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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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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 >

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Coping with the Challenges of Small Companies

September 22, 2014

​Stephen Graham, Fenwick & West co-chair of the life sciences practice group and managing partner of the Seattle office, was a featured speaker at the second National Association of Corporate Directors (NACD) Small-Cap Forum in San Francisco this summer and was quoted in NACD Directorship magazine in an article about the forum. NACD hosts these events in partnership with Fenwick, Epsen Fuller Group and Latham & Watkins.

July's Small-Cap Forum focused on helping directors understand the risks and responsibilities of growing a small company, especially given the pressures they face and the limits on their time and resources. During a discussion about maximizing the effectiveness of the three management committees common to most public companies—audit, compensation, and nominating and governance—Graham cautioned against directors on small boards serving on all three committees.

"Most experts will say you should not be on more than two of the key committees," Graham noted. "If everyone is required to serve on every committee, right away you have a situation where every director is stretched so thin that the question is raised as to whether they can properly do their jobs—and that becomes a risk management issue."

Regarding CEO succession planning, Graham said a company should have a "living document" detailing the attributes the CEO needs to have at each phase of the company's life. With such a document, the board will have a record of the kind of person they are looking for should the need for a new CEO arise. "If you don't spend enough time on this subject, you're not properly managing risk," Graham added.

Other topics discussed at the NACD Small-Cap Forum included drafting strategic plans that reflect innovative thinking appropriate for small companies, communicating with shareholders and proactively addressing their issues, being aware of risks that are unique to smaller firms and finding board members with the requisite mix of skills.

The full article from the September/October issue of NACD Directorship magazine is available here

 
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