Richard “Rick” McCaulley, a former chair of Ropes & Gray’s intellectual property litigation practice, left the firm earlier this month to co-found his own Chicago-based boutique.

McCaulley’s co-founder, Anthony Dowell, has been a longtime partner at small IP firms and, most recently, was at his own shop, Dowell IP. The pair officially launched McCaulley Dowell on June 1 with one associate and a chief financial officer.

McCaulley, who chaired the IP litigation group at Ropes & Gray until the beginning of the year, said he had long discussed opening a boutique with Dowell, a classmate at Notre Dame Law School and a fellow former associate at Chicago-based IP boutique McAndrews, Held & Malloy. He said working in a smaller firm will allow him to do more plaintiff-side work and decrease any conflict pressures.

But McCaulley also stressed that his move is in no way an indictment of Ropes & Gray’s storied IP practice, one whose expertise dramatically expanded in 2004 through its acquisition of New York-based boutique Fish & Neave, or the firm’s decision last year to spin off its patent prosecution practice into a separate firm now called Haley Guiliano.

“I had a wonderful time there and as far as the big firms go, they’re the best IP shop in the world,” McCaulley said of Ropes & Gray. “If anything, how smoothly that transition went and how supportive those two firms have been of each other made this decision perhaps a bit easier for me. And not surprisingly the partners have supported my decision.”

While McCaulley has spent his career after leaving McAndrews Held in 2006 working in Big Law, first at Sidley Austin before moving to Ropes & Gray’s newly opened Chicago office in 2009, Dowell has long worked at boutiques.

His first firm, Dowell Baker, launched in 2003 and ran through 2013. After brief stops as an of counsel at Taft Stettinius  & Hollister and a partner at a then-newly launched Niro, McAndrews, Dowell & Grossman, Dowell launched his own boutique in May 2015.

Dowell said his experience at Dowell IP will blend well with McCaulley’s Big Law background.

“I’m bringing to the table 15 years of experience in a small firm handling smaller cases and doing things on our own,” Dowell said. “Running your own small business is very different from being part of a big firm. And Rick has the contacts of a lot of major companies and a lot of great opportunities for business.”