Taft Stettinius Hollister LLP has pulled off a major coup in the local legal community by taking half the intellectual property practice from rival law firm Krieg DeVault LLP.
By luring the 10 lawyers away from Krieg, Taft more than doubles its roster of IP attorneys to 19 and catapults it from the eighth- to fourth-largest intellectual property practice in the city, according to IBJ statistics.
“This is big for us,” said Robert Hicks, managing partner of the firm’s Indianapolis office. “Before 2006, we didn’t even have an intellectual property practice at [forerunner] Sommer Barnard.”
Taft, a mostly regional firm, absorbed Sommer Barnard in 2008. Without the heft Taft's regional presence gives the Indianapolis office, Hicks doubts it could have lured the lawyers from Krieg.
Taft has 419 lawyers spread throughout Ohio offices in Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus and Dayton, in addition to outposts in Chicago, Covington, Kentucky and Phoenix.
Among the lawyers leaving Krieg to join Taft are partners John Allie, Douglas Collier, Gregory Coy, Jason Houdek, Brad Schepers and Mark Stephenson.
Allie cited the firm’s depth of resources as a factor in the lawyers’ decision to leave Krieg. Many had arrived together at Krieg about 10 years ago from IP boutique Woodard Emhardt Moriarty McNett & Henry LLP.
Allie and his team approached Hicks about joining Taft.
“Our goal is to be able to service our clients locally, regionally and in the international spectrum,” Allie said, “and Taft gives us that platform.”
The move illustrates the growing importance larger firms are placing on intellectual property practices, as the need to protect their clients’ technological advances increases.
The arrivals will bring an estimated $8 million to $10 million in annual revenue to the office and will transform it into Taft’s firm-wide hub for trademark and patent filings, Hicks said.
“It’s a hugely strategic move for us, both in Indianapolis and the region,” Hicks said.
Logistically, the attorneys’ move to Taft was quite simple. Both Taft and Krieg occupy space in Regions Tower.
Taft’s local 19-lawyer intellectual property practice now trails only heavyweights Barnes & Thornburg LLP and Faegre Baker Daniels LLP, in addition to Woodard Emhardt, in the rankings of biggest IP practices in the city, IBJ statistics show.
Krieg DeVault, meanwhile, flip flops with Taft, dropping from the fourth- to eighth-largest intellectual law practice.
Despite the exodus, Krieg will continue to provide intellectual property services to clients, said Deborah Daniels, who became the firm’s managing partner in January.
It’s unclear, though, whether the firm will fill the vacancies.
“Do we want to rebuild this particular practice the way it was? I don’t know the answer to that right now,” Daniels said. “We’ll make that decision later.”
Krieg DeVault has 140 lawyers in nine offices in five states and has strong banking, corporate and health care groups, she said.
“We’re a diverse firm to begin with,” Daniels said. “The firm is far larger than any one practice group."
The overall economic impact the departures will have on the firm will be relatively small and can be recouped by growing other practice areas, she said.
Both Krieg and Taft predate the turn of the last century. Krieg was established locally in 1870 and Taft in Cincinnati in 1885.
With 109 local lawyers, Taft is the city’s fourth-largest firm. Krieg’s 91 attorneys rank it eighth.