ON THE MOVE: IP Lawyer Leaves Baker Donelson To Go Solo And Simplify

As featured in the Daily Report here.

Michael J. PowellMike Powell has opened a solo intellectual property practice, leaving Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz after 13 years to gain time for his family while helping clients simplify their intellectual property issues.

Powell said his focus at Powell IP Law is on mediation and advising, not litigation. “I help companies navigate their IP issues,” he said, adding that he has formed an of counsel relationship with Casey Gilson for litigation.

“I’ve practiced IP law for years, and in my view it’s become unnecessarily complex and costly,” he said. “I had a desire to practice IP law while being closer to my family and my clients.”

Powell, 47, has four children between the ages of seven and 12. “I want to enjoy my kids’ childhoods,” he said.

With a solo practice he can do more mediation and leave the consuming, bet-the-company IP litigation to the big firms, he said.

Powell gained mediation experience from his early career as a construction lawyer at Martin Caven & Andersen. Construction law is an area that relies heavily on arbitration and mediation.

Powell has worked at a smaller shop before. He was part of the five-lawyer IP boutique Kennedy, Davis & Hodge, which Baker Donelson acquired in 2000 to start its Atlanta office. Powell then served as the office’s managing shareholder.

The Tennessee-based firm has grown quite a bit since then. It has about 600 lawyers, with 74 in Atlanta.

Powell said he plans to stay solo for now. “The key is simplifying my practice. If I need to grow, I will. I’ve done it before.”

Real estate lawyer Diane Lidz has left a partnership at Troutman Sanders, where she spent 17 years, to become a partner at Hartman Simons & Wood. Lidz handles retail development projects, industrial leasing and loan workouts.

“The commercial real estate markets in Atlanta, the Southeast and across the nation are picking up, making this an ideal time to add a lawyer of Diane’s considerable skill and experience to the firm,” said Summey Orr, Hartman Simon’s managing partner, in a statement.

Coby Nixon has joined Taylor English Duma’s intellectual property practice as counsel from Alston & Bird, where he was a senior associate. Nixon handles IP counseling and patent litigation, including cases involving mobile devices, wireless communication and integrated circuits.

Fisher & Phillips has named a new managing partner for its Atlanta office. D. Albert “Bert” Brannen succeeds Thomas Rebel, who has completed his two-year term. The 45-lawyer Atlanta office is the labor and employment firm’s largest.

Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School has conferred a named chair in law on Jeffrey Van Detta, a professor and the associate dean for scholarship. Van Detta was named the John E. Ryan Professor of International Business and Workplace Law. Ryan, now deceased, is a former dean of the law school.

The Atlanta Legal Aid Society is one of the first recipients of the Latino Journey award from Caminar Latino, which provides counseling to Latino families in crisis from domestic violence. The nonprofit offers separate therapy groups for abused spouses or partners, their children and their abusers. It has referred victims to Legal Aid.

Indigent defense in Georgia is the topic of an Oct. 4 conference at the University of Georgia School of Law called “Honoring Gideon’s Promise, Rallying Gideon’s Army.” The event marks the 50th anniversary of Gideon v. Wainwright, the Supreme Court decision requiring states to provide defense counsel to indigent citizens accused of crimes.

Georgia public defenders and advocates will assess the statewide public defender system, now in its ninth year of operation, and there will be a screening of “Gideon’s Army,” a gripping HBO documentary featuring Georgia public defenders. One of them, Travis Williams (of the Northeastern circuit) is a panelist.

Other participants include the filmmaker, Dawn Porter (who is also a lawyer), Stephen Bright from the Southern Center for Human Rights and Tim Saviello from Gideon’s Promise, which trains new public defenders in the South.

The all-day conference in Athens is free and open to the public. Lawyers can receive 6 CLE credits for a $45 fee. Register at www.law.uga.edu.