Reed Smith sets its sights on Silicon Valley

Zusha Elinson/The Recorder

National Law Journal Online

July 31, 2008

Big out-of-town law firms can't seem to resist the allure of Silicon Valley.

Now, Pittsburgh-based Reed Smith is poised to open an office there with the addition of Richard Scudellari, a veteran corporate lawyer from Morrison & Foerster in Palo Alto, Calif., according to people familiar with the move.

It's the seventh Am Law 200 firm to open -- or to promise to open -- an office in Silicon Valley this year, the most recent being Atlanta's Alston & Bird.

Legal observers say it can be difficult for out-of-town firms to land a corporate lawyer like Scudellari, who does work for tech companies like Credence Systems Corp. and Cybersource Corp. But what can be even more challenging is building beyond the initial lateral hires.

"Scudellari is a great first step for anyone looking to establish an office in the Valley," said Bill Nason, a recruiter with Watanabe Nason & Seltzer who was not involved with the move. "But with the continual influx of new firms coming to the Valley, chasing a very finite talent pool, you've got to wonder how any of these firms are ever going to get critical mass."

Reed Smith, which has more than 1,500 lawyers around the world, has been moving lately to bulk up with Valley-esque lawyers, albeit in San Francisco until this point. Earlier this month, the firm hired Sergio Garcia from Fenwick & West, where he served as co-chairman of the life sciences group.

Garcia, who represents venture-backed life sciences companies, said he liked Reed Smith because of its "global platform" and its history in his field.

"This firm has shown a dedication to the life sciences sector that few other firms have," Garcia said.

Garcia said the new Silicon Valley office will also be important for his practice "because the Valley continues to be a significant geographic area [where] my clients need coverage, and where many of the venture capital firms continue to reside."

Garcia will also be helping to build out the office, which for now will be occupied by Scudellari, he said.

"I'm definitely committed to spending time in the Valley, helping the firm build up the office," Garcia said.

Scudellari does corporate and securities work as well as M&A deals. Most recently, he led a team representing Credence Systems in its merger with LTX Corp. He also does corporate work for Cybersource -- a large online payment management company in Mountain View, Calif. -- where he has also sat on the board of directors since 1997. It was not clear whether Scudellari would be bringing any clients with him to Reed Smith.

The addition continues a hiring spree by the firm in California, where it first gained a foothold by merging with Oakland's Crosby, Heafey, Roach & May in 2003.

Reed Smith spokeswoman Jamie Moss declined to comment, as did Morrison & Foerster chairman Keith Wetmore. Scudellari did not return calls seeking comment.

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