Chicago – The intellectual property law firm of McDonnell Boehnen Hulbert & Berghoff LLP (MBHB) celebrates its tenth anniversary this month. In early October 1996, the firm’s founders, John J. McDonnell, Daniel A. Boehnen, Bradley J. Hulbert, Paul H. Berghoff, and Grantland G. Drutchas resigned from Chicago-based law firm Banner & Witcoff to begin a new practice.
The group of five secured office space down the street from their old firm, on the seventh floor at 300 South Wacker Drive. The firm’s humble headquarters boasted folding tables and chairs and sticky-note nametags, according to founder Grantland G. Drutchas.
Founder Daniel A. Boehnen likened those first few days to “my first date in seventh grade — all a blur, and I was clueless.”
The partners focused first on finding clients. Founder John J. McDonnell says, “My most memorable experience was calling a long list of clients to ask them to transfer their work to MBHB. Every single client that I called elected to shift the work to MBHB. That was the most gratifying experience I have had in the practice of law.”
Office staff originally included the founders’ wives. Bradley J. Hulbert remembers, “My wife, Kathy, and I spent over 10 hours each day at the office the following weekend, getting letters out to clients that I had called, programming the fax machine so that the header printed out the firm name on the recipient’s copy, making follow up-calls, arranging some books I had brought from home (our first library), and setting up a 600-watt microwave oven that we no longer used in our kitchen.”
During the first two months, the firm grew to twenty attorneys, including: Michael S. Greenfield, Robert J. Irvine, Steven J. Sarussi, Lawrence H. Aaronson, David M. Frischkorn, James C. Gumina, A. Blair Hughes, Kevin E. Noonan, Emily Miao, Denis A. Berntsen, Curt J. Whitenack, Tom Fairhall, Matt Sampson, and Dave Harper. This team of attorneys shared the entrepreneurial spirit and client service mentality fostered by the founders.
“The philosophy we had on Day One is still guiding us in the right direction,” says Paul H. Berghoff.
MBHB now numbers seventy attorneys, with offices in Chicago, Illinois and Port Townsend, Washington.