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Top 20 Silicon Valley Startup Lawyers




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We received a ton of positive feedback on our list of Top 20 NYC Startup Lawyers and Top 20 Boston Startup Lawyers, so we thought it might be helpful to a similar list to help all you Golden State startup entrepreneurs.

This list of top Silicon valley startup lawyers will hopefully serve as a great starting point for research.  We do NOT know all of these folks individually or personally (we actually don’t know most of them). Our list is driven by seeing positive sentiment about these folks online from other startup entrepreneurs.  The list is in alphabetical order and is not a ranking.

As always, you should do your own due diligence before picking a lawyer.  And this list is not exhaustive – or at least we hope.  If you are a lawyer and think you should be on the list or if you are a startup founder and you have an amazing lawyer, let us know in the comments.  Without further delay, here are the top 20 Silicon Valley startup lawyers.

Ralph (Buddy) Arnheim

Firm: Partner at Perkins Coie; Emerging Company Practice

Focus: M&A, PE and VC financing, restructurings and spin-off transactions for emerging companies in web services, information technology, networking, fixed and mobile communications technology, cleantech and life sciences sectors.

Previous Employers: Gunderson Dettmer; Brobeck Phleger & Harrison; Altheimer & Grey

Education: University of Illinois College of Law, J.D
Additional Information: Ralph is an Adjunct Professor at the University of Illinois College of Law where he teaches a course on entrepreneurship.

Bio: http://www.perkinscoie.com/barnheim/

Matthew Bartus

Firm: Partner at Dorsey & Whitney LLP; Corporate Group

Focus: Matthew represents emerging growth companies throughout their lifecycle, in internet, technology, information systems, life sciences/biotechnology, medical devices, financial services, clean-tech/renewable energy, and software. He specializes in M&A transactions.

Clients Include: Adility, 500Friends, Whiteboard Ventures, Xuropa

Education: New York University School of Law, 1998, J.D
Additional Information: Matt is also a legal mentor to companies in the SSE Labs program, a startup incubator program affiliated with Stanford University. He writes a blog on startup issues that can be found at www.viewfromthevalley.com.

Bio: http://www.dorsey.com/bartus_matt/

John Bautista

Firm: Partner at Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP; Emerging Companies Group

Focus: Securities offerings, M&A, VC transactions and corporate governance for emerging companies and VC funds in the technology sector.

Clients Include: Atlassian, RockYou, VirtuOz, Menlo Ventures

Previous Employers: Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati
Education: Harvard Law School, 1991, J.D
Additional Information: co-founder of Venture Law Group and served on the Executive Committee.

Language Skills: French

Bio: http://www.orrick.com/lawyers/Bio.asp?ID=160459

Joshua Cook

Firm: Associate at Gunderson Dettmer

Focus: Joshua focuses on emerging growth companies throughout their lifecycles in technology sectors ranging from consumer internet, software, telecommunications to entertainment technology industries.

Clients Include: Digg
Education: Georgetown University, J.D

Bio: http://www.gunder.com/people/joshua_cook

Francis Currie

Firm: Partner at Davis Polk; Corporate Department

Focus: Francis represents technology companies and their investors and advisers in mergers and acquisitions, strategic alliances and capital formation transactions, as well as in matters of corporate governance and securities law compliance. He also represents a number of funds for their fund formation matters.

Clients Include: Mercury Interactive Corporation, Code Advisors, MedVenture Associates

Previous Employers: Associate and Partner at Pillsbury Madison & Sutro, Partner at Wilson Sonsini, Goodrich & Rosati.
Education: Harvard Law School, 1975, J.D
Additional Information: Speaker on corporate governance and other matters, Stanford Directors College

Bio: http://www.davispolk.com/lawyers/frank-currie/

Rob Dang

Firm: Partner at Fortis General Counsel LLP

Focus: Rob’s practice focuses on providing general counsel services to technology startups, with an emphasis on corporate finance, technology licensing, mergers and acquisitions, corporate governance and general business counseling. Rob has served as the outsourced general counsel to hundreds of emerging growth companies in various stages of maturity, in a wide variety of industries within the technology and life sciences sectors

Clients Include: Yahoo!, WhatsApp, Zynga

Previous Employers: Silicon Valley Corporate Law Firm

Additional Information: Rob also serves as an advisor to Curriki, a nonprofit organization founded by Sun Microsystems. Rob previously served on the Executive Committee of the MIT/Stanford Venture Lab (VLAB), an organization dedicated to promoting the growth and success of high-tech entrepreneurial ventures by connecting ideas, technology and people.
Education: Santa Clara University, School of Law, J.D

Bio: http://www.fortisgc.com/robert_m_dang.html

Ora Fisher

Firm: Partner at Latham and Watkins

Focus: M&A and corporate governance for emerging companies in cleantech, IT, life sciences and semiconductor sectors.

Clients Include: Yahoo!, National Semiconductor, QLT, Takeda Pharmaceutical Company

Previous Employers: Public Finance Banking Officer at J.P. Morgan
Education: University of Michigan Law School, 1991, J.D

Bio: http://www.lw.com/Attorneys.aspx?page=AttorneyBio&attno=02136

Andre Gharakhanian

Firm: Founder of Silicon Legal Strategy

Focus: Angel, bridge and VC financings, M&A transactions, strategic partnerships, consulting arrangements and licensing agreements for emerging companies at varying stages of development – from fledgling endeavors to venture-backed companies with hundreds of employees.

Clients Include: Loggly, Triggit, Expensify, Formspring, CrowdFlower, Zozi

Previous Employers: Attorney at Orrick’s Emerging Companies Group; Executive Board Member at San Francisco Web Innovators Network; Mayer, Brown, Rowe & Maw LLP; US Securities and Exchange Commission; NERA Economic Consulting;
Education: Georgetown University Law Center, J.D

Additional Information: Andre Gharakhanian serves on the advisory boards of a handful of startups, including BitGirder Technologies and MagBooth. Andre was a winner on the hit NBC game show, The Weakest Link in 2001.

Bio: http://siliconlegal.com/team.php

Timothy Harris

Firm: Partner at Morrison Foerster; Technology Group

Focus: Time specializes in modeling complex capital structures, financing scenarios and liquidity events for companies in the technology sector, specially Internet and software based businesses.

Clients Include: Mochila, Hitachi Data Systems Coporation, Serena & Lily

Previous Employers: Consultant at Andersen Consulting

Additional Information:
Education: Northwestern University School of Law, 1997, J.D

Bio: http://www.mofo.com/timothy-harris/

Ted Hollifield

Firm: Partner at Dorsey & Whitney LLP

Focus: Ted specializes in corporate and securities law with an emphasis on public equity and debt offerings, VC financings, M&A and general representation of emerging growth companies in the telecommunications, electronic design automation (EDA), semiconductor, Internet and software industries.
Education: University of Virginia School of Law, 1997, J.D
Additional Information: Ted counsels Boards of Directors, CEOs and executive management on equity compensation, corporate governance, Sarbanes-Oxley Act and other regulatory and disclosure matters.

Bio: http://www.dorsey.com/hollifield_ted/

Eric Jensen

Firm: Partner at Cooley LLP

Focus: Emerging and public software, semiconductor, Internet, and information technology companies.

Clients Include: Adobe Systems, LinkedIn, Medallia, Morgan Stanley.

Previous Employers: Extern to the Hon. Arthur L. Alarcon of the U.S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit
Education: University of California, Los Angeles School of Law, 1988, J.D
Additional Information: Eric Jensen serves on the Board of Directors of the Law Foundation of Silicon Valley, a non-profit corporation and has served as general counsel and member of the senior management team at Blue Martini Software.

Bio: http://www.cooley.com/ejensen

Riaz Karamali

Firm: Partner at Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton LLP; Corporate Practice Group

Focus: Angel and VC financing and strategic alliances for all stages of companies in Internet, social gaming, biotechnology, semiconductor technology, medical devices and consulting.

Previous Employers: Gunderson Dettmer; Brobeck Phleger & Harrison; Altheimer & Grey
Education: Columbia Law School, 1988, J.D
Additional Information: Riaz has significant experience with cross-border transactions including work in Australia, China, Dubai, Egypt, France, India, Israel and Switzerland.

Bio: http://www.sheppardmullin.com/rkaramali

Don Keller

Firm: Partner at Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP

Focus: IPO’s, acquisitions and VC financings for emerging companies, public companies, venture capital firms and investment banks.

Clients Include: eHarmony, Yieldex, Eloan, Baan.
Education: Boston College Law School, 1982, J.D
Additional Information: Don Keller is a member of the Board of Overseers of Boston College Law School.

Bio: http://www.orrick.com/lawyers/Bio.asp?ID=161010

Caine Moss

Firm: Partner at Goodwin Procter, Business Law Department

Focus: VC, public and private M&A and representation of issuers and underwriters in public equity offerings for software, telecommunications, life sciences and Internet companies through all stages of their growth.

Clients Include: Aurora Networks, Cloudbreak, Square, RocketLawyer, Wordlock.

Previous Employers: Corporate and securities partner at Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati
Education: Harvard Law School, 1996, J.D
Additional Information: Caine Moss is the author of several articles for VentureBeat including “How to Select Your Company’s Lawyer” (http://venturebeat.com/2010/07/27/how-to-select-your-companys-lawyer/).

Bio: http://www.goodwinprocter.com/People/M/Moss-Caine.aspx

Craig Schmitz

Firm: Partner at Goodwin Procter, Technology Companies Group

Focus: Representing emerging growth companies in the technology and life science sectors, venture capital firms and underwriters.

Previous Employers: Gunderson Dettmer
Education: University of California Berkeley, School of Law, 1994, J.D
Additional Information: Craig Schmitz has served as Senior Vice President of Corporate Development and General Counsel at Ariba, publicly traded enterprise software company.

Bio: http://www.goodwinprocter.com/People/S/Schmitz-Craig.aspx

Michael Sullivan

Firm: Partner at Pillsbury

Focus: Pre-incorporation counseling to general corporate representation, through angel and venture capital financings, to M&A and IPO liquidity events and public company representation in the digital media/Internet, consumer and healthcare spaces.

Clients Include: eBay, Digital River, Blumberg Capital, RootMusic, Lightspeed Ventures.

Previous Employers: Howard Rice Nemerovski Canady Falk & Rabkin, Cooley Godward LLP, Pillsbury Madison & Sutro LLP
Education: University of Michigan Law School, 1984, J.D
Additional Information: Michael Sullivan is a contributor to Venture Capital & Public Offering Negotiation and former Board President of Friends of the Urban Forest, a San Francisco non-profit.

Bio: http://www.pillsburylaw.com/index.cfm?pageid=15&itemid=22342

Yokum Taku

Firm: Partner at Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati

Focus: Private financings, strategic transactions, public offerings, M&A and VC financings for technology companies in all stages of development.

Clients Include: Alchip Technologies, Chomp, Moonshoot, VantagePoint Venture Partners

Previous Employers: Nagashima Ohno & Tsunematsu
Education: University of Chicago Law School, 1993, J.D.
Additional Information: Yokum Taku maintains a blog at http://www.startupcompanylawyer.com. He also leads Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati’s Japan practice and advises numerous companies with operations in Asia.

Bio: http://www.wsgr.com/wsgr/DBIndex.aspx?SectionName=attorneys/BIOS/1933.htm

Stephen Venuto

Firm: Partner at Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP; co-head of the Emerging Companies Group

Focus: VC financings, public offerings, mergers, acquisitions and licensing transactions for

high growth companies in media, biotechnology, clean technology and information technology.

Clients Include: Quora, Facebook, Asana, Xobni, Outspark, Halycon Molecular
Education: Cornell Law School, J.D.

Previous Employers: Attorney at Venture Law Group
Additional Information: Stephen Venuto is a managing member of Orrick’s venture fund and has given guest lectures at Stanford Law School’s Corporations and Deals courses as well as been the Conference Speaker at Stanford / Google “Legal Futures Summit”.

Bio: http://www.orrick.com/lawyers/Bio.asp?ID=161162

Ted Wang

Firm: Partner at Fenwick & West LLP

Focus: Start-up counseling, VC financings and M&A in the information technology, Internet and clean technology sectors.

Clients Include: Dropbox, Facebook, Twitter, Groupon, Square, StumbleUpon, Sequoia Capital

Education: University of Virginia Law School, J.D.

Previous Employers: Law clerk for the Honorable Samuel Conti, United States District Judge for the Northern District of California.

Additional Information: Ted Wang is a leader in efforts to standardize financing documents and is the curator of the Series Seed Documents.

Bio: http://www.fenwick.com/attorneys/4.2.1.asp?aid=664

David Wood

Firm: Associate at Perkins Coie, Emerging Companies Group

Focus: David has a corporate and securities law practice encompassing venture capital, debt and other private financings, public company disclosure, public offerings, mergers and acquisitions, corporate governance and general business counseling.

Clients Include: Sporcle, vSpring, iBahn, Leapfrog

Previous Employers: Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP
Education: University of Michigan Law School, J.D

Bio: http://www.perkinscoie.com/dwood/

Found this list helpful?  Or think we’re missing a great Silicon Valley startup lawyer?  Leave your thoughts in the comments.

Also, if you have startup friends in Boston or NYC, be sure to check out our list of Top 20 New York startup lawyers and top 20 Boston Startup Lawyers.

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2 Responses to “Top 20 Silicon Valley Startup Lawyers”

  1. Dave Thomas says:

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    I agree that Rob deserves to make this list, but his last name is Dang. Rob Dang at Fortis General Counsel.


  2. Warning: Illegal string offset 'keywords_time' in /home/chubbybrain/public_html/blog/wp-content/plugins/internal_link_building.php_/internal_link_building.php on line 103

    Dave – Thanks for the heads up. We’ve changed the spelling of Rob’s name. Sorry about that Rob.

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