Connolly Gallagher LLP, the commercial litigation firm spun out from Connolly Bove Lodge & Hutz, launched this week.
Although the move had been expected for some time, as first reported in June by Legal sibling publication Delaware Law Weekly, the firm’s former business litigation unit officially moved out August 31. Connolly Gallagher has taken up space at the Brandywine Building, a downtown Wilmington, Del., office property, which sits across a concrete plaza from Connolly Bove’s current headquarters at the Nemours Building.
The new firm’s identity and attorneys were also confirmed through its website and Facebook page, which both launched this week.
In fact, the names and contact information for some of the attorneys who were said to be leaving the venerable Wilmington firm to join Connolly Gallagher had been removed from Connolly Bove’s website by the morning of August 31.
Connolly Gallagher will be led by two former Connolly Bove partners, Arthur G. “Chip” Connolly III and Henry E. “Hank” Gallagher. The new firm is said to be composed of 12 partners and eight associates or of counsel. It also includes all of Connolly Bove’s former litigation groups, outside of intellectual property. Those groups are said to handle family, wills and estates, real estate and insurance law.
The new firm is also said to include Connolly Bove’s former Newark, Del., office, sources have told Delaware Law Weekly. The satellite was formed to capitalize on the region’s transformation into a technology hub and does both intellectual property and business litigation.
Connolly Bove’s former chief operating officer, Henry D. “Hank” Windmoeller, is said to be in negotiations to join the commercial litigation unit as chief financial officer. Windmoeller joined Connolly Bove in August 2007 and left some time later, according to sources familiar with the firm.
Multiple calls to Connolly, Gallagher and Connolly Bove’s managing partner, Jeffrey B. Bove, were not returned.
A dissolution vote was contemplated but never formally occurred. Sources with knowledge of the situation said a dissolution vote was not necessary because Connolly Bove will remain intact and attorneys who leave to join Connolly Gallagher can just resign from their former firm.
Meanwhile, Connolly Bove is said to be in the process of rebranding itself as an intellectual property boutique. The firm is expected to retain the name Connolly Bove Lodge & Hutz and would continue to be led by Bove. Currently, the firm has roughly 40 intellectual property attorneys, but that number may be reduced before the firm rebrands itself. DLW has confirmed that a few partners and associates have had discussions with other Wilmington firms.
Despite the possible departure of Connolly from the firm’s business group, the firm’s intellectual property team would be able to retain the Connolly Bove Lodge & Hutz name because the Connolly in the firm’s name refers to one of its founders and Chip Connolly’s grandfather, Arthur G. Connolly Sr.
Connolly Bove’s Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles offices will remain with the firm, according to sources. The satellites largely handle intellectual property cases, so sources familiar with the firm say they are going to remain with the firm’s intellectual property unit.
Connolly Bove is said to have engaged in discussions with a handful of intellectual property firms about the possibility of a merger, but it is not known how fruitful those discussions were. The interested parties were said to be out-of-state firms seeking a merger partner as a way to enter into Delaware’s lucrative intellectual-property litigation market.
Sources in the Delaware legal community have said that the breakup was related to several independent factors, including key departures; the Washington and Los Angeles offices struggling to meet expectations; a reduction in patent litigation from Pfizer, one of the firm’s biggest clients; the possibility of a reduced role for longtime partner Rudolf E. Hutz; and debt incurred during the firm’s 2003 move to the Nemours Building.
Founded in 1944 in Wilmington, Connolly Bove began as an intellectual property firm but added a business practice shortly after its opening. The Washington office was launched in 2001 in order for the firm to have a closer presence to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and other government entities, according to its website. In 2005, Connolly Bove opened a Los Angeles office, followed by a second Delaware office, in Newark, in 2011.
Connolly Bove boasts several Fortune 100 companies among its intellectual property clients, including Amylin Pharmaceuticals Inc., BASF Corp., Bayer AG, Eastman Kodak Co. and Pfizer Inc.
This article first appeared in Delaware Law Weekly, a Legal sibling publication.