By Nate Raymond and Peter Rudegeair
Oct 12 (Reuters) - The heads of Connolly Bove Lodge & Hutz
and Novak Druce + Quigg said Friday their planned merger into
one of the largest intellectual property law firms in the United
States was on track despite the departure of several Connolly
The merger, set to close Jan. 1, would create the
seventh-largest intellectual property law firm in the United
States. Yet since its announcement four weeks ago, Connolly Bove
has been shrinking, with at least six partners defecting to
larger general practice law firms, including Womble Carlyle
Sandridge & Rice.
Jeffrey Bove, the managing partner of Connolly Bove, in a
statement said the merger is proceeding on schedule. The
departures "were expected and not considered in our discussions
or included in our merger plans."
The departing partners "early on gave indications they were
joining large general practice firms that are very different
than our vision for Novak Druce Connolly Bove + Quigg," Bove
Gregory Novak, the managing partner of Novak Druce, in an
interview said the departures had "zero impact on business
planning" and said the merger was moving ahead.
"Momentum's building on both sides, I don't see any speed
bumps or anything else," he said.
Departures from law firms pre-merger aren't uncommon as
partners decide whether they want to work in the newly combined
But the number of departures from Connolly, a law firm based
in Wilmington, Delaware, is notable given the firm's size. The
firm's website listed 26 partners and 16 associates on Friday.
The departures also reflect a larger debate among lawyers at
IP boutiques about the direction of their field. As patent
litigation has become more high-stakes, general practice firms
have been able to poach many partners at IP boutiques who have
significant trial experience by offering large pay packages,
said Peter Zeughauser of the legal consultancy Zeughauser Group.
The partners who have left Connolly since the merger was
announced, for example, have moved to general practice law
In contrast, Novak Druce's merger with Connolly Bove marks a
bet that an IP-focused law firm is viable. With 130 lawyers, the
firm would be the seventh-largest IP-only law firm in the United
"There's always going to be a divergence of thought," Novak
The most recent departures came Tuesday, when five lawyers
including three partners announced their departures to Womble
Carlyle, a full-service law firm established in Winston-Salem,
The partners included Mary Bourke, who has represented
Pfizer Inc in patent litigation over the statin Lipitor and is
representing Astra Zeneca in lawsuits over the statin Crestor.
Bourke did not respond to a request for comment.
Seperately on Tuesday, Scott Miller, the head of Connolly's
Los Angeles office and a member of its management committee,
said he would join Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton, which
has been beefing up its IP practice and had already poached
another Connolly Bove partner.
Miller did respond to a request for comment.
Connolly Bove partners Thomas McWilliams and Edward Behm
have also said they would join Barnes & Thornburg, another
general practice law firm based in Indianapolis. Behm and
McWilliams did not respond to requests for comment.
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