Shumaker, Loop & Kendrick sign
Shumaker, Loop & Kendrick sign ()

Shumaker, Loop & Kendrick, an Am Law 200 firm with roots in Florida and Ohio, is poised to absorb Toledo-based intellectual property firm Fraser Clemens Martin Miller.

The two firms will announce Monday their intention to combine operations. All of Fraser Clemens’ 10 lawyers will join Shumaker Loop. The boutique, which is based in the Toledo suburb of Perrysburg, Ohio, was formed in 2004 by a group of lawyers led by name partner Donald Fraser, a World War II veteran who served two terms as a state representative in Ohio.

Fraser died in December 2010, but his firm lived on with a small team of lawyers trained as engineers and scientists specializing in electrical, industrial and mechanical engineering, biochemistry and biotechnology. The firm handles a variety of IP matters, such as patent and trademark prosecution, copyrights, domain names licensing and trade secrets work.

“We both have a complementary client base when it comes to life sciences and manufacturing,” said Thomas Dillon, co-chair of Shumaker Loop’s executive committee, explaining his firm’s interest in Fraser Clemens. “They also do a lot of international work for companies trying to get their patents protected here in the U.S.”

Dillon (pictured right), who took over the top leadership role at Shumaker Loop in 2015 with Sarasota, Florida-based partner Benjamin Hanan, said his firm began talking with Fraser Clemens about four months ago. The complementary client base and close proximity of the leadership of both firms allowed them to handle their discussions internally, without the need of a legal consultant or recruiter, Dillon said.

Shumaker Loop, which had $116 million in gross revenue last year, will see its new lawyers from Fraser Clemens join the firm’s Toledo office sometime in July, Dillon said. Shumaker Loop, which last year hired a new COO in Kenneth Crooks, is in the process of building out its current space to accommodate the new additions.

Dillon said that Shumaker Loop’s “sweet spot” is advising middle-market companies, many of which are privately owned. The firm, founded in 1925, has more than 250 lawyers and in addition to its offices in Toledo and Sarasota has outposts in Tampa, Columbus, Ohio and Charlotte, North Carolina. Shumaker Loop is always looking to pick up certain groups to grow regionally, Dillon said. The firm added several lawyers in 2014 from the dissolving Cooper & Kowalski, once one of Toledo’s oldest firms.

The American Lawyer reported last year on the pressures facing many IP boutiques coping with changes in U.S. patent laws, leading some to join up with larger firms. Kenyon & Kenyon, one of the nation’s oldest IP-focused firms, disbanded last year as its lawyers joined Andrews Kurth, now known as Andrews Kurth Kenyon. But large firms have also not been immune from IP-related stresses, with Ropes & Gray announcing in March that it would shed about 100 lawyers and staffers by hiving off its patent prosecution practice.

Fraser Clemens founding partner J. Douglas Miller said in an email that changes in the patent laws were one of many factors influencing his firm’s decision to join forces with Shumaker Loop. Despite its diverse IP practice, due to its small size, Miller said that Fraser Clemens found it “difficult to devote sufficient resources to a complex litigation matter.” The combination with Shumaker Loop will now free Fraser Clemens’ lawyers to do more patent litigation, Miller said.

After a surge earlier this year, the pace of law firm combinations has slowed in the second quarter. The American Lawyer reported last week on a new bicoastal antitrust boutique formed by a union of two small plaintiffs firms, as well as Boies Schiller Flexner’s absorption in April of Los Angeles-based litigation boutique Caldwell Leslie & Proctor. Florida’s Greenspoon Marder acquired San Diego’s Handal & Associates, Atlanta-based Freeman, Mathis & Gary bolted on Gilbert, Kelly, Crowley & Jennett—another Los Angeles litigation shop—and Jackson Walker recently acquired Hays & Owens, an energy regulatory and litigation boutique in Austin, Texas.

Other tie-up talks have either collapsed or remained tentative. The American Lawyer reported in early April on Crowell & Moring and Herrick, Feinstein calling off their discussions about a merger. And Foley & Lardner, a Milwaukee-based Am Law 100 firm that walked away from a potential deal with British firm Eversheds in late 2015, has approached New York’s Friedman Kaplan Seiler & Adelman about a potential combination.