Fitzpatrick and Venable to Merge, Combine IP Forces

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By Malathi Nayak

Intellectual property boutique law firm Fitzpatrick, Cella, Harper & Scinto is merging with Venable LLP, the firms announced Aug. 21, creating a formidable IP practice.

The deal, which is expected to close Nov. 1, will more than double the size of Venable’s intellectual property team.

“We will have a powerhouse IP practice when you combine the lawyers both in quality and number,” Venable Chairman Stuart Ingis told Bloomberg Law.

U.S. law firms increasingly are looking to gain competitive advantages by providing specialized legal services to industries from technology to pharmaceuticals. Firms are looking to add lawyers in specific practice areas such as intellectual property, which can involve complex, high-stakes transactions and disputes that attract attorneys with technical backgrounds.

Fitzpatrick’s 104 attorneys will expand Venable’s IP team to nearly 180 lawyers, one of the largest IP groups in the U.S., Ingis said. Fitzpatrick IP attorneys will use the “Venable Fitzpatrick” name, Dominick Conde, chair of Fitzpatrick’s Management Committee, told Bloomberg Law.

Ingis, who took over as Venable’s chairman less than two years ago, said he first met Conde over lunch at The Capitol Grille in Midtown Manhattan last year, after which they explored a potential merger. The firms have had a longstanding relationship over the years as their attorneys worked together on matters that included litigation, Conde said.

Growing IP Business

Fitzpatrick’s IP clients in the pharmaceutical industry could have access to Venable’s product liability services, Ingis said. Venable’s existing IP group isn’t as active as Fitzpatrick’s in areas such as pharmaceutical and technology, Conde said.

Nearly half of Venable’s total case load of 6,306 cases since 2007 to date involves product liability, mainly in pharma and healthcare, with 8.5 percent comprising patent and trademark cases, according to Bloomberg Law’s Litigation Analytics. Venable has represented pharma and healthcare companies such as Merck & Co. and Abbott Laboratories.

Fitzptrick’s case load of 628 cases since 2007 to date includes more than 55 percent patent cases, 5.3 percent trademark cases, and 2 percent copyright cases, Bloomberg Law’s Litigation Analytics show. It has technology and pharmaceutical industry clients such as Canon Inc. and Sanofi-Aventiz US LLC.

Venable posted $541 million in revenue in 2017 and and profits per partner of $1.134 million, up three percent from 2016, according to the most recent available financial data from The American Lawyer. Fitzpatrick’s 2017 revenue was $79 million, Conde said.

The combined 2017 revenue of $620 million is projected to grow in 2018, Ingis said. Venable’s profits per partner, which have increased steadily over the last decade, will continue to trend upward, he said.

The agreement takes the headcount of Venable, which serves clients in business law, litigation, intellectual property, and government affairs, to nearly 800 lawyers, Ingis and Conde said.

Fitzpatrick has three offices in New York, Washington D.C. and Costa Mesa, Calif. Venable has a larger footprint with eight offices, including San Francisco, Baltimore and Wilmington, Delaware. There are no immediate plans to expand into new markets, Ingis said.

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