History

A Legacy of Excellence

Nearly a century ago, Arthur Cooley and Louis Crowley started a law partnership in the Humboldt Bank building in San Francisco. From that small seed grew the flourishing law firm now known as Cooley LLP, which today has 11 offices and approximately 750 attorneys practicing law in areas ranging from Life Sciences and Venture Capital to Technology Transactions and Intellectual Property and Commercial Litigation to Tax and Bankruptcy, among others.

The path from our founding to the present has not been without challenges. Nine years after the firm began in 1920, the Great Depression rocked the nation. World wars and numerous regional conflicts followed, as have myriad fluctuations in the stock market and several cultural revolutions. These social, political and economic phenomena have impacted business paradigms and changed the practice of law.

Our founders and those who joined the firm in its early years ensured its adaptability and shaped its future. Those such as Fred Supple, Bill Godward, Rowan Gaither, Ed Huddleson, Gus Castro and Sandy Tatum were much more than talented attorneys. They were engaging, bright, warm individuals with great integrity and respect for the people who comprised their firm. For many years, the firm was known as Cooley, Crowley, Gaither, Godward, Castro & Huddleson. In 1972, we became Cooley, Godward, Castro, Huddleson & Tatum; in 1996, we became known as Cooley Godward and in 2006, Cooley Godward Kronish. Today, Cooley is the product of the strong foundation built by these founders.

Cooley has adapted and grown with the times, all the while staying true to the culture established by our founders. The firm has been at the forefront of several emerging industries, including venture capital, information technology and life sciences. In 1958, Cooley formed Draper, Gaither and Anderson, the first venture capital partnership to be organized on the West Coast. The firm also established its prominence in the field of information technology when it formed Raychem in 1957 and National Semiconductor in 1959. Cooley took Genentech public in 1980 and Amgen in 1983, positioning the firm as one of the leaders in the life sciences industry.

As these Cooley clients at the leading edge of innovation grew, Cooley began to represent them in litigations to protect and exploit the value of their intellectual property and secure market position. In 1998, for example, Cooley assisted Qualcomm in resolving disputes and entering into a series of agreements with Ericsson, which paved the way for the future of global wireless communications. Cooley represented many of these companies in other critical disputes as well, including the representation of Raytheon in multifaceted litigation growing out of one of the largest Superfund sites in the country over the allocation of liability among neighboring companies and carriers in which Cooley ultimately tried to verdict a case in which we secured a significant judgment for our client.

As the firm grew in size and reputation, it also expanded geographically. In 1980, the firm made a strategic and pioneering decision to establish a presence in Silicon Valley, and Cooley's second office was opened in Palo Alto. In the early 1990s, Cooley expanded beyond the San Francisco Bay Area. In 1992, Cooley took Qualcomm public and soon opened an office in San Diego to support this and other clients in the Southern California region.

Cooley also became the first Silicon Valley firm to establish a presence in Colorado when it opened an office in Boulder in 1993. Today, Cooley serves the Rocky Mountain corridor from Broomfield, Colorado. In 1999, Cooley expanded to the East Coast with an office in Reston, Virginia and immediately became a leading firm in this newest technology hotbed. In 2005, Cooley opened its second East Coast office, expanding into Washington, D.C.

In the fall of 2006, Kronish Lieb Weiner & Hellman LLP, a premier New York firm, with highly ranked bankruptcy, tax and complex commercial and white collar litigation practices joined Cooley. The union created a firm with a coast-to-coast, high-caliber litigation practice, extensive corporate and transactional capabilities and a significant presence in New York. The name of the firm became Cooley Godward Kronish LLP.

In July 2007, Cooley solidified its presence on the East Coast when it expanded into Boston. With market-leading expertise in emerging and public companies, life sciences, venture and private equity fund representation, mergers and acquisitions, intellectual property and commercial litigation, Cooley positioned itself in one of the leading technology and life sciences centers in the world.

The fall of 2008 brought further expansion with the addition of 15 partners, four of whom opened Cooley's Seattle, Washington office. By adding significant Pacific Rim and Pacific Northwest-based life sciences, clean technology and technology experience, Cooley deepened its national position as a market leader representing emerging growth companies, established technology businesses and investors.

In December 2011, Cooley opened its Shanghai office to provide on the ground presence in greater China. Cooley had been working with clients in China, including Taiwan, on both inbound and outbound matters for 22 years, so the addition of an office in the People's Republic of China's fastest growing market represented a strategic addition to the firm's network.

Cooley opened its 11th office in July 2012 in Santa Monica, the converging point for technology, media and venture capital in greater Los Angeles. With the addition of the LA office, Cooley now has a presence in each of the four largest venture and emerging company markets in the US, a group that includes the San Francisco Bay Area, New England, New York and Los Angeles.

In January 2014, Cooley combined with regulatory law firm Dow Lohnes, in Washington, DC.  Through the transaction, Cooley added more than 50 attorneys and many other non-lawyer professionals and industry specialists to its fast-growing office in the nation's capital. The deal pushed Cooley into a Top-30 Washington, DC law firm by size, with comprehensive "Inside the Beltway" regulatory experience.

Now a renowned international law firm, Cooley still retains its core values and culture. Among these values is a strong commitment to delivering high-quality work, supporting clients' business goals, observing the highest ethical standards and maintaining a collegial atmosphere with an emphasis on teamwork and mutual respect. In addition, the firm's long tradition of community service and commitment to pro bono work remains paramount.


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Cooley was founded in 1920 – for our story, visit our history page.