Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton has brought on a new intellectual property litigation partner in Menlo Park, California, although two other IP lawyers have left its ranks in the region to join fast-growing Polsinelli in nearby Palo Alto.
Mansi Shah joined Kilpatrick Townsend last week from Merchant & Gould, where she opened the IP-focused firm’s San Jose office in 2016, along with veteran IP litigator David Bohrer. The latter left Merchant & Gould earlier this year to join local firm Greenfield Draa & Harrington. While Bohrer’s former firm prepared to close its San Jose office, Shah stuck around for three extra months to work on pending litigation.
“The San Jose office of Merchant & Gould closed in April due to conflicts,” Shah said. “We weren’t able to grow as quickly as the firm might have wanted, so the decision was to close the office because it was not necessarily able to provide what they were hoping for.”
Furthermore, Shah said that Merchant & Gould’s new CEO, Christopher Leonard, who succeeded partner Brian Batzli as the firm’s leader, managing director and chairman of the board on July 1, has a different vision for its direction, one that includes eliminating California from its list of offices in seven cities.
Shah said she was attracted to Kilpatrick Townsend, a successor to San Francisco-based IP firm Townsend and Townsend and Crew, because of the other general services that the combined, 574-lawyer firm now offers in addition to its IP expertise. (Kilpatrick Townsend has 300 lawyers in its IP group.)
“Once we get to know the clients really well, if they have another small problem, I have partners now that do everything, so we can be your one-stop shop if you have that faith in us,” Shah said.
Shah, who speaks Gujarati, Hindi and Spanish, joined Merchant & Gould after a little more than a year at legal services startup Valorem Law Group. Before that she spent nearly four years at Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, where she was a senior associate, having previously worked as an associate at now-defunct Howrey. Shah is also a fellow at the American Bar Foundation and currently serves as chair of the National Advisory Council of the South Asian Bar Association of North America.
Franklin Kang, an IP litigator and former chair of the Korea practice at McGuireWoods in San Francisco, will now lead Polsinelli’s Korea practice from Los Angeles and Palo Alto. Also joining Polsinelli are Kilpatrick Townsend partner Arriènne “Angel” Lezak and counsel Shelton Austin. Lezak, who comes aboard as a partner, will work out of Silicon Valley and Washington, D.C., while Austin will be based in Los Angeles and Palo Alto.
“The nature of the [intellectual property] practice I think has actually changed quite a bit in the last few years, and that is one of the reasons why I think our plan to expand the IP offering works,” said Fabio Marino, managing partner of Polsinelli’s Silicon Valley office and chair of the firm’s national IP litigation group. “Because it has become a more competitive practice in terms of cost. When we come in with our firm structure, we can actually offer the same or better services as our competitor, quite frankly, at better cost and platform.”
Polsinelli, which hired Marino as part of a four-lawyer IP team that joined the firm late last year from McDermott Will & Emery, has been building up its patent prowess in recent years. The firm became one of the country’s largest IP shops in 2016 after it brought on 44 lawyers from dissolving IP boutique Novak Druce Connolly Bove + Quigg.
Marino said that Polsinelli, which took in nearly $476 million in gross revenue last year, now has about 140 IP-focused practitioners spread across its offices in 21 cities. The 783-lawyer firm also has roughly 80 lawyers in California, with an overlapping group of 29 lawyers based out of San Francisco with another 12 residing in Silicon Valley.
In late May, Polsinelli officially set up shop in Seattle with its hire of an eight-lawyer team from local firm Foster Pepper, including the latter’s former CEO Stephen Kenyon, only a few days before Polsinelli ramped up its privacy and cybersecurity practice with a four-lawyer team recruited from Vedder Price in Chicago and New York.
“Something that differentiates us from a lot of the competition is that we are a national general practice with a national IP platform,” said Polsinelli’s San Francisco office managing partner Charles “Chuck” Thompson, who also chairs his firm’s national employment class actions practice.
As a full-service shop, Thompson said that Polsinelli provides an attractive platform for IP-focused lawyers looking for a home to address other needs, such as corporate, employment and white-collar work, for their clients. Thompson noted that Polsinelli now primarily focuses its efforts on five practice areas: corporate, employment, health care, IP and real estate.