Peter Mostow, the leader of the renewable energy practice at Stoel Rives, has decamped to Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, along with John Pierce, another partner in the practice.
Mostow joins a growing list of attorneys who have left Stoel's San Francisco office this year. Pierce, based in Seattle, will remain in that city. Both partners left Stoel on Tuesday and started work at Wilson the next day, according to firm spokespeople.
Stoel director of marketing William Kueser said the latest departures were not an indicator of the health of Stoel's renewable energy practice, which remains "very healthy."
Mostow and Pierce did not respond to phone calls seeking comment.
Stoel Rives is known for its land use and real estate practices, said San Diego-based legal recruiter Larry Watanabe, and a leap from that firm to tech powerhouse Wilson Sonsini doesn't make a lot of sense on its face. But considering that renewable energy issues are in the headlines all the time — and that venture capital investment is pouring into the field — Mostow and Pierce's move seems a lot more logical, Watanabe said.
"That area of expertise is in demand," he said. "It's an issue that's right out in front of everybody right now."
Stoel's 2005 profits per partner was $425,000 and its gross income was $164.5 million. Wilson Sonsini's PPP for 2006 was $1,275,000 and its gross revenue was $460 million.
Wilson Sonsini's close ties with the venture capital community and its tendency to leap into up-and-coming practice areas also make Mostow and Pierce's move a fitting one, Watanabe said.
Mostow had moved from Portland, Ore., to San Francisco to take advantage of California's booming renewable energy field. He told The Recorder in September that since the move he felt "like a kid in a candy store."
"This is a lot like the dot-com boom," he said. "We are experiencing just the beginning of a fairly fundamental economic revolution in the energy sector, and California is taking the lead."
Last month, five Stoel partners left the Portland firm's San Francisco office. Environmental attorney Christopher Keele, who was managing partner of Stoel's four California offices, left and took three colleagues to launch the San Francisco branch of boutique firm Thomas, Whitelaw & Tyler, based in Irvine, Calif.
Bruce Flushman, also an environmental attorney, joined Oakland, Calif.-based Wendel, Rosen, Black & Dean.
Kueser said the departure of Keele and his three colleagues was going to happen anyway, because the firm had decided not to maintain its asbestos practice. Mostow was scheduled to head back to Portland, and his tenure in the firm's San Francisco office was always going to be only one year long.
"In the last 18 months, we've hired 15 people. We are pulling recruits away from the top-tier firms in California," Kueser said. "Invariably, there is movement among law firms. It's a fact of doing business in a competitive market. We feel good about where we are and about our prospects."
Stoel now has 14 attorneys in its San Francisco office, according to its Web site. Last year, the firm added eight attorneys to its ranks there.