I wrote a blog post on how to work with lawyers at a startup nearly two-and-a-half years ago. It was very widely read.
If you don’t have much experience in working with law firms at a startup it’s a good primer.
- Right-sized; and
I specifically called out some of the best people I had personally worked with
- Dave Young (LA … DLA Piper)
- Sam Angus (NorCal … Fenwick & West)
- Scott Alderton (LA … Stubbs Alderton)
- Don Lee (LA … LKP)
- David Hernand (LA … Gibson Dunn)
- Joey Tran (SF Bay Area … Fortis)
- Michael Pfau (Santa Barbara … Reicker Pfau)
- Mike Lincoln (Washington DC / Virginia … Cooley)
By now I know many more. But these were my eight. And still the 8 I most often recommend in their respective geographies.
And then today. BOOM!
The magic all came together.
Mike Lincoln (on my list) had previously had huge success with Cooley (long considered a platinum-status Silicon Valley firm as depicted in the image right above highlighting some of their clients) in expanding their presence outside their traditional NorCal stronghold. He built a practice around a growing community in the Mid Atlantic and beyond.
Nearly everybody in the DC region had told me, “You must meet Mike. He knows every startup & VC in town.” He was generous with his time with me and helpful. This was 2005 when I had no exits under my belt, no blogs … nobody was looking. He was a mensch.
And over the past few years I had been egging him on from LA to get Cooley to take our market more seriously. I told him that our market was absolutely booming and was worthy of a commensurate investment. Not that I’ll take credit for what I’m about to announce, but I knew that if somebody could commit to building out LA and making the investments required to kick ass in this market it would be Cooley.
And I know that Mike agreed.
Invest they have. They scooped up none other than David Hernand who will join the practice as managing partner.
When I first arrived in LA my good friend Matt Pillar (a long-term veteran of tech, media & VC) who had been in LA for some time told me, “in LA there’s none better than David.” I met with him several times and had tried to bring him onto deals I was working on but his practice wasn’t yet geared up to handle the earliest-stage deals.
He was the guy I wanted but couldn’t afford. I told David,
“Look at the changes we’ve seen in the VC / funding market. The whole movement to seed funds / early investments happened for a reason.
And as a VC if you’re not looking at deals at an earlier stage and getting slightly out of your comfort zone some great deals will simply get away from you.
The same trend seems likely in the legal industry. If you’re not getting great deals early – you may never see them.”
I was trying to encourage him to set up an early-stage practice. For starters, David had once been an entrepreneur himself so it seemed like such a natural fit.
And again I won’t take credit for his decision to join Cooley but the magic of having David join Cooley is simply an awesome outcome for our community at large.
But wait! There’s more!
When I couldn’t talk David into doing early-stage deals back in 2008/09, I hooked up with the guy who seemed to be working with the largest number of high-quality LA startups I had encountered – Dave Young – and started working with him and Nicholas Hobbs of DLA Piper.
And over the past 5 years I have done more deals with and worked with more companies counseled by Dave than any other firm. He became the go-to guy for many in our community including me.
And now he’s with Cooley. And he’ll be heading the Business & Technology Group.
Also coming from DLA Piper is another partner – Christopher Shoff. And a fourth partner – Jennifer Massey – will join from an entertainment background.
And that’s where I thought the goodness ended. Until just now. I just read their press release and found out that they went one step further.
Ever since I’ve been in LA, the Big-4 accounting world has had one tireless business development professional who has sponsored many entrepreneur events, pushed for his firm (PwC) to be flexible in working with early-stage companies and tirelessly championed LA with his “Shaking the Money Tree” conferences. And I was so pleasantly surprised to learn that Randy Churchill will join Cooley’s LA practice as head of business development.
This post is not an ad for Cooley nor for any of the fine professionals I’ve talked about in this post.
It is simply a stunning announcement of investment in this community and taking the future of the LA technology scene in a serious way that I haven’t seen in my five years since returning to LA (I lived here in the early 90’s as well). They went after an A-team and brought them all under one roof to kick off a brand new practice.
Cooley is taking on major costs not only of these professionals and the inevitable support staff that they will hire but they will also be establishing a major presence in Santa Monica where I’m told they’ve secured significant office space.
For me it’s a sign that people outside the region are starting to grok what we who have been on the ground for some time have been saying.
There’s something going on in LA Tech. And it’s more permanent and pervasive than we’ve ever seen in the past. We’ll go through more bumps in the road. Every community does when the economy goes through its inevitable cycles.
At GRP Partners we’re all in on Los Angeles having written about $35 million in early-stage venture capital investments in this market alone in the past six months.
And I’m delighted to see a bold move by Cooley in getting behind Los Angeles as well.
Congratulations to all those involved. And to our community at large for our continued progress.