Sept. 25 Update: Heller to dissolve.
As big limbs of the Heller Ehrman tree get ready to break off, everyone is wondering where the firm’s Venture Law Group and their beloved acorn logo will end up.
Legal Pad hears that VLG lawyers have talked to — OK take a deep breath — Cooley, MoFo, Fenwick, Wilson Sonsini, Morgan Lewis and Reed Smith, to name a few.
The second-best VLG rumor heavily making the rounds (first-best comes later) was that Larry Sonsini had personally dined with VLG leaders.
Legal Pad called up Sonsini to find out what was discussed, or at least what everyone ordered, but Sonsini informed us with a laugh that the much-rumored dinner never took place.
“I have not had dinner with any of the VLG leaders recently,” Sonsini told us. “But I have met with some of them.”
(We have this to say to all the busboys on the lookout for big lateral deals: Get your glasses adjusted!)
Sonsini is not alone — many law firms are openly, and with the knowledge of Heller management, talking with Heller partners, according to most everyone working at a law firm in the Bay Area.
OK OK, here’s the first-best rumor. It’s entirely unconfirmed, but Legal Pad hears that some of the VLG lawyers might start their own firm (again). VLG was of course its own firm before it stumbled in the dot-com bust and merged with Heller in 2003, even though it’s kept much of its identity at Heller, including that acorn.
A number of VLG partners did not return phone calls. It’s a decent-sized number, too.
The question remains: Will the 100 or so emerging-company corporate lawyers who make up VLG stick together, or will they fall and scatter to different law firms?
We hear that some firms don’t want the whole the group. They also would want the VLG lawyers to check their acorns at the door and, unlike at Heller, become more integrated with the firm to avoid growing into, you know, some sort of poison oak.
— Zusha Elinson