Osborn McDerby Named as Top Boutique Law Firm in California

By Alex Shively
Daily Journal Staff Writer

SAN FRANCISCO – Partner Stephen M. Osborn is great at making the numbers work for his clients. But for his own firm, he has a formula that might not seem to add up.

“We talk about the idea that one plus one equals five,” he said. “Meaning less is more. The fewer people we have on the deal, the greater depth we can go into with our clients.”

Founded in 2012, Osborn McDerby LLP has carved out a niche in the small corporate transactions market in the Bay Area, taking advantage of greater creativity in the hiring choices of in-house counsel.

“This is the era of the boutique firms,” Osborne observed. “Companies have been finding out that they can do all the same kinds of work as the larger firms but they are also more responsive and the work does not bounce around between as many people.”

Partner Richard G. J. McDerby agrees. He pointed to his work this year with Varian Medical Systems Inc. as an example of how close collaboration can transform client relationships.

“With Varian, we actually sat in on the company’s strategy meeting for approaching the acquisition targets,” he said, “and that helped us streamline our approach as we were able to follow the deals quickly through to completion.”

Kimberley E. Honeysett, assistant general counsel at Varian, praised Osborn McDerby’s legal and business advisory contributions to the company’s expansion this year.

“They helped us on the letters of intent,” she said, “and were great assets on the negotiation and leverage aspects of the deal. They are a great firm to work with because they’ll go in depth with you and always make themselves available.”

Crestlight Venture Productions LLP managing partner Jens Horstmann is a longtime firm client. He praised the firm’s ability to deliver results in a cost-conscious manner.© 2014 The Daily Journal Corporation. All rights reserved.

“This year they helped us invest in a startup company,” Horstmann said. “We had taken the deal to DLA [Piper] first and they gave us a horrendous quote. Then we went to Osborn McDerby and they gave us a very economical plan that we could implement in 10 days.”

While he uses other lawyers from time to time, he appreciates the amount of personalization that Osborn McDerby provides.

“Cooley is our counsel of record,” Horstmann said, “but we rely very heavily on Osborn McDerby for a lot of things. They are very knowledgeable and economical and we have developed a handshake protocol that allows us to save on emails and documents and gets things done quicker.”

The firm has three primary practice groups: M&A, finance and private equity. It also offers general counsel services to companies that take in $5 million or more in yearly revenue. For M&A, the firm targets deals below the $100 million mark. Osborn said that the firm’s $100 million cap is about brand building.

“While we would love to get high-profile work,” he said, “we want to make sure that we can first establish our reputation handling the smaller stuff.”

Recently, the firm has been taking big steps forward in growth. Earlier this year, the firm added Mike B. Dunn as a partner. It also grabbed Chris Dayans , an associate from DLA Piper’s Moscow office. Leah Schlesinger, formerly of Axiom Law, is set to join the firm on Oct. 20. This will bring the firm’s attorney count up to six from three at the start of the year.

“I think that the people that we hired are genuinely interested in the idea of working for a boutique,” Osborn said. “Leah, for instance, had other opportunities but chose to come here because here you get a shot to work with clients on every aspect of their business.”

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