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In another body blow to the firm, San Francisco-based Brobeck, Phleger & Harrison is losing rainmaker and intellectual property group head James Elacqua and 10 other IP partners to New York’s Dewey Ballantine. Their departures, effective Oct. 8, follow the loss of 17 partners — primarily securities litigators — to Clifford Chance in June, and the departures of at least 17 other partners to various firms since the beginning of the year. The defecting group includes five of the six IP partners in the Brobeck’s Palo Alto, Calif., office, all four of the IP partners in its Austin, Texas, office, and two of three IP partners in the Washington, D.C., office. That leaves Brobeck with 13 IP partners, most of whom are based in San Diego. Elacqua said almost 30 firms had approached the group, and he ultimately picked Dewey Ballantine because it offers “a stable platform, a tremendous client base” and a diverse practice where no one group dominates the firm. Clifford Chance also had continued to court the group heavily until last week, Elacqua said. But, he said, “I did not feel like that was a good place for me or the group.” Clifford Chance had considered taking a number of IP partners in its initial discussions with the Brobeck team. But sources involved in the negotiation have said Clifford Chance wanted to take fewer IP attorneys and was not interested in the Austin office. Dewey Ballantine currently has six attorneys in a Menlo Park, Calif., office. They will move to Palo Alto and join Elacqua and fellow partners Stephen Rosenman, Craig Allison, Andrew Thomases and Jeannine Yoo Sano. The four partners in Brobeck’s Austin office — W. Bryan Farney, Wayne Harding, James Smith and Kevin Kudlac — will open a new office for Dewey Ballantine; and the Washington, D.C., partners, Cono Carrano and Anthony Shaw, will join Dewey Ballantine’s existing D.C. office. Brobeck may lose a large number of IP associates as well. Elacqua said he needs to hire about 30 to 40 associates to support the practice of the departing partners, and it will be up to Brobeck associates to decide if they want to follow the group to Dewey Ballantine. Elacqua said the IP group is Brobeck’s most profitable, and while he said he couldn’t specify the book of business of his fellow departing partners, he did say he personally originates more than $15 million in business per year. A former Brobeck partner estimated that the departing partners have a book of business around $40 million. “If you put the Clifford Chance departure together with Dewey Ballantine you’re talking about $100 million exiting Brobeck,” he said. Brobeck downplayed the loss of Elacqua’s group. V. Paul Finigan, managing partner of the firm’s San Francisco office, said the figures cited for Elacqua’s book of business — as well as that of the departing group — “are probably overstated.” He also viewed the departures as a case of the glass being half full rather than half empty. “The majority of partners, and as of right now all the associates, are staying,” Finigan said. He added that some of the IP partners leaving for Dewey Ballantine are “more insular” than the remaining partners in that they don’t “interact as well with the group and other practices within the firm.” The departures also could benefit Brobeck, Finigan said. “It opens up some opportunities for us that we didn’t pursue heretofore,” he said. The firm now has “the ability to fill gaps and [conduct] strategic expansion that has been in the wings that we’ve not been able to pursue.” Finigan declined to say why Brobeck could not carry out these opportunities with its entire IP group intact. Meanwhile Dewey Ballantine said the addition of Elacqua and his team allows the firm to expand its IP practice, which currently totals six to eight IP attorneys. “We’ve been looking to expand our IP capacity for several years,” said Dewey Ballantine Chairman Everett Jassy. The Brobeck group “complements our electrical and computer fields and also fits with our International Trade Commission practice on the non-IP side.” Jassy said this is the largest group of laterals Dewey Ballantine has ever hired. “It did not make sense to try to break the group up,” he said. “And being able to bring in this number of quality lawyers is important to us.” Elacqua and his colleagues currently represent Intel Corp., Idec Pharmaceuticals Corp., Gateway Inc. and Broadcom Corp. in patent infringement litigation. Dewey Ballantine opened a Silicon Valley office two years ago, which is currently staffed with six corporate attorneys. Jassy said the firm might continue to grow the corporate side of the office. Elacqua, 52, didn’t specify exactly what compelled him to leave Brobeck. “I think it got to a point where I felt like a lot of things had happened to the firm over the last couple of years,” he said. In addition to coping with the economic downturn, he said Brobeck also had to deal with a change in management, vision and goals. “Some partners left because they didn’t want to start all over again,” Elacqua said. He added that the decision was “really momentous” for him since it is only his second career move. He joined Brobeck in 1997 from what was then Arnold White & Durkee. Elacqua’s group is apparently held in better regard by Brobeck management than the team that followed former Brobeck Chairman Tower Snow Jr. to Clifford Chance. Brobeck has withheld the capital contributions from the partners that went to Clifford Chance, a former Brobeck partner said. Elacqua said he does not anticipate that capital will be withheld from his group. Finigan declined to comment on whether capital contributions were being withheld from some former partners. “There were requests made of us by partners that left that we not discuss certain issues,” he said.

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