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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 >

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

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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 >

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Pro Bono Victory: Litigation Group Secures Rare Entitlement to Appointment of Counsel Ruling

December 7, 2004 (Mountain View, CA) – Fenwick & West attorneys Ilana Rubel and Anjali Kumar received a thrilling winning opinion from the Ninth Circuit in their pro bono case, Agyeman v. Corrections Corporation of America et al.

The attorneys argued in briefs and at oral argument before a panel that included Judges Betty Fletcher, John Noonan and Sidney Thomas. With no precedent on their side, Rubel and Kumar—associates in the firm's litigation group—did not entertain much hope. Amazingly, the Court came through for Mr. Agyeman.

Their client, Emmanuel Agyeman, is an immigrant from Ghana who married an American woman. He was called in for his INS interview to show a bona fide marriage in 1997. At the time, his wife was in the hospital and could not make it to the interview. She died before Mr. Agyeman was able to resolve his visa issues.

He was put into INS detention for a visa violation, where he remained for the next seven years as his deportation proceedings were litigated and appealed. Although he was not charged with any crime, since 1997 Mr. Agyeman was detained in prison in Arizona, almost all of which time was spent in punitive segregation in a rat-infested cell complete with leg irons and chains.

In October of 1998, Mr. Agyeman experienced severe chest pains. While in the course of being transported to a hospital for treatment, Mr. Agyeman claimed the guards beat him and knocked out several teeth. He brought a Section 1983 action against the prison and the guards involved. He asked for appointment of counsel, which was denied, and spent the next few years litigating his case pro se. With no legal training, no access to a library, no money, no friends "on the outside," and no phone, the proceedings were predictably disastrous. He spent most of the first year just re-amending his complaint over and over until the judge accepted it, then had most of his claims and defendants dismissed anyway. He made it to trial on some remaining claims, but the prison's big firm lawyers made mincemeat of him. He lost after a half hour of jury deliberation. Having to argue before the jury in an orange jumpsuit probably didn't help.

Enter the Fenwick & West team, appointed under the Ninth Circuit Pro Bono Appeals Program.

Mr. Agyeman's ordeal seemed like a travesty, but no obvious avenues of relief presented themselves, as he had had a jury trial and very few objections were asserted along the way. Kumar and Rubel latched onto a long shot theory–wrongful denial of counsel. While the case law clearly states that there is no automatic right to counsel in a civil case, and further that the trial court has discretion in choosing whether to appoint such counsel, the attorneys hoped they could persuade the Ninth Circuit to craft a limited exception for this civil detainee who was so utterly prevented from effectively prosecuting his own case.

Although there is no entitlement to appointment of counsel in a civil case (and it is very rarely granted), the Ninth Circuit found abuse of discretion in denying it here and vacated the district court's judgment. Mr. Agyeman can bring his case again, this time with appointed counsel. Happily, he also won his INS appeal a few weeks ago, and so is now a free man.