The Top 10 Life Sciences Law Firm Index Patent Firms Through Q1 2016

Life Sciences Law Firm Index: Q1 2016

Lake Whillans published the inaugural Life Sciences Law Firm Index in January 2016 to help identify which law firms are the most active and relevant for life science companies. The index was created in collaboration with our research partners at Breaking Media, the publishers of leading industry sites MedCity News and Above the Law.

We at Lake Whillans understand the vital role legal practitioners play in guiding a product through this enormously complex legal and regulatory environment. The goal of the ranking is to inform innovators about which firms are the leaders in the multi-faceted interplay between the legal market and the industry. Life sciences innovators rely on strong legal counsel to protect their interest at every stage of the product life cycle. However, in the case of an unforeseen and unavoidable setback, Lake Whillans is there to step in and help.

Our index was compiled using the criteria that matter most to healthcare innovators. In addition to collecting data in three practice categories — corporate, intellectual property and regulatory —we also incorporated information on the firms’ work with startup companies, as well as their thought leadership efforts in order to generate the Index scores.

Throughout 2016, Lake Whillans will be publishing updates to the Index, each focusing on a different practice area. Today, we look at the Patent category. Our ratings of firms’ practices take into account all aspects of patent work, including prosecution (numbers of patents granted, “allowance rate”) and litigation (including cases brought and successful defenses on behalf of industry clients).

The Top 10 Life Sciences Law Firm Index Patent Firms Through Q1 2016:

Firm Score (Perfect score = 20)
1. Cooley 17.7
2. WilmerHale 17.2
3. Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati 17.0
4. Fenwick & West 16.8
5. McDermott Will & Emery 16.5
6. K&L Gates 15.7
7. Faegre Baker Daniels 15.4
8. Mintz Levin (tie) 15.2
9. Foley Lardner (tie) 15.2
10. Perkins Coie 15.0


Congratulations to Cooley for leading the Life Sciences Patent Category. In the past 12 months, Cooley’s patent prosecution and counseling group obtained more than 1,200 patents on behalf of more than 130 clients in the healthcare/life sciences industry. These patents were issued in patent offices across 60+ countries/regions worldwide, ranging from the African Regional Intellectual Property Organization to Ukraine. Cooley’s patent litigators have also been extraordinarily active over the past year. Among many other matters, the firm represented Adamas Pharmaceuticals in an enforcement matter involving multiple patents relating to the treatment and prevention of CNS-related conditions, in particular Alzheimer’s disease. Meanwhile, Cooley litigators are defending Varian Medical Systems, a leading radiation oncology medical device company, in a high-stakes patent battle against a competitor as well as leading the defense of Bio-Techne Corporation and ProteinSimple in a six patent case relating to software for the display of chromatographic separation data.

A Note on Methodology

Our rankings methodology is designed to reflect a holistic view of the role of a law firm throughout the life cycle of a life sciences company: from inception through clinical trials.

In each category of practice, we identified the relevant, quantifiable factors. For example, under the Corporate category, our review included — but was not confined to — public and private financings, IPOs and M&A activity. For the Patent category, we included factors such as number of patents issued, “allowance rate,” and successful patent defenses. Among the items in the Regulatory category are clinical trials, commercialization and approvals. The Thought Leadership ratings incorporated, among other things, the publication of white papers, contributions to third-party media, blogging and social media, as well as speaking or teaching engagements.

Within each category, firms were organized into tiers based on the complexity, value, variety and reach of their practice and scores were apportioned accordingly. Our rankings formula is as follows:

  • Corporate: 40%
  • Patent: 20%
  • Regulatory: 20%
  • Start-up work: 10%
  • Thought leadership: 10%

To complement our comprehensive review of all publicly available information, we invited firms to complete a questionnaire detailing their life science practices.

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