New York's Wachtell Lipton opens new Palo Alto office

New York's most profitable firm Wachtell Lipton Rosen & Katz is poised to open an office in California.

The set-up in Palo Alto will service Silicon Valley clients of the 150-lawyer firm, which has a 1:1 leverage of partners to associates.

In 1998-99, profits per partner reached nearly £2m, with lawyers focusing on corporate M&A transactions and securities law.

A partner at the firm says no lease has yet been signed in Palo Alto but admits the firm is looking at the move. But he adds, Wachtell is going to keep its strong New York focus.

He says: “This is not the same thing as one of the bigger firms setting up offices and hiring large numbers of people. We have a core boutique operation and we have no intention of changing that – we are not looking to have 50 lawyers sitting in Palo Alto.

“We will continue to be an important presence in all the important strategic advisory work that is going on. People are spending a lot of time in San Francisco and do say we should have more space and more support.”

Over the past year, the firm has advised AT&T in its $60.5bn (£40.1bn) acquisition of MediaOne Group and in its joint venture with British Telecom, Amoco in its $43bn (£28.5bn) combination with British Petroleum and Bankers Trust in its $9bn (£6bn) merger with Deutsche Bank.

The partner says: “Whether or not we have an office in Palo Alto is more of a logistical question for us rather than a business strategy question. We are going to be there and we are going to be doing business whether we have an office or not.

“Any day of the week, we probably have a couple of partners in San Francisco as it is.”