David Leichtman

 

Former Robins Kaplan partner David Leichtman has left the Am Law 200 firm to start his own boutique in New York focused on intellectual property and business litigation.

Leichtman will be joined at the boutique, dubbed Leichtman Law, by five other commercial and IP litigators, according to a statement issued Thursday. The team includes three other former Robins Kaplan lawyers—Richard A. Mescon, Matthew McFarlane and Tatsuya Adachi—along with David Brill, who previously served as general counsel of Gemini Trust Co., and Shevani Jaisingh, a former Sullivan & Cromwell and Greenberg Traurig associate.

In addition to his time at Robins Kaplan, Leichtman spent more than a decade at Morgan, Lewis & Bockius earlier in his career and about three years at Hogan Lovells predecessor Lovells.

“After 20 years working in large firms, I am directing my energies into a more nimble practice,” Leichtman said. “As a trial lawyer, I have always been focused on my clients’ business goals, and I am excited by the growth potential of a business model which creates opportunities for our clients to resolve disputes more efficiently than can be done at larger firms.”

The launch of the new firm comes seven years after Leichtman and two other lawyers jumped from Lovells to start Robins Kaplan’s New York office. Since then, the Robins Kaplan outpost in New York has grown to roughly 40 lawyers, and Leichtman envisions growing his boutique to about 25 lawyers, according to his statement.

“During the last seven years I helped build Robins Kaplan’s New York office from three to 40 lawyers, and I am confident we can grow our new shop as well,” he said.

Leichtman was recognized last year by the New York Law Journal in connection with his pro bono efforts. Among other positions outside of his commercial practice, Leichtman serves as board chairman of Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts, a group that helps working artists with contracts and IP rights issues.

The launch of Leichtman Law comes at a time when several other IP-focused boutiques have been absorbed by larger firms. That pattern has played out in the wake of the 2011 passage of the America Invents Act, which created a review process for patent cases that tends to be less lucrative for lawyers, The American Lawyer reported last year.

In an interview on Thursday, Leichtman said while some smaller IP boutiques have been snapped up by larger firms, there are also instances of larger firms spinning off IP groups, as Ropes & Gray recently did with its patent prosecution practice. He said his new firm will focus on clients in the media and entertainment, life sciences and financial services industries. Conflicts at Robins Kaplan often prevented him from representing banks and some larger media companies, and Leichtman said he’s looking forward to re-establishing those types of companies as clients.

Leichtman added that he was drawn to the boutique model because it allows him to avoid the conflicts and high amounts of overhead that come along with larger firms. As an example, he said he would likely be able to call on nonlawyers with a science or technical background for jobs that, at a larger firm, might be handled by high-cost lawyers.

“In my case, we’ll continue to do patent litigation just as we did in our prior firms,” he said. “I can offer to clients a more efficient running of a case if I hire lower-cost people. Not every job on a case requires a lawyer.”