Funny how contacts and conflicts can conspire to get work in a lawyer’s hands.
Two Morgan Miller Blair partners recently represented Greenbox Technology Inc., a San Bruno energy management software maker for homeowners, in its sale to Silver Spring Networks, a Redwood City green-tech startup. The stock-swap transaction, whose financials were kept under wraps, closed Oct. 2.
Fenwick & West had been outside counsel for the two companies, and obviously couldn’t represent both in the transaction. So Greenbox CFO, Betsey Nelson, dialed partners Steven Harmon and George Cabot — lawyers who, it turns out, had previous ties with her.
How to be the small firm that the big firm calls, after the jump.
The 20-lawyer firm had gotten the initial referral for Greenbox back in 2006 through a U.S.-based attorney at Allen & Overy who knew one of the founders at Greenbox, MMB partner Steven Harmon told Legal Pad. MMB had worked with Allen & Overy on a cross-border acquisition several years prior to that referral. MMB went on to help form Greenbox, which was launched in 2007, and later when it brought in angel investors, Harmon said.
Making its way back to Greenbox years later for the acquisition added a number of intense weeks of work to MMB, Harmon said. “I had to push some other things aside to make sure we could do it,” he said. “It was taking 75 percent of my time for three weeks.”
The lesson? Harmon says being across the table from a bigger firm is always a business development opportunity. The hope is the lead attorney on the other side remembers him. “My approach is to never try to be egotistical or snooty,” he said — a strong strategy, especially these days, when the deal flow ain’t quite what it used to be.
— Petra Pasternak