Photo: Diego M. Radzinschi/ALM

A group of four data privacy and intellectual property lawyers in Chicago have made a quick turn from Fox Rothschild to K&L Gates, in hopes of making their practice more technology-forward.

Partners Daniel Farris and Christopher Hines made the move along with associates Joe McClendon and Nicole Poulos, Pittsburgh-based international firm K&L Gates announced Thursday. Farris said he officially joined K&L Gates Jan. 2.

Farris, who had been a co-chair of the technology practice at Philadelphia-based Fox Rothschild, said he and his group were attracted to K&L Gates’ international footprint, as “technology and privacy over the last few years has really been a global practice.”

He also said K&L Gates offered the opportunity to offer clients better value in terms of using technology to perform legal work more efficiently, and providing cost flexibility. The rate structure isn’t much different in itself, he said, but “the biggest benefit in the move is the ability to be more creative and frankly aggressive in providing alternative fee arrangements.”

According to Farris, the group is bringing a $3 million to $4 million book of business to K&L Gates.

Farris, a former software engineer and network administrator, said his clients are mostly in highly regulated industries including financial services, health care and manufacturing. He also has some clients strictly in the technology industry, he said. In addition to privacy and technology issues, his practice involves compliance and intellectual property matters.

Hines focuses on IP matters related to patents and trademarks in the software, networking, telecommunications and databases industries. And he was formerly a computer programmer.

Farris and Poulos joined Fox Rothschild less than two years ago, in May 2017, from Polsinelli. Hines followed them to Fox Rothschild half a year later, in November 2017, also coming from Polsinelli.

“With cyber risk and privacy continuing to be a focus of companies around the world, this team’s diverse experience will greatly enhance the firm’s ability to serve our clients in those, as well as in broader IP and technology, areas,” Michael Martinez, K&L Gates’ Chicago office managing partner, said in a statement.

Farris has also been involved in the legal tech scene outside of his own practice. Just a few months ago, he co-founded NMBL Technologies, which is partnering with blockchain developer Dragonchain to create cloud-based legal workflow and document management products.

Likewise, K&L Gates has shown interest in the use of blockchain for legal services. The firm in 2017 kick-started a plan to develop those capabilities in-house, with the goal of launching its own private blockchain. Smart contracts—which use encrypted information to implement the terms of a contract automatically—are one of the ways legal service providers have put this technology to work.

“I fully support it and have been working with the leaders of the firm, the management, to try to support those initiatives,” Farris said of K&L Gates’ foray into blockchain. “The winners and losers in the law firm world over the next decade-plus will be those who effectively invest in, adopt and deploy technology, and those who do not.”

In an emailed statement Thursday, Fox Rothschild IP chair James Singer said, “Fox Rothschild’s intellectual property department has grown significantly over the past decade and is currently home to more than 100 attorneys, including more than 50 registered patent attorneys and agents. We wish our former colleagues well as they embark upon this next step in their professional journey.”

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