Hopgood has a pan-US reputation for patent litigation work and its partners command profit shares understood to be comparable to those provided by Morgan Lewis. Last year, top 10 US firm Morgan Lewis averaged profits per equity partner of $705,000 (£487,000).
The firm had stated its intention of strengthening its intellectual property (IP) practice as part of a more general expansion strategy. By adding Hopgood's lawyers and reputation, Morgan Lewis has immediately raised its IP game.
In addition to its litigation capacity, the Hopgood practice comprises trademarks, copyrights, trade secrets and unfair competition issues. The 35 Hopgood lawyers join Morgan Lewis's global litigation practice.
Morgan Lewis chairman Francis Milone said: “The merger was strategically driven by our desire to expand and solidify our life sciences practice. It was a high-priority item for us to expand that practice area.
“We didn't have the expertise in pharmaceutical industry patent litigation, and that's what Hopgood offered.”
He said that Hopgood saw the benefits of forging formal links with a firm which offered a greater breadth of services to life sciences clients.
“We didn't have the expertise in pharmaceutical industry patent litigation, and that's what Hopgood offered”
Francis Milone, Morgan Lewis & Bockius
Hopgood's senior partner Stephen Judlowe said: “Of all the approaches that have come our way over the years, the combination with Morgan Lewis simply provided the best fit.”
The integration of Hopgood's 11 partners and 24 associates into Morgan Lewis's New York office takes the firm's presence in the city to more than 300.
Judlowe said that the firm had become an increasingly attractive target for large general practice firms. He argued that its focus on patent work afforded the firm a cushion against economic downturns.
The IP team at Morgan Lewis has witnessed a number of new arrivals during the past year. In April, GlaxoSmithKline's US general counsel Edward Lentz joined the firm's Philadelphia head office as a partner; two Pillsbury Winthrop IP partners, Lynn Eccleston and Michael Dzwonczyk, also joined the firm in September.