BOULDER — It wasn’t much of a move — at least in terms of distance — for Boulder attorney Mark Weakley this summer when he left Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner LLP for a partnership role at Faegre Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP.
“I only had to walk my boxes two blocks down” from BCLP’s downtown Boulder offices to his new digs at Faegre Drinker’s Walnut Street practice, Weakley, an attorney in the city for more than two decades, told BizWest.
Along with his boxes, Weakley brought with him from Bryan Cave colleagues Dee Anne Sjögren, also a new partner at Faegre Drinker in the firm’s Midwest office, and Jeremy Kollitz, an associate in Faegre Drinker’s Denver office who formerly worked as a regulator with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and as an in-house lawyer with Boulder-born startup accelerator Techstars.
Weakley’s practice focuses mainly on private fund formation and compliance, venture capital firms and technology startups.
“The Rocky Mountain region has a really strong private funds industry,” Weakley said.
Kollitz said the Boulder-Denver startup fundraising ecosystem owes much of its strength to its “young, highly educated workforce and a regulatory [environment] that promotes entrepreneurship fairly well.”
He continued: “As that relates to our practice, because you have so much entrepreneurship, you have emerging asset managers who we get to help with raising capital and guiding them along the lines of regulatory compliance.”
While the region “is a great place to live and attracts a lot of talent,” Weakley, who went to law school at the Boston University School of Law, said there is still room for growth and opportunities to join cities such as San Francisco, Seattle, Boston and Chicago among the top destinations for startups and the companies who fund them.
“It’s not yet a market where companies are growing, going public and then being internationally dominant players in their fields,” he said. “But it’s just a matter of time.”
Teams like the one Weakley brought with him to Faegre Drinker exist to support firms that could eventually put the Front Range among the world’s top tier technology hubs.
“We were thrilled to get the opportunity to join a bigger investment management group practice,” Sjögren told BizWest. “We’ve got lots of really smart people who do what we do, and it’s nice to be a part of a bigger club with smart people you can bounce ideas off.”
Kollitz said he jokes “with Mark and Dee Anne that they’re the two rock stars and I’m the roadie for their band.”
Weakley, who had been with Bryan Cave for more than a decade before jumping aboard the Faegre Drinker train, said the 2019 merger of Drinker Biddle & Reath and Faegre Baker Daniels “really put it on the map of investment management” and “gave it critical mass,” which made it attractive to his practice group.
He said he had a pretty good idea about what he was getting into when he decided to make the change.
“I knew a lot of the folks from Faegre’s Boulder and Denver offices already,” Weakley said. “So that groundwork can get laid over a period of years before you make a decision to consider [moving to a new] firm. You have relationships already and you know what the culture is.”
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