US firm Carlton Fields is the first Florida-based law firm to open an office in Silicon Valley.
The office, which opened at the beginning of November in San JosÈ, will provide a range of legal services, focussing on intellectual property (IP), corporate finance, securities, litigation, licensing, internet privacy matters, tax and employment law.
The move is part of the firm's strategy to extend its services to the high-tech, e-commerce and internet industries.
Carlton Fields' chief executive Thomas Snow says: "We identified the need to be more creative in identifying markets for the future. Technology is the economy of the future and clearly Silicon Valley is the centre of that market."
In the last year, Florida has started to develop a technology centre and Snow says that companies are beginning to recognise that IP is an important asset to protect.
Snow says that it is good for the firm to have a hook with IP and patent-based experience.
"The Silicon Valley office means we can offer an extra level of service," he says. "The San JosÈ office is our bridge to the new economy and may lead to the opening of other offices in high-tech centres nationwide."
Keith Stephens, an IP lawyer with an established list of clients in the Silicon Valley area, will head the office. Three associates join him.
The team is already incubating more than a dozen startups and working with several Fortune 100 companies in the region.
"This is a very important and exciting step for Carlton Fields," says Richard Bernstein, chairman of the Carlton Fields e-commerce and internet practice group. "This new office will serve both our East Coast clients doing business in Silicon Valley and our clients based in the growing West Coast market."
Stephens says: "The entrepreneurial spirit of this new office complements our Florida high-technology law practice and provides a new depth of technical knowledge that aligns perfectly with our firm's strategic goals,".
Carlton Fields' clients include emerging IT companies in St Petersburg and Orlando and incubators in Silicon Valley.