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May 17, 2011 3:58 PM

Wilson Sonsini Reaps Benefits from LinkedIn IPO Connection

Posted by Brian Baxter

LinkedIn may raise more than $405 million through an initial public offering this week that values the world's leading online professional network at more than $4 billion, The New York Times reports

That's good news for LinkedIn's lawyers at Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati. An SEC filing on Tuesday reveals that the Mountain View, Calif.-based company estimates its legal fees and expenses related to the offering at $1.5 million.

The Am Law Daily reported in January on Wilson Sonsini's role advising on the IPO after LinkedIn first filed registration papers with the SEC. Vice-chair Jeffrey Saper and corporate partners Katherine Martin and Jon Avina, all three based in Palo Alto, Calif., are leading a team from the firm.

Cooley national business chair Eric Jensen and securities regulation partner John McKenna are advising underwriters Allen & Company, Bank of America/Merrill Lynch, JPMorgan Chase, Morgan Stanley, and UBS Investment Bank.

Both Cooley and Wilson Sonsini have ties to top in-house lawyers at LinkedIn. The names of general counsel Erika Rottenberg and corporate counsel Lora Blum appear on LinkedIn's latest filing with the SEC. According to their LinkedIn profiles, Rottenberg began her legal career at Cooley, while Blum previously was a partner at Jones Day and Heller Ehrman after spending five years as an associate at Wilson Sonsini and Brobeck, Phleger & Harrison. (LinkedIn's latest SEC filing shows that Rottenberg received $321,363 in total compensation last year, including $225,000 in salary.)

The U.S. IPO market has been hot lately and LinkedIn's public listing comes at a time when technology stocks are soaring ahead of a long-awaited IPO by social networking site Facebook within the next yearThe Economist opined this week about a looming tech bubble and warned investors to be cautious of "irrational exuberance" in the market.

In January, online content and domain name registration services provider Demand Media raised $151 million through an IPO, a month after Beijing-based online video provider Youku.com raised more than $200 million. Both companies estimated legal fees and costs related to their public listings at $2.6 million and $300,000, respectively. Earlier this month, Renren, a social networking giant considered to be the Facebook of China, spent $2.5 million in legal fees on its way to an IPO that raised $740 million.

LinkedIn, which has more than 100 million members in more than 200 countries, is the latest IPO to send tech stocks soaring. Lawyers are at least benefiting from the company's connections.

As reported in this space three years ago, LinkedIn forged a partnership with legal directory Martindale-Hubbell to reach out to a legal audience. Bloomberg recently reported that Google used LinkedIn for a job posting seeking an antitrust attorney to help the online search giant as it faces increased regulatory scrutiny.

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