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San Francisco—After nearly seven years as managing director at Howard Rice Nemerovski Canady Falk & Rabkin, Stuart Lipton has told partners he’ll be stepping down. “The way firms work today, you need to spend a few less billable and a few more management hours,” said Lipton last week. “And I had been doing a lot of both. After seven years, there are fresher minds, better-rested folk to do it.” A committee of former managing directors will nominate a successor. The change in leadership comes within a month of San Francisco-based Howard Rice losing two partners from its intellectual property ranks. Annette Hurst, who was co-chairwoman of the firm’s IP litigation group and who made The National Law Journal‘s 2005 list of 40 lawyers under age 40, defected to Heller Ehrman. IP partner Neil Smith recently departed for Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton of Los Angeles. Complicating matters is that the chair of the firm’s patent litigation group, Arthur Beeman, who came from Kentucky about a year ago, is studying for the California Bar. The firm, meanwhile, is contracting. As of this week, 115 lawyers are listed on the firm’s Web site. That’s a 17% decline from the firm’s reported head count of 138 as of the end of August 2003. Not discouraged Lipton said he’s not bothered by the firm’s declining lawyer numbers. “Our numbers in March, April, June and July always go down,” Lipton said. “That is when people look to leave, and we are not actively recruiting.” Lipton is Howard Rice’s first managing director to have served more than a single three-year term. After completing his second term in September, he said, he agreed to continue for an additional year before deciding whether to serve out his third term. He said he stuck around to finalize the firm’s five-year plan, among other projects. “Stuart was a very thoughtful man, analytical in his approach to issues,” said Anthony de Alcuaz, a former partner now at McDermott, Will & Emery’s Palo Alto, Calif., office. Alcuaz said Lipton worked closely with transactional lawyers and said it would be interesting to see if the firm chose someone with an IP or a litigation orientation. The group of managing directors who will seek out a replacement is headed by Jerome Falk Jr. and will include Lipton. The committee’s pick will go to the partners for approval, which is seen as a formality. “It’s sort of like the president of Mexico used to be nominated by the PRI,” joked partner H. Joseph Escher III, referring to the Institutional Revolutionary Party that ruled for decades.

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