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Heller Ehrman has suffered another high-profile partner departure, with San Diego IP specialist John Benassi defecting to Cooley Godward Kronish.
Benassi is the twentieth partner to leaver Heller this year after 25 partners defected in 2007. He joins Cooley as partner in San Diego, reuniting with former Heller colleague and litigation partner, Jessica Wolff, who joined the firm last week.
The partner in charge of Cooley's San Diego's office, Fred Muto, said: "John has built up a well-deserved reputation as a go-to IP litigator and we are confident that he will continue to attract IP cases particularly in the life sciences sector."
Heller has suffered a string of departures this year. One of the more recent high-profile exits came last month, when Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe snared litigator and former managing partner of Heller's New York office, Richard Martin to bolster its litigation practice.
Earlier this month (2 June), The Lawyer reported on widespread speculation in the US legal market that Heller was exploring merger talks with a number of US firms but Heller managing partner Matt Larrabee told The Lawyer that no merger was imminent.
"I can categorically deny that Heller has concluded we must merge," Larrabee said. "We did discuss our strategic plans at our partners retreat last month and the fact that, under some circumstances, a merger may or may not be a tactic. But I didn't utter the name of any particular firm at that time, other than Heller."