Leading Wilson Sonsini partner leaves to join venture capitalist

Barry Taylor to spearhead Warburg Pincus’drive into Silicon Valley; fourth Wilson Sonsini partner this year to jump ship

Silicon Valley giant Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati is losing another top partner to the the venture capitalists.

Barry Taylor, a member of the firm’s executive committee with responsibility for compensation, is joining long-standing client Warburg Pincus.

He will be a managing director at the fund, which has $12bn (£8.36bn) under management and eight worldwide offices . He will help establish a presence in Silicon Valley and will be responsible for making investments in IT companies.

Taylor is the latest in a rush of senior Wilson Sonsini partners to jump ship to in-house positions or venture capital investing jobs. In July, the firm’s former managing partner Alan Austin moved to Silicon Valley-based venture capital fund Accel Partners as a partner and chief executive officer.

And in May Gary Reback, the executive committee member who was instrumental in advising the federal government to bring its antitrust case against Microsoft, left to set up internet company Voxeo (The Lawyer, 29 May).

The firm’s chairman Larry Sonsini says: “One of the beauties of this law firm is that it really gives people a platform to develop and to go on to bigger and better things. It’s kind of a double-edged sword.”

Taylor joined Wilson Sonsini in 1984 from local rival Pillsbury Madison & Sutro, and his practice specialises in corporate, venture capital, securities and M&A. His clients include InfoSpace, Diva Systems, eFusion and Microchip Technology.

He joined the firm’s management committee earlier this year when Wilson Sonsini reorganised its leadership. The executive committee was dismantled and management responsibilities were split between several partners. He has been replaced in the role of looking after partner compensation by corporate and securities partner Mark Bertelsen, who will continue working with Steven Schatz on the task.

The firm’s problem of keeping hold of associates has been eased by the volatile dotcom market, with the lure of share options in start-up companies no longer attracting the same number of young lawyers as it did earlier in the year.

Wilson Sonsini’s clients include Hewlett Packard, Sun Microsystems, Apple computers and Netscape. The firm has 800 lawyers, 147 of whom are partners, making it the largest firm in Silicon Valley.

The Palo Alto-based firm also has outposts in San Francisco, Austin, Kirkland in Washington and McLean in Northern Virginia, with plans to spread into London and Asia under discussion.

The departures from the firm began at the end of last year when technology partner Jeffrey Herbst left for internet giant AltaVista, where he became vice-president in charge of business development (The Lawyer, 25 October 1999).