Crowell & Moring, a Washington-based law firm aiming to grow, acquires Chicago-based intellectual property company Brinks Gilson & Lione to venture into the Midwest for the first time.
Crowell is picking up more than 60 lawyers from offices in five cities, the firm’s largest acquisition in its 42-year history, it said on Thursday. The law firm, which The American Lawyer reported last year gross revenues of over $ 514 million, is set to open offices in Chicago and Indianapolis with immediate effect.
The transaction marks the latest chapter in an ambitious growth plan for Crowell, best known for litigation, government and federal contracts. The firm acquired Wall Street boutique Kibbe & Orbe, a four-lawyer group from legal services firm Atrium in San Francisco in March, and had gained nearly 90 lateral partners in the past three years before snapping up Brinks.
Crowell chairman Phil Inglima told Bloomberg Law on Thursday that while Crowell was “very pleased” with his success in his US offices on the two coasts, he had long wanted to expand into the center of the country. In an in-depth interview in February, Inglima said the company is actively looking for acquisition targets and noted that Crowell plans to grow “strength upon strength” in its core practices and deepen its technology and transaction banking.
The merger with Brinks, which provides Crowell with more than 625 attorneys worldwide, began at the suggestion of a common client of the firms, Inglima said and declined to name the client.
“That kind of support up front was extremely strong for us,” he said. Serious talks between the two companies began in early 2020, but have been postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. They have made a serious return to the deal table by the end of 2020, he said.
IP and technology powerhouse
Brinks is one of the largest intellectual property companies in the United States. The company has worked with customers from a variety of industries including medical devices, industrial manufacturing, electronics, software, and pharmaceuticals. It has also worked with clients to develop and protect cutting-edge innovations in AI, blockchain, autonomous vehicles, and wireless / 5G.
Brinks has been an independent intellectual property boutique for over 100 years and has been successful in that regard, said Gustavo Siller, President of Brinks. He will now co-chair Crowell’s Technology and Intellectual Property Division with Cheryl Falvey, a principal architect of Crowell’s digital transformation and technology practice.
“But the industry is changing,” said Siller. “Customers are asking for practices in other areas that we just didn’t have, so looking for opportunities with a larger platform became interesting for us.”
Brinks Gilson & Lione has represented a large number of companies in federal courts over the past five years, according to litigation analytics data from Bloomberg Law.
Brinks had a cultural alignment with Crowell, and his growth strategies were similar to those Brinks wanted to develop – not just by expanding his IP practice, but also by growing in IP-related practices such as cybersecurity, privacy and data, and advertising and media.
“Together we will be one of the largest IP groups in the country,” said Siller, “will certainly be an IP powerhouse, and I think it will be a technology powerhouse.”
Crowell has a “strong commitment” to growing its technology practices, Inglima said. It will complement the firm’s transactional and litigation work by adding more than 60 attorneys with advanced degrees in science, engineering and other fields, he said.
Crowell has strengths in areas like life sciences, healthcare, pharmacy, and others similar to Brinks, Inglima said. The company has a dynamic emerging business and venture capital practice that was recently bolstered by the Atrium additions in California.
“This is familiar territory for both companies, but Brinks takes us to a much higher level and gives us a very competitive position in the US market for patent brands and related regulatory expertise,” said Inglima.
From left to right: Crowell & Moring Chairman Philip T. Inglima, Brinks Gilson & Lione President Gustavo Siller, Cheryl A. Falvey, Partner at Crowell & Moring, who, together with Siller, Laura Lydigsen, Chair, our new IP and Technology Group will lead the Brinks Appeals Practice
Photo courtesy Crowell
Eyes on Chicago
Crowell’s plans to expand in Chicago don’t stop at the merger with Brinks. “Our growth plans in Chicago are significant,” said Inglima.
The company will immediately focus on expanding its transaction capabilities with Windy City as its focus. It will also continue to develop its regulatory practices such as healthcare, economic and environmental protection, as well as its process group.
“In the months ahead and in the years to come, they will reflect a number of aspects of our growth ambitions outside of the Chicago office,” said Inglima.
The merger with Brinks makes Crowell the youngest major law firm to open an office in Chicago in the past few months.
Aiming to capitalize on the Midwestern venture capital scene, Cooley officially opened its expected Chicago office in May with 10 partners including Rick Ginsberg of Winston & Strawn, Greg Grossman of DLA Piper and Laurie Bauer of Latham & Watkins.
Last year, New York-based Willkie Farr & Gallagher opened their Chicago office and hired Jenner & Block chairman Craig Martin along with five other company partners. In December, Venable added a group of 12 Schiff Hardin attorneys to open their own office in the Windy City.