Crowell & Moring to merge with IP firm Brinks in Midwest expansion

Chicago skyline, REUTERS/Jeff Haynes
  • Crowell to gain 61 lawyers in July deal
  • Merger will create new tech and IP department

(Reuters) - Crowell & Moring is set to combine with Chicago-based intellectual property firm Brinks Gilson & Lione, the firms said on Thursday, a move that will give Crowell its first foothold in the Midwest with offices in Chicago and Indianapolis.

Washington, D.C.-based Crowell plans to pick up 61 Brinks lawyers in the deal, expected to take effect on July 1. Crowell said the move will create a team of more than 100 tech-focused IP lawyers and scientific professionals and give the combined firm 625 lawyers total.

The move, which is the largest combination in Crowell's history, is part of its ongoing growth strategy. Founded in 1979 according to its website, the firm added two dozen lawyers in March through its acquisition of Wall Street corporate law boutique Kibbe & Orbe. Crowell said it has added about 90 lateral partners and 21 senior counsel in the last three years.

"We've been focused on growth for a while, and as you can tell from our track record, we're not looking for seismic growth; we're not looking for growth for the sake of scale alone; we're trying to make the right impact in where we grow, and how," Crowell chair Philip Inglima said.

One factor that drove the merger from Crowell's perspective was a desire to deepen the firm's technology and IP capacity, Inglima said. Through the deal, the firm will establish a new technology and IP department, which he said brings together existing capacities from both Crowell and Brinks, such as advertising and media, brand protection, IP, privacy and other areas that intersect with digital.

"Technology is really the fabric that weaves together so much of the business community today, so much of the world today," Inglima said.

Gustavo Siller, president of 100-year-old Brinks, will co-chair the new department, alongside Crowell partner Cheryl Falvey.

Siller said that Brinks has been considering a broader platform to help its IP clients with technology matters. As an IP firm, Brinks "didn't have the capability of servicing all of the technology issues that our clients have," he said. Siller also cited Crowell's geographic footprint as attractive to Brinks for the deal.

Crowell has offices globally, including in London and Brussels. The firm will immediately add outposts in Chicago and Indianapolis once the combination takes effect, and said it has started a process with the Chinese government to open an office in Shenzhen, where Brinks launched in 2017.

Crowell will be the latest Big Law firm to plant a flag in the Windy City.

Inglima said the firm sees the Chicago market as a "really promising point of expansion for a number of our practice areas," including corporate and transactional, regulatory, brand protection, white collar and others.

"We have a pretty high aspiration to bring some of our best strengths into our presence in Chicago, with people who are already established in the Chicago market, and to continue growing organically there as well," he said.

Read more:

Crowell & Moring snaps up remaining Kibbe & Orbe lawyers in Wall Street expansion

Crowell builds on boutique acquisition with N.Y. Goodwin hire

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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