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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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Metadata: To Scrub or Not To Scrub

February 01, 2008

Robert Brownstone, Law and Technology Director at Fenwick & West, recently wrote an article published in California Bar Journal, the official publication of The State Bar of California.

Brownstone cautions against the hidden dangers of electronic document metadata or data about data. In the legal and Information Technology (IT) worlds, the term "metadata," generally refers to information describing the history, tracking or management of an electronic document. It may fall into three categories: file system, email, and document or embedded data. Brownstone offers relevant examples of how each type of metadata has the potential to cause unintended problems in the future.

File system metadata, for example, tracks authorship and modifications of electronic files. If lawyers fail to remove certain metadata, they may inadvertently divulge another client's name. Email metadata, a sub-category of file system metadata, may offer additional insight into a sender's domain and the route a message has traveled. Document or embedded data is the most complex and may be the most dangerous, as individuals are often unaware that certain embedded content still exists in the file. Examples include revision changes, such as the "track changes" function in Microsoft Word, text in white font, and text in trailers. When exposed these metadata may reveal confidential information and could even lead to a breach of attorney-client privilege.

Lawyers must be aware of the implicit legal, procedural, technological and ethical obligations of metadata. Metadata mishaps may be avoided with Brownstone's "Three E's": Establish, Educate, and Enforce. Firms should create overall information management policies, appropriately train employees, and deploy requisite software, such as a document scrubbing program. These basic steps protect sensitive information and are necessary to avoid the hidden dangers of metadata.