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Patent litigator John Desmarais raised eyebrows when he left Kirkland & Ellis two years ago to start a firm that—unlike most large firms—would be game to take on plaintiffs-side work for nonpracticing entities (NPEs), less flatteringly called patent trolls. But he appears to have sparked a trend. At least three more patent litigation boutiques with a similar strategy have since arrived on the scene. Tensegrity Law Group; Freitas Tseng Baik & Kaufman; and Feinberg Day Alberti & Thompson are each staffed by defectors from large firms seizing what they see as a tantalizing opportunity to bring lucrative patent claims on contingency—in some cases for NPEs.

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