Robins Kaplan: Placing Tech at the Forefront of Law

Robins Kaplan Acumen
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Robins Kaplan Acumen

Back in 2019, the CEO of Legal Mosaic, Mark A. Cohen, published an article in Forbes in which he observed: “Law is no longer solely about lawyers. Tech is not solely about techies. The digital age is one of cross-disciplinary collaboration.”

As a premier trial law firm with 225 attorneys placed in key markets across the United States, Robins Kaplan LLP is uniquely poised at the intersection of law’s past, present and future. While leveraging the extraordinary insights that come with more than 80 years of trial experience, the firm is also adept at imagining things as they have yet to be and adapting to serve nascent industries with newly developed solutions.

Rewriting the odds for clients ranging from startups to Fortune 100 multinationals means melding the firm’s legal, business and technological expertise to creatively solve problems. As part of its vision to be the law firm of the future, Robins Kaplan launched Acumen Powered by Robins Kaplan LLPTM, a suite of interdisciplinary professional services designed to help clients win what matters most. These tech-enabled tools align the delivery of legal services with the way people and companies live, work and conduct business in the new economy.

Acumen includes several services that Robins Kaplan has offered to clients for more than a decade, and others that reflect new or recently expanded offerings that position the firm and its clients for greater efficiency, scale and innovation. The services include – ediscovery, science and engineering advisors, financial and economic consultants, patent analytics with Pinpoint IP®, investigators, research and business intelligence, and trial and multimedia consultants

Christopher K. Larus chairs Robins Kaplan’s national intellectual property and technology litigation practice. For more than 25 years, he has helped both plaintiffs and defendants protect their intellectual property rights in complex patent, trademark, copyright, trade secret and licensing matters. 

“We work every day with companies that are highly innovative and want a similar level of innovation from their law firm,” he said. “Acumen is an excellent example of our firm’s commitment to being innovative and making sure we are applying technology to the law.”

Shelley R. Gilliss, Ph.D. holds a doctorate in materials science and engineering, and a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering with a minor in chemistry. In her dual role as chief talent officer and chief administrative officer, she leads Acumen’s diverse, cross-disciplinary teams that complement Robins Kaplan’s litigation services. Her teams are experts in ediscovery and business intelligence, and they include specialized consultants who provide expertise in science and technology, finance, accounting and economics.

Gilliss initially came to Robins Kaplan as a science advisor to support the IP & technology practice, primarily on patent cases. 

“The history of providing unique professional services at this firm started in 1995 with the IP & technology litigation practice,” she said. “Then we took a similar approach with financial consultants. About 10 years ago, we built a truly differentiated ediscovery team and technical infrastructure focused solely on serving our firm’s clients. Since we had all these services, we realized it was best to put them in a comprehensive package. It’s in our DNA to invest in professionals who can work in lockstep with our trial lawyers to advise clients across a range of disciplines.”

The varying points of view curated via Acumen drive Robins Kaplan’s ability to craft creative solutions to complex legal challenges. 

“One of the great upsides of our interdisciplinary team is perspective,” said Gilliss. “When we come to the table, we’re getting perspective not just on the legal aspects of a case, but on the economic, financial, scientific and technological interpretations as well.” 

Larus agreed, adding, “From the lawyers’ side, this process results in something that many clients are striving for — diversity of background and opinions. We have a strong commitment to diversity here at the firm in every way, from gender and ethnicity to education and professional backgrounds. This commitment to diversity helps us to deliver better service to our clients. We take a very collaborative approach to helping solve our clients’ legal problems, and we pride ourselves on implementing that collaborative approach across our entire practice. Incorporating the acumen of professionals other than lawyers allows us a much broader set of perspectives. Ultimately, we’re striving to present very complex problems to courts and juries, and having this broad base of experience and perspective across multiple fields is certainly helpful in doing so.”

As these diverse professionals operate within the four corners of Robins Kaplan, their perspectives are further informed by the litigation process. “They understand the framework of litigation and where the pitfalls may be,” Gilliss said.

“This has proven very helpful in setting the right strategies for resolving our clients’ problems and delivering maximum value,” Larus said. “Because we have this incredible technical depth in our firm, we are able to greatly increase the efficiency with which we litigate and try our cases.”

Pinpoint IP is one of the core services within Acumen that focuses on clients’ specific need for protecting and enforcing their valuable IP assets. Larus and Gilliss were instrumental in the development of this proprietary tool when a multinational corporation asked them to analyze its patent portfolio of more than 9,000 patents to identify top prospects for licensing. In response, they spearheaded development of a software-based process that now enables IP & technology lawyers at Robins Kaplan to use quantitative evidence to identify the patents most likely to be successfully licensed or otherwise monetized. 

Pinpoint IP draws upon the capabilities of cutting-edge software, the trial focus of Robins Kaplan IP & technology attorneys, and the expertise of Robins Kaplan in-house technical consultants who are experienced in complex regression analyses to identify the individual patents that are most likely to generate value for their owners.

To illustrate how this Pinpoint IP service works, Larus described working with a large publicly held technology client that was approached by another large company threatening litigation if the client did not agree to pay a hefty license fee. Working on a tight deadline, the firm was able to use Pinpoint IP to efficiently review the client’s own portfolio — and the large technology company’s recently released products — to identify IP assets that provided substantial counter-leverage in the parties’ discussions. Robins Kaplan’s intellectual property and technology litigation attorneys worked hand-in-hand with the firm’s science and engineering advisors to provide a litigation-minded, eyes-on review of the client’s patent portfolio. Ultimately, this prompted the large technology company to drop its threatened litigation and allowed the client to avoid millions of dollars in potential royalties.

“Pinpoint is an excellent example of some of the things we can do because of the tremendous talent we have within the Acumen team.” Larus said. “This solution for understanding the best way to enforce and monetize patent portfolios could only have been developed by a cross-disciplinary team with legal experts and team members deep in data analysis and software coding experience. That effort resulted in a service offering that is unique in the legal services market. But it didn’t stand alone. After developing Pinpoint, the team went on to develop SentinelTM, a software-driven approach to helping clients identify potential IP theft. There is incredible risk within today’s innovation economy, and theft is a persistent challenge to many corporate leaders.

“I look forward to developing other offerings that are innovations in the legal services space,” he continued. “Our client work every day is at the forefront of innovation. We are fortunate to work with innovative clients developing cutting-edge technology. These clients need the same level of innovation from their law firm. We are very proud of the innovation we have brought to our IP & technology litigation practice. Looking forward, we will absolutely have to continue investing in new ways to deliver the most value possible to our clients. With Shelley at the head of Acumen, I have every confidence we will achieve that important goal. I feel extremely fortunate to have the opportunity to work with a broad range of incredibly talented people.”

“One of the reasons we attract and retain such a multi-disciplinary group is our culture,” Gilliss said. “It is unique in that it supports people coming in and saying, ‘It would be really cool if we did this …’ We have a history of embracing what our Acumen team has to offer and saying, ‘Let’s try it.’”

While its remarkable technology is a shining star in Robins Kaplan’s constellation of achievements, the firm’s core value is its people. With intellectual, emotional and artificial intelligences all in play in the legal industry, emotional intelligence is emerging as the critical driver behind technological advancement. Technology both requires and accelerates collaboration. Acumen’s agile, customer-centric and transparent legal solutions are derived from the cooperative efforts of trial lawyers, scientists, engineers, financial and economic consultants, and ediscovery professionals who are reaching together toward the future to help clients increase efficiency, reduce costs and develop specialized solutions to meet their business goals.

H.K. Wilson

H.K. Wilson is a contributing writer for Attorney at Law Magazine. She has been writing features for the publication for more than four years.

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