Chicago IP boutique Wallenstein & Wagner is disintegrating, with both specialist and national firms rushing to benefit from the fallout.
Wallenstein’s problems are understood to have been sparked by an unconfirmed contract dispute.
However, the firm has been struggling for several years, after entering a costly lease agreement three years ago (when the firm had 35 lawyers) for its prestigious South Wacker Drive premises.
Three months later, two partners and a handful of associates left, pushing the firm’s cost per lawyer even higher. Departing partner, James Muraff explained that the situation “made us less competitive compensation-wise and made it harder to retain attorneys as time went on”.
Muraff continued that merger talks with other firms then fell through because the firms “weren’t interested in our lease commitment”.
Both McDermott Will & Emery and IP firm Banner & Witcoff have moved quickly to plunder Wallenstein. Eight lawyers have joined McDermott this week, while five joined Banner last week.
In addition, three Wallenstein lawyers joined Chicago firm Schwartz Cooper and Muraff went to 200-strong Neal Gerber & Eisenberg as senior counsel.
A local IP lawyer uninvolved in the hiring spree said that Wallenstein, which was founded in 1935 making it one of Chicago’s oldest IP boutiques, has a solid reputation in the market and is mainly known for its patent work.
No one from Wallenstein was available for comment.