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‘Not a central issue for clients’: BLP scales back IP practice as nine-lawyer team joins Bristows

BLP confirmed today (21 March) that nine of its lawyers, including intellectual property (IP) head Simon Clark and head of the brand management and trade marks group Ian Gruselle, are leaving the firm for TMT specialist Bristows.

BLP currently lists two IP partners, and with Clark’s departure this significantly condenses the firm’s IP practice, which according to a spokesperson has been identified as ‘not a central issue for clients in the firm’s core sectors’ in a review conducted last year.

‘It has been difficult for the team to realise its full potential at BLP. Simon Clark and Ian Gruselle have been great colleagues and we hope to continue to work with them closely in the future,’ a statement said.

‘We will continue to do IP transactional work, which will be run out of our commercial team,’ it added.

The hire of Clark and the team will add further weight to Bristows’ top-ranked IP practice, which has a longstanding reputation for its premier trade mark practice that complements its hard IP work. Joint managing partners Marek Petecki and Theo Savvides said: ‘Simon brings over 20 years of IP litigation experience and will add to our significant bench strength across brands, designs, copyright and digital disputes.  Subject to regulatory approval, Ian will join us as our first trade mark attorney partner at the head of a combined team of eight trade mark attorneys which will enhance our market leading brand management practice.’

Meanwhile, BLP has broadened its TMT practice with the hire of data privacy and security expert and Reed Smith partner Kate Brimsted as head of its data and cyber security practice. She will join BLP next week.

This departure comes after a series of exits at BLP in 2016, including corporate investigations head Darren Allen who left for Dentons, tax partner Michael Wistow who joined White & Case, capital markets partner Nick Butler and litigation partner Andrew Rose.

No further redundancies at BLP are expected as a consequence, however the news raises questions on whether there will be more exits as part of the strategy review of some of the firm’s other non-core practice areas.