Connolly Bove Lodge & Hutz, one of the oldest law firms in Wilmington, Del., is preparing to break up, splitting its intellectual property and commercial litigation practices into two separate independent entities, according to sources in the Delaware legal community.
Sources familiar with the plan have told Delaware Law Weekly that they expect the split to take place in early July, possibly as soon as July 1. Further details about the breakup, including the exact timing and the names of the new entities, are not yet known.
Sources say that the entities have already contacted Wilmington commercial real estate brokers seeking new office space.
Calls to the law firm were referred to partners Jeffrey B. Bove and Arthur "Chip" G. Connolly III, who are both said to be out of the office on vacations. Neither partner responded to email requests for comment.
The decision was said to have occurred shortly before the two partners left for their vacations.
At its peak, Connolly Bove employed roughly 100 attorneys in both practices. However, departures and layoffs in recent months have reduced the number of attorneys to around 70. Of those attorneys, roughly 40 work in the firm's patent practice, while the remaining 30 are in the business litigation group.
Bove, who has worked with both practices, is said to be involved with the new patent practice. It is not yet known which unit Connolly will join, if any. A likely scenario, Delaware legal sources predicted, is that Connolly will be involved with the new business litigation firm since he is a partner in the firm's business law group, chair of the firm's venture capital group and former co-chair of the business law group.
The patent group was said to have had merger discussions with several unnamed patent firms seeking to enter the Delaware market through a large acquisition, but those talks were not fruitful, according to sources in the Delaware legal community.
The buzz among the Delaware legal community is that the breakup was fueled by the departures of two key players in the firm's commercial practice, C.J. Seitz and Kevin F. Brady. Both men were partners when they left Connolly Bove and took clients and revenue with them to their new firms.
In May 2011, Seitz, along two other Connolly Bove attorneys, David Ross and Bradley Aronstam, left to form their own firm, Seitz Ross Aronstam & Moritz. Seitz had been with Connolly Bove for roughly 30 years before his departure.