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July 9, 2009 2:06 PM

Dewey IP Trio Defects for McKool Smith

Posted by Brian Baxter

Only a day after Dewey & LeBoeuf helped itself to the cream of Cooley Godward Kronish's corporate practice, the firm lost three IP lawyers, including its practice cochair, to noted Dallas-based trial firm McKool Smith.

Dirk Thomas

IP litigation cochair Dirk Thomas (pictured right), partner Robert Auchter, and of counsel Jeffrey Frey are leaving 1,200-lawyer Dewey for the cozier confines of 120-lawyer McKool. All three are joining the new firm as partners.

"We're particularly excited about joining a platform like McKool with the reputation that it has," Thomas says. "They've really had a meteoric run up the chain with respect to establishing [the firm] as one of the go-to shops in IP litigation."

Last year McKool teamed up with its former adversaries at Morrison & Foerster for a $59 million win over Samsung in a patent case in East Texas. McKool's Samuel Baxter and MoFo's Harold McElhinny had previously found themselves on opposing sides in a landmark IP trial that saw Baxter emerge on the winning side in 2006.

It was Baxter (no relation to this writer) who was the first to call Thomas after he accepted the offer to join McKool, Thomas says. The two had shared clients before, like Minneapolis-based medical products maker Medtronic, and the laterals liked what they heard from the firm on a trip to Dallas in the spring.

Discussions about leaving Dewey for McKool continued, Thomas says, and the trio waited for clearance from a client waiver before officially joining their new firm on July 1.

McKool opened its D.C. office in September 2007 with a focus on ITC work. The Dewey laterals--all of whom do ITC work, in addition to general IP litigation in U.S. district courts--will expand the firm's presence to seven lawyers in the city.

Thomas says he expects to have a "less formal" practice leadership role at McKool as a result of the firm's size and its greater IP focus.

"Smaller firms can be more nimble and creative with billing arrangements and that's another reason that we thought this was a great opportunity for us," Thomas says.

Bob Auchter

Thomas and Auchter (pictured left), who've practiced together for ten years and joined Dewey in 2007 from Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi after that firm closed its D.C. office, say they were a package deal. They were recruited together--by Linda Ginsberg from New York's Ginsberg Schramm--and interviewed together.

"We weren't looking to move from one shop like Dewey to another shop like Dewey, even though we didn't think there was anything wrong [with the firm]," Thomas says. "It's just the model of being a large footprint, internationally based firm was not what we were looking for, so it didn't make sense to talk to similar peer firms."

The two plan on bringing most of their clients over to McKool. So far they've received clearances for Medtronic and Bethesda, Md.-based Clark Construction, and they expect to receive the necessary waivers for several other clients soon.

Dewey & LeBoeuf had more than $1 billion gross revenues last year and profits per equity partner of $1.6 million. Because McKool generates a large portion of its revenue from contingency cases, the firm does not qualify for our Am Law rankings.

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