An emphatic no. That was Ronald Panitch’s standard response over the years when large firms inquired about the possibility of swallowing up his intellectual property boutique. The idea of giving up autonomy to become part of one of the city’s large firms, which he believed did not understand “the nitty gritty” of IP work, was not exactly appealing.

Last month, though, Panitch finally relented — deciding to merge Panitch Schwarze Jacobs & Nadel with national giant Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld. That decision has people in the legal community talking about whether the union is a sign of things to come for IP boutiques as big firms continue to try and muscle in on their once exclusive turf.