Sterne, Kessler, Goldstein & Fox, P.L.L.C. at a Glance


  • “Collaborative and positive culture”
  • “Interesting work”
  • “Smart, technical attorneys”


  • “Occasional work-load instability”
  • “Antiquated website”
  • “Distribution of work is sometimes opaque”

About Sterne, Kessler, Goldstein & Fox, P.L.L.C.

Founded in 1978 by Robert Greene Sterne and Ronald Snider as Snider & Sterne, now, Sterne Kessler Goldstein & Fox has grown through the ensuing four decades to become one of the leading IP boutiques in the nation, with a focus on the protection, transfer, and enforcement of intellectual property rights. The Washington, DC-based firm employs approximately 130 attorneys and represents clients like Google, Adidas, Apple, Bristol-Myers Squibb, AbbVie, Biogen, Broadcom, Veeam Software, and the University of Maryland.

Shaping IP Law

Sterne Kessler has had its hands in some of the most important IP cases of the last few decades, helping to shape the way patents are granted and protected. In 1995, the firm served as lead counsel for IBM in the landmark In re Beauregard appeal to the Federal Circuit. The case was brought by IBM to establish that a computer program on a disk was patentable subject matter and the decision resulted in the issuance of the Software Patent Guidelines by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. In 2007, name partner Rob Sterne represented the respondent in KSR v. Teleflex before the U.S Supreme Court, a case that addressed the fundamental question of when an invention is "obvious" and therefore not patentable. More recently, Sterne Kessler attorneys served as counsel in the seminal 2014 Supreme Court case Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank Int'l, which has led to a significant drop in the number of business method patents.

PTAB Kings

Sterne Kessler has been leading the way in a relatively new area of IP law, cases before the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB), which was created in 2012 as part of the America Invents Act (AIA). The new administrative law body handles challenges to patent validity, as well as appeals of patent examiner rejections. The PTAB has significantly cut the amount of patent litigation heard by federal courts because the proceedings are quicker and less expensive than full-blown district court trials. Sterne Kessler has developed one of the largest PTAB practices, litigating more cases to decisions from the PTAB than any other firm and earning Managing Intellectual Property magazine's recognition as the "Firm of the Year" in its inaugural PTAB rankings in 2015. The firm's success in this newly established arena is particularly important because the new proceedings have disrupted the patent litigation landscape over the past few years and resulted in the downsizing of many other IP firms and practices in that time.

Promoting Human Rights Through IP

In March 2012, Sterne Kessler launched its Intellectual Property and Human Rights Pro Bono Practice, the first of its kind, with a focus on the interplay of intellectual property principles and human rights. Through this program the firm has promoted the conservation of biodiversity through ethical sourcing practices for the Union for Ethical BioTrade, protected indigenous Peruvians from biopiracy on behalf of the National Working Group on Maca, and protected the trademarks of Operation Second Chance and the Discovery Creek Children's Museum of Washington. The practice was recognized as the winner of the Financial Times' Most Innovative North American Lawyers 2015 award in the category of "Innovation in a Social Responsibility Project," with special commendation to director and pro bono practice leader and name partner Jorge Goldstein.


Fifteen in a Row

Chambers & Partners USA again listed Sterne Kessler with a "Band 1" ranking among Washington, DC's leading law firms in the area of intellectual property. This recognition marks the fifteenth year consecutive year that the definitive professional guide has rated the firm among the best-of-the-best IP firms in the United States.

Firm of the Year

Sterne Kessler was named "PTAB Firm of the Year" by Managing Intellectual Property  magazine for the second time since the award was established in 2014. The award recognizes Sterne Kessler's superior work representing both petitioners and patent owners before the Patent Trial and Appeal Board at the United States Patent and Trademark Office and further established the firm's supremacy in the post-America Invents Act era on matters involving inter partes review, post grant review, derivation and covered business method proceedings.

June 2017
WaPo Workplace Wonder

Sterne Kessler was recognized by The Washington Post among 150 of the "Top Workplaces" in the Greater Washington, DC area for the fourth consecutive year. The firm is one of only six law firms present in the rankings. In profiling the firm, The Washington Post  editors highlighted Sterne Kessler for its lawyers' intricate understanding of clients' products; in-house barista bar that is free for employees and their guests; and its overall great atmosphere.

April 2017
Diversity Leader

As part of PepsiCo Inc.'s outside counsel diversity initiatives, Sterne Kessler was recognized for its demonstrated commitment to increasing diversity and inclusion in the legal profession at PepsiCo's annual diversity recognition day.

January 2017
Welcome to the Firm

The firm welcomed John Christopher (J.C.) Rozendaal and Michael Joffre to the firm as directors (partners). Their arrival bolstered the firm's patent litigation practice and strengthened the firm's overall capabilities representing clients in district courts, at the U.S. International Trade Commission, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office's Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) and other venues throughout the country.

May 2016
Tops for Minorities

Based on a survey by Law 360 of over 300 U.S.-based law firms, Sterne Kessler was ranked among the top 10 firms for minority attorneys, among the top 15 firms for minority equity partners, and among the top 5 firms for Asian-American attorneys.

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Sterne, Kessler, Goldstein & Fox, P.L.L.C.

1100 New York Avenue. NW
Suite 600
Washington, DC 20005
Phone: (202) 371-2600


  • Employer Type: Private
  • Managing Partner: Michael B. Ray
  • Recruiting Chair: Paul A. Ainsworth
  • Total No. Attorneys 2017: 130

  • Base Salary
    1st year: $180,000
    After the first year, salaries are meritocratic, not lock-step, though generally follow the “Cravath scale.”
    Summer associate (2L): $3,400/week
    Summer associate (1L): $3,100/week

  • Summer Associate Offers
    4 out of 4 (2Ls) (2016)

  • Major Departments & Practices

    Business Methods • Design Patents • Due Diligence • Hatch Waxman: Generic & Proprietary • Interferences • ITC Section 337 • Investigations • Licensing • Litigation & Appeals • Patent Office Litigation (PTAB) • Patent Prosecution • Strategic IP Advice • Trade Secret/Unfair Competition • Trademark, Advertising, and Anti-Counterfeiting

Major Office Locations

  • Washington, DC