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Dorsey & Whitney’s San Francisco office is sinking, and now the crew has abandoned ship. A group of 10 intellectual property lawyers is leaving Dorsey � which will close its San Francisco office at the end of the year � for the safe harbor of Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, the latter firm announced Monday. “What precipitated this is the closing of the San Francisco office,” said David Brezner, one of the veteran IP lawyers headed to Morgan. “We didn’t want to commute to the Palo Alto office, so that’s what got us into looking at leaving.” Eight of the 18 lawyers in Dorsey’s San Francisco office are going to Morgan, Lewis, along with two attorneys from Dorsey’s Palo Alto office. The move leaves Dorsey with just two partners from 27-lawyer San Francisco IP boutique Flehr Hohbach Test Albritton & Herbert, which the firm acquired in 2002, Brezner said. All five of the incoming Morgan partners � Robin Silva, co-chairwoman of Dorsey’s life sciences group; Richard Trecartin, the office’s partner in charge and an IP litigator; Maria Swiatek, head of Dorsey’s Palo Alto patent group; Victor Johnson, a patent counselor and Brezner, an IP litigator � originally worked at Flehr. “The game plan was to build [Dorsey's] San Francisco office around us and it never happened so that was a bit of problem,” Brezner said. “In looking for a new firm, we wanted the office to be viable in terms of having a full practice, particularly in view of the Dorsey situation.” Morgan’s San Francisco office has 135 attorneys in a broad range of practice areas. The Dorsey lawyers will nearly double the size of Morgan’s IP practice group in San Francisco, which is largely focused on life sciences. “It adds a great deal of bandwidth to our group and deepens the bench,” said Jeffry Mann, life sciences partner and head of the firm’s San Francisco IP group. “The fact that they all have full self-supporting practices certainly makes the decision easier.” The Dorsey lawyers are bringing books of business to Morgan that are focused, in large part, on counseling, portfolio development and protection, due diligence and litigation in the life sciences and high-tech industries. Major, Lindsey & Africa legal recruiter Natasha Ciancutti, who was not involved in the deal, called the move a “big win” for Morgan. “[The Dorsey lawyers] do a fair amount of that highly sought-after strategic counseling work,” Ciancutti said. “That’s a high-margin practice for firms.” Though Dorsey stands to lose a chunk of change with the departing attorneys, the firm’s Deputy Managing Partner L. Joseph Genereux said the cost-savings of closing the San Francisco office could offset that loss. “We made the decision to consolidate the San Francisco and Palo Alto offices because we felt that was the best course for us to take,” said Genereux, who announced last month that the office would be closing. “I’m hoping that ultimately it will be more profitable in the future.” The Minneapolis-based firm had difficulty attracting the lawyers to create the “broadly based practice” that it wanted to build in San Francisco, Genereux said. At least half of the remaining lawyers from Dorsey’s San Francisco office will eventually be relocated to the firm’s Palo Alto office, according to Craig Ritchey, the partner in charge in the Palo Alto office. Aside from the incoming partners, Morgan will be getting five associates from Dorsey � Tao Huang, Tuan Nguyen, Melissa Souza, Robert Edesess and Diane Mason. All the new hires will begin work Dec. 1.

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