Big Silicon Valley Law Firm To Dissolve

from the bye-bye dept

Clearly the tech downturn is having an impact on lots of peripheral companies that used to rely on all that venture capital money to pay the bills. One of the biggest Silicon Valley law firms, Brobeck Phleger & Harrison (usually just called “Brobeck”) is shutting down. This wasn’t a fly-by-night “new economy” law firm, either. They had been around since 1924 (even longer if you count an earlier law firm that held the Brobeck name). However, they were one of the law firms to focus a tremendous amount of attention on startups during the boom years. It only took a couple years for all of that to dissolve. There have been plenty of stories about tech-focused law firms struggling, but this is the first big firm I’ve heard of that is shutting down completely.

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Comments on “Big Silicon Valley Law Firm To Dissolve”

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1 Comment
Rick Colosimo (user link) says:

Real estate risks didn't help

During the boom, Brobeck made plans to move into new offices in several areas. In some cases, the old leases were not near expiry, and subtenants weren’t found at the time. Once the boom subsided and the available office space in the Bay Area exploded, the firm was unfortunately saddled with two properties where it needed only one. It seems as though the firm was unable to mitigate (or even discounted) the real estate risk it assumed by doing an open-ended deal.
That said, there’s a fundamental difference between a dissolution of a law firm (indeed, most professional services firms) and a manufacturing firm. At the end of the day, there are very few assets that can be transferred to creditors; most of the value of the firm is in its people – and they can start working the next day somewhere else, even for the same partners. With a factory, the shareholders and the management can’t open up the next day without going through the creditor who owns the factory.
Disclosure: I feel bad for my former colleagues at Brobeck in Palo Alto, where I worked from 1999-2001.

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