Published July 19, 2011
Volume 19, Number 7

Attorneys at Hoge Fenton Are Committed to Business and the Community  

Hoge Fenton attorney Sblend A. Sblendorio serves on the board
of i- GATE Development.

By Nicole Zaro Stahl

Established in Silicon Valley in 1952, Hoge Fenton Jones & Appel is known for its “small-firm client service and large-firm expertise and bench strength.” Its practice areas extend from litigation, business finance, and work-outs for troubled companies to mergers and acquisitions, estate planning, and tax and IP transactions.

Hoge Fenton had several goals in sight when it shifted its existing Pleasanton branch to Hacienda in 2009. The community feel of the business park was a strong draw, and the business law firm, headquartered in San Jose, was eager to collaborate with its neighbors enhancing the Tri-Valley’s high quality of life. 

Since then, the firm has been building on its established tradition of civic engagement and community service. The most recent example of this commitment occurred when Hoge Fenton attorney Sblend Sblendorio became a board member of i-GATE Development Corp. (see NETWORK, June 2011, www.hacienda.org/ho/nw1106_iGATE.html), one of six state innovation hubs designated by the Governor’s Office of Economic Development.

“The incubator is very exciting, and we are fortunate to be involved in this initiative,” says Hoge Fenton Managing Shareholder Steve Siner. “It exemplifies our strong commitment to business in general in the community.”

One of the attractions of the incubator is that there is no limit to its potential, Siner points out. “Most transactions we work with have a floor and a ceiling, but an incubator has no ceiling. Obviously, it takes lots of work and dedication. Perseverance is a key word. It’s not an overnight success story, but seeing it grow and mature is pretty neat. The feeling of satisfaction is hard to match when you know you’ve done something good for people and the community in which you live and work.”

A relatively new growth area for the firm, family law, is quite unusual for a business law firm of its size (a total of 38 attorneys, six of whom are based in Pleasanton). At the instigation of Hoge Fenton attorney Phil Hammer, an icon in Silicon Valley, in 2007 the firm started to grow a boutique-like family law group. “We have added three attorneys, one of whom, Michael Bonetto, is a Pleasanton resident. Although he is stationed in San Jose, we are expanding our presence here in the Tri-Valley and Contra Costa County.”

The typical scenario in family law involves a high net worth individual going through a divorce. “The couple has been together for a number of years, one spouse has founded a company that has grown, and then there is an unfortunate parting of the ways,” Siner explains. In contrast to succession planning, where there is a leisurely transfer of the business, family law is involuntary. “In a divorce, there are deadlines, and decisions on what to do with the business and how to split it up must be made when the court dictates.”

The advantage in these circumstances is that the firm’s business attorneys are available to consult with the family law team on related matters like tax consequences and real estate transfers. “We have more breadth when these issues arise. There is not just one person, but many specialists to call on, and not every firm can offer that,” Siner concludes. For more information, visit www.hogefenton.com


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