Dewey & Leboeuf's Silicon Valley Office Loses Managing Partner to Kaye Scholer

Petra Pasternak

The Recorder

July 29, 2010

Dewey & LeBoeuf's Silicon Valley office is losing managing partner Barbara Caulfield and two other patent litigators to Kaye Scholer.

Caulfield, who focuses on life sciences patent litigation, confirmed that she and Michael Malecek and Peter Root are joining Kaye Scholer's new Menlo Park, Calif., office as partners. Their last day was scheduled to be Tuesday or Wednesday, she said.

The trio joined Dewey from the in-house department of Affymetrix Inc. in May 2008. Caulfield, formerly a federal judge for the Northern District of California, has also been a litigator at Latham & Watkins, where she practiced with Root, and at Orrick, where she worked with Malecek.

At Dewey, corporate partner Eric Reifschneider took over as office managing partner Monday.

Caulfield, who counts Affymetrix, Seagate and Pacific Biosciences as clients, said she was drawn by Kaye Scholer's expertise and client base in the life sciences, and by the opportunity to help build an office. "To me it's very energizing to start from the ground floor and build up."

Kaye Scholer's office Managing Partner William Coats, who joined from White & Case in March to open the Menlo Park office, said he expects a number of Dewey associates to eventually join the trio. The addition will bring the Menlo Park office to 15 lawyers, he said.

Coats said the Dewey lawyers' practice was a natural fit for Kaye Scholer's life sciences patent litigation practice group, one of the firm's biggest, which serves clients like Novartis, Pfizer and AstraZeneca. "Whenever you're building from scratch you want to build on the firm's strength," said Coats, who worked with Caulfield at Orrick. "She's a very important component for me in getting the office up and running."

Malecek said that when he, Caulfield and Root were mulling a return to private practice while at Affymetrix, Kaye Scholer was on the list of firms they had an eye on, but it wasn't ready to open in Silicon Valley at the time. While they were at Dewey, Kaye Scholer reached out through legal recruiter Bill Vochoska of Santa Monica's Alan Miles & Associates. Malecek said Kaye's life sciences practice, with its focus on big pharma companies, doesn't overlap with the three new partners' practices, which are more geared toward medical devices and DNA analysis tools.

Malecek said he doesn't think their exit will make a dent in Dewey's strength. "Dewey's a juggernaut that will continue to thrive in the Valley and elsewhere," Malecek said.

Dewey's Reifschneider said the parting was amicable. Dewey has about 20 lawyers in Silicon Valley, most of them corporate attorneys. About six IP litigators are left, and Dewey will continue to recruit in the area, he said. "We wish Barbara, Mike and Pete well at their new firm," Reifschneider said. "At the same time, we're very excited about the tremendous momentum we have in our Silicon Valley office, especially our transactional practice."

Dewey's deal team, led by former Cooley partners Richard Climan, Keith Flaum and Reifschneider, has been involved in a number of high-profile deals in recent months, including a few for San Francisco social gaming company Zynga .

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