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Big-ticket patent litigator Henry Bunsow is leaving San Francisco’s Keker & Van Nest, his firm for the past eight years, to join Howrey Simon Arnold & White. Bunsow said Friday he will start work Oct. 1 at Howrey Simon’s new San Francisco office, which opened in June with Howrey Simon transplants. Flush with a recent victory in a high-stakes patent battle for his client Genentech Inc., Bunsow said he was not looking to leave Keker, but he’s been given a great opportunity to grow a new practice group. “Howrey is a pure litigation firm, very similar to Keker,” Bunsow said. “The only difference is they are about 10 times as large.” The 500-lawyer Howrey Simon, based in Washington, D.C., grossed $292.5 million in revenue last year, according to Recorder and law.com affiliate The American Lawyer magazine. The firm also logged $585,000 in profits per partner. John Keker said he’s disappointed by Bunsow’s departure, but his firm has a deep bench and will do fine. “I love working with Henry,” Keker said, “We’ve had a great partnership and it’s been good for all of us.” Bunsow’s departure raised eyebrows among other intellectual property litigators who view the 45-lawyer Keker firm as a close-knit boutique much dependent on Bunsow. “It appeared to me that [Bunsow] and [Keker] were making a formidable team,” said Guy Chambers, a partner at San Francisco’s Townsend and Townsend and Crew. “It was my perception that Bunsow added the patent capabilities to that firm.” Before joining Keker in 1994, Bunsow spent two years at San Francisco’s Brobeck, Phleger & Harrison and 15 years at Townsend. With his recent move, Bunsow is trying to keep Keker in the fold, trying to arrange with clients a co-counsel deal on a half-dozen pending matters that involve both Keker and Howrey. “Maybe instead of trying to steal the clients away, he’s trying to continue working with the Keker firm to make sure the clients don’t get left holding the bag,” Chambers said. “It might be a classy thing to do.” Thomas Nolan, the managing partner of Howrey Simon’s Los Angeles office, said the firm made an aggressive run at Bunsow to top its new San Francisco marquee. Bunsow held the firm off until after the court battle between Genentech and Chiron ended. “We wanted our first hire to be a top-notch IP trial lawyer, and Henry was on the top of everyone’s list,” Nolan said. Howrey is moving lawyers from its other offices to staff its new San Francisco digs, including Q. Todd Dickinson, former Patent & Trademark Office chief.

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