12 Mar 2021

Willkie Farr adds tech-focused litigation partner to growing San Francisco office

Jonathan Patchen becomes the sixth partner to join the office since it opened in 2019

By Madeline Anderson


Willkie Farr & Gallagher is expanding its litigation practice with the hire of Baker Botts partner Jonathan Patchen in San Francisco.  

Patchen joins the firm as the sixth partner in its fledgling West Coast practice, which is headed by co-managing partners Simona Agnolucci and Benedict Hur, formerly of San Francisco-based litigation boutique Keker, Van Nest & Peters.  

A trial lawyer by trade, Patchen brings with him a expertise in both tech and commercial litigation, having served as co-chair of Baker Botts’ tech litigation practice group. His stint with Baker Botts lasted just under two years, during which he advised companies across the consumer brands, bioscience, technology and financial services industries on technology disputes. His clients included VC firm Atomic Labs, biopharmaceutical company Arcus Biosciences and MIT-born privacy tech specialist Enigma.  

The hire comes as New York-based Willkie looks to strengthen its West Coast tech-focused litigation capabilities, with the firm’s San Francisco office launch in 2019 being its second in the Bay Area. The firm made its West Coast debut a year prior with the establishment of its Palo Alto office, led by former Paul Hastings corporate partner duo Tiffany Lee and Matthew Berger.  

“Since the office opened in 2019, we have been in growth mode,” Agnolucci said. “We’ve had four partners join the San Francisco office in the last year, bringing the total partner count to six. We have also added to our team of associates. We are looking to grow not only our Bay Area litigation platform but also to add to our robust transactional team, which handles corporate and private equity matters here and in Palo Alto.” 

The firm primarily focuses on international finance, cross-border M&A and private equity, as well as insurance, capital markets and corporate crime. The launch of its two California offices reflects its goal to expand its work in tech transactions and IP.  

Hur said Patchen’s strong focus on tech “complements” the growth goals of the practice and will serve to “promote greater opportunities” for its tech-centric California client base. 

Meanwhile, Patchen said: “The opportunity to join a strong and growing litigation team and expand my tech litigation practice, especially as the firm is growing its tech platform in the Bay Area, was too good to pass up.” 

On top of his expertise in matters of tech litigation, Patchen also adds significant experience in complex civil litigation and arbitrations, having first-chaired a number of bench and jury trials in Californian federal courts.  

Willkie underwent a leadership change last year as restructuring partner Matthew Feldman took the reins from the firm’s chairman of 35 years Steven Gartner, who retired in December.  

Baker Botts has also been making moves as of late, hiring Norton Rose Fulbright’s US oil and gas lead Julie Mayo in Houston. Ted Chandler also joined as a partner in Baker’s IP practice in Los Angeles after 17 years at Sidley Austin.  

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