Silicon Valley Law Firm Ramps Up Hollywood Presence

With a portfolio boasting the biggest names in tech -- including Google and Facebook -- Cooley LLP moves south and is looking to hire.

The trip from the Valley to the beach is seldom an easy one, what with traffic on the 405 freeway; and the drive is likely to be more fraught than ever on the last weekend in September, with the recent announcement that the freeway will once again be closed for bridge demolition. Still, that trip will still be shorter than the journey one prominent law firm decided to undertake from a more distant Valley up north.

That firm would be the 650 lawyer Cooley LLP, one of Silicon Valley’s top law firms, which announced several days ago that it’s opened an outpost in Santa Monica. The Hollywood Reporter took the opportunity to speak with Jennifer Massey, one of the office’s four founding partners.

“We’ve been flooded with resumes,” Massey said cheerfully. No doubt this article will add grain to her hopper and grist to her mill. The firm’s goal, Massey confided, is to grow the lodgement from the current four attorneys to a level of 15 to 20 in the next six months, and 50 to 100 in a year or two. That may make the firm an oasis in a somewhat dry legal market.

If so, it will be an oasis right at the edge of the ocean. Although currently officing in temporary quarters at 2500 Broadway in Santa Monica, the firm moves in September to permanent digs at 1333 2nd St.

“I think we’ll be the closest (major law firm) to the beach,” Massey said. Nice work if you can get it. And although clients might be forgiven for wondering whether their emails will go unanswered when the waves are tubular, Cooley lawyers will probably spend more time surfing the Internet than the Santa Monica Bay.

In addition to Massey – a former tech lawyer in Silicon Valley who spent the last seven years at the entertainment boutique Morris Yorn Barnes Levine Krintzman Rubenstein & Kohner – those lawyers today are:

  • David Hernand, former co-chair of Gibson Dunn & Crutcher’s media, entertainment and technology practice.
  • David Young, who chaired DLA Piper’s Corporate and Finance Group for Los Angeles, San Diego and Phoenix.
  • Christopher Shoff, former DLA Piper corporate/venture capital partner.

The duo of Daves will lead the LA encampment, with Hernand as the office’s partner-in-charge and Young as the head of its business and technology practice group. In addition, the firm has hired Randy Churchill, formerly of accounting/consulting firm PwC, as head of LA-area business development – an unusual move for an outpost office.

He, and the four partners, will be building on a client base that includes Google; Facebook; Qualcomm; and 200 clients headquartered or operating in Los Angeles, including Sony Pictures, Skechers, EastWestBank, RAND and several VCs, such as Redpoint Ventures.

Massey says her focus will remain in new media and the intersection of entertainment and technology. The firm as a whole is a full-service shop, and is almost 50% litigators. Santa Monica is Cooley’s 11th office; others include most of the major tech hot spots – Silicon Valley, San Francisco, San Diego, Boston, New York, Seattle, northern Virginia – as well as Washington, DC.

The only international office so far is in Shanghai, a location that the LA office intends to work with strategically on entertainment deals. And is there a European garrison? “Not yet,” said Massey. The firm’s arch-rival, Silicon Valley’s Wilson Sonsini, does have a European office (in the swingin’ city of Brussels), and a similar lineup in the U.S. and China, but nothing in LA.


Twitter: @jhandel

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