Top patent partners leave Paul Weiss to launch new law firm

Signage is seen outside of the law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP in Washington, D.C., U.S., August 30, 2020. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly
  • Groombridge, Wu, Baughman and Stone start new firm
  • Patent litigation firm to have offices in NY, Washington, D.C.

(Reuters) - Four partners have left law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison to open up a new firm focused on patent litigation work, the group said on Monday.

The lawyers - Nicholas Groombridge, Jennifer Wu, J. Steven Baughman and Eric Alan Stone - have represented biotechnology, pharmaceutical and technology companies including Amgen Inc, Genentech Inc, Twitter Inc and Garmin Ltd.

The team is setting up shop in New York and Washington, D.C. under the name Groombridge, Wu, Baughman & Stone.

Groombridge said the lawyers want to approach patent litigation work "in a way that perhaps doesn't make sense for a large law firm."

He said the new firm would adopt a staffing model "that is more weighted to the upper end" of expertise, which will also mean a move away from purely hourly billing.

It has been a busy year for intellectual property lawyer moves. Just last week Greenberg Traurig added a 31-person IP team from FisherBroyles, and Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe hired four IP litigation partners from Milbank.

Morrison & Foerster will also absorb 36 lawyers from IP-focused firm Durie Tangri in a deal effective Jan. 1. Earlier this year, Morgan, Lewis & Bockius hired a five-member patent prosecution team from Duane Morris, and BakerHostetler added 19 IP lawyers and legal professionals from Morgan Lewis.

Groombridge called the separation from Paul Weiss "entirely amicable" and said the firm "could not be more gracious or welcome in facilitating this."

Paul Weiss chairman Brad Karp called the lawyers "extraordinary patent litigators" in a statement in the new firm's announcement, adding the firms expect to collaborate.

A Paul Weiss spokesperson did not immediately provide additional comment on what the team's departure means for the firm. Paul Weiss' patent litigation group has nine remaining lawyers listed on its website, including three partners.

The new firm wants to have between 20-25 lawyers by the beginning of 2023, Groombridge said, adding he anticipates other Paul Weiss lawyers to join.

The group has typically generated about 70% of its revenue from repeat clients that are mostly large companies, and 30% from smaller entities, he said. The new firm expects to work with major companies in the biopharmaceutical sector and to boost its focus on tech clients, he said.

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Sara Merken reports on privacy and data security, as well as the business of law, including legal innovation and key players in the legal services industry. Reach her at sara.merken@thomsonreuters.com