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June 21, 2011 1:28 PM

Cozen Picks Up 19 Lawyers from New York IP Boutique

Posted by Brian Baxter

Cozen O'Connor has recruited 19 lawyers, including five senior partners, from 27-lawyer New York IP litigation boutique Cohen Pontani Lieberman & Pavane, reports sibling publication The Legal Intelligencer.

The moves, effective July 1, include Cohen Pontani name partners Thomas Pontani, Martin Pavane, and Lance Lieberman. The new hires will give Philadelphia-based Cozen 24 full-time IP and patent prosecution lawyers in New York and 33 firmwide.

"Adding this talented group helps us fulfill our strategy of building a top-notch team to serve our national and international clients," Cozen president Thomas "Tad" Decker said in a statement released by the firm. "We have made great strides in continuing our growth in New York, and the team from Cohen Pontani is yet another example of our commitment to strategically grow in response to our clients' needs."

Cozen's last large expansion in New York was in April 2009 when the firm took on 30 lawyers from the Manhattan office of WolfBlock, which was winding down after a dissolution vote in March of that year.

Cozen previously expanded in Manhattan in 2005 when the firm added 38 of 45 lawyers from Fischbein Badillo Wagner Harding. Those hires brought Cozen additional commercial litigation and real estate expertise, as well as political connections. (One partner from that group, former government relations cohead Raymond Harding, was charged with pocketing fees for political favors before copping a plea last month.)

In an interview with the Intelligencer, Cozen's Decker suggested that Cohen Pontani might soon dissolve. (Lead partners leaving the firm were not immediately available for comment.) Eight of the firm's IP attorneys, including one partner and three senior counsel, are not making the move to Cozen. According to Decker, his firm had a set plan for expanding in New York by a certain number of lawyers.

Additional growth plans in New York will focus on other specialty groups, Decker told The Intelligencer. The firm has two offices in Manhattan--one downtown, near the state and federal courts, and another in midtown--as a result of the WolfBlock hires from two years ago, according to sibling publication the New York Law Journal. The new hires from Cohen Pontani will join Cozen's midtown office.

Also joining Cozen from Cohen Pontani are senior partners Thomas Langer and Edward Weisz, as well as partners Kent Cheng, Lisa Ferrari, Alfred Froebrich, Julia Kim, Allan Morrison, Steven Shelton, and Michael Stuart. Carl Wischhusen is joining Cozen as of counsel, while Darren Mogil, Marilyn Neiman, Ian Blum, Alphonso Collins, Enshan Hong, and Aaron Mace are coming aboard as associates. Decker told The Intelligencer that he was introduced to the lawyers from Cohen Pontani through "friends of friends," and not a legal recruiter.

The Intelligencer reports that Cozen was interested in Cohen Pontani's patent prosecution work for Fortune 100 companies and large clients in Europe, Japan, and South Korea. In April, sibling publication Corporate Counsel reported that Cohen Pontani had successfully represented India's Dr. Reddy's Laboratories in a patent infringement suit brought by drug giant Sanofi-Aventis.

In joining Cozen, the Cohen Pontani lawyers will have greater support for their work on larger cases, including the Sanofi-Aventis matter, Decker told The Intelligencer. He hopes the union will help in making pitches to chief patent counsel for prospective new clients.

The announced addition of the Cohen Pontani team continues Cozen's recent hiring push. In May the firm brought on 14 lawyers from Epstein Becker & Green's Houston office, including five partners from what was once Wickliff & Hall, the first minority-owned firm in Texas to represent significant corporate clients. And last summer, 15 lawyers and government affairs professionals joined Cozen when the firm acquired Washington, D.C.-based boutique Sher & Blackwell.

According to the most recent Am Law 100 financial data, Cozen saw gross revenue drop 4.5 percent to $277.5 million in 2010, while profits per partner at the now 575-lawyer firm decreased nearly 7 percent to $605,000.

Cohen Pontani becomes the latest in a series of New York IP boutiques to fall on hard times. Darby & Darby dissolved in March 2010 and Morgan & Finnegan filed for bankruptcy and broke up a year before that, following the demise of other IP boutiques like Pennie & Edmonds and Fish & Neave.

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