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Lori Lesser is a fast talker. Really fast. An intellectual property litigation partner in Simpson Thacher & Bartlett’s New York office, she could conceivably bill twice as many hours a year if she spoke as slowly as the average person back home in Houston. But then again, if she slowed down, she wouldn’t be able to keep up with the torrent of IP work created by Simpson Thacher’s huge private equity deal flow. In the past few months alone, Lesser has overseen the carving-out of 25,000 patents from Royal Philips Electronics N.V.’s semiconductor unit into a stand-alone company and worked on IP matters for the Blackstone Group L.P.’s $3.3 billion acquisition of the pharmaceutical technologies and services business of Cardinal Health Inc., as well as its $4.3 billion acquisition of Cendant Corp. subsidiary Travelport.

Private equity shops like Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co., Blackstone and The Carlyle Group are pouring a seemingly endless flow of cash into deals — in total, U.S.-based firms spent $421.7 billion worldwide on mergers and acquisitions in 2006, according to data from Thomson Financial. A small but growing portion of that money is finding its way to intellectual property attorneys and strategists, as buyers recognize that the main assets changing hands in many of these deals are intangible. The need-it-yesterday pace of this transactional work opens the door to hidden IP dangers that may only come to light long after the deal is done. Lawyers don’t have the time to examine an IP portfolio very closely, and things might be missed. But in the meantime, the barbarians at the gate have discovered the importance of IP in their deals. Their needs are reshaping law firms, demanding a new breed of lawyer: the corporate IP attorney.

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