For more than four decades, Fenwick & West LLP has helped some of the world’s most recognized companies become, and remain, market leaders. From emerging enterprises to large public corporations, our clients are leaders in the technology, life sciences and cleantech sectors and are fundamentally changing the world through rapid innovation.  MORE >

Fenwick & West was founded in 1972 in the heart of Silicon Valley—before “Silicon Valley” existed—by four visionary lawyers who left a top-tier New York law firm to pursue their shared belief that technology would revolutionize the business world and to pioneer the legal work for those technological innovations. In order to be most effective, they decided they needed to move to a location close to primary research and technology development. These four attorneys opened their first office in downtown Palo Alto, and Fenwick became one of the first technology law firms in the world.  MORE >

From our founding in 1972, Fenwick has been committed to promoting diversity and inclusion both within our firm and throughout the legal profession. For almost four decades, the firm has actively promoted an open and inclusive work environment and committed significant resources towards improving our diversity efforts at every level.  MORE >

FLEX by Fenwick is the only service created by an AmLaw 100 firm that provides flexible and cost-effective solutions for interim in-house legal needs to high-growth companies.  MORE >

Fenwick & West handles significant cross-border legal and business issues for a wide range of technology and life sciences who operate internationally..  MORE >

At Fenwick, we are proud of our commitment to the community and to our culture of making a difference in the lives of individuals and organizations in the communities where we live and work. We recognize that providing legal services is not only an essential part of our professional responsibility, but also an excellent opportunity for our attorneys to gain valuable practical experience, learn new areas of the law and contribute to the community.  MORE >

Year after year, Fenwick & West is honored for excellence in the legal profession. Many of our attorneys are recognized as leaders in their respective fields, and our Corporate, Tax, Litigation and Intellectual Property Practice Groups consistently receive top national and international rankings, including:

  • Named Technology Group of the Year by Law360
  • Ranked #1 in the Americas for number of technology deals in 2015 by Mergermarket
  • Nearly 20 percent of Fenwick partners are ranked by Chambers
  • Consistently ranked among the top 10 law firms in the U.S. for diversity
  • Recognized as having top mentoring and pro bono programs by Euromoney


We take sustainability very seriously at Fenwick. Like many of our clients, we are adopting policies that reduce consumption and waste, and improve efficiency. By using technologies developed by a number of our cleantech clients, we are at the forefront of implementing sustainable policies and practices that minimize environmental impact. In fact, Fenwick has earned recognition in several areas as one of the top US law firms for implementing sustainable business practices.  MORE >

At Fenwick, we have a passion for excellence and innovation that mirrors our client base. Our firm is making revolutionary changes to the practice of law through substantial investments in proprietary technology tools and processes—allowing us to deliver best-in-class legal services more effectively.   MORE >

Mountain View Office
Silicon Valley Center
801 California Street
Mountain View, CA 94041

San Francisco Office
555 California Street
12th Floor
San Francisco, CA 94104

Seattle Office
1191 Second Avenue
10th Floor
Seattle, WA 98101

New York Office
1211 Avenue of the Americas
32nd Floor
New York, NY 10036

Shanghai Office
Unit 908, 9/F, Kerry Parkside Office
No. 1155 Fang Dian Road
Pudong New Area, Shanghai 201204
P.R. China
+86 21 8017 1200

A Startup Attorney’s Tips to Advance Private Company Diversity

One of the biggest contributors to a lack of corporate diversity is the size of a company. And the problems are often traceable to the company’s leanest, earliest days. One of my key messages to clients is that it’s never too early to make concrete efforts to promote diversity, and it may be easier to build that culture sooner, rather than later.

That connection between growth and diversity challenges is one of the takeaways from Fenwick’s recently published Gender Diversity in Silicon Valley Survey – 2016 Proxy Season. We particularly saw a disparity in diversity between the technology and life sciences companies of the Silicon Valley 150 and the larger public companies of the S&P 100—that is, the larger the company, the more likely it is to have a more gender diverse workplace, especially at the senior executive level. The top 15 largest companies in the SV 150—peers to S&P 100 companies in terms of scale—tend to match and in some cases even exceed those of other public companies in the United States. That’s not the case, however, for smaller public companies.

I work with businesses from incorporation through their eventual sale or IPO, and what I see generally is that diversity often isn’t actively and systematically addressed until a company is forced to by circumstance—often by outside pressure. My top recommendations to enhance diversity depend on the company size, but some things are true no matter the scale or reach: it’s the right thing to do and a more diverse workplace generally leads to a more successful company. Research from a variety of organizations indicates a correlation between higher participation of women in decision-making roles and higher market returns and superior profits (see, for instance this 2016 Credit Suisse Research Institute report).

Two Areas Emerging Companies Should Not Ignore to Build Diversity

Young startups and other emerging-growth companies face challenges unique to their size and stage of development. Shoestring budgets are one. Smaller teams whose members already wear multiple hats are another. There is also a tendency to hire within familiar networks of friends and colleagues. However, companies that build an inclusive culture early on have far less catching up to do as larger organizations.

Recruiting and company policies are two areas where concerted focus can make a powerful difference.

Shake up recruiting by:

  1. Incorporating “passive candidate pipelining.” Recommended by diversity HR experts, this method entails identifying and engaging with qualified diverse candidates before you need to fill the position.
  2. Partner with local universities and colleges and inquire about building a diverse pipeline of computer science or other technical candidates.
  3. Partner with organizations that help diversify company workforces, such as the Code 2040, Women Who Code or the Recurse Center.
  4. Revamp your job descriptions to broaden the qualifications and cast a wider net in advertising your positions, including on and
  5. Hire or appoint a dedicated diversity leader and tie their title to innovation (and maybe compensation).

Consultants at McKinsey & Company and others have for a long time said that company culture plays a critical role in supporting women and other diverse employees in reaching top management.

Some policies to consider implementing early include:

  1. A formal plan to foster diversity.
  2. Flexible schedules.
  3. Parental leave.
  4. Transparent pay structures for every position based on compensation formulas.

Five Steps Large Private Companies Can Take to Diversify Leadership

In Fenwick’s recently published Silicon Valley Gender Diversity Survey, we discussed several steps that larger companies can take to advance diversity in leadership ranks. When recruiting new board members, consider the following:

  1. Define qualifications more broadly by including other C-suite experience besides just the CEO role, as well as division presidents and leaders from government, accounting, law, retired military and academia.
  2. Broaden the definition of board experience.
  3. Identify the skill sets needed for new board members and then look for women or minorities who have that skill set, rather than using diversity as a “plus” factor.
  4. Value perspectives from those who come from different industry or generations.
  5. Retain a search firm that specializes in recruiting women and minorities.

No matter the company size, change starts at the top. As a company leader, set the desired example. The benefits of running a diverse company are many, not least of which is the growing sentiment that an inclusive and diverse workforce correlates with stronger financial performance.

To learn more about how tech and life sciences companies in Silicon Valley fare in terms of gender diversity in leadership compared to those in the S&P 100, download the Fenwick Gender Diversity Survey – 2016 Proxy Season. ​​​​​​​​​​