Manatt Welcomes Digital and Technology Duo to Further Support Emerging Company and Venture Investing Community

Thomas Michael and Rustin Brown bring deep venture capital and emerging company experience, strengthening Manatt’s legal and consulting platform for entrepreneurs, business leaders and VCs on digital transformation strategies

Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP, a multidisciplinary, integrated professional services firm, announced today that venture capital and emerging companies partners Thomas W. Michael and Rustin M. Brown have joined its Los Angeles and Washington, D.C. offices, respectively. The two experienced attorneys augment the firm’s Digital and Technology Group, which provides legal services and strategic business consulting to an expanding roster of venture capital and private equity firms, startup companies, and large corporate players engaging in the ever-evolving world where technology meets industry.

“Over the past year, the pandemic has accelerated digital transformation for companies of all sizes across virtually every industry,” said Donna L. Wilson, Manatt’s CEO and Managing Partner. “Our Digital and Technology Group, led by venture capitalist and entrepreneur Lisa Suennen, is rapidly growing as we expand our specialized legal, regulatory and consulting offerings to meet the varied needs of our clients. Thomas and Rustin’s arrival underscores our commitment to advising entrepreneurs, Fortune 500 companies and VCs across all stages of their digital initiatives and growth.”

Representing venture-backed companies at every phase of their life cycle, Michael has significant Big Law experience, most recently co-chairing a global law firm’s startup practice. He advises founding entrepreneurs and emerging growth companies on venture capital- and private equity-led financings, mergers and acquisitions, and other corporate and commercial transactions. Michael also represents venture capital funds, angel networks, family offices, high-net-worth individuals and celebrities in venture investment and strategic transactions. Additionally, he provides business consulting and outside general counsel services to clients across the full spectrum of industry sectors. Michael received his J.D. from Fordham University School of Law and his B.A. from University of California at Los Angeles.

Brown has represented clients—including private equity funds and commercial banks—on various forms of financings, particularly as they relate to debt finance. With a passion for advising startups founded by women and people of color on securing funding and growing their businesses, Brown focuses on improving diversity, equity and inclusion across the industry as a whole and within the organizations he represents. Additionally, Brown sits on the board of the 1863 Ventures, a D.C.-based nonprofit whose mission is to create $100 billion of new wealth for women and people of color entrepreneurs by 2030. Brown received his J.D. from Howard University School of Law and his B.S.B.A. from Georgetown University.

“Our team is a trusted advisor to entrepreneurs, business leaders and investors alike, working in partnership with them to help them build their businesses, find new opportunities and navigate the rapidly changing technology sector,” said Suennen, who also leads the firm’s venture capital fund. “Through Manatt Venture Fund—our corporate venture arm, which is invested in dozens of funds and companies—we have firsthand experience working through similar issues faced by investors and their portfolio companies. Thomas and Rustin will further expand our comprehensive capabilities and add breadth and value to a team that is already working with many of the nation’s best companies, brands and innovators.”

“Manatt’s interdisciplinary and diverse team of lawyers, entrepreneurs, consultants, policy professionals and venture capitalists is a true reflection of the clients it represents, and I look forward to working closely with some of the most respected and forward-thinking professionals at the intersection of business, policy and the law,” said Michael.

“I have long admired Manatt’s unique professional services approach to its client work and am eager to continue building my practice at an entrepreneurially minded firm that has a demonstrated commitment to improving diversity both internally and among the clients we serve,” added Brown.

Michael and Brown’s arrival is the latest example of Manatt’s continued expansion within the digital and technology sectors, closely following the recent additions of prominent tech Consultants Jen Millard and Kalon Gutierrez, new media Partner Farnaz M. Alemi, and sports executive Matthew L. Reece. Manatt has also been strategically expanding its roster of legal and business consulting professionals across the firm, as seen with President Emeritus of the Association of American Medical Colleges Dr. Darrell G. Kirch, health care attorney Brian D. Bewley, national technology and IP litigation practice Leader Amar L. Thakur, patent litigator Bruce Zisser, digital health expert Dr. Vivian E. de Ruijter and former Commissioner of the California Department of Business Oversight Jan L. Owen.

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