Coming on the heels of the trans-Atlantic merger that led to its creation and a string of acquisitions on the East Coast, Womble Bond Dickinson is set to add 24 lawyers and patent agents from the California IP boutique Blakely Sokoloff Taylor Zafman early in the new year.
Womble announced Wednesday that the Blakely team, which is spread across offices in Los Angeles, Orange County and Sunnyvale, will join its ranks on Jan. 2.
Womble Bond Dickinson Chair and CEO Elizabeth “Betty” Temple said her firm already has a higher than average percentage of its revenues from intellectual property than most Am Law 100 firms and that the Blakely team’s strengths in electrical engineering and software mesh well with the firm’s existing expertise in life sciences and mechanical and chemical engineering.
“This is something which really fills that gap and helps us tremendously,” Temple said. “We are really excited, and I felt blessed that we had this opportunity, because I think it fits well with what our strategic goals are as a firm.”
The move will nearly triple Womble’s California footprint, both in terms of professionals and offices. Womble currently has nine lawyers and patent agents in its Palo Alto office, its sole existing California location. Michael Gencarella, managing partner of Womble’s Palo Alto office, said his office will be looking with Blakely’s Sunnyvale group for joint office space, most likely in the Palo Alto area.
“The move obviously gives us more mass in California,” said Gencarella, who practices IP law with an emphasis on patent prosecution. “The more mass will help us attract outside groups and build out the corporate side of things,” he added, noting that two of the firm’s current lawyers in Palo Alto are corporate transactional attorneys.
Lester Vincent, a senior partner in Blakely’s Sunnyvale office and a member of the firm’s merger and executive committees, said his firm had been considering joining ranks with a larger firm for the past couple of years but that talks started heating up with Womble this summer. “Strategically, we wanted to be part of a larger platform,” Vincent said. “We were looking for a larger firm that already had an IP department, so we wouldn’t be expected to reinvent the wheel.”
Vincent agreed with Temple that his firm’s presence in the Silicon Valley technology hub would be complementary to Womble’s existing practice in the life sciences industry. He said the November tie-up of Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice and its former alliance partner in the United Kingdon, Bond Dickinson, was “icing on the cake” for the Blakely lawyers as they consider joining. “The practice has become more international, and we also see the trends—the advantages of being part of a larger firm,” he said.
The Blakely addition continues a string of acquisitions for the firm. Just prior to November’s trans-Atlantic merger, Womble hired a trio of intellectual property partners focused on the life sciences from McCarter & English for the firm’s new Boston office. Earlier this month, Womble absorbed seven-lawyer communications and technology boutique Bennet & Bennet, which has offices in Washington, D.C., and Bethesda, Maryland.