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Heller Ehrman has poached Annette Hurst, the co-chair of the IP litigation group at Howard, Rice, Nemerovski, Canady, Falk & Rabkin. Hurst, 39, joined Heller as a partner June 16 in the firm’s San Francisco office. “She is really a very high-quality lawyer with an excellent practice,” said Jonathan Hayden, managing partner of Heller’s San Francisco office. He touted especially her focus on soft IP, or matters involving copyright and trade secret law. “That is something we have been trying to strengthen in our San Francisco office, which has been focused on hard IP” matters, he said, like patent prosecution and patent litigation. Hurst has spent the last 15 years at Howard Rice. In May she was named one of the top 40 lawyers under 40 by the National Law Journal, a Recorder affiliate, which said she was responsible for $10 million in annual billings. She said Monday that several clients indicated they would follow her to Heller. Among them are Saul Zaentz Co., which controls the “Lord of the Rings” trademark, Electronics for Imaging Inc., and Grouper Networks. She added that some clients following her would continue to work with Howard Rice. “It’s been an amicable transition,” said Hurst. Hurst was recruited to Heller by M. Patricia Thayer, co-chair of the firm’s IP practice group, who moved from Howard Rice in 1999. “A year and a half ago, she started working on me,” said Hurst, “and she just wore me down.” Hurst said she was excited to work with Heller’s VLG attorneys and their technology clients, as well as such lawyers as Beth Goldman, whose work includes trademark prosecutions. Howard Rice partner Deborah Marshall called Hurst “a terrific attorney” and said the firm wishes her the best. “It’s been a very smooth transition,” she said.

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