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Honigman Attracts 7 Patent Attorneys 'Bottom-line' Move Reflects National Trend

May 10, 2004

Ankeny, Robert. "Honigman Snags 7 Patent Attorneys 'Bottom-line' move reflects national trend." Crain's Detroit Business 05 May 2004 .


Seven attorneys from the intellectual-property firm of Rader Fishman & Grauer P.L.L.C., including one of its founding partners, have moved to Honigman Miller Schwartz and Cohn L.L.P.

It is the latest move by major Detroit law firms to grow revenue by expanding practice areas, and creates Honigman's first full-fledged intellectual-property department.

Joining Honigman as partners are Joseph Coppola, John Guenther, Michael Lisi, Barbara Mandell and Peter Rashid.

Three of them - Coppola, Rashid and Guenther - also are engineers. Lisi is a trademark lawyer and Mandell is a patent litigator. Two other lawyers from Rader Fishman, Michael Bascobert and Christopher Falkowski, are joining Honigman as associates.

Coppola was one of five lawyers who left Dykema Gossett P.L.L.C. in 1996 to form Rader Fishman. With offices in Bloomfield Hills, Washington, Salt Lake City and Tokyo, the firm ranked 27th nationally among 350 firms in 2003 in handling patents issued.

"It's obviously disappointing," said Terry Rader, a founding partner of Rader Fishman, "but even with the departures, we still have 35 attorneys."

Rader said that Robert Kelly, a lead intellectual-property lawyer and former colleague of the group, left Dykema to join Rader Fishman last week.

Rader said that "philosophical differences and the perception of how compensation can be improved" prompted the split.

"Trends seem pretty clear that groups are leaving for other firms, and firms are merging. I guess I never assumed it would apply to us."

Honigman's managing partner, Alan S. Schwartz, said patent work is the only major business practice area that Honigman has not previously offered.

"We have a significant client base of manufacturing companies and others for whom we haven't done patent work. Now we'll offer that service," Schwartz said. `The addition of these seven lawyers to our firm enables us to broaden services we provide to clients in highly specialized practice areas," he said.

"This will build a foundation for us to expand on and I expect we will have a double-digit number of lawyers in the practice by the year's end," he said.

About a dozen Honigman lawyers include trademark, copyright, licensing and other technology areas in their practices. But until now the firm referred patent work to specialist law offices, said Donald Kunz, who heads Honigman's technology practice and lateral hiring activities.

Adding the lawyers is a "bottom-line decision, reflecting national, even international trends of increased consolidation among law firms," said Julie Savarino, of Ann Arbor-based Business Development Inc.

She said the legal field is "an extremely mature business" where both regional and national firms must bring up their head count to expand.

"We're probably going to see more and more consolidation," she said, because Fortune 500 companies want to reduce the number of firms they deal with. "There is only so much business out there and firms are growing to keep it or to reach out and take it."Robert Ankeny: (313) 446-0404, bankeny@crain.com