Boston And New England - Law Firms Boston: An Essential Platform For The Global Technology Arena And For Much More

Tuesday, March 1, 2005 - 00:00

Editor: Mr. Bauer, would you tell our readers something about your professional background?

Bauer: I received my bachelor's and master's degrees in electrical engineering and computer science from MIT. While there I became very interested in law as it related to technology and decided to go to law school. It was during that time that patent law came into its own, as reflected by the creation of the Federal Circuit in Washington, DC. After law school, I clerked at the Federal Circuit during its first full year of existence. After that great experience, I came to Boston and have been engaged primarily in patent litigation for the past 20 years.

Editor: You were one of the founding partners of the patent group at Testa, Hurwitz & Thibeault. Would you tell us something about Testa Hurwitz?

Bauer: I joined Testa Hurwitz in 1991, when it was the fastest growing firm in Boston as a consequence of its very intense focus on the technology space, including venture capital, high tech startups and IPOs. I was brought in for the purpose of helping to start the patent practice. In 7 or 8 years, that group grew to 80 attorneys and was the largest IP group in the city.

When the tech boom slowed down, both the IPO market and mergers and acquisitions were heavily affected. The IP practice always remained busy, however. One of the interesting features of this area of practice lies in the fact that when business is good, people expand their markets by growing their business; when business is slow, they expand their markets by trying to shrink their competitors. Either way, IP is an essential component.

Editor: Would you share with us some of the factors that went into Proskauer's decision to open an office in Boston in 2004?

Bauer: Proskauer is a national firm with offices across the country and with an international presence. If you are going to be a player in the new economy, representing technology companies and operating within the global technology arena, it is essential to be in Boston. Patent law is national in scope, of course, and it has an increasingly international dimension. What was exciting for me was the prospect of being part of a national law firm with an international capability.

Editor: And your decision to join Proskauer in February of 2004?

Bauer: I was fortunate to have received very good offers from a number of large national firms. Proskauer not only had a great national platform, it also possessed a robust IP practice that included a national reputation in copyrights, trademarks and trade secrets. There was excellent patent litigation capability in New York as well. With all of these resources, together with what I thought were very exciting growth plans, Proskauer seemed to be a perfect fit for me.

Editor: Would you describe your practice today? How do you balance your administrative responsibilities as head of the Boston office with a busy practice?

Bauer: As you might imagine, it has changed a great deal over the last year. I began with an office of three partners and a dozen associates. We grew to about 30 lawyers by the end of 2004, but then, in just the last couple of months, we picked up about 25 more attorneys in the private equity and venture fund formation area. That has taken the office to a total of 55 lawyers, and makes us instantly one of the largest 25 law offices in Boston. My administrative duties took up about 10 percent of my time at the beginning; over the last two months, I have been spending almost 70 percent of my time on administrative matters. However, once we move into our new space in mid-March, I should be able to spend about 80 percent of the time actively practicing law.

Editor: Proskauer Rose has grown from its New York origins to become a national law firm with an international reach. How does the Boston office fit into the firm-wide structure?

Bauer: The Boston officeis made up of a group of nationally-ranked lawyers who simply happen to reside in the Boston area. Our IP practice, for example, features an electrical engineering practice with a focus on software, computers and the Internet, with clients throughout the country. The office's private equity and venture fund formation practice is among the top in the world. And there is an international aspect to much of the work we do for foreign technology companies. Boston - not New York - is the U.S. resident city of choice for many English, Irish and Israeli technology startup companies. The trip from Boston to London takes the same amount of time as that from Boston to San Francisco.

Editor: Are you able to call upon the personnel and resources of the other offices in handling matters?

Bauer: All of our various practices are integrated across the country, and the firm has a culture that encourages cooperation and mutual support among the various offices. We have the resources of the entire firm to deploy in connection with our projects.

Editor: Please tell us about the practice areas in which the Boston office has particular strength.

Bauer: The Boston office began a year ago with an intellectual property group built around patent litigation, Joe Capraro's patent prosecution and strategy practice, and Dan Bernstein's technology licensing practice. In just one year, that practice has grown to over 20 attorneys and technology specialists, andwe now represent almost 20 percent of The Boston Globe's "top 50" technology companies on IP matters. Our labor and employment practice is considered one of the best in the country, and in Boston, Mark Batten joined us as a partner from Bingham McCutchen. On the corporate side, Steve Ellis joined us from Goodwin Procter with a couple of his partners and leads one of the top mezzanine finance practices in the country.And then, seven partners and 20 associates from Testa Hurwitz's fund formation group joined us. As a consequence, many consider Proskauer to now possess the finest fund formation practice in the country.

Editor: Are there other disciplines and practice areas that you are hoping to build in Boston?

Bauer: We now have a terrific corporate practice, but we will add to it with other private equity and corporate transactional company-side attorneys. Similarly,Proskauer has an excellent litigation practice, and we will add people here in Boston that will serve to enhance a national reputation in that area.

Editor: Over the years Boston has become something of a high tech destination, which I am sure has influenced your IP and patent work. How do you see this evolving in the future?

Bauer: Boston's lead in technology - certainly east of the Mississippi - is alive and well. Both for venture capital and in government research grants, Boston remains at the head of the line. The life sciences area is booming too. There just is no place better than Boston for hosting a technology law practice today. A technology practice in Boston that is part of a national platform with resources in New York and elsewhere is just about the best place to be for a technology practitioner.

Editor: You have spent your career in Boston. Would you tell us about the city as a place to live and work?

Bauer: Boston is a wonderful place to live and work, with a combination of music, theater, art and winning sports teams like no other American city can offer. In recent years, led by the Big Dig, a great deal of money has gone into Boston's infrastructure, which has made the city an even better place. Most of the people that we hire either grew up in Boston and wish to stay or came from someplace else for college and chose to stay - I grew up in New York and came to Boston to go to MIT. Between Boston and being part of a top-of-the-line national law firm with an exciting practice, we have an excellent story to tell when we are recruiting talent.

Editor: Would you share with us your thoughts on how Proskauer will establish its presence in the city?

Bauer: Civic and community activity is an important part of Proskauer's culture, and we will carry on with these undertakings here as we do everywhere we have an office. This year, we made significant contributions to the Boston University Legal Clinic for pro bono activity. We expect to be involved in Boston's cultural arts scene, with its educational institutions and museums, hospitals and health care organizations, charities and any number of civic and community organizations.

Editor: Do these activities help in your recruiting efforts?

Bauer: In my experience, young people coming out of law school are very interested in the kind of image a firm has in the community. Almost all law students are anxious to be able to be engaged in community activities and pro bono work, and it is essential for a firm to offer such opportunities. It is also important for a firm which aspires to do well in hiring and retaining such people to have a culture that encourages these activities and supports its people in undertaking them. On all counts, Proskauer more than measures up.

Editor: Where would you like to see Proskauer's Boston office in, say, five years?

Bauer: Continuing to lead and continuing to grow. A year ago, when I told people that Boston could support a new law firm of 25 lawyers within a year, my NY partners were skeptical. I was wrong Ñ after a year, we were in excess of 50 attorneys. I suspect that within the coming year or two, we will get close to 100 lawyers and will be considered one of the "go to" firms in the city. With resources of a national firm at our disposal and a practice that is fully integrated into that firm, the Boston office does not need to have lawyers resident in Boston who can provide every single service the large Boston firms provide in order to provide the best services to Boston clients.

Please email the interviewee at sbauer@proskauer.com with questions about this interview.