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 many of the world's largest private equity
firms, including Audax Group, Bain Capital, Berkshire Partners,
KarpReilly, HIG Capital, TPG Capital, Thomas H. Lee Partners, TSG
Consumer Partners, Silver Lake Partners and Welsh, Carson, Anderson
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
It's All Greek to Me!
A cross-practice team from Ropes & Gray advised TPG in its $750
million second lien debt investment in Chobani, the best-selling
Greek yogurt brand in America. The investment injects Chobani with
capital that will be used to further future growth and innovation
at the company. In conjunction with the deal, TPG will have
representation on Chobani's board of directors.
IMS and IPO
Ropes & Gray advised IMS Health Holdings Inc. in its initial
public offering and listing on the New York Stock Exchange under
the symbol "IMS." The IPO generated proceeds of $1.5 billion to IMS
Health and the selling stockholders, including TPG Capital, CPP
Investment Board and Leonard Green & Partners, making it the
second-largest IPO of 2014.
Safeguarding the Rights of Low-Income Individuals Living
Working with Lambda Legal, a national organization committed to
advancing LGBT rights, and New Orleans-based Phelps Dunbar, a Ropes
& Gray pro bono team continued its successful efforts on behalf
of low-income people living with HIV. A lawsuit against three
Louisiana health insurers poised to refuse Ryan White premium
assistance funds was among the first cases filed under the civil
rights provisions of the Affordable Care Act. As a result of this
litigation, individuals eligible for Ryan White premium assistance
could enroll in the Louisiana health care exchange with the
confidence that their coverage and care would not be
An International Reach
Ropes & Gray represented the Blackstone-led buyer group
consortium in the going-private transaction of China-based Pactera
Technology International. The transaction was one of several
private equity-sponsored take-privates of U.S.-listed Chinese firms
on which the Ropes & Gray Hong Kong team has advised over the
A Ropes & Gray privacy and data security litigation team
obtained the dismissal of 42 of 51 counts asserted against Sony in
a multidistrict class-action litigation stemming from a 2011
criminal cyber-attack on Sony networks. The ruling by the U.S.
District Court for the Southern District of California also limited
the plaintiffs to the possibility of injunctive relief or
individual relief on four of the remaining counts.
Making a Good First Impression
Pfizer Inc. prevailed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal
Circuit in a case that involved a question of first impression:
what is required for invention of an isolated cDNA that was claimed
by its sequence of nucleotides-possession of the cDNA and a
recognition of its activity, or having an actual complete and
correct nucleotide sequence of the cDNA.