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Archived updates for Monday, October 09, 2006

Trends in the U.S. Patent Procurement Bar

According to Hal Wegner in "Trends in Patent Practice: Will Patent Boutiques Survive" (October 2006) --

The division between upper end law practice and the patent boutiques is manifested by the fact that just the top twenty law firms in the country cumulatively have far greater numbers of attorneys than all registered patent attorneys and agents combined. The top twenty firms average only 65 registered
patent practitioners per thousand attorneys; in contrast, the percentage for the four largest patent procurement firms that together obtain more than 12,000 patents per year is tenfold greater. Vis a vis the more than 25,000 lawyers that populate the top twenty law firms, there are no more than 900 registered patent attorneys or agents in the top twenty firms. This speaks to the growing polarization and lack of influence of the patent procurement bar in leadership councils in the United States.

The sharp separation of the patent practice into two camps is seen from the concentration of large volumes of procurement work in the hands of patent processing specialists often with only agency experience: Just four firms within a short distance from the Patent and Trademark Office alone account for the grant of more than 12,000 patents per year; the huge bulk comes from Asia with a lesser amount from Europe and domestic sources.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

And another long-standing IP Boutique implodes, apparently related to lease issues. At least nearly everyone found a place to go.

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Chicago Daily Law Bulletin
October 06, 2006 Volume: 152 Issue: 196

Last of Wallenstein lawyers make way to new law firms
By Jerry Crimmins
Law Bulletin staff writer

The demise of the 71-year-old Chicago law firm of Wallenstein & Wagner was mutually agreed to by all of the attorneys, and all left and started new jobs at the same moment, two ex-Wallenstein attorneys said Friday.
''We worked together with everything,'' said Roger H. Stein, who, with two of his Wallenstein colleagues, has just joined the Chicago law firm of Schwartz, Cooper Chtd.
The partners all ''left on the same day,'' Stein added. ''We went to four different firms.''
In addition to Schwartz, Cooper, the firms are McDermott, Will & Emery LLP, Banner & Witcoff Ltd. and Neal, Gerber & Eisenberg LLP.
''Every one of the attorneys had found new positions seamlessly, without any down time, and most of the staff, 90 percent of the staff, too,'' said James P. Muraff, who just joined Neal, Gerber.
Stein and Muraff each spoke with enthusiasm of the firm they had elected to join and described a highly cooperative ending for Wallenstein & Wagner, a longstanding intellectual property boutique.
But Stein and Muraff had different explanations about what caused that firm to dissolve this week.
The two attorneys who accompanied Stein in the move to Schwartz, Cooper, at which all will be principals, are Peter M. Klobuchar and Richard C. Himelhoch.
Muraff joined Neal, Gerber by himself.
Of the remaining Wallenstein partners, six went to McDermott and three to Banner & Witcoff, as reported on Tuesday.
According to Stein, ''There was a recognition last year just about the market itself for a mid-sized boutique of 18 to 20 lawyers. I think it was that the market was shifting. There has been a consolidation of boutiques with general purpose firms.''
Stein said the Wallenstein firm had been contacted about the possibility of merger on a number of occasions, but discussions with those firms never got serious.
At one point last year, the Wallenstein partners agreed among themselves to ''see what's out there Â- let's open up our ears and listen,'' Stein said.
In June or July of this year, the partners recognized that ''one size couldn't fit all'' when deciding where they should move, Stein said. ''Some people were interested in one path or another path.'
But even as they negotiated their various new law firm destinations, the partners shared information and remained friends, Stein said.
Muraff, who had been with Wallenstein for his entire career, beginning in 1992 as a clerk and since 1994 as a lawyer, agreed that everything was very open as the partners discussed the fate of the firm.
But Muraff said he still thinks boutiques are ''a viable business model'' under the appropriate circumstances.
Three years ago, he said, the Wallenstein firm had 35 attorneys and signed a long-term lease to continue at 311 S. Wacker Drive with room to expand to 50 attorneys.
But three months after that, two partners left, he said, and some associates began to leave, so that to split the rent and other overhead between the remaining partners ''made us less competitive compensation-wise and made it harder to retain attorneys as time went on.''
''We said, 'If we can stick together, let's try to see what happens.' ''
However, merger talks failed because the firms involved ''weren't interested in our lease commitment,'' Muraff said.
''That's when people started looking as individuals. We talked to many, many firms'' starting ''some time in the spring of this yearÂ.... We all decided we would make the moves that were in our best interests and in our clients' best interests. It was very open,'' Muraff said.
Stein said he chose Schwartz, Cooper because it is a full service law firm whose way of doing business he has long admired.
Since Wallenstein was an IP boutique, Stein said, he regularly referred his own clients who had more corporate issues to Schwartz, Cooper, and that firm had regularly referred clients to him who had IP matters to be dealt with.
Now, Stein said, he is happy to get answers to matters outside his IP practice focus by walking down the hall rather than needing to use the telephone or eimail.
Muraff said he chose Neal, Gerber, where he is now senior counsel, because ''it was the best run firm, had the best reputation, and treated the people most fairly of all the firms that I talked to.''
''I think we've all gone to better places in many ways,'' Stein said. ''This was all done on purpose.''
Stein said the partners are all still friends and still meet to wind up the business of the old firm.
The associates also have new jobs, Stein said. Lawyers of the old Wallenstein firm differed about how many associates were there at the end, saying three or four.
Also, two law clerks who had just passed the bar joined the six lawyers who moved from Wallenstein to McDermott.

October 10, 2006 5:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

^^Thanks!!

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April 07, 2009 2:20 AM  

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