VLG opens in San Francisco as Silicon Valley rents soar

Silicon Valley law firm Venture Law Group (VLG) is opening an office in San Francisco in an attempt to ease recruitment difficulties.

VLG will open the office early next year after outgrowing its space on Sand Hill Road, which is said to have the greatest concentration of investment capital in the world.

The office will start with around 20 lawyers, with space to accommodate double that number. Five of the firm’s 23 partners will move to the office, including Mark Medearis, Steve Tonsfeldt, Greg Ikonen, John Duncan and Laura Donald.

The practice, which launched in 1993 with former Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati partners, currently has only one other office in Seattle, Washington.

VLG focuses on start-up companies and taking companies public, and makes around half of its money from taking equity in fledgling companies. Once companies float, the firm refers them to larger firms.

Corporate partner Don Keller says: “We decided to open an office in San Francisco first because several of our lawyers live there and would love to work in the city, and second because we were running out of space. Additional space on Sand Hill Road in Menlo Park would cost $200 (£140) per square foot per year, whereas space in San Francisco is significantly cheaper. And it will be helpful to our recruiting efforts to offer some lawyers the opportunity to work in San Francisco.”

The new office will be only around 25 miles away from the main one in the Valley, but is seen as a more attractive place to live, given soaring rents in Menlo Park.

Managing partner of Latham & Watkins‘ Silicon Valley office Peter Kerman says: “My guess is that associate hiring is the motivation. Most young lawyers – assuming they don’t have a family – would prefer to live in San Francisco rather than Silicon Valley. Night life and cultural activities make it a more appealing place for young folks, and as other Silicon Valley firms have a city office, VLG is probably responding to competitive pressure.”