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Duane Morris has acquired three litigation partners from Buchanan Ingersoll’s San Diego office, the firm announced Monday. Sources familiar with the situation said they expect the new Duane Morris partners to be followed by many of Buchanan Ingersoll’s other San Diego lawyers. Buchanan Ingersoll has eight lawyers left in San Diego, with seven being IP lawyers. The three defecting Buchanan Ingersoll partners are Karen Crawford, Patricia Hollenbeck and John Cooley, who formed a team specializing in products liability defense litigation. Crawford was managing partner of the San Diego office and chairwoman of its firmwide products liability practice. The group also handles a good deal of commercial litigation work. Sources say Duane Morris has reached an agreement with Buchanan Ingersoll IP partner Bradford Duft and that several other lawyers are considering job offers. With the additions of Crawford, Hollenbeck and Cooley, Duane Morris now has 20 lawyers in San Diego, an office it opened in August 2003, and 19 more in San Francisco, which opened in October 1998. Duane Morris chairman Sheldon Bonovitz said the firm was excited to fill out its complement of practice disciplines in Southern California. The firm already has corporate, bankruptcy, real estate, labor and employment, and insurance litigation practitioners. Christopher Celentino, Duane Morris San Diego office managing partner, said the firm expects to have 26 lawyers in the office by the end of the month and is in serious talks with two sets of IP practice groups. One group, presumably the Buchanan Ingersoll lawyers, handles mainly patent prosecution work while the other group would include IP litigators. Buchanan Ingersoll opened its San Diego office in May 2001 to accommodate Crawford, who wanted to move to the West Coast after working in the firm’s Pittsburgh office since 1991. The two litigators followed and Crawford successfully recruited Duft, a law school classmate, to the firm. “It became hard to expand our litigation practice regionally and nationally with only eight lawyers in the office,” Crawford said. “And we liked Duane Morris and felt that by us joining, we would really round out the firm’s capabilities in the products liability area while also bringing our complex commercial experience. We’re really excited about the national platform that Duane Morris provides as well.” Buchanan Ingersoll chairman Thomas VanKirk said that while he was sorry to see Crawford’s group leave and there are no hard feelings, he believes that her practice interests conflicted with the firm’s strategic plan. Buchanan Ingersoll corporate and tax partner Bruce Booken will be relocating from Pittsburgh to San Diego to run the office. “It’s always a concern when you have to reshape an office,” VanKirk said. “But we are committed to that marketplace.” While Buchanan Ingersoll is losing lawyers on the West Coast, VanKirk said the firm would announce a major acquisition in an East Coast office as early as this week. As for the probable IP additions to Duane Morris, they would fit with Bonovitz’s desire to stress representation of clients in life sciences industries. Crawford has represented pharmaceutical companies and medical device manufacturers and was national coordinating counsel in a series of latex glove cases. She said her group also handles quite a bit of complex commercial work. Duft, she said, was brought into Buchanan Ingersoll because his group focuses on biotechnology matters, providing synergy with her practice. Duane Morris, which has opened offices in major cities such as Boston, Chicago, Atlanta, Miami, Houston, San Francisco and Pittsburgh while expanding in existing offices since Bonovitz took the helm in 1997, will have almost tripled the size of the original San Diego office of nine lawyers in less than two years if it makes the expected additions this month. Celentino, a bankruptcy partner from Luce Forward, said he believes Duane Morris has been an attractive lateral option for lawyers at indigenous San Diego firms because of its national reach. “I think there are a lot of people here with national practices who have been let down with the regional platforms of their firms,” Celentino said. “We are building around financial services practices while the San Francisco office is building around litigation practices. It’s easier for corporate and bankruptcy lawyers to develop synergy with other lawyers.” Celentino said the two California offices have worked in tandem on recruiting and practice marketing. He said he would hope to build the San Diego office into a 50-attorney full-service site, focusing on real estate, tax and estates practices after wrapping up the IP additions this spring and then concentrating on leveraging the office with associates. Of the 20 lawyers there, 12 are partners.

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