By September 2, 2021 No Comments

Latham expands market-leading Emerging Companies, Private Equity, and Capital Markets Practices to serve companies and investors driving Austin’s continuing ascent as a major commercial and innovation hub.

Latham & Watkins LLP1 announced today that it has opened a new office in Austin, Texas — a major hub for emerging companies, technology, life sciences, and private equity in Texas and nationally — and the addition of three new partners, Samer (Sam) Zabaneh, Jenifer Smith, and Scott Craig, who join the Emerging Companies Practice. Zabaneh will serve as the Office Managing Partner of the Austin office.

Austin represents an exciting opportunity to expand Latham & Watkins’ platform by establishing a market-leading full-service office in a city that continues to experience strong growth. Latham & Watkins is uniquely positioned to partner with the Austin business community in connection with its members’ most complex legal needs.

Latham’s new Austin-based partners advise a broad array of public and private companies as well as sponsors in high-growth industries on a wide range of mergers and acquisitions, IPOs and other securities offerings, growth equity and debt transactions, and leveraged buyouts. Each partner has extensive experience and deep ties to Austin, and collectively the group brings a proven track record advising founders, companies across all stages of development, venture capital firms, and private equity sponsors. Latham & Watkins also anticipates that current partners with strong ties to Texas generally will either permanently relocate to Austin or spend significant time in our Austin office.

Latham & Watkins Chair and Managing Partner Rich Trobman said: “We are delighted to open our newest office in Austin, which has fast emerged as a major hub for startups, corporates, and private equity in Texas and nationally. For key growth industries that are driving the global economy, Austin is an increasingly important market and represents a key milestone in the growth of our corporate practice. Sam, Jen, and Scott each bring broad transactional experience, deep knowledge of the market, as well as a diverse base of public and private high-growth clients and established ties to local venture capital and private equity funds.”

“Austin is a thriving market and a major force in the US and global economy. We intend to offer clients in Austin the very best of the Latham platform, by combining our new partners’ experience and skill sets with our already deep and successful bench spanning capital markets, venture capital, and private equity,” added Trobman.

The group includes:

  • Sam Zabaneh, who joins from DLA Piper and advises public and emerging private companies and their venture capital and private equity investors through their life cycles, from formation to liquidity. He has extensive experience advising on a range of securities, M&A, and general corporate matters, as well as various capital raising and liquidity event transactions. He also has experience with corporate governance and periodic reporting requirements for publicly held companies.
  •  Jenifer Smith, who joins from DLA Piper and represents public and private companies across a broad range of corporate and strategic matters, including venture capital financings, M&A, and capital markets transactions. She also advises boards of directors and management teams in a wide range of industries through the business life cycle, with a particular focus on corporate governance issues, as well as compliance with securities laws and SEC disclosure requirements.
  • Scott Craig, who joins from Wilson Sonsini and represents emerging growth and late stage venture capital backed companies in technology, life sciences, and other high-growth industries, as well as the private equity and venture capital funds that invest in those companies, on a wide array of legal matters including M&A, equity and debt financing, and general securities law matters. He routinely advises companies, boards of directors, and investors on corporate governance matters which arise throughout a company’s life cycle.

Charles Ruck, Global Chair of Latham & Watkins’ Corporate Department, said: “Sam, Jen, and Scott have high energy, ambition, and talent, and they share our vision to build a preeminent practice in Austin as an integral part of our US and global platform. They have longstanding personal and professional ties to the market, and their mix of experience working over many years at the cutting-edge of technology and life sciences for startup and high-growth companies is well aligned with our practice strengths.”

Ben Potter, Global Chair of Latham & Watkins’ Technology Industry Group and Global Vice Chair of the firm’s Emerging Companies Practice, added: “Latham combines access to a fully integrated global platform with extensive tech experience for emerging companies clients. The addition of Sam, Jen, and Scott — with their track records and impressive credentials — complements our strategy and bolsters our capabilities in the emerging company space, and, in particular, in the tech and life sciences sectors. We are proud to launch into the Austin market and look forward to building our presence in this vibrant and dynamic city.”

The group joins Latham’s formidable practice that has a long track record advising on cutting-edge transactions and high profile disputes for innovative companies. A few highlights:

Latham & Watkins is widely recognized for providing clients market-leading capabilities in key areas, including venture capital, capital markets, M&A, data privacy and security, IP litigation, and public company representation.

“Latham & Watkins is widely recognized and respected for its vast experience working with technology and life sciences companies, helping them develop and achieve their growth strategies. Latham’s scalable platform is built to meet the precise needs and unique ambitions of each client — from startup to multinational — and the firm’s top-notch practice, spanning capital markets, M&A, private equity, venture capital, finance, and litigation, will serve the market well,” said Sam Zabaneh, Office Managing Partner of Latham & Watkins’ Austin office. “Austin has grown exponentially in recent years and the opportunity for future growth is immense. It’s an exciting time to be in Austin and an exciting time to join Latham, and we look forward to contributing to the firm’s continued success in this strategically important market.”

Zabaneh received a BA, summa cum laude, and a BBA, with honors, from the University of Texas in 1996. He received his JD, also from the University of Texas and with honors, in 1999.

Smith received a BS in Business Administration and MS in Accounting, magna cum laude, from Ohio State University in 2003. She received a JD from the University of Texas School of Law, with honors, in 2006.

Craig received a BSE in Mechanical Engineering from Duke University in 1998, and a JD from the University of Texas School of Law, with honors, in 2004.