WilmerHale rocked by exit of corporate stars to Heller

Heller Ehrman has raided US technology rival WilmerHale for a three-partner team to kickstart its newly-opened London office.

WilmerHale corporate partners Richard Eaton, Christopher Grew and Struan Penwarden will join the West Coast tech-focused firm in its new office in the Gherkin.

Eaton told The Lawyer: “It’s an opportunity to start up the business from scratch. It’s a [Silicon] Valley-focused firm and it’s much stronger there.”

The tech-focused corporate team was part of Brobeck Hale & Dorr before the demise of Brobeck Phleger & Harrison led to Hale & Dorr’s merger with Wilmer Cutler & Pickering, which led to the creation of WilmerHale.

“With Brobeck’s demise, it became purely East Coast. The West-Coast presence, with Heller also being strong in Asia, gives us an excellent platform,” explained Eaton.

The team will be bolstered by Heller Ehrman partner Stephen Ferruolo, who is set to transfer to London from the firm’s corporate/Venture Law Group in San Diego.

The Lawyer first revealed Heller’s plans to launch in London a year ago (January 16, 2006). The firm announced concrete plans last month (www.thelawyer.com January 16, 2007).

The move will be a blow for WilmerHale as it robs the firm of the majority of its London corporate team.

WilmerHale was unavailable for comment.