A Boston institution since 1865, Ropes & Gray has expanded
in every measurable way in the 21st century, acquiring smaller
boutique firms in the States while claiming new turf in Asia and
Europe. Known for its corporate work, the firm has adapted to law's
accelerated globalization by bolstering practice areas such as
intellectual property, litigation, life sciences, and health
Branching Out from Beantown
John Codman Ropes and John Chipman Gray, a couple of Harvard Law
School grads, founded the firm in 1865 shortly after the ending of
the Civil War. While building the firm into one of the largest and
most powerful in Massachusetts, the "John Cs" simultaneously carved
out continued independent success: Ropes became an assistant U.S.
Attorney, while Gray was a highly influential professor at Harvard
Law School for four decades.
The 21st-century Ropes & Gray, however, is a wholly
different incarnation-literally and figuratively-of the Boston
blue-blood firm that existed well into the latter half of the
1900s. Mergers and global expansion have defined the firm's recent
years, including the historic 2005 combination with New York-based
IP specialist Fish & Neave. Since the merger, the firm has
built out its IP practice beyond New York, with strong presences in
key markets like Tokyo, Shanghai, Seoul, Silicon Valley, Chicago,
Boston and Washington, DC.
Continuing to expand the firm's geographic reach, Ropes &
Gray opened six offices between 2007 and 2013, in Chicago, London,
Hong Kong, Tokyo, Shanghai, and Seoul. The latter four served to
expand the private equity practice considerably, accommodating the
needs of clients increasingly looking to invest in Asian markets.
There was expansion on the home front as well, as the Boston office
relocated to the top floors of Prudential Tower. Ropes' share of
the "Pru" (as it is affectionately known) amounts to more than
400,000 square feet (about 8 football fields) and is LEED
From Microchips to Private Equity
In recent years, Ropes & Gray's Intellectual Property
Litigation group has tried cases ranging from touch-screens for
video games to patents covering blood glucose meters,
high-performance computer chips, and computer-driven annuities. The
firm's lawyers are involved in some of the major technology battles
between industry giants, including representing Motorola Mobility
in its patent dispute with Microsoft and representing Google in
patent infringement suits over its Internet browser and
street-level mapping technologies. The patent prosecution group
wrote the hardware patents on Apple's iPhone and continues its work
on the cutting edges of interactive media, media devices,
biotechnology and stem cell research. The firm's IP practice has
continually been recognized by leading publications for its
The firm's general litigation practice has also been on a roll,
helping win a big jury trial for Goldman Sachs in 2013 in a case
closely watched by the media, a seminal Supreme Court case for the
mutual funds industry, and the successful resolution of several
high-profile data breach cases.
As Ropes' IP practice booms, its private equity practice
continues to push forward. Led by partner and firm chairman Brad
Malt-who founded the firm's private equity group-Ropes & Gray
has built up a strong leveraged buyout practice, in addition to an
impressive financial services and mutual fund practice. The firm is
counsel for more than 1,000 mutual funds (or their directors).
Ropes & Gray is also among the top firms in structuring IPOs,
representing many of the leading underwriters. The firm's private
equity clients include 16 of the world's largest private equity
firms, including Audax Group, Bain Capital, Berkshire Partners,
KarpReilly, Fenway Partners, TPG Capital, Thomas H. Lee Partners,
TSG Consumer Partners, Silver Lake Partners, and Welsh, Carson,
Anderson & Stowe.
Pro Bono Pros
In addition to the impressive variety of its practices, Ropes &
Gray is devoted to carrying on its tradition of pro bono work and
community service. Associates and partners work in a range of
areas-including child abduction cases, housing and homelessness,
voting rights, nonprofit incorporation, and asylum-and for a
variety of organizations-such as Immigration Equality, Lawyers'
Committee for Civil Rights, Accion, and Human Rights First.
Associates tempted by a life of public service can take a break
from the corporate grind with the District Attorney's Office
Assistant DA Program through which Ropes associates work as special
assistant district attorneys for six months, or a six-month
externship in the housing unit of a legal services agency.
IN THE NEWS
Privatization in China
The firm represented the buyer group consortium of TPG Growth and
ShangPharma's CEO, Michael Xin Hui, in ShangPharma's going-private
transaction. This was just the second private equity sponsor-backed
going-private transaction of a China-based, NYSE or NASDAQ listed
company to sign and close since the beginning of 2012.
NFL Goes Global
A team of Ropes & Gray attorneys advised the National Football
League on the formation of a global strategic partnership with
Providence Equity Partners to invest primarily in sports and
entertainment-related media assets.
Mystery in the Courtroom
Following a seven-week jury trial, a Ropes & Gray team won a
$50.9 million jury verdict for famed mystery author Patricia
Cornwell in the U.S. District Court for the District of
Massachusetts. Cornwell filed suit against her former financial
advisor for breach of fiduciary duty and negligence in the handling
of her finances over a period of approximately four years.
A $16 Billion Global Cable Deal
Ropes & Gray's London office advised Liberty Global, the
international cable company owned by billionaire John C. Malone, in
its $16 billion acquisition of British cable company Virgin
Ending a Decade-Long Patent Dispute
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit affirmed summary
judgment in favor of Ropes & Gray clients PerkinElmer, Inc. and
NTD Laboratories Inc., finding a patent for "Antenatal Screening
For Down's syndrome" invalid. As a result, the court determined
that PerkinElmer and NTD cannot infringe the patent-which purports
to cover all prenatal screening methodologies that employ data from
the first and second trimesters of pregnancy to determine a risk
that the fetus has Down syndrome-as a matter of law. The decision
concluded a decade-long dispute between PerkinElmer and Intema.
The Right to Ask
A federal district court entered a final judgment permanently
blocking enforcement of Florida's law barring health care
professionals from asking patients if they own guns and have them
stored properly. These questions are a key element in the practice
of preventive medicine. The court found that the law curtailed the
First Amendment rights of physicians across the state to speak with
their patients about gun safety. Ropes & Gray represented
medical organizations and individual physicians who had challenged
the Florida law on a pro bono basis.