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Quinn Emanuel Opens in Austin, Courting Tech, IP Business (1)

Jan. 4, 2021, 6:54 PM; Updated: Jan. 4, 2021, 8:58 PM

Quinn, Emanuel, Urquhart & Sullivan has opened a four-partner office in Austin, Texas, following some of its Big Law rivals as the firm seeks growth in its technology and intellectual property business.

Quinn Emanuel hired two partners, Scott L. Cole from trial firm McKool Smith, and Asher B. Griffin from
Scott Douglass & McConnico. They join restructuring litigation lawyer Matthew Scheck, who is relocating from Quinn Emanuel’s headquarters in Los Angeles, and John Bash, a former U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Texas, who joined the firm in October.

Austin is a “boom town attracting the cream of the U.S. tech sector as well as billions of dollars in new investment,” said firm founder John B. Quinn in a statement. The Western District of Texas “has become one of the most important litigation forums in the country, particularly for patent cases.”

The Quinn Emanuel office is one of the few opened by Big Law in the past year as most firms put off expansion because of financial uncertainties brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.

Yet Austin is attractive for Quinn Emanuel as Facebook Inc., Alphabet Inc.'s Google, as well as Apple Inc. have offices there. Oracle Corp. revealed last month it would relocate its headquarters to the Texas capital from Redwood City, Calif.

A number of smaller, start-up tech companies have also set up shop in Austin, fueling intellectual property protection and litigation opportunities. Quinn Emanuel rivals include Baker Botts, DLA Piper and Norton Rose Fulbright, which already have offices in the city.

Several dozen Big Law firms have Austin offices of varying sizes, and more are likely to move there, said Kent Zimmermann, a legal industry consultant who is familiar with the Austin legal market.

“Law firms want to grow but there is only so much growth in Dallas and Houston, and there is a lot of legal talent in Austin, which is very attractive,” Zimmermann said. “Most firms feel pressure to scale up, but they want to do that with high quality legal talent.”

Austin hosts not only technology companies but also private equity, retail, health care, and real estate businesses, Zimmermann noted. “Talent and innovation in those areas attract quality lawyers,” he added.

In addition, the cost of living and the lack of a state income tax make Austin an attractive location for expanding law firms, he said.

One of the Quinn Emanuel hires, Cole, brings expertise in intellectual property. He had been a principal specializing in patent litigation at McKool Smith, trying more than two dozen cases and winning four nine-figure verdicts or judgments. Among them was a $391 million judgment in the 2015 pricing system patent infringement case, Versata Development Group v. SAP America, Inc.

“A very large chunk of patent litigation is being filed in the Western District, in Waco, where the judge has been receptive to cases dealing with this area of law,” Cole said.

Griffin has handled a wide range of litigation, including in pharmaceuticals, oil and gas, private equity, and intellectual property. He also served as lead manufacturers’ liaison counsel in the Texas opioid litigation, helping manufacturers shape the defense against multi-billion-dollar claims.

(Adds information throughout about law firm and company moves to Austin. )

To contact the reporter on this story: Elizabeth Olson at egolson1@gmail.com
To contact the editor on this story: Chris Opfer at copfer@bloombergindustry.com;
John Hughes at jhughes@bloombergindustry.com

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