Dan Huynh, left, with Morris Manning & Martin, and Tery Gonsalves, right, with Alston & Bird.. Dan Huynh (left) of Morris, Manning & Martin and Tery Gonsalves of Alston & Bird (Courtesy photos)

Alston & Bird has hired a seasoned trial lawyer (and former police detective), Tery Gonsalves, as a partner from Steptoe & Johnson.

Meanwhile, Alston has lost a patent litigator, Dan Huynh, to Morris, Manning & Martin, which has been expanding its intellectual property practice.

Huynh, who was counsel at Alston, joined Morris Manning as a partner on Monday. He said he made the move because he wants to target Atlanta’s flourishing startup community, which includes a growing and diverse array of fintech, video game, solar energy and other tech companies—all of which use a lot of proprietary IP.

Morris Manning is expanding its IP practice, Huynh said, to build off the national tech practice that John Yates started when he joined the firm 30 years ago to serve emerging and middle-market companies. Back then, the practice was more focused on California, but Atlanta has become a tech hot spot in its own right.

“The big firms are just too big to serve the regional market in Atlanta,” Huynh said, noting that at Alston he worked on huge cases involving the likes of Nokia, Google and Apple—instead of “the type of cases, day to day, that companies in Atlanta might have.”

Huynh, an Atlanta native, had worked at Alston since earning a law degree in 2009 from the University of Georgia. That followed a B.S. from Georgia Tech in industrial engineering, which made patent law a natural fit, he said.

Huynh said Morris Manning’s managing partner, Simon Malko, and IP practice chair, Daniel Sineway, “have got a lot of enthusiasm about growing the [IP] group. They understand that there is going to be a huge market in Atlanta that’s underserved.”

“The goal is to be a counsel to the company and grow with them for all situations that come up,” Huynh said, whether advising on their patent portfolio or handling litigation. “There are tons of companies that are large but don’t have consistent IP counsel yet.”

Last year, Morris Manning landed a D.C. team of three IP lawyers and three patent agents from Andrews Kurth Kenyon (now Hunton Andrews Kurth), led by partners Ping Wang and Michael Ye.

Huynh is active in the Atlanta legal community, serving on the boards of the Georgia Asian Pacific American Bar Association, Asian Americans Advancing Justice, the National Conference of Vietnamese American Attorneys and the Vietnamese American Bar Association of Georgia, which he helped found. GAPABA has chosen Huynh for its 2019 Rising Star Award, and he’s won the Pro Bono Award from the Atlanta IP Inn of Court.

Huynh, the first in his family to go to law school, said he’s on various boards—and also involved with UGA Law’s admissions office—because he has “a strong interest in making sure that diverse students go to law school,” and then in mentoring them to help them get the jobs they want.

From Chicago to Alston

Gonsalves, who is moving from Chicago to join Alston’s Atlanta headquarters, said he got to know the firm when he hired it for a “large, bet-the-company” case while he served as the head of litigation for Career Education Corp. from 2010 to 2013.

The Chicago-based company was facing a False Claims Act suit alleging Title IV accreditation violations by one of its schools, American InterContinental University, filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia.

“I needed a firm and a lawyer that could handle a case like that,” said Gonsalves, who hired Alston’s John Latham, a nationally known trial lawyer, on a referral. He said Latham and the other Alston lawyers did a great job on the case, which settled two weeks before trial.

Gonsalves left Career Education Corp. for Katten Muchin Rosenman in 2013 and then joined Steptoe & Johnson, both in Chicago.

After talking to Alston for many years and co-counseling on a few cases, Gonsalves said, “I decided it was time to take the plunge. The only hesitancy for me was that Alston has no Chicago office—so I decided to make the move.”

“They have an excellent reputation, the right footprint and the right expertise,” he said, for his national litigation practice, focused on consumer fraud class actions, FCA and Telephone Consumer Protection Act cases. 

The co-leader of Alston’s litigation practice, Kristy Brown, said in an announcement that Gonsalves is “highly regarded” for his experience representing clients in issues “attracting the scrutiny of federal and state regulators.”

Gonsalves spent seven years as a detective before becoming a lawyer, going to night law school at DePaul University while working for the Prospect Heights Police Department in Chicago.

“We were a smaller department, but we were active. I have a hundred war stories,” he said, adding that his cases included shootings, bank robberies, armed robbery and homicides.

He also testified more than 100 times in court as a detective, Gonsalves said, so he knew his way around a courtroom when he started practicing law in 2000.

Gonsalves has taken more than 20 jury trials to verdict. “I’ve made problems go away many more times than I’ve had to try them, but some cases do need to be tried,” he said. “I have no fear of going to trial. I think that drives the settlements I achieve for my clients.”

He is the 10th litigation partner Alston has recruited nationally since the beginning of 2018, including two in Atlanta—Angela Spivey from McGuireWoods and Larry Sommerfeld from the Atlanta U.S. Attorneys Office.