In its latest merger with a small intellectual property boutique, Columbus, Ohio-based Vorys, Sater, Seymour and Pease has nearly doubled the size of its Pittsburgh office.
Vorys Sater has added 12 professionals, including 10 lawyers, in the city after bolting on local IP shop Beck & Thomas. The new additions join a dozen lawyers already practicing with Vorys Sater in Pittsburgh, where the Columbus-based firm set up shop in 2013.
The group includes three partners—James Dilmore, John Thomas III and Richard Ting—as well as four of counsel, one associate and two contract lawyers. Vorys Sater is also bringing aboard a patent agent, paralegal and two legal secretaries from Beck & Thomas, whose other name partner, Paul Beck, will not make the move to the Am Law 200 firm.
Daren Garcia, managing partner of Vorys Sater’s Steel City office, said he reached out to Beck & Thomas after learning about the firm through a former Vorys Sater colleague.
“Our law firm has a strategic focus on the IP area,” Garcia said. “Pittsburgh is certainly a hot IP market and the Beck & Thomas firm came highly recommended to us.”
The group from Beck & Thomas brings Vorys Sater’s IP practice head count, including lawyers and patent agents, to 30 across seven offices. Last year, the firm expanded that practice to Houston, where it brought on a four-lawyer group from McDermott Will & Emery.
Garcia said Beck & Thomas brings “significant” business to the firm, but did not provide further detail about the new recruits. The group’s clients include businesses in the pharmaceutical, manufacturing, construction, oil and gas and financial industries, Thomas said.
“Every client has been extremely enthusiastic and positive and excited,” about Beck & Thomas’ merger with Vorys Sater, Thomas said.
Garcia noted that the two firms’ rates were “materially on par” with each other, helping smooth the combination. Beck & Thomas has moved out of its former office space and into Vorys Sater’s Pittsburgh location, which had “just enough space,” said Garcia, noting that it will be expanded later this year.
Thomas said market forces or struggles did not motivate Beck & Thomas to merge with a larger firm, just the quality of the suitor that approached his group.
“It was truly, solely about the integrity and the folks at Vorys and the business opportunity,” said Thomas, noting that IP has been a “hot practice” in Pittsburgh for some time, thanks in part to activity in the local technology sector. “We had had this opportunity 10 other times and we did not do it.”
The two firms were in talks nine or 10 months, Garcia said, dating back to their initial meeting. He added that they did not encounter any unworkable client conflicts or other curveballs along the way. Garcia said that mid-market firms like Vorys Sater have benefited from providing clients with a more affordable option in various practice areas, and he sees IP as a key area to capitalize on that potential inefficiency.
“Firms of our size and in the market that we’re in are able to bring a level of sophistication equivalent to much larger international law firms with a far more attractive rate structure,” Garcia said. “Companies are realizing the type of work can be done at a very high level and at a significant savings when they use a firm like ours over some of the larger players in the space.”