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Blank Rome Acquires IP Boutique in Texas

June 10, 2015, 1:12 PM

Blank Rome on Tuesday acquired the 24-lawyer intellectual property law firm Wong, Cabello, Lutsch, Rutherford & Brucculeri.

All the lawyers from the Texas-based Wong Cabello, whose clients include the communications technology firm, Polycom and the oil and gas company, Weatherford, join Blank Rome’s Houston office.

The Wong Cabello lawyers practice both patent prosecution and intellectual property litigation, and have experience in the patent-heavy Eastern District of Texas. In total, the group consists of 11 partners, four of counsel, nine associates, and other professional staff.

Name partner David Cabello said in an interview on Tuesday that the deal was driven by a belief that it is more advantageous to practice at a large, full-service law firm where there is more to offer clients.

“Some say the boutique is the way to go, but we see it heading in a different direction,” said Cabello.

“We have clients that tell us they want to reduce the number of service providers,” he added. “While they are happy with the service we are providing them, they may be migrating to a full-service law firm at some point. That’s just the nature of the business.”

Cabello said that at a large firm, there is more negotiating power when it comes to deciding on fees.

His firm had put itself on the merger market in November, and had entered into discussions with a number of larger law firms, but Blank Rome approached Wong Cabello around late January and the Philadelphia firm sealed the deal after months of talks.

Wong Cabello was founded in 2001 after a team of lawyers including David Cabello and Russell Wong hung their own shingle after departing from the general counsel’s office of Compaq Computer Corp.

The combination brings Blank Rome’s intellectual property practice to more than 60 lawyers in the 540-lawyer firm, and places Cabello as co-chair of the intellectual property and technology group. Russell Wong, the other name partner, will sit on Blank Rome’s 39-member partner board, which makes decisions around mergers, hires and other strategic moves. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

“One of our goals in our strategic plan that we adopted in 2014 was to grow in Tier One cities around the United States, [with] Houston of course being one of those,” said Alan Hoffman, Chairman and Managing Partner of Blank Rome.

The firm initially opened in Houston in 2011 when it combined with energy-focused Abrams, Scott & Bickley, and later added maritime lawyers from Bell Ryniker & Letourneau in 2013.

“In four years we’ve gone from zero to forty lawyers,” said Hoffman. “We got new space last week and we are looking for additional space.”

To accommodate the move, on June 1, Blank Rome moved into 27,144 square feet of office space of a building in downtown Houston at 717 Texas Avenue.