Merging US law firms form global IP giant

Two US firms are merging to form the world's biggest IP practice, and the new firm's next target will be Europe.

Washington DC-based Howrey & Simon and Houston IP firm Arnold White & Durkee will join forces on 1 January 2000.

The 470-lawyer merged firm will boast a team of 250 IP lawyers, which is expected to generate $130m (£81m) in revenues next year.

The new firm's managing partner designate, Robert Ruyak of Howrey & Simon, says the merger was prompted by the growth in technology litigation in the US and Europe.

He adds: “We wanted to develop the deepest and broadest group of technology lawyers and to be attractive to more lawyers who might want to join such an enterprise.”

Howrey & Simon currently does European work through referrals – including Bird & Bird in the UK and US firms Weil Gotshal & Manges and Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton in Brussels.

But the new firm intends to set up in Europe.

“We are going to start work on that pretty rapidly,” says Ruyak.

He has his eye on adding offices in London, Brussels and Geneva. “Now we have law firms we use as associates with us. But we are going to be looking at establishing in Europe,” he adds.

Ruyak says the firm is open-minded about the prospects of merger or starting its own office. “We have begun looking at that question and both are good options, but I don't think we have got far enough with our thoughts yet.

“We have to get through this process and then we have to develop a plan for expansion,” he says.

The new firm, which is yet to be named, will be based in Washington DC, with offices in Houston and Austin, Texas, Los Angeles and Menlo Park, California, and Chicago.

It is also planning to open centres in San Diego and North Virginia.

Ruyak says the merger talks took just 60 days.