With its latest lateral move, Montgomery McCracken Walker & Rhoads has also added a practice area and a head of diversity and inclusion efforts.
The firm has brought on four lawyers from Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney’s Philadelphia office. Partners Alfred Zaher and Shawn Li will oversee the firm’s new IP department, with Zaher as department chair. Also joining Montgomery McCracken are of counsel Maryellen Madden and associate John Powell, who focus on complex litigation and commercial disputes.
Zaher said he wasn’t looking to leave Buchanan Ingersoll, but was intrigued by the prospect of joining Montgomery McCracken because of several contacts there, including vice chairman Richard Simins. Simins, who joined Montgomery McCracken in March 2017, also came from Buchanan Ingersoll.
Montgomery McCracken, which has over 120 lawyers, had an IP practice years ago, Simins noted, but more recently has lacked that service offering. It’s an important area for a full-service firm to have, he said.
Simins also noted the diversity the group brings to the firm, and that Zaher will be serving as Montgomery McCracken’s chief diversity and inclusion officer. Zaher is an openly gay lawyer, and a member of the board of directors for the National LGBT Bar Association and for the Gay and Lesbian Lawyers of Philadelphia.
Madden, a transgender woman, has been open about her transition, which she underwent while practicing law at Buchanan Ingersoll. She was appointed to serve on the Pennsylvania Commission on LGBTQ Affairs, which Gov. Tom Wolf officially created Monday by executive order.
Zaher said the firm’s smaller size is an asset to him as he works with clients seeking greater efficiency. Li said the firm has an “eye on the future” and offers the ability to adapt to changing client needs.
“In today’s competitive legal market you have to be either very big, or smaller and nimble,” Zaher said. “You don’t have to have sky-high rates to afford the platform” at a midsize firm.
The two IP partners work closely together with clients in the medical device, biotechnology, pharmaceutical, chemical, electronics and software industries, and they have handled trademark recovery and litigation matters in China. Zaher said their practice is “in the millions” but declined to elaborate further.
“It’s not just about the book of business Alfred and Shawn are bringing over, it’s about the ability to serve our clients in a way we hadn’t been able to before,” Simins said. “So many of our clients need IP.”
Simins said the firm as a whole is open to alternative fee arrangements and flexible pricing, as well as litigation funding. “We’re really trying to keep pace with the way the legal world is developing now,” he said.
“We are pleased that Alfred has found a new firm. His departure is not a surprise and has no impact on our premier intellectual property practices,” Buchanan Ingersoll CEO Joseph Dougherty said in a statement. “Given that Maryellen worked closely with him, it’s understandable she chose to follow and we wish her well.”
Dougherty added that his firm has hired 60 new attorneys in the past year and is “in growth mode.”