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November 16, 2009 5:57 PM

Another Am Law IP Partner Leaves for Plaintiff Pastures

Posted by Brian Baxter

Raskin-WebPhoto

It seems large plaintiffs firms aren't done recruiting patent lawyers to their ranks. New York's Bernstein Litowitz Berger & Grossmann announced late last week that former WolfBlock and Cozen O'Connor IP partner Joshua Raskin (right) is joining the firm.

Raskin's move follows similar lateral hires in recent years. Coughlin Stoia Geller Rudman & Robbins formed an IP litigation practice in February 2008 after recruiting two patent litigators from Duane Morris. The Lanier Law Firm, namesake of trial lawyer W. Mark Lanier, opened an office in Palo Alto in March 2008 after hiring Howrey IP partner Christopher Banys.

Raskin is joining Bernstein Litowitz after three years at WolfBlock, where he was a partner and member of the firm's executive committee. When WolfBlock closed its doors earlier this year, Raskin joined the bulk of the firm's New York office in joining Cozen. But once at Cozen, Raskin soon found that a viable patent litigation practice was difficult to build given the constant pressure of the billable hour.

"As a patent lawyer, at least for me, I've had these contingency cases come across my desk," Raskin says. "But at a larger firm it's extremely difficult to take on those cases for many reasons, first and foremost of which are conflicts, and then just culture clashes and things like that."

The IP lawyer has known and worked with Bernstein Litowitz for several years. In March 2006, while at WolfBlock, Raskin took on a patent case for Anvik Corporation against Nikon over LCD technology. He brought in Bernstein Litowitz and its IP chair, Chad Johnson, formerly a partner at Latham & Watkins, as cocounsel. Raskin says the two firms enjoyed a close working relationship in the litigation.

While at WolfBlock, Raskin says he had to turn down several contingency cases because of conflicts, so he referred those prospective clients to Bernstein Litowitz. After joining Cozen, Raskin heard that Bernstein Litowitz was looking to bolster its IP practice. A move to the plaintiffs' side intrigued him.

"None of this is a knock on my former firms--I liked both of them a lot--but I felt it was getting much more difficult to represent my clients in patent infringement cases," Raskin says. "It was just getting way too expensive and I never felt the billable hour was the right business model for patent litigation. The client always felt we were overbilling and we felt constrained with the amount of work that we wanted to do to effectively represent the client."

Rather than remain focused on billing the necessary hours and collecting client money, Raskin says he wanted more results to further his cases. Bernstein Litowitz, which currently has seven to eight lawyers doing patent work full-time, provided Raskin with the flexibility that he was looking for.

"[This firm] represents clients as though they are getting paid by the hour in terms of staffing, time spent, and decisions made," he says. "And I think we'll get the best results that way."

While the relationship between plaintiffs firms and contingency cases is certainly nothing new, the profitability of those cases on the IP side is serving as a boom to some plaintiffs firms. The Lanier Firm recently announced that it would expand its presence in Palo Alto based on the success of Banys handling IP cases on a contingency basis.

Raskin hopes he can have similar success.

"Patent cases are an obvious fit and the trick is attracting and picking the good cases," he says. "Hopefully we can do that."

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