Ropes and Gray to Spin off IP Law, thoughts

A forum for applicants and admitted students to ask law students and graduates about law school and the practice of law.
chicagoburger
Posts: 131
Joined: Tue Jan 17, 2017 1:34 pm

Ropes and Gray to Spin off IP Law, thoughts

Postby chicagoburger » Wed Mar 08, 2017 10:17 am

They are spinning off the whole patent practice into a new firm.
Any thoughts on what trend it sets for big law Ip and what will translate to the future IP law students' "big law chance" since they might be no longer part of big law firms.

Anonymous User
Posts: 280803
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Ropes and Gray to Spin off IP Law, thoughts

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Mar 08, 2017 10:54 am

chicagoburger wrote:They are spinning off the whole patent practice into a new firm.
Any thoughts on what trend it sets for big law Ip and what will translate to the future IP law students' "big law chance" since they might be no longer part of big law firms.


As an IP attorney, I can say this was inevitable for a long time. Patent prosecution just doesn't have the margins that patent litigation does. With the 180k salary increases, sustaining a patent prosecution practice has become even more unfeasible than before.

In the past, many IP practices would start junior associates on patent prosecution (because of their low billing rates), then move them on to litigation when their billing rates could no longer be justified doing patent pros. Basically, you get "billed out" of your own work if you specialize in patent pros. A lot of the time it's just one partner doing everything, or a partner overseeing a few trusted associates who do most of the work.

Within IP practices, there is a lot of pressure on patent (and trademark) prosecution attorneys because they aren't nearly as profitable as their litigation counterparts. In one instance, I have seen a biglaw firm grossly overbill a client (personal friend is president of client firm) for simple, non-substantive patent prosecution work. I suspect they were doing so out of desperation (good for the short run, bad for the long run - the client ended up going to someone cheaper, as expected). In any case, law firm billing practices are in no way a reflection of supply and demand, and the exodus of Ropes & Gray's patent prosecution practice is a reflection of that.

Abbie Doobie
Posts: 544
Joined: Wed Apr 09, 2014 12:02 pm

Re: Ropes and Gray to Spin off IP Law, thoughts

Postby Abbie Doobie » Wed Mar 08, 2017 11:07 am

what is most surprising to me about this news is that ropes and gray does patent pros. that didn't strike me as the kind of firm that would do that type of work

Anonymous User
Posts: 280803
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Ropes and Gray to Spin off IP Law, thoughts

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Mar 08, 2017 11:07 am

Former R&Ger here. There has been quite an exodus of IP people from the firm for a few years now. It was apparent to me that their IP practice was unsustainable within the firm in the long run, and it appears management finally realized that as well and addressed it head on. Their billing rates were way out of whack with the market rates for patent pros. Even their tech advisors / patent agents were overpriced compared to patent attorneys in smaller firms.

Best wishes to my former colleagues. They are a good group and I hope they can make it work as a stand-alone firm.

User avatar
lymenheimer
Posts: 3779
Joined: Sat Jul 04, 2015 1:54 am

Re: Ropes and Gray to Spin off IP Law, thoughts

Postby lymenheimer » Wed Mar 08, 2017 11:37 am

chicagoburger wrote:They are spinning off the whole patent practice into a new firm.
Any thoughts on what trend it sets for big law Ip and what will translate to the future IP law students' "big law chance" since they might be no longer part of big law firms.

viewtopic.php?f=23&t=170603

Anonymous User
Posts: 280803
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Ropes and Gray to Spin off IP Law, thoughts

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Mar 08, 2017 11:48 am

More or less expected, for all the reasons given above. Pros just isn't sustainable in current biglaw frameworks. R&G is considered a well-regarded firm for pros on the East Coast (as far as biglaw goes), so this should probably be a sign to any other patent prosecutors in other firms (if they haven't already seen the writing on the wall) to start polishing their resumes. My firm is a better ranked IP firm than Ropes, but I wouldn't be shocked if we're pushed out soon, too.

I don't think it changes much for other IP attorneys.

Anonymous User
Posts: 280803
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Ropes and Gray to Spin off IP Law, thoughts

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Mar 08, 2017 12:50 pm

Anonymous User wrote:More or less expected, for all the reasons given above. Pros just isn't sustainable in current biglaw frameworks. R&G is considered a well-regarded firm for pros on the East Coast (as far as biglaw goes), so this should probably be a sign to any other patent prosecutors in other firms (if they haven't already seen the writing on the wall) to start polishing their resumes. My firm is a better ranked IP firm than Ropes, but I wouldn't be shocked if we're pushed out soon, too.

I don't think it changes much for other IP attorneys.


Generally agree with this. It's been surprising to me that my V50 firm still tries to maintain a healthy IP prosecution practice while they continue to raise billing rates through the roof. At some point, the economics just don't make sense. I have been told that we still do pros as a "loss leader" to get our foot in the door of certain companies that aren't litigation clients and then try to cross-sell our litigation services. No idea if it has been effective.

User avatar
A. Nony Mouse
Posts: 24769
Joined: Tue Sep 25, 2012 11:51 am

Re: Ropes and Gray to Spin off IP Law, thoughts

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Wed Mar 08, 2017 2:16 pm

Moved to correct forum (so no more anon posting, sorry). OP, 0Ls aren't allowed to ask questions in the legal employment forum.

User avatar
laqueredup
Posts: 246
Joined: Thu Oct 13, 2016 1:05 am

Re: Ropes and Gray to Spin off IP Law, thoughts

Postby laqueredup » Wed Mar 08, 2017 2:28 pm

So what does this mean for a 0L engineer with a few T10 admits? Tech transaction and IP lit are interesting to me as well so prosecution wasn't ever the only opton, but I was kind of figuring the patent bar eligibility still meant something as far as big law or market paying boutique employment prospects, even if its not quite IPsecure anymore. Do you all think this trend will impact that?

User avatar
SplitMyPants
Posts: 1455
Joined: Wed Oct 09, 2013 9:22 pm

Re: Ropes and Gray to Spin off IP Law, thoughts

Postby SplitMyPants » Wed Mar 08, 2017 2:35 pm

Abbie Doobie wrote:what is most surprising to me about this news is that ropes and gray does patent pros. that didn't strike me as the kind of firm that would do that type of work


It came from a merger with NYC IP boutique Fish & Neave back in the early 2000s.

I interviewed with them two years ago. It seemed like mostly patent agents doing the pros. They sure as heck weren't hiring people into pros through OCI.




Return to “Ask a Law Student / Graduate”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: amamai, jstans and 6 guests