Wilson Sonsini partner quits for internet

Silicon Valley's largest law firm, Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, has lost its fourth partner in as many months.

The latest to leave is technology partner Jeffrey Herbst, who is forging a new career with internet giant AltaVista as vice-president in charge of business development.

The move is further evidence of the difficulty Silicon Valley firms are having in keeping lawyers. Partners are increasingly moving in-house to internet companies, lured by the promise of share options that could make them instant fortunes.

Top New York firms are also moving in to the high-tech hotspot, with big players like Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom, Shearman & Sterling and Davis Polk & Wardwell setting up practices.

As reported in The Lawyer (20 September), technology partner Francis Currie – who had been masterminding Wilson Sonsini's proposed London office – was poached by New York legal heavyweight Davis Polk & Wardell to boost its Silicon Valley practice.

Other partners to have left Wilson Sonsini recently are Henry Barry, who joined Hummer Winblad Venture Partners, and James Strawbridge, who took up a vice-president post with internet company RealNames Corp.

Herbst, who started with Wilson Sonsini in 1992 as an associate, joins AltaVista at the end of this month to head a team of 25. He will be in charge of strategic deals, mergers and acquisitions.