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McCutchen, Doyle, Brown & Enersen’s hunt for a merger partner just cost the firm two litigators. Not wanting to stick around through a merger — especially one with a firm based outside of Silicon Valley — seasoned intellectual property litigator Lynn Pasahow jumped ship after 28 years at the San Francisco-based firm. Pasahow, who worked in the Palo Alto, Calif., office, started work Tuesday at Fenwick & West. Pasahow took with him to Fenwick a newly minted McCutchen Doyle partner, J. David Hadden, who is also a patent litigator. McCutchen Doyle is actively seeking a merger partner and is said to be in advanced talks with East Coast giant Piper Marbury Rudnick & Wolfe. “I was not interested in the notion of being a part of a larger, national, merged firm,” Pasahow said. Piper Marbury is an 875-lawyer firm with 10 U.S. offices. Most of its lawyers are in Chicago, New York and Washington, D.C. But Piper has only a small presence in California and missed the explosive growth experienced by West Coast firms during the technology boom. The firm only recently made a push into California by hiring five lawyers in Los Angeles from the now-defunct Troop Steuber Pasich Reddick & Tobey. By contrast, 320-lawyer McCutchen Doyle has made few moves outside the California market, remaining primarily a regional firm. And compared to other San Francisco firms, it has not been a major player in the Bay Area’s tech boom. McCutchen Doyle Chairman James Hunt, while confirming the firm is mulling a merger with Piper Marbury, would not detail the stage of the negotiations. He also said the firm is considering other possible suitors as well — though sources familiar with the negotiations say Piper is the clear leader. Hunt downplayed the impact of Pasahow’s departure on the firm’s revenues. Though other firms are beefing up their IP litigation practices, Pasahow’s specialty is relatively small at McCutchen Doyle compared to the firm’s top practice areas — commercial litigation, environmental work and corporate transactions. Nevertheless, Hunt said the loss is a difficult one to stomach. “You hate to lose a good lawyer, but it happens,” he said. Hunt worked alongside Pasahow on his earliest cases. Southern California legal recruiter Larry Watanabe said departures on the eve of mergers are inevitable, and Pasahow’s departure is unlikely to have much of an impact on negotiations between McCutchen Doyle and its suitors. “Take a few hundred lawyers and get them involved in conversation and there’s going to be some differences,” said Watanabe. Personal connections helped Pasahow land at Fenwick. Pasahow said he has known Fenwick Chairman Gordon Davidson for many years and has had a standing offer to join the firm if he ever felt the urge to leave McCutchen Doyle. He said leaving was difficult, but he disagreed with the direction the firm was headed. And he said that the prospect of wresting resources from a management team that was based elsewhere could harm his practice. His and Madden’s arrival is a coup for Fenwick, which is known for its intellectual property prowess but not for its IP litigation expertise. Pasahow is known for representing Amazon.com in its fight with Barnesandnoble.com over its so-called 1-click purchasing method patent. He also represents the University of California in its patent fights. His book of business is said to be in the millions of dollars. Representing Napster Inc. in its legal woes has certainly boosted Fenwick’s image in the arena and adding Pasahow will help raise the firm’s profile as well, said Patricia Lucas, Fenwick’s head of litigation. “It’s sort of the right time for this to happen,” she said, adding that Fenwick is enjoying a boom in IP litigation work.

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