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Crowell & Moring Hires Team of Lawyers in Late Startup Atrium


Crowell & Moring has hired four former lawyers from the recently closed legal services firm Atrium to expand its growing office in San Francisco.

The firm has recruited the co-managing partners of Atrium, Michel Narganes and Matthew Melville, as well as the founding lawyer and former head of the Atriums venture capital financing team, Jon OConnell, as well as the lawyer Matt Penlar . The four, all of whom worked in Big Law before joining Atrium, will be part of the emerging companies Crowell & Morings and the venture capital practice group.

They really understand the venture capital community, they are engaged, said Phil Inglima, president of Crowell & Moring, in an interview. They had the real advantage of Atriums’ excellent reputation in the emerging business space, and this also extends to the venture capital firms that often provide start-up and development capital for these businesses.

Atrium, a highly regarded legal services startup based in San Francisco, founded by Silicon Valley entrepreneur Justin Kan, was dissolved in March. The company has combined great corporate talent with a software platform to offer start-up clients legal services at lower prices than traditional businesses.

Inglima said that while Atrium’s hires were in the pipeline long before the coronavirus crisis escalated in the United States, the partnership made its final decision on hiring after San Francisco had already been considerably closed for cause of virus.

We made this decision in these circumstances because we believe it is the right thing for our business and it is the right people, said Inglima.

The hiring side market is expected to slow down largely due to the economic difficulties caused by the coronavirus epidemic. Companies can become more cautious about investing in lateral activities, although the outlook varies from company to company.

We haven’t put an end to all of our lateral expansion plans and we’re looking very closely at the growth opportunities on both coasts, and the opportunities still in Europe, said Inglima, but he said that Crowell & Moring is committed to ensuring the proper amount of diligence and alignment in its hires and to respecting the dire circumstances that clients may encounter.

Digital strategy

The new recruits join a San Francisco office founded in 2009, which now has a total of 30 lawyers. Crowell & Moring, a Washington-based company, often associated with areas of practice closely related to the nation’s capital, such as government contracts, has been busy growing on the West Coast. The firm’s three offices, which also have outposts in Los Angeles and Orange County, have grown from around 25 to 100 lawyers over the past decade.

Atrium’s lawyers, along with another new recruit, Steven Ryan, who is joining DLA Piper in Washington, will reinforce an ongoing digital transformation initiative at Crowell & Moring.

As EC / VC lawyers, being at the forefront is essential to what we do, said Narganes. We were also drawn to [Crowell & Morings] strong litigation and regulatory practices as many of our clients work in regulated industries and need advice to navigate Washington. This is crucial for emerging companies who need to become familiar with regulations earlier in their life cycle.

Bloomberg Law reported in March that Narganes and Melville planned to run a small law firm outside of what used to be Atrium.

We have explored the management of Atrium Law as a boutique law firm and determined that we can better serve our clients at Crowell, said Melville. Crowell offers the best of both worlds price flexibility so that we can appeal to emerging businesses and deep sophistication in many areas of practice as our customers progress.

Other tech and digital lawyers recently hired by Crowell & Moring include Michelle Gitlitz, who joined the firm from Blank Rome last October and is the global director of its blockchain and digital assets practice.

The final hiring team was faced with the unique task of starting a whole new job during the Covid-19 epidemic.

OConnell said the move to Crowell & Moring at this time has been beneficial because government practices in dealing with Crowell & Morings are able to provide real-time advice and business impact advice to customers who navigate a myriad of problems associated with the Covid-19 pandemic.

Just last week, they hosted several webinars daily on the provisions of the $ 2 trillion stimulus bill, he said.

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