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Amid soaring associate salaries and fierce competition for intellectual property lawyers in the Boston legal market, three IP attorneys have bucked the odds and expanded their spinoff shop ninefold in four years. Lowrie, Lando & Anastasi started with three lawyers from Boston intellectual property shop Wolf, Greenfield & Sacks in June 2003, including the chairman of Wolf’s patent practice committee, the co-chairman of its chemical practice group and the chairman of its litigation practice group. Since then, Lowrie Lando’s roster has grown to 27 attorneys as other Boston-area intellectual property boutiques have eked out more modest growth. “It’s planned growth, [and] a natural consequence of a successful practice,” said founding partner Peter Lando. While large firms raise the ante with $160,000 first-year salaries, Lowrie Lando is offering $130,000 in exchange for a requirement of 1,600 billable hours per year, and rates that it characterizes as 15% to 20% lower than its Boston large-firm competitors. Hildebrandt consultant William Johnston in Newtown, Conn., said he’s not familiar with the firm, but its growth pattern is notable. “That’s a remarkable level of growth, particularly given the high level of demand for IP lawyers,” Johnston said. “They must be pretty aggressive.” Culture drives growth Yet Lowrie Lando attributes much of its allure to its less hard-driving culture, particularly the billable-hour requirement. By comparison, associates at firms with 21 to 40 lawyers average 1,705 billable hours per year, according to Altman Weil’s 2007 Survey of Law Firm Economics. Lowrie Lando associates earn bonuses for work beyond the 1,600 hours, which boosts their salaries’ attractiveness when they compare hours worked to total salary, Lando said. “Associates are keen about what’s going on,” Lando said. “They know they’re paying for that increase in their hourly rate and requirements.” The firm has expanded through lateral associate hires and the 1,600-hour requirement is a selling point, particularly since many firms require 1,800 hours to 2,100 hours, said partner Tom Sullivan. “Our whole philosophy is an advantage in the IP world,” Sullivan said. Legal consultant Peter Zeughauser of the Zeughauser Group agreed that Lowrie Lando has experienced “pretty quick growth,” but he noted that smaller firms like Lowrie Lando have the luxury of flexibility to cut their rates and offer lower salaries. “The bigger you get, typically the less flexibility you have on discounting and reduced hours because the competitive pressures are great,” Zeughauser said. “You have to pay top wages for talent and the economic pressure just builds.” For now, Lowrie Lando’s rates range from $210 for a first-year associate to $530 for the top partner, Lando said. About 30% of the firm’s work is from patent litigation, intellectual property’s must lucrative arena. Clients from a range of industries are sold on the firm’s model, including local medical device companies, House of Blues parent HOB Entertainment Inc., Pizzeria Uno’s parent Uno Restaurant Holding Corp., glass and building materials company Saint-Gobain Corp. and defense contractor Raytheon Co. Growing pains Many of the firm’s growing pains have been administrative, including hiring staff quickly enough to support the lawyers and negotiating lease extensions at the right junctures. “Space is always an issue,” Sullivan said. “I was in the hallway for a few weeks.” The firm started with 8,000 square feet of office space and has since grown to 24,000 square feet, with its most recent parcel added earlier this year. For Lando, the challenge has been staying constant to a vision that deviates from industry norms. “It requires a daily vigilance to make sure you don’t become what you’ve left,” Lando said. “We’ve succeeded in doing something a little different in our field. We constantly need to remind ourselves of the specialness of this enterprise.”

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