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Irell & Manella Names Matthew Sant and Gregory Klein Co-chairs of its Emerging Technologies Practice Group

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Pair tapped to lead group harnessing Irell’s IP, litigation, private equity and corporate work groups for emerging companies deploying "disruptive" technologies

Century City & Newport Beach, CA -- Irell & Manella LLP has named partners Matthew Sant and Gregory Klein co-chairs of its Emerging Technologies practice group. The move formalizes a practice area that has long been part of Irell’s DNA — advising innovative companies developing disruptive technologies.

The group’s primary mandate is to advise emergent tech firms on a broad range of legal and business advice — including business formation, intellectual property protection and licensing, venture capital and private equity financing, mergers and acquisitions, tax structure and public offerings. The practice also counsels on employment issues facing young technology companies, such as executive compensation, director and officer issues, and stock option and incentive plans.

"Irell has a long history of representing companies that break the mold, reshaping how business is done in industries such as energy, entertainment, information technology, transportation and healthcare," said Mr. Sant, a partner in the firm’s Newport Beach office. "We felt the time was right to create a designated practice housing all of our key disciplines on behalf of technology pioneers."

Mr. Sant, a member of Irell’s IP and private equity groups, has built a practice heavily focused on technology transactions. He counsels a number of novel technology companies, among them Los Angeles-based Venture Vehicles, developer of innovative hybrid and alternative fuel vehicles, and Eclipse Aviation Corp., an Albuquerque, N.M.-based manufacturer of very light jets. For both companies, Mr. Sant assisted in early-stage financing, and advised on intellectual property development and licensing, as well as general corporate matters. Sant also advises several major universities, research firms and spin-off companies on commercialization and licensing strategies related to cutting-edge technologies.

Mr. Klein, a partner in Irell’s Century City office, concentrates on corporate transactions, including venture capital, public and private financing, and mergers and acquisitions. His clients include several of the country’s leading private equity firms in the green tech and renewable energy area. For the past several years, he has represented Los Angeles-based US Renewables Group, which manages two green tech investment funds with $575 million under management focused on biofuel, geothermal, solar and related investments. Another of Klein’s clients, Los Angeles-based NanoH2O Inc., deploys nanotechnology to create advanced membrane materials for the desalination and water reuse industries.

"With so much capital being directed towards the renewable and green tech sectors, we have been very busy," Mr. Klein said. "Irell brings a powerful combination of transactional experience, technology know-how and industry relationships that make for a successful platform for doing all kinds of deals for alternative energy companies, and other clients with breakthrough technologies."

In addition to clean tech and transportation, the Emerging Technologies practice has advised companies in the fields of electronics, entertainment, nanotechnology, information technology, biotechnology/genetics and cognitive science and artificial intelligence. Irell's transactional Emerging Technologies practice is augmented by the firm's internationally-recognized intellectual property group.

A few additional examples of representative transactions by the Emerging Technologies group:

  • Represented Pleasanton, Calif.-based Fulcrum BioEnergy, Inc., a company proposing to convert municipal solid waste into biofuels, in negotiations of a first-of-its-kind commercial relationship with Rutland, Vt.-based Casella Waste Systems, Inc.
  • Negotiated and structured the financing and development program for the world’s first privately-funded manned spacecraft.
  • Represented San Francisco-based U.S. Biodiesel Group II, LLC in the multi-million dollar sale of its principal assets to Renewable Energy Group, a leading biodiesel producer and marketer, in exchange for preferred stock, common stock and warrants.
  • Represented Santa Monica, Calif.-based SolarReserve, LLC in completion of a worldwide license agreement from United Technologies regarding utility-scale solar power plant technology and ongoing corporate matters.
  • Represented a fund managed by Angeleno Group, a Los Angeles-based private equity firm focused on high-growth energy investments in a preferred venture investment in Oakland, Calif.-based eCullet, Inc., as well as in Larkspur, Calif.-based SunLink Corp., a designer and manufacturer of solutions for integrating solar electric power systems.

"Matt Sant and Greg Klein are the ideal lawyers to head up our Emerging Technologies practice," noted Irell managing partner David Siegel. "Like many of the firm’s clients, they’re young, innovative and creative, with experience beyond their years. Companies working to develop and commercialize new standard-setting technologies will find an ideal partner in Irell for advancing their businesses on all fronts."

Irell & Manella LLP is a full service law firm with approximately 220 attorneys in offices in Los Angeles and Newport Beach, CA. Founded in 1941, Irell is nationally recognized for its tax, entertainment, intellectual property, corporate and litigation practices. Irell was named the Number 1 U.S. law firm for intellectual property by Chambers Global in 2005 and 2006. The firm’s clients include Fortune 500 corporations, universities, and leading-edge entrepreneurial companies in aviation, life sciences and medical devices, telecommunications, gaming, finance, technology and consumer electronics, and entertainment. For more, visit

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