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May 13, 2024

Barclay Damon’s CT expansion reflects growth of intellectual property law sector

PHOTO | COSTAR Barclay Damon’s New Haven office is located at 545 Long Wharf Drive.
Barclay Damon by the numbers
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Intellectual property law is a growing sector within the legal industry, which has spurred some law firms to make significant investments to expand their foothold in the space.

One of the latest examples is in Connecticut, where New York-based regional law firm Barclay Damon recruited a five-member, New Haven-based IP team from Murtha Cullina.

Nationally, several merger deals have occurred in the past year involving IP practices or firms. In November, Virginia-based Rimon PC announced its acquisition of intellectual property boutique Davidson, Berquist, Jackson and Gowdey. That same month, Pittsburgh law firm Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney acquired intellectual property law firm RatnerPrestia, adding 22 lawyers and two patent agents to its roster.

Intellectual property law is a broad term that covers several areas of legal practice related to copyright, trademarks, patents and trade secrets. Lawyers in the field offer counsel on safeguarding rights related to technology, inventions, works of art, and other intellectual property.

According to, the patent law market is the fastest-growing area of law in the U.S., expanding at a more than 13% compound annual rate.

Driving that growth, experts said, is the significant increase in new technologies, including cryptocurrency and artificial intelligence. In Connecticut, the bioscience and other research sectors in New Haven and elsewhere create IP legal needs.

Tim Fisher

Timothy Fisher, dean and professor of law emeritus at the UConn School of Law, said IP law’s steady growth is a testament to the importance of technology and innovation, “and in our economy, there are very few barriers to new inventions.”

Virtual currencies like Bitcoin and the emergence and fast-moving developments around artificial intelligence, require law firms to have attorneys with multiple skill sets, he said.

Additionally, emerging cases involving social media platforms like TikTok, and questions over privacy vs. free speech fall under constitutional law but were founded on technology platforms. There are also high-profile antitrust cases involving major tech companies like Google, Apple, Meta and Amazon, as well as legal battles over patents on digital algorithms — all issues that require IP attorneys, Fisher said.

‘Well-established practice’

Barclay Damon made a splash in Connecticut in April when it announced its expanded IP practice.

Joining the firm from Murtha Cullina are practice leader Tony Gangemi, partner Ben White, counsel Donna Lizotte, patent agent Robert Kasten and IP paralegal Liza Blair.

Their move to Barclay Damon comes as Murtha Cullina — which also has Connecticut offices in Hartford and Stamford — is in the middle of a pending merger deal with New York-based law firm Harrison Beach.

Elizabeth Acee

Elizabeth Acee, Barclay Damon’s managing director of major markets, said the firm has practiced IP law for nearly two decades, but it’s been a key growth area in recent years.

The practice’s focus areas include intellectual property litigation; patents and prosecution; and trademarks, copyrights and licensing.

The firm now has 18 attorneys in New Haven and 17 lawyers overall in its intellectual property group.

Besides New Haven, Barclay Damon has offices in New York, Massachusetts, Washington, D.C., and Toronto.

Over the past four and a half years, Barclay Damon’s major market offices have experienced revenue growth from $4 million to a projected estimate of $30 million.

“IP is a really important practice at the firm and a well-established practice, and it was very important to us that we continue to establish that practice across the platform,” Acee said.

The Murtha Cullina team was an attractive addition because its client base covers a number of companies and industries throughout the U.S., including “many significant university clients,” Acee said.

Higher education institutions often engage in and financially benefit from research, industry partnerships and innovation. Many colleges are focused on commercializing research by issuing patents and creating new companies, which require IP legal support.

Barclay’s IP practice also includes experts like engineers, patent litigators or Ph.D.s in the arts and sciences who know their industry and the law that protects it. Last year, the firm formed a new practice area around data security, technology and privacy, which falls under the IP umbrella, Acee said.

Fisher, the UConn law professor, said IP attorneys must have multiple skill sets to not only practice law, but understand computing, coding, technology and multiple facets of engineering.

This is especially pertinent in the bioscience and bioengineering industries, as new breakthroughs in medicine and science are rolling out every day from hubs like New Haven.

John Langan

Another factor impacting the IP legal sector is that some firms are “pricing themselves out” of the market, charging rates as high as $2,000 an hour, said Barclay Damon Chair John Langan.

That price difference provides opportunities for smaller, midsize firms to offer an alternative option, Langan said.

Fisher said smaller firms have an advantage over larger law firms when it comes to IP practice, because they typically have lower overhead and can work more efficiently with a close-knit staff.

“It’s a very strong, strategic niche market,” Fisher said.

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