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 >

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 >

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Patents for Human Genes Face Legal Challenge

May 21, 2009

Fenwick & West partner Dr. Michael Shuster was quoted in a MedPage Today article titled "Patents for Human Genes Face Legal Challenge."

Along with more traditional inventions, products and ideas, the U.S. Office of Patent and Trademark Office allows for parts of the human genome to be patented. This in turn enables patenting organizations to have the ultimate say in how tests and procedures on specific genes can be carried out. Approximately 20% of the human genome has been covered under such patents.

But now, an ACLU-led group of plaintiffs (comprised of scientists, civil libertarians and cancer patients) is challenging the merits of that patent system.

Their lawsuit was spurred after a patient in Texas was denied additional "second opinion" tests for ovarian cancer because no other tests could be performed on the gene in question without prior permission of the company that had it patented. The plaintiffs point to this as an example of how patents on the human genome constrict not just patients' rights, but also the progress of medical practice and research.

"[The lawsuit] is an attempt to define where you draw the line," said Shuster, Ph.D., J.D., an intellectual property lawyer at the San Francisco firm of Fenwick & West. "There is concern that patents are not serving their constitutional objective of promoting science and technology, but instead are hindering it."

Still, Shuster insisted that gene patents should not be disallowed entirely. He suggested that organizations filing for such patents should be required to demonstrate an understanding of the specific gene they wish to lock up, which would prevent a "land grab" of patents being filed broadly across parts of the human genome.

"You had to have some idea about how you could specifically use it," said Shuster.

Click here to read the full article by Charles Bankhead.