- The Washington Times - Friday, November 17, 2000

A Silicon Valley-based law firm will move its Northern Virginia office from McLean to Reston, one of three firms to announce expansion plans in booming Fairfax County, Va., this week.

The massive growth of Northern Virginia technology companies and the opportunity make big money representing those businesses particularly in lucrative fields like intellectual property and copyright law is luring law firms from downtown Washington as well as the West Coast, where many firms have experience helping technology clients.

"The vibrancy of the area is what brought us here," said Michael Raschid, head of the technology practice within Wilson, Sonsini, Goodrich & Rosati, a Palo Alto, Calif.-based firm that announced plans yesterday to move its Northern Virginia office from McLean to a 16-story office tower being built in Reston Town Center.

Meanwhile, Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP of Philadelphia on Wednesday said it will lease 42,500 square feet at 1600 Tysons Blvd., a building under construction in McLean.

Also Wednesday, Morrison & Foerster LLP, an international firm, announced it was opening an office in McLean.

Wilson Sonsini opened its McLean office in March, leasing about 37,000 square feet for 26 lawyers. It expects to have between 40 and 50 lawyers when it moves into its 87,244-square-foot office in the new Reston building in two years, Mr. Raschid said.

"McLean is helping us get up and running, but Reston is where we will make our home in Northern Virginia," he said, adding that the firm wants to be closer to other professional services firms in Reston.

Thomas J. D'Alesandro, one of two developers building Wilson Sonsini's new home, said law firms demand more sophisticated office space than other tenants.

"They're not going to lease space in a single-story office building in a suburban office campus," he said.

Reston Town Center a 460-acre planned community 18 miles west of the District mixes expensive offices, homes and shops with upscale restaurants, such as the Morton's of Chicago steakhouse chain, which also announced a new outlet in Reston Town Center yesterday.

An older Reston office tower built by Mr. D'Alesandro has attracted tenants like Andersen Consulting, which last year moved its regional headquarters and 2,000 employees from downtown Washington.

Mr. D'Alesandro said the presence of prestigious firms like Wilson Sonsini further bolsters Reston, where office space typically leases for about $28 a square foot, making it one of the most expensive office markets in Northern Virginia.

The most expensive market in the region is the Crystal City section of Arlington, where space leases for about $31 a square foot, according to Delta Associates, a local real estate research firm.

The firms that announced offices in McLean this week Morgan, Lewis & Bockius and Morrison & Foerster also have operations in the District of Columbia.

"We want clients to view the Tysons Corner office not as a satellite office, but as a full-service office that [has] the added benefit of having another full-service office in downtown D.C.," said Stephen M. Goodwin, a lead technology practice lawyer for Morgan Lewis.

Lawrence Greenberg, a staff attorney for Motley Fool Inc., an on-line financial services company based in Alexandria, said his company uses several firms, including Morrison & Foerster, to give them advice on complicated technology legal matters, like intellectual property law, as well as conventional business matters like employee stock option plans.

"They are a sanity check. You do look toward them for wisdom," Mr. Greenberg said.

Suburban technology companies like having lawyers nearby because executives do not want to fight city traffic to get legal advice, he added.

Mr. D'Alesandro said Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett & Dunner, another firm with a D.C. office, also will take space in Two Freedom Square, Wilson Sonsini's new home in Reston.

He said two additional law firms are expected to sign leases for the building.

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