Boston Harbor and Financial District. (Photo: Marcio Jose Bastos Silva/

Less than a month after losing an intellectual property practice leader to Womble Bond Dickinson in Boston, Nutter McClennen & Fish has added a team of seven attorneys from a local IP boutique, including two new co-chairs for its IP and life sciences practices. 

“From the firm’s point of view, these people aligned beautifully with our strategic priorities,” said Deborah Manus, managing partner and head of Nutter’s executive committee.

“When you can bring in people who align with your priorities and who are known to you to be of the highest quality, It just doesn’t get much better than that,” she added.

The seven-attorney team is joining from Boston-based intellectual property boutique Sunstein Kann Murphy & Timbers, with partners Steven Saunders and Kathleen Williams joining as Nutter’s new co-chair of intellectual property and co-chair of its life sciences practice group, respectively.

Sunstein Kann Murphy & Timbers partner Jeffrey Klayman, of counsels Amy DeCloux and Thomas Tuytschaevers and associate Emmanuel Filandrianos also are joining the firm.

“Interestingly enough, we did not move as a group,” said Williams, who began her legal career at Chicago-based Banner & Witcoff in 1995 before joining Locke Lord predecessor firm Edwards Wildman Palmer in Boston five years later.

Williams, who joined Sunstein Kann in 2013, had been looking for a new home for her and her group while, unbeknownst to her, Saunders and Klayman were doing the same, she said. But at the end of August, both groups realized that they landed on Nutter.

We came to conclusion independently, and it’s funny because it gave me even more warmth and comfort with the decision,” said Saunders, who was an executive committee member and vice-chair of Sunstein Kann’s patent prosecution group.

The new Nutter team works on a broad spectrum of intellectual property issues, including patent prosecution, opinions and clearance matters, litigation and due diligence for corporate transactions, among other matters.

Saunders and Williams both agreed that it was Nutter’s larger platform, combined with its efforts to build its IP prowess in the booming Boston market, that enticed them to make the jump to the old-line Boston firm.

“There’s just a real commitment to growing the IP side of things and making it deeper and broader,” Saunders said. “So my goal at a very high level as the co-chair of the IP department is to help that happen.”

Williams similarly hopes to expand the life sciences group across different practices at the roughly 150-lawyer firm. 

Boston’s traditionally sleepy lateral market has now become one of the nation’s most active.  

“If you are in the Boston market, you are highly aware that Boston is a bright spot in the national economy,” Manus said. 

A boom in recent years of the city’s health care, biotechnology, life sciences and technology sectors, as well as the strength of its private equity market, has drawn some of the world’s largest law firms to its shores.

Kirkland & Ellis, Hogan Lovells, Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan and Womble Bond Dickinson have all opened up shop in Boston over the last two years, setting off a wave of lateral moves in the city.

Nutter has had to grapple with that competition, including the loss of the former head of its private equity group, Adam Ghander, to DLA Piper, but Manus said the 139-year old firm isn’t overly concerned.

“It’s great that other people want to be here, [but] we’re already here and we’re already successful here,” Manus said.