2022 Vault Rankings
- Pro Bono#14
- Firm Culture#21
At a Glance
“Quality, cutting-edge work.”
“The environment is casual, and there is a strong level of teamwork. Everyone is working to help each other succeed.”
“Sometimes seems like all the work comes at once.”
“Overwhelmed by the number of cases/workload.”
About Sterne, Kessler, Goldstein & Fox P.L.L.C.
Founded a little more than 40 years ago, Sterne, Kessler, Goldstein & Fox has grown to become one of the leading IP firms in the nation, with a focus on the protection, transfer, and enforcement of intellectual property rights. The DC-based firm represents clients like Google, Adidas, Apple, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Teva, Pepsico, and the University of California.
One Plus Three Equals History
In 1978, twenty-something Robert Greene Sterne hung a shingle and launched what would become Sterne, Kessler, Goldstein & Fox. Kessler was joined by Edward J. Kessler, Jorge A. Goldstein, and Samuel L. Fox in the 80s—and the rest is history. Today, Sterne Kessler is home to around 130 lawyers and is a force in IP law, ranking among the top 20 in Vault’s Best Law Firms for Intellectual Property.
Shaping IP Law
Sterne Kessler is a full-service IP firm, handling everything from strategy to IP litigation to patent and trademark prosecution—and more. The firm counsels across myriad industries, including biotechnology, chemical and industrial, consumer goods and services, electronics and high tech, health care, and pharmaceuticals.
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 U.S. Supreme Court case Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank Int'l, which has led to a significant drop in the number of business method patents.
The firm also has been leading the way in cases before the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB), which was created in 2012 as part of the America Invents Act (AIA). Sterne Kessler has developed one of the largest PTAB practices. 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 several years and resulted in the downsizing of many other IP firms and practices in that time. Notably, in 2020, the firm reached 1,000 cases before the PTAB.
Promoting Human Rights Through IP
In 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. More recently, in response to associate interest, the firm has expanded into more areas of pro bono work, including immigration.
Why Work Here
Sterne Kessler is an intellectual property law firm located in the heart of Washington, D.C. Our team consists of 150 attorneys from diverse backgrounds, with over 50 of our professionals holding Ph.D.s in science and engineering. Our attorneys are particularly noted for their technical expertise, industry experience, and litigation prowess. Additionally, we get to work on matters involving cutting edge technologies and legal issues demanded by a broad range of innovative individuals and companies. Some of our clients include Apple, Adidas, Google, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Amgen, and Teva Pharmaceuticals.
1100 New York Avenue. NW
Washington, DC 20005
Phone: (202) 371-2600
Managing Partner: Michael B. Ray
Recruiting Chair: Paul A. Ainsworth
Total No. Attorneys (2021):
100 - 150
No. of Partners Named 2021:
Associates may select an annualized billable-hour goal between 1,400 and 2,000 hours in 100-hour increments.
1st year: TBD
2nd year+: After the first year, salaries are meritocratic, not lockstep.
Summer Associate: TBD
Legal Recruiting Manager
General Recruiting Email: Recruiting2@sternekessler.com
No. of U.S. Offices: 1
No. of International Offices: 0
Hatch Waxman: Generic & Proprietary
ITC Section 337
Licensing Trial & Appeals
Patent Office Litigation (PTAB)
Strategic IP Advice
Trade Secret/Unfair Competition
Trademark & Brand Protection
*See firm website for complete list of practice areas and industries.