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Anyone following the changes at Howrey Simon Arnold & White over the last two years can see how the firm has opted to recreate itself for the twenty-first century. Exhibit number one: Firm leader Robert Ruyak’s title is managing partner and chief executive officer. The firm borrows heavily from corporate America for its management structure. Nonlawyers serve as Howrey’s chief operating officer, chief financial officer, and human resources director. A board of directors, rather than a partners committee, runs the firm, and the firm plans to bring in some non-lawyer directors to act as advisors — just like a corporation. According to Ruyak, “we’re the first law firm ever to do that.” Firm management took advantage of Howrey’s Washington, D.C., roots to adopt the board of directors model. Unlike most other states, the district’s professional code allows for nonlawyers to serve on law firm boards. “The corporate structure allows an enterprise to move a hell of a lot faster than the partnership structure, and in today’s marketplace, that’s a real plus,” says Joel Henning, vice president and general counsel of legal consultant Hildebrandt International. A MASSIVE CASE LOAD Not that restructuring has distracted the firm from its massive IP-litigation caseload. Howrey Simon placed first in litigation in IP Worldwide’s “Who Protects IP America”survey. Howrey is likely to be handling more than 100 suits at any one time. The firm is representing GTE Wireless in its patent infringement case against AT&T and Nokia. It is also handling cases for Monsanto, Intel, Samsung, Boston Scientific, and Merck. And the firm recently won a $250 million verdict for Litton Systems in a patent infringement case against Honeywell involving ring-laser gyroscopes. The firm’s client list is a mix of old and new IP concerns — traditional IP�centered companies (Bayer, Texaco, and Monsanto) along with companies circling the red-hot center of the New Economy (Intel, Micron Technology, and Ericsson). Another sign of the new corporate focus of the firm has been its aggressive growth and acquisition strategy. Exhibit number tw the merger that brought together Howrey & Simon and Arnold White & Durkee in early 2000. Last year, according to The Am Law 100 survey, Howrey & Simon generated $171 million in gross revenue. The Am Law 200 surveyreported that in 1999 Arnold White & Durkee pulled in $65 million in gross revenue. Many saw (with the benefit of hindsight) the union as a necessary move in an increasingly IP�centered global business environment. And the firm continues to gobble up IP lawyers. It just hired most of the lawyers from the former Irvine, California office of Howard, Rice, Nemerovski, Canady, Falk & Rabkin, giving Howrey a new presence in Orange County. KEEPING THE TALENT HAPPY Howrey’s restructuring and acquisition strategies are a response to problems the two original firms were having in retaining talented lawyers. The firm is now large enough to support a full-bodied administrative and support staff. The old Howrey lost about 30 partners in the five years prior to the merger. So far, there hasn’t been a noticeable change in the number of Howrey or Arnold White r�sum�s that are circulating, which “may be a good sign,” says headhunter Barry Romm of D.C.’s Klein, Landau & Romm. Normally, there’s a rise in job-hunting by partners and associates after a merger of that size. Hildebrandt’s Henning says that the firm’s corporate structure and professional management is a boon for the firm’s lawyers. Operating a law firm more like a business means that lawyers can focus on legal work and leave administrative and business tasks to others. Ruyak notes that since the merger, the associates are happier, because the lawyers in the trenches are “getting the kind of support services they need.” The firm’s 450 lawyers (more than half of whom specialize in IP law), are served by a support staff of around 1,000. CEO Ruyak is frank about the problems the firm faces in the near term. “There simply aren’t enough technically trained lawyers,” he says. The demand for such lawyers has quickly outstripped the supply, thanks to the accelerating importance of IP issues in the legal world. “It’s really a challenge to find people,” Ruyak says. Howrey has some strategies in place to bridge the gap. It hires new college graduates to work as scientific advisors — a kind of prescreening for talented individuals who may have the makings of good patent lawyers. If the recruits impress Howrey, Ruyak says, “We help supplement their tuition” in law school. A FULL PLATE What’s on Howrey’s plate for the twenty-first century? The firm is banking on synergy — combining its strengths in antitrust and other areas as well as IP. It’s also honing its expertise area of domain-name management — steering clients past the twin problems of obtaining appropriate domain names and rationalizing how domain-name law fits with traditional trademark law. The firm has taken to heart the importance of trademark and trade names to its clients in part because of how important such things are to Howrey’s business strategy. “Branding is the key thing now,” Ruyak says. But, as he’s quick to add, “the brand name has to be backed by expertise. Unabashedly, our goal is [that] we always want to be on the short list.”
Emerson Electric
Rockwell International

Related Chart: Who ProtectsIP America Return to Special Report: Who Protects IP America

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