With 40 intellectual property lawyers in Texas, Winston & Strawn is breaking into the Waco market, joining a stream of firms attracted to the venue of the hottest patent trial court in the nation.

The Am Law 100 firm secured office space in Waco in August, prompted by the amount of work its IP lawyers have been doing in the Texas city, said Tom Melsheimer, IP litigator and managing partner of Winston & Strawn’s Dallas office. However, the firm does not have plans to open a full-scale office in Waco.

“It’s intended to be a significant space to accommodate clients and lawyers for hearings, trials, preparations, meetings,” he said. “It’s not finished out like a Dallas or Houston law (office), but it’s very, very functional.”

The space is in the National Lloyds Building located near the federal courthouse.

In the time since U.S. District Judge Alan Albright, a former IP litigator, was sworn in as a federal judge in Waco in 2018, the Western District of Texas has become a hotbed for IP litigation, which has lured firms to the city best known as the home of Baylor University.

In July, Longview trial firm Sorey & Gilliland opened an office in Waco, joining other Texas firms with IP practices, including Patterson + Sheridan; Gray Reed & McGraw; Mann Tindel Thompson, an East Texas firm known as MT2 Law Group, which opened an office in Waco in a joint venture with Waco firm Haley & Olson, and Carstens & Cahoon.

Melsheimer said the office will not be staffed, although the firm expects lawyers to be there at least several days a month. Because the pandemic’s remote work experiment showed that successful lawyers can work “with a camera and internet connections,” the idea of investing in real estate by opening a full office in Waco didn’t make sense, he said.

Firms with IP dockets have also opened offices in recent months in Austin, which is also in the Western District of Texas, because of IP work before Albright. Those firms include Stradling Yocca Carlson & Rauth.

A new office in Austin is not on Winston & Strawn’s drawing board, Melsheimer said, although the firm is “looking for talent” in Austin.