K&L Gates Palo Alto Office Head, IP Co-Leader Leaves for Pillsbury

May 31, 2019


By Lizzy McLellan

Michael Zeliger, with K&L Gates since 2006, said the move would allow him to focus more fully on client matters.

A longtime K&L Gates IP partner and Palo Alto office leader has decamped for Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman.

Michael E. Zeliger was a global co-practice area leader for intellectual property at K&L Gates, where he practiced out of the Palo Alto and Boston offices.

“There was a number of professional and personal circumstances that made considering the move a prudent thing to do,” Zeliger said in an interview Friday. ”I’m really going to have a chance to focus again on client service,” after several years of taking on other responsibilities as well.

Zeliger’s recent clients have included ADT, Xerox Corp. and AT&T, according to federal court records.

He declined to share specific client names, but said of the clients he’s spoken to so far about his move, “the feedback has been universally positive.” All of them have had some prior connection to Pillsbury, he noted.

Zeliger was also part of the team representing Carnegie Mellon University in a patent infringement case against LSI Corp., which was filed last summer in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. But court records show that Zeliger withdrew from the case Tuesday.

That case is based on the same patents that led to a $1.5 billion patent infringement judgment against Marvell Technology Group Ltd, and ultimately a $750 million settlement for Carnegie Mellon, as well as a contingency fee of more than $210 million for K&L Gates. But Zeliger was not part of the litigation team on that case, which was filed in the Western District of Pennsylvania, according to federal court records.

In a statement Friday, Pillsbury chair David Dekker noted that Zeliger is a “well-respected member of the Palo Alto legal community.”

“The technology sector continues to be a major growth engine for Pillsbury, and the IP needs of those clients are more sophisticated than they have ever been before,” Dekker said. “Mike is a seasoned IP practitioner whose arrival immediately and significantly upgrades our IP offering in the Valley.”

California recruiting firm Watanabe Nason brokered Zeliger’s move to Pillsbury.

Pillsbury is coming off a strong 2018, in which gross revenue grew by 9.6%, revenue per lawyer surpassed the $1 million mark, and profits per equity partner soared, increasing 17.6% from 2017.

A spokesman for K&L Gates did not respond to a request for comment on Zeliger’s move.

Zeliger, who joined K&L Gates in 2006, adds to a list of departures from the firm in recent weeks.

The firm announced in early May that it would be closing its office in Warsaw, Poland. Also this month, it saw longtime chief marketing officer Jeff Berardi leave for a marketing position at a business advisory firm.

In April, K&L Gates’ Dallas office leader left to join a litigation funding operation. Earlier that month, the firm lost a group of six lawyers across its Australia offices, including four from the real estate practice and two IP attorneys.

But the firm also rehired a corporate lawyer in Tokyo this month and brought on a former California congressman in Washington, D.C.

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