The “vast majority” of lawyers and staff from Houston-based IP boutique Novack Druce Connolly Bove & Quigg will be absorbed into the fast-growing Polsinelli, according to recent reports by The American Lawyer.
Polsinelli chairman and CEO Russell Welsh told The American Lawyer that acquisition by Polsinelli, which currently has just over 700 attorneys, will enhance their already “robust IP practice,” especially in the burgeoning area of post-grant patent reviews (as quoted in The American Lawyer).
Novak Druce, which had 140 attorneys in 2012, has been losing “a stream of partners to competitors,” The American Lawyer reports, including Drinker Biddle, Reed Smith, and Dykema Gossett. This mirrors the ongoing trend for intellectual property boutiques in the recent years, many of which have been struggling and have since been absorbed into or have had partners taken by mid-sized, full-service firms like Polsinelli.
Ranked the fast-growing firm for the seventh year in the row, Polsinelli has experienced continued success in their expansion efforts, with revenue rising 11.4 percent in 2015 (The American Lawyer). Their now-proven strategy is to concentrate growth in low overhead markets in order to compete for health care work and other “price-sensitive assignments.” Todd Dickinson of Novack Druce’s executive committee agrees with their method, telling The American Lawyer that Polsinelli utilizes a “Midwest sensibility about rates that’s client friendly.”
The frenzy of mergers between IP boutiques and national full-service firms shows no signs of abatement, The American Lawyer reports. Since April, at least eight IP firms have been acquired by Am Law 200 firms, driven largely in part by the recent changes in patent law, according to the article.
However, patent litigation “remains hot,” the article argues, citing the results of a Lex Machina study, which found that patent litigation in the U.S. increased by 15 percent last year. The struggle for boutique patent firms, according to shareholder Thomas Anderson of Gifford Krass, a firm that merged with Dinsmore this past fall, is acquiring and keeping the larger clients. Anderson says that it “becomes hard for a firm of our size to attract large-scale patent litigation [because] Fortune 50 companies want large firms with lots of resources” (as quoted in The American Lawyer).
Larger, full-service firms view the bolting on of IP boutiques as a quick and easy way to build up their patent practice, an area which is “incredibly important” to clients, says Lewis Rose, managing partner of Kelley Drye.
With boutique IP firms across the country continuing to battle to maintain revenue and retain partners, it looks like this merger rush won’t be slowing down anytime soon.