PALO ALTO, CA (January 17, 2023)— Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, the premier provider of legal services to technology, life sciences, and growth enterprises worldwide, announced today that Fleur Benns, Sarah Lane, and Martin Luff have joined the firm as partners in the London office. The addition reflects Wilson Sonsini’s continued growth in London and that the firm has extended its London-based service offerings to include employee incentives and benefits (Benns), tax (Lane), and employment (Luff).
The combination of new practice areas and Wilson Sonsini’s existing US and UK corporate and regulatory capabilities in London means the firm now has an integrated, US/UK-qualified, transatlantic deal team under one roof and one brand in London, with the core strategic skillsets that UK and European tech companies need to successfully grow their businesses.
Since opening in London in 2018, Wilson Sonsini has expanded by adding talented transatlantic-focused lawyers who apply their international experience to support the growth of UK and European tech companies — from launching, scaling, and raising capital to exiting via M&A, IPO, or otherwise — with a particular focus on UK and European tech companies exploring US expansion, fundraising and/or exit. The firm has a formidable position in London’s tech ecosystem — and also other UK and European markets — as the go-to firm for technology companies with transatlantic ambitions.
Originally launching its London office with one US partner and a handful of professional staff, Wilson Sonsini now has 38 London-based US, UK and dual US/UK-qualified attorneys — including 11 partners — and nearly 50 London employees overall.
“Our decision to open in London was driven by market demand for the unique mix of legal and strategic business-related advice that has always been a hallmark of Silicon Valley,” said Doug Clark, managing partner at Wilson Sonsini. “Since then, market demand in London is why we’ve grown, through steady and strategic additions of talented attorneys like Fleur, Sarah, and Martin. This is also why we’ve added core skillsets, like theirs, that UK and European tech companies want and need to successfully grow their businesses — and we have all of that in one office, under Wilson Sonsini’s unique brand.”
Fleur Benns was previously a legal director within the Share Plans and Incentives team at Pinsent Masons LLP since 2018. She has more than 20 years of experience as a specialist employee incentives and benefits attorney, with particular experience in the technology and life sciences sectors combined with experience supporting US companies on incentive issues arising in respect of both acquisitions and investments into the UK. She has advised on the implementation of equity and share plans and on the operation of existing arrangements for public and private companies, including those with private equity and venture capital investors. Previously, she worked closely with the corporate teams at her firms on investment and M&A transaction support. Prior to joining Pinsent Masons, Benns worked as a legal director within a specialist employee incentives and benefits team at Bird & Bird LLP from 2010 to 2018. Before that, she was a senior associate at Baker McKenzie from 2007 to 2009; an associate at Taylor Wessing LLP from 2001 to 2007; and an associate and trainee at Olswang LLP from 1997 to 2001. She received her undergraduate degree from King’s College, University of London and her legal qualifications from the College of Law. She is admitted to practise as a Solicitor of England and Wales.
Sarah Lane was previously senior tax counsel in Simpson Thacher’s London office. At Simpson, she led tax work on multiple M&A and capital markets transactions. She has worked in both law firms and tax consultancy, including 12 years as a partner in a Big 4 firm dealing with international tax and M&A across a broad range of sectors from tech to capital markets. Her experience includes providing tax advice in the venture capital, M&A, private equity, and fund formation spaces and dealing with major international transactions, as well as advising clients on tax disputes. She particularly enjoys working with early-stage clients to establish their businesses and partnering with them as they grow. Her past experience includes time as an academic at the University of Leeds. She received her M.A. degree from Corpus Christi College, University of Oxford and trained and qualified as a solicitor with Linklaters in London. She is admitted to practise as a Solicitor of England and Wales.
Martin Luff is a US and UK-qualified employment lawyer and supports clients on a broad range of UK, US and international personnel matters. He was previously counsel in the London office of Vinson & Elkins for the past seven years. From 2009 to 2015, he was based in the Vinson & Elkins Houston office. He has extensive experience dealing with the employment aspects of business transactions. He also counsels clients on day-to-day UK and US human resources and personnel issues, including employment and consultancy agreements, international employee transfers and expatriate arrangements, disciplinary and performance issues, non-competition and non-solicitation covenants, redundancies and group layoffs, senior executive terminations, and employment disputes. Luff joined Vinson & Elkins in 2009 from global consulting firm ERM, where he served as in-house legal counsel in Houston and London. He began his career in 2002 as a trainee, then employment associate, at UK firm Travers Smith, where he worked until 2007. He received his LL.M. from the University of Texas School of Law, his LPC in law from Nottingham Law School, and his B.A. with honors from the University of Nottingham. He is admitted to practise as a Solicitor of England and Wales, and in Texas.
Wilson Sonsini’s London team has advised numerous iconic, high-growth UK- and European-based tech companies on significant transatlantic financing and exit transactions since opening the office in 2018. A representative list includes Babylon, Beamery, Checkout.com, Current Health, Multiverse, Peakon, Stability AI, TrueLayer, and WaveOptics. During the same time frame, the firm’s London-led US expansion team has counseled over 1,000 UK and other European start-ups on establishing and scaling US operations.
“In tech, the US-UK dynamic is not just the special relationship — it’s the essential relationship. There are more unicorns in the UK than anywhere else in Europe, and most of those companies have raised capital from US venture and growth capital investors,” said Daniel Glazer, managing partner of Wilson Sonsini’s London office. “Since launching in London in 2018, we’ve heard from the market loud and clear that UK and European tech companies want an integrated US-UK service offering, free from friction created by choice of governing law, time zones, and differing market norms and expectations. Our US/UK-qualified London team — backed by lawyers across our 14 US offices who have a particular cross-border focus — provides the transatlantic support for UK and European tech companies to compete and win in America and globally.”
About Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati
For more than 60 years, Wilson Sonsini’s services and legal disciplines have focused on serving the principal challenges faced by the management and boards of directors of business enterprises. The firm is nationally recognized as a leading provider to growing and established clients seeking legal counsel to complete sophisticated corporate and technology transactions; manage governance and enterprise-scale matters; assist with intellectual property development, protection, and IP-driven transactions; represent them in contested disputes; and/or advise them on antitrust or other regulatory matters. With deep roots in Silicon Valley, Wilson Sonsini has 19 offices in technology and business hubs worldwide. For more information, please visit www.wsgr.com.