Axelrad, Fore leave Wilson Sonsini(2)

Venture capital fund formation luminaries Jonathan Axelrad and Robert Fore have left Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati for Goodwin Procter.

Silicon Valley law firm Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati has lost Jonathan Axelrad and Robert Fore, the co-heads of its fund service practice, to law firm Goodwin Procter.

The departures come amid option backdating scandals that have affected Wilson Sonsini’s clients, including Apple Inc and Brocade Communications.

Counsel Gerald Chacon Jr. will follow Axelrad and Fore to Goodwin Procter. The trio are noted venture capital fund formation lawyers whose clients include major Silicon Valley players including Sequoia Capital, Clearstone Venture Partners, Trident Capital and VantagePoint Venture Partners.

According to a press release, Axelrad, Fore and Chacon’s practice, combined with Goodwin Procter’s involved almost 20 percent of all the new capital commitments made to venture capital funds in 2006.

The hires come as part of Goodwin Procter’s effort to build a bi-coastal practice. The Boston law firm has opened five offices in California in the last 18 months; the Palo Alto office, where Axelrad, Fore and Chacon will be based, opened in June.

In 2005, Goodwin Procter added nearly 100 attorneys from Testa Hurwitz & Thibeault, which dissolved as a partnership. Testa Hurwitz was among the top law firms for East Coast venture capital. Over 200 of Goodwin Procter’s 850 attorneys focus on technology, life sciences, private equity and venture capital.

Sonsini sat on the board of Brocade Communications, one of the first companies to be investigated for backdated share options. He is also alleged to have advised on the share option grant to Steve Jobs at Apple Inc, which is also being investigated.