Withers launches in San Francisco with lateral hire duo

Withers has opened a new office in San Francisco, its first new base in more than two years.

The firm, which is known as Withers Bergman in the US, officially opened its doors on the West Coast in January 2014 with the hire of Louis Mezzullo as a consulting partner from McKenna Long & Aldridge to bulk up the firm’s trusts and estates practice.

On 1 August, he was joined by M&A partner Nancy Yamaguchi who joined from Hoge Fenton Jones & Appel.

In line with Withers’ international growth strategy, the office was launched off the back of its existing wealth planning specialism. However, it also intends to focus on the technology sector – a growing area for the firm. 

Yamaguchi is experienced in working with the technology sector, and has historically advised US, European and Japanese companies – particularly in the semiconductor, software and internet industries. 

The pair are supported by a third full-time lawyer in San Francisco, special counsel Vimala Snow. 

Withers managing partner Margaret Robertson said: “Our high net worth individual client base includes a proportion with interests in the tech sector, and we’re looking to grow there”. 

She added: “California is a huge economy for high net worth individuals and there’s a lot of investment into the economy from Asia where we have a strong base.”

The firm has been making inroads into the technology sector in recent months, launching a new ‘Momentum’ initiative in London, which offers a fixed fee legal package for start-up companies. Last week, it emerged that the firm was appointed to help set up new tech industry body Innovate Finance following a competitive pitch process (12 August 2014). 

This latest office launch, Withers’ fourth US outpost, is the first for the firm since it opened in Singapore in 2012 (17 February 2012). Prior to that, the firm opened its doors in Zurich in 2011 (24 January 2011) and the British Virgin Islands in 2009 (30 March 2009). 

Withers is not the only firm to set its sights on the Californian market in recent months. Osborne Clarke opened an office in the city earlier this year (25 March 2014), while Clyde & Co announced its intention to launch in Orange County in June (9 June 2014).