the Colorado BioScience Association. These companies managed to raise a record $2.4bn in financing in 2021 — crossing the $1bn mark for the fifth consecutive year and raising twice the amount made in 2020, the report said. 

Norviel and Jeffries have both been with the firm for more than two decades and specialise in advising companies on IPOs, M&A deals and venture capital financings. 

“Our Boulder office will allow us to create deeper local connections, while drawing on all of the strengths of our firm’s life sciences group, which now includes more than 275 attorneys, patent agents, scientific advisors and other professionals,” Jeffries said. 

After the Boulder launch, the firm will boast 18 offices with 13 in the US and three in China, one in Brussels and another in London. 

Several other law firms have looked to the Southwestern legal market as of late as the region becomes a hotbed for life sciences and tech firms. Crowell & Moring launched in Denver with three lawyers from Hogan Lovells and Armstrong Teasdale last October, and in the same week Foley & Lardner opened an office in Salt Lake City with a group of lawyers from Maschoff Brennan. UK firm Clyde & Co also set up shop in Phoenix, Denver and Las Vegas last May following the arrival of a team of insurance lawyers from Foran Glennon Palandech Ponzi & Rudloff.  

Chicago giant Kirkland & Ellis also launched in Salt Lake City last year in a move it said was aimed at streghtneing its relationships with top local law 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. 

 

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