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Six months after Howrey Simon Arnold & White set up shop in San Francisco, the firm has lured four partners over from Townsend and Townsend and Crew. Washington, D.C.-based Howrey announced Friday that it has hired K.T. “Sunny” Cherian, Duane Mathiowetz, Brian Smith and Robert Scott Wales. The partners said they had unfinished business to wrap up at Townsend and were unsure when they would officially make the move. One-time Townsend partner Henry Bunsow recruited the group away from the firm. Bunsow himself was hired away from Keker & Van Nest in October to launch Howrey’s San Francisco office. “What I sold them on — it’s the same reason I came here — is that this is a unique opportunity that is not going to come around again,” Bunsow said. “This is a chance to be on the ground floor of a new effort — building the San Francisco office of the largest IP firm in the world.” Bunsow helped bring Mathiowetz and Cherian on board as associates at Townsend. Cherian said Bunsow’s departure from the firm in 1992 was a big loss. “I’m excited to be back with him,” Cherian said. “He’s a great litigator and a great guy.” Mathiowetz said Howrey offers a strong national practice, as well as an international practice, and also has a greater litigation focus than Townsend. Howrey is “primarily a litigation firm,” Mathiowetz said, whereas “Townsend’s focus is litigation and prosecution.” Townsend Chairman James Gilliland Jr. said he was sorry to see the group go, but he did not think it would have a material impact on the firm. “We still have over 50 lawyers in our patent litigation group, so I believe it remains the strongest in Northern California,” Gilliland said. “I suspect the reason these guys moved to Howrey was less because of [the size of Howrey's practice] than the fact they like Henry Bunsow, who’s a terrific guy, and they have the opportunity to build an office from the ground floor.” But Gilliland acknowledged that size gives a firm a competitive advantage. “Townsend needs to be bigger, and maybe some day we’ll be as big as Howrey,” he said. Townsend and Howrey are similar in that both were forged from the merger of an intellectual property firm and an antitrust firm. Antitrust firm Howrey & Simon hooked up with IP specialist Arnold White & Durkee three years ago. And Townsend, an IP outfit, merged with antitrust boutique Khourie Crew & Jaeger in 1993. While both firms have about 150 lawyers, Howrey has expanded into Chicago, London and Brussels, Belgium, in the past two years. And Howrey’s profitability is substantially higher. In 2001 Howrey had gross revenue of $292 million and profits per partner of $760,000. By comparison, Townsend’s revenue was $91 million and its profits per partner were $600,000. Howrey expects to make further inroads into the local legal market. The San Francisco outpost now has 11 lawyers, and Bunsow said he would like to have 30 lawyers by next spring. The four Townsend partners are all patent litigators. Cherian joined Townsend in 1989 from the U.S. Department of Energy, where he was a program manager specializing in renewable energy conversion. Recently he represented LeapFrog Enterprises Inc., Gemstar Development Corp. and Intergraph Corp. in patent litigation. Mathiowetz joined Townsend in 1991. Prior to that he was a senior engineer with Bechtel Corp. and General Motors Proving Grounds, a test facility within General Motors Corp., and also had stints at Sedgwick, Detert, Moran & Arnold and LeBoeuf, Lamb, Greene & MacRae. Smith jumped to Townsend from Houston’s Baker Botts in 1996, and Wales joined the firm in 1998 from the Washington, D.C., firm Pollock Vande Sande & Priddy.

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