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Big Law Firm Hires Its Way Up the Rankings

July 25, 2016, 7:52 PM

One California-founded tech law firm has been on a hiring tear as of late.

Cooley announced Monday that it has added a team of 11 intellectual property lawyers and patent agents from Morrison & Foerster. It’s the latest time in recent memory that the California tech firm has bolstered its ranks with key hires from MoFo and comes after a first half of additions from other competitors.

In January of last year, Cooley hired 55 lawyers from MoFo and Edwards Wildman in London including Justin Stock the head of MoFo’s corporate practice in London.

This year, Cooley also hired Patrick Gibbs, the former co-chair of Latham & Watkins’ securities litigation and professional liability practice, along with Ron Hopkinson, the head of private equity at Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft, and Eric Schwartzman, a partner from Weil Gotshal & Manges.

“I wouldn’t say we’ve honed in on any firms,” said Cooley CEO Joe Conroy, of the firm’s recruiting strategy, when asked of the two group hires from MoFo.

Instead, he said, one of the big things driving its growth is its focus on the tech sector and advising emerging companies.

[caption id="attachment_23129" align="aligncenter” width="254"][Image “Joe Conroy, CEO, Cooley” (src=]Joe Conroy, CEO, Cooley[/caption]

“The time these companies have from being in a garage and being real companies is shrinking,” he said. “Having that deep, historical branding in tech is more persuasive now.”

Leading the team of the most recent hires is partner Mika Reiner Mayer in Palo Alto. Another prominent member: Walter Wu, who holds both an MD (from the University of California, Davis School of Medicine) and a JD (from UCLA School of Law).

Both bring a team of four associates and six patent agents, Cooley announced.

Here’s the rundown:

Cathy Liang (agent)

Ann Yang (agent)

Lisa Amii (agent)

Joanna Liebes (associate)

Amy Motomura (associate)

Candice Hsu (associate)

Mani Roy (associate)

Kimberly Bolin (agent)

Connie Tong (agent)

Rob Wu (agent)

Mayer had practiced with MoFo for nearly 14 years. She said that she joined Cooley because of its life sciences patent practice, which has now grown to more than 70 members in the U.S. — a figure Cooley claims makes it the largest life sciences practice in the country.

“We share some of the same clients,” said Mayer.

Though Mayer declined to name them, her clients, according to a Bloomberg Law search of patent filings, have included NueogesX Inc. and Intersect ENT, Inc. She officially joined the firm in late June, but the rest of the team have followed her in the subsequent weeks.

“It’s a very close-knit group,” she said.

[caption id="attachment_23134" align="alignright” width="231"][Image “Mika Reiner Mayer, IP partner at Cooley in Palo Alto” (src=]Mika Reiner Mayer, IP partner at Cooley in Palo Alto[/caption]

Cooley now has 900 lawyers across 12 offices in the United States, China and Europe, but its growth is more impressive in context: In 2006, the firm grossed $298 million; today, it brings in nearly $1 billion and has surpassed competitor firms in profitability. Ten years ago, for instance, MoFo’s profits per partner were at $1,050,000 while Cooley’s were at $910,000. Fast-forward to the most recent rankings of The American Lawyer, and things look a bit different: Cooley ranks the No. 33 most profitable firm in the country with $1,885,000 profits per partner and MoFo has slipped to ranking No. 50, with $1,555,000 profits per partner.

Morrison & Foerster leaders did not respond to a request for comment placed through a firm spokesman. Larren Nashelsky, MoFo’s chair, did not respond to emails seeking comment about the recent hires and any competition playing out between the two firms.

Conroy, Cooley’s CEO, said that the firm is “poised to take advantage of what I think is going to be a historical movement of lateral talent” and alluded to laterals currently in-the-works.

Cooley’s growth can be traced back to its initial merger in 2006.

In October of 2006, the firm (then known as Cooley Godward, with 445 lawyers) merged with 110-lawyer Kronish Lieb Weiner & Hellman, a New York litigation firm, giving Cooley an East Coast presence and also strengthening its litigation expertise.

Since then, other notable hires have included:

In 2009, Cooley hired three IP partners from White & Case in New York.

Cooley’s 2014 acquisition of 54 lawyers from Dow Lohnes in Washington D.C.

In 2014, Cooley hired six IP lawyers from Mintz Levin .

In 2015, Cooley hires four securities and capital markets partners from Reed Smith in New York and San Francisco.

-- With research assistance from Alex Butler of Bloomberg Law.

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