“Nothing ever really changes in Marshall,” says Michael Smith, a name partner at Seibman, Reynolds, Phillips & Smith who has spent most of his life in the former railroad town in the state’s northeast corner. “It has always been a good place to try a lawsuit.”

Patents litigators know that Smith is half right. Once upon a time, something did change in Marshall that made the federal courthouse there — and, ultimately, the entire Eastern District of Texas — a good place to try a certain kind of lawsuit. That something was Judge T. John Ward’s arrival on the federal district court bench. Now, with Ward, 68, set to retire in October, change is again coming to Marshall. But this time, close observers don’t expect such dramatic results.

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