Just as Silicon Valley’s technology economy has slumped since 2001, the Washington, D.C., area’s tech sector has suffered in the downturn, Davidson said. The D.C. region is recovering too slowly for Fenwick to continue staffing there, he said.
Fenwick opened its office in the nation’s capital in 1986 with one attorney. In 2000, Fenwick increased its Washington, D.C., attorney ranks to 12 as the telecommunications industry around the Beltway boomed with growing companies like Nextel Communications Inc., XO Communications Inc. and Ciena Corp.
In closing its Washington, D.C., office, Fenwick joins several other Bay Area firms that have shuttered satellite locations over the past year. Among the local firms closing branches are San Francisco’s Heller Ehrman White & McAuliffe and Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP and Palo Alto’s Cooley Godward LLP.
Like many of its peers that rely largely on technology-related legal work, Fenwick is undergoing lean times. The 271-attorney firm reported revenue of $142 million in 2002, a 10 percent decline from the year before. Within the last few weeks, firm management declined to give across the board raises to staff, as was done the year before.