6 Dorsey Attorneys Join Rival Firm’s Growing IP Practice

Minneapolis law firm Winthrop & Weinstine has lured six patent lawyers from Dorsey & Whitney to join its expanding intellectual property practice.

Minneapolis-based law firm Winthrop & Weinstine, PA, announced Tuesday that six patent attorneys have joined its expanding intellectual property practice, all of whom come from cross-town rival and international law firm Dorsey & Whitney, LLP.

The group-which consists of two former Dorsey partners and four former associates-includes Devan Padmanabhan, who headed Dorsey's patent practice in Minneapolis. With 18 years of experience handling intellectual property cases, he will now lead Winthrop's patent litigation practice.

The other partner who joined Winthrop & Weinstine from Dorsey is Sri Sankaran, an intellectual property and patent trial lawyer with 20 years of experience. The four Dorsey associates who accompanied Padmanabhan and Sankaran are Paul Robbennolt, Michelle Dawson, Brett Klein, and Nathan Witzany.

Winthrop & Weinstine is the 10th-largest law firm in Minnesota based on the number of licensed attorneys in the state, of whom there were 89 as of April 13, 2011. Minneapolis-based Dorsey & Whitney had 269 licensed attorneys at the time, making it the second-largest. Dorsey-which has offices around the world-now has about 55 patent attorneys spread throughout the company.

Winthrop & Weinstine President Scott Dongoske told the Star Tribune that his 102-attorney firm did not have a dedicated patent practice group until recently. The firm decided to go into this area about a year ago and talks with Padmanabhan began around Thanksgiving, he added.

“We are thrilled with the addition of these attorneys to the firm,” Dongoske said in a statement. “[They] are among Minnesota's leading IP attorneys, and their experience and relationships add tremendous depth to our growing intellectual property department.”

Dorsey spokesman Bryn Vaaler told the Star Tribune that the departures came as a surprise but are not unusual in the current legal environment.

“It's a fluid world, and people are moving from firm to firm to firm,” Vaaler added. “It's amazing how few times that has happened at Dorsey.”

Patent applications and patent protection is reportedly a big practice in Minnesota because of a concentration of high-tech businesses in the state. Several national firms, including Fish & Richardson and Fulbright & Jaworski, have offices in Minneapolis for just that reason, according to the Star Tribune.