In the News Texas Lawyer

Kirkland Expands IP Trial Team in Austin With McKool Smith Litigator

Kat Li, who had been McKool Smith's firmwide hiring principal, will help Kirkland & Ellis expand its Texas trial practice.

What You Need to Know

  • McKool Smith patent litigator Kat Li joined Kirkland & Ellis as a partner in Austin.
  • She was firmwide hiring principal at her prior firm, and will help Kirkland add to its litigation team in Texas.
  • Since the summer, Kirkland has built its IP litigation team to include seven lawyers in Texas.

Kirkland & Ellis continues to build its Texas litigation team by adding McKool Smith principal Kat Li as a partner to its intellectual property practice group in Austin.

Li, who was firmwide hiring principal at trial firm McKool Smith, said she will help Kirkland add lawyers for the litigation team in Texas. With Li, Kirkland has seven IP litigators in Texas.

The opportunity to join Kirkland—an Am Law 100 firm that’s active in the lateral hiring market with offices in Houston, Dallas and Austin—was too good to pass up, she said.

“Kirkland was a place that offered me a really unique opportunity and to have a global full-service platform,” she said.

Li focuses on patent and technology litigation, and helps clients manage their global patent strategy and maximize value of their portfolios. She has done work for tech companies in various sectors including mobile devices, semiconductors, oil and gas and telecommunications.

Kirkland partner Jeannie Heffernan, who moved to Austin from the firm’s New York office in June to launch an IP practice in the new office, said in a press release that Li is a “wonderful addition” to the team.

“With major tech-focused companies entering or expanding into Austin, we need exceptional talent like Kat to help guide clients as they grapple with complex IP-related issues,” Heffernan wrote.

When asked about her work, Li said she defended a major semiconductor manufacturer in multiple actions related to packaging technology in the Western District of Texas, before the Patent Trial and Appeal Board, and at the Federal Circuit.

Also, among other matters, she said, she won a $15 million verdict for Summit 6 that was affirmed on appeal against Samsung in litigation over photo uploading technology.

Austin provides ample opportunity for IP work, Li said, because of the expanding high-tech industry in the Texas capital city and the fact that the Western District of Texas and the Eastern District of Texas are among the most significant locations for IP litigation.

Prior to private practice, Li clerked for Judge Arthur Gajarsa of the Federal Circuit and Judge Leonard Davis of the Eastern District of Texas. She currently is U.S. District Judge Alan Albright’s teaching assistant for a course on patent advocacy at the University of Texas School of Law.

A spokesman for McKool Smith did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Li’s departure.

Reprinted with permission from the January 12, 2021 edition of Texas Lawyer. Further reproduction without permission is prohibited.