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    August 18, 2008  
Emergent Bio GC;
Patent Lawyers

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You know Brangelina and Bennifer, but today we’re introducing you to a D.C.-style power couple that we’re dubbing Rogise. The first half of the duo is Roger Yoerges, who just joined Steptoe & Johnson after 21 years at Wilmer.


Roger joined on 8/8/08, which, yes, was the start date of the Olympics, but also attractive because the number 8 signifies “new beginnings.” One thing will be staying the same: his pharmaceutical products liability practice. For years he’s represented pharma clients like Wyeth, maker of the polio vaccine, and now at Steptoe he’ll head the firm’s Products Liability, Pharmaceutical, and Mass Tort Litigation group. That’s a mouthful, but Roger tells us his practice fits with some of the large-scale litigation that Steptoe does in other areas, like litigation group chair Steve Fennell’s representation of Met Life on asbestos liability claims.  


Steptoe actually has established its own facility out in Rockville—called the Complex Litigation and Discovery Center—that houses teams of contract attorneys, paralegals, and associates doing document review, deposition prep, and even some brief writing on large matters. Roger sounded eager to make use of it when we stopped by last week, but on summer weekends you’ve got a better chance finding him on the shore in Friendship, Maryland, where he keeps a power boat. Wilmer associates are going to miss it—a day out on the water with Roger always fetched the highest bids at Wilmer’s annual auction for the Lawyer’s Committee for Civil Rights.


And here’s “Rogise’s” other half—Denise Esposito, also a former Wilmer-ite, who left the firm to become GC at Emergent Biosolutions. She came on back in late ’04 to start prepping the company for its November ’06 IPO. A career litigator before taking on GC duties, Denise says the job move was either “really smart or really crazy,” and it may have looked like the latter at first. After leaving Wilmer’s plush offices, Denise started out working from a cubicle in Emergent’s humble start-up digs in Gaithersburg. Things looked pretty good when we stopped by last week—Denise’s office had a door and everything. It helps that Emergent has rights to produce the anthrax vaccine, now taking in $170 million/year selling its wares to the DoD and HHS.


Here showing us the ticker tape from that IPO, Denise tells us she’s called on “virtually everyone I knew in practice” for outside counsel. More a believer in hiring individual lawyers than a one-stop-shop firm, she’s gone to Covington for compliance work, Wilmer for securities, and usual suspects Finnegan Henderson and Sterne Kessler for IP. But the most important re-connection Denise has made is with Laurin Mills, Managing Partner at Nixon Peabody, who she sat across from on an old piece of litigation. We call it the most important only because Denise got back in touch with Laurin after spotting him in our roundtable series and, being tireless self-promoters, we just had to highlight that.

Patent Student Becomes the Teacher

Every once in a while—okay, every once in a long while—we get the urge to relive those days of law school, so last week we headed over to the Mayflower to join 170 others for the latest conference from the Patent Resources Group. The PRG schools 3,000 patent pros every year on passing the patent bar and, in this case, lessons in advanced topics. Our teacher for the day was PRG Academic Director Paul Gardner, who’ll you’ll remember if you went to GWU law circa 1964. That year, he attended the first patent class taught by Prof. Irving Kayton, who went on to found the PRG in 1969. After his own career in private practice and academia (he taught at UCLA and University of Washington), Paul hooked back up with his old prof.


In a separate ballroom, we found Finnegan Henderson’s Erik Puknys and Tom Irving teaching a class on the intricacies of chemical patent practice, which we would explain to you here if it hadn’t gone straight over our head. Thankfully for Tom’s clients, he’s all over it—he’s currently working to get follow-on patents for Eloxatin, a cancer drug, and Allegra. If you want their tips, you’ll have to head to the Hyatt resort in Santa Ana Pueblo, New Mexico in October for the next class.

Andrews Kurth
Special Counsel
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