29 Jun 2021

Kirkland and Ellis to grow Austin offering with IP litigation practice

Launch to come shortly after Kirkland set up shop in the Texan capital, with partner Jeannie Heffernan relocating form New York to lead the effort

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Kirkland & Ellis is boosting its Texas presence again with the launch of an intellectual property litigation practice in its new Austin office.  

The new practice will be led by IP litigation partner Jeannie Heffernan, who will relocate from the firm’s New York office to steer the launch. The move comes just a few months after the firm opened for business in Austin to add to its existing Texas offices in Houston and Dallas. 

A trial lawyer by trade, Heffernan has practiced at Kirkland for nearly two decades, specialising in patent and trademark infringement litigation. She has won more than a dozen IP trials in the US across a number of industries, including personal electronics, telecommunications and medical services.  

Gregg LoCascio, IP litigation partner and member of Kirkland’s executive committee, said an on-the-ground presence in Austin will allow the firm to better serve IP and tech clients thanks to the city’s position as one of the state’s strongest tech hubs. 

“In light of the continued growth of high-tech clients in Texas, the booming docket in the Western District of Texas and the strong talent pool in Austin and elsewhere in the state, this was a logical next step for our IP practice,” LoCascio said.  

Heffernan added: “Over the last five years, hundreds of tech-focused companies have either relocated their headquarters or expanded operations in Austin, creating more demand for a local IP presence. Given that the majority of my practice over the past 15 years has been either in Texas federal district courts or for Texas clients, launching the IP litigation practice in Austin makes perfect sense.” 

The Chicago-headquartered firm said it plans to grow the new practice with a team of relocated Kirkland associates and lateral hires, including IP litigation associate David Dyer, who joined the firm earlier this month from Baker Botts’ Austin office. 

The Austin office became the firm’s 10th in the US and 16th globally when it launched in April. It is led by corporate partners Marc Browning and Kim Hicks, debt finance partner Doug Tedeschi and tax partner Stephen Butler. The firm first opened in Texas in 2014 with its Houston office, followed by Dallas in 2018 and now has nearly 300 lawyers working in the state. 

By opening in Austin, Kirkland joined a number of other firms expanding their Texas footprints. Earlier this month, Los Angeles-based O’Melveny launched in Austin with a four-lawyer team from US rival Thompson & Knight, marking its first physical office in the lone star state. 

In April, Silicon Valley firm Gunderson Dettmer Stough Villeneuve Franklin & Hachigian also opened its doors in Austin, while Winston & Strawn boosted its Houston presence with a duo of former Thompson & Knight partners, capital markets and energy specialists James Brown and Douglas Lionberger.

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