By GREGORY ZELLER //
Sensing a “tipping point” for New York-based scientific research, a prominent Long Island law firm has upped its life sciences game.
Melville-based Carter, DeLuca, Farrell & Schmidt LLP has executed what senior partner and co-founder Raymond Farrell called a “significant expansion” of the firm’s Life Sciences Practice Group, adding “two of the highest quality PhD/JD patent attorneys around” after a years-long search.
Those attorneys are John Resek and Carmella Stephens, both of whom possess that rare and impressive combination of medical and law degrees and oodles of related experience. Resek became a partner in Carter DeLuca’s Life Sciences Practice Group Feb. 1; Stephens followed on April 27.
The group is designed to offer cost-effective strategic advice to life-sciences enterprises of all stripes, helping early-stage and well-established companies make informed business decisions, smartly position their intellectual property portfolios, successfully negotiate licensing agreements and other strategic partnerships and otherwise navigate the always-competitive, sometimes-cutthroat life-sciences landscape.
These are important services, Farrell noted, offered at a critical time in the development of the regional innovation economy – hence the great care the firm took in selecting its new life-sciences partners.
“The expansion involved a very careful and deliberate search process that has taken several years,” the senior partner told Innovate LI. “We insisted on waiting until we were satisfied that we found individuals with the level of qualifications we demand of our attorneys in order to provide the highest-quality intellectual property legal services.”
The firm found those individuals in Resek and Stephens, both of whom boast lengthy résumés packed with experiences touching on chemistry, technology, advanced therapeutics and other life-sciences-related endeavors.
Resek, who earned his JD at the Fordham University School of Law and his PhD in biochemical pharmacology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, completed post-doctoral work at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology alongside Nobel Laureate H. Gobind Khorana. He has logged 15 years as a patent attorney, working often with inventions related to small-molecule and antibody-based therapeutics, nutraceuticals and chemical engineering, and also is a recognized expert in the Hatch-Waxman Act, a.k.a. the Drug Price Competition and Patent Term Restoration Act of 1984.
A fellow graduate of the Fordham University School of Law, Stephens received her PhD from Stony Brook University after completing her thesis research at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, and followed that with a post-doctoral fellowship at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. A patent attorney with over 25 years of experience, she has counseled a wide range of biotechnology, pharmaceutical and academic clients on issues relating to biotech and pharmaceutical patents, including the development and management of complex U.S. and foreign patent portfolios.
Both doctor-attorneys agreed the expansion of Carter DeLuca’s Life Sciences Practice Group comes at an important time in New York’s development as a science cluster, and Long Island’s.
“Carmella and I have just returned from the NewYorkBIO conference and it is evident that the region is at a tipping point,” Resek said. “In the near future, New York will be competitive with Massachusetts and California in biotechnology, and we plan to support the growth of local biotech and pharmaceutical companies, as well as universities in the region.”
Stephens called the biotechnology/life sciences sector “one of the most exciting areas of growth in today’s economy.”
“This is especially true in the New York region, where there is such a density of outstanding research institutes, as well as individuals having entrepreneurial skills,” she noted, adding that combination has engendered “a continued transformation of novel innovations into successful healthcare products.”
“The goal of our expanded Life Sciences Group is to provide legal services to this industry sector as it continues to develop and grow,” Stephens said.
Farrell said the firm began thinking expansion years ago, when it started recognizing “more and more opportunities for work in these areas,” mostly through referrals from existing clients. Carter DeLuca already had a “very talented life-sciences team,” the founding partner noted, but “lacked team members with the added advanced technical backgrounds of a PhD and the associated research experience to interface with PhD inventors.”
Resek and Stephens filled those gaps – Resek with his knowledge of chemical engineering and those small-molecule and antibody-based therapeutics, Stephens with her long experience in areas ranging from immunobiology to stem cell-based therapies to endonuclease-based genome editing.
While it’s too soon to determine a measurable effect from the addition of the new life-sciences partners, the firm has noticed “a significant level of interest especially from our existing clients and networking contacts, both domestically and internationally,” Farrell said.
And while it comes up to speed, the new-look Life Sciences Practice Group is already serving to “enhance” the firm’s other practice groups, according to the senior partner.
“When someone of the caliber and experience of Dr. Resek and Dr. Stephens joins the firm, they bring with them unique experiences that often benefit the rest of the firm,” Farrell noted. “Additionally, it helps all practice groups to offer their clients additional resources in other areas when issues arise that they can be of assistance with.”
Carter DeLuca is not planning a marketing push related specifically to the beefed-up Life Sciences Practice Group, but instead will rely primarily on a word-of-mouth approach. The firm is usually “lower key” and “networking-based” when it comes to such things, according to Farrell, while Resek suggested a full-on advertising scheme would “not be as effective as contacting our friends in the industry.”
“One of the attractions of working at this firm and with Carmella was the large number of shared and complementary contacts,” Resek noted.
And Carter DeLuca might not be finished bulking up its Life Sciences Practice Group just yet. Farrell referenced a “definite long-term strategy for the further development” of the group, with the hows and whens depending on “the evolving needs of our current and future clients.”
“Some of that would involve leveraging the many years of technical and legal experience of our current team to train the next generation,” the senior partner said.
That sounds about right to Stephens, who clerked at an IP law firm while attending law school and said she’d like to develop a similar law-clerk program at Carter DeLuca, focused specifically on life sciences.
“I’m excited about the prospect of developing such a program at the firm as our life science practice grows,” the new partner said. “The advantage to the firm is that we’re able to retain.”