Managing partner Kevin Grogan, in the firms Springfield, Mass., office noted: "Our practice is unique patent and intellectual property because you dont have to be there. From the viewpoint of [clients in] Germany, Denmark or Japan, they see I dont have to be located right near the [U.S.] Patent Office anymore.
I dont have to be next to a courthouse.
Clients can go to somebody who has quality people and charges reasonable rates."
Grogan says theres plenty of "maintenance work" renewing a portfolio of a thousand patents and trademarks in the U.S. and throughout the world.
The firm has also started representing clients before the International Trade Commission.
"Last year it was transactional, this year seems to be a big litigation year," Grogan said. "Other years we crank out cases. I always try to get a mix of large corporate clients, small businesses, litigation, transactional work, trademarks, patents, copyrights… If you get enough bets down on the table, you get some stability in terms of revenue."
The firms diversified portfolio of IP work makes it a frequent target for merger proposals, but Grogan would rather "merge" on a more a la carte basis, forming strategic partnerships with non-IP firms around specific clients.
Some firms that have developed a long-held reputation are quietly eying greener pastures. At Updike Kelly & Spellacy, long known for its government savvy and lobbying expertise, 2010 marked the first year in decades that name partner Bourke Spellacy did not register as a lobbyist.
"Weve transitioned from our founding generation," said managing partner John F. "Jef" Wolter. "People here say it used to be that we got hired because of who we knew rather than what we knew. Now we kind of have both."
Lobbying, Wolter said, has become "kind of commodity practice.