The London office of Morrison & Foerster (MoFo) is nabbing a top partner from arch rival Brobeck Hale and Dorr.
The San Francisco firm is hiring corporate finance partner Julia Bracewell from Brobeck, where she was the first UK lawyer. Both firms claim to be global technology law firms, although MoFo has been slower to build up its London operation. It currently has only two partners in London.
Bracewell joined Brobeck in 1995 and became partner three years ago. She specialises in representing companies and financiers in the technology sector on venture capital, corporate finance, structuring, crossborder M&A, joint ventures and flotations.
She has also handled a lot of work launching operations in Europe for US clients.
Bracewell says she is attracted to MoFo because of its global practice - the firm has 1,000 lawyers in 18 offices in the US, Europe, Asia and Latin America.
Brobeck is a joint venture in the City between San Francisco-based Brobeck Phleger & Harrison and Boston's Hale and Dorr. The firm has 13 partners in London and four in Munich.
Between them, Brobeck Phleger & Harrison and Hale and Dorr have 1,500 lawyers in 12 offices in the US.
Bracewell says: "MoFo is a renowned global player in the technology sector. The firm has had astonishing success with its practice in the world's other key financial centres. The opportunity to build London to complement this was one I couldn't resist."
At Brobeck, Bracewell has been the partner pioneering the use of venture leasing, which is a new type of asset-backed venture financing (The Lawyer, 12 February). It is not yet clear whether European Venture Partners, which is the client in this work, will move with her, but newly promoted corporate partner David Gent will take up a lot of her workload.
MoFo's London head of technology transactions David Naylor says: "The firm's immediate priority is development in Europe, on the basis that you can't be the leading global technology and finance firm without a good European presence. Our aim is to develop the practice in line with our clients' demands, and London is certainly the focus of the development effort."
MoFo's London office acts for clients that include Pearson, Thomson MultiMedia and Saba Software.