Solos/Small Firms

Small Firm Secret: Team Up With Larger Firm

“Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.”

That’s the advice Sun Tzu gave his army in 400 B.C. And while large firms are not the enemy of small firms and solo prac­titioners, when high-profile clients start making noises about taking their business to a larger firm, it can seem that way.

Solos and small-firm lawyers who have held on to high-profile cases say one of their secrets is teaming up with a larger firm. Whether it is bringing on an outside attorney as second chair or tapping into a large firm’s resources or expertise, this strat­egy may be the best way to retain clients.

That was the experience of Richard A. Patterson, a partner with Owen, Patterson & Owen, a five-person firm in Valencia, Calif. His firm was one of the first to file suit against drug giant Merck & Co. in the Vioxx arthritis-drug cases in 2001. He estimates that Merck spent $1.9 billion defending Vioxx cases over a six-year period. In 2003, Vioxx was one of the most prescribed drugs in the U.S., meaning the potential impact was as big as Merck’s legal bills.

As the controversy surrounding the drug mounted, so did the publicity surrounding the case. Continue reading “Defensive Tactics” from the July ABA Journal online.

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