Prospects weren’t looking so good for life sciences attorney Paul De Stefano at his old firm, but he's found a new one in McDermott, Will & Emery.
Fish & Richardson, his home base for the past six years, has been telling its corporate lawyers that it was returning to its roots in IP litigation. By September, it was official: The corporate practice was out.
He says the writing was on the wall before that, though, after the jump ...
De Stefano, a former chief corporate counsel at Genentech, is at least the second of three lawyers in Silicon Valley to have landed on his feet. (Earlier in the year, partner Michael Doran found a new home at Merriman Curhan Ford.)
Howard Pollack, Fish & Richardson’s Silicon Valley office managing partner, told us there were three corporate partners in the Silicon Valley office in September, when the firm announced it was shutting its corporate group firmwide.
Today was De Stefano's last day at Fish, and he spoke to us briefly from among boxes that were in various stages of being packed. Tomorrow he takes his clients –- among them international venture funds such as Nomura and Index Ventures --- to McDermott, Will & Emery. By next week, De Stefano says, he’ll be visiting London and Munich, to mingle with clients and his new set of partners.
De Stefano says he saw the writing on the wall before Fish & Richardson’s announcement. Expansion plans for skills that would’ve supported life sciences clients, like licensing or biological sciences, were shelved, he said, and the firm wasn’t growing internationally. "We opened a Munich office, [but] it had no life sciences people in it. Planned expansion into other areas got put on the back burner because of other strategic things and economic reasons."
All that, De Stefano said, became “a bit of a whack upside the head” for him: “My sense of this not being long term for me -- unless I shrunk my expectations –- probably started three to six months ago.”
Gary Davis, a San Francisco legal recruiter who was not involved in the match, told us that De Stefano's pick makes sense and gives him a higher profile; McDermott has been building its corporate practice on the West Coast. To land a partner like De Stefano, who has an established client base, is a big feat, given that corporate partners tend to be risk averse. “They don’t move around in droves.”
— Petra Pasternak