ARNOLD RUESS, a specialised IP/Patent Litigation boutique law firm, founded in 2010 in Düsseldorf by the former Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer associates Bernhard Arnold and Peter Ruess, turned into a success story of its own. Julian Adamson met ARNOLD RUESS partners Cordula Schumacher and Peter Ruess to talk about their experiences, achievements and lessons learnt over nearly a decade of running their own firm.
Leaving the magic circle firm Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer in 2010, Bernhard Arnold and Peter Ruess had planned to step back from the usual work as a lawyer within an international big-ticket law firm. Peter had started his career as a full-time lecturer at university and the two partners planned to keep on doing legal work on a smaller, more national level, offering legal IP advice to SME clients. Their plans quickly changed, however, when later that year Sony Interactive Entertainment requested significant IP support from the firm. Naturally unable to turn this work down, the ARNOLD RUESS we know of today was spawned.
This turning point is what ultimately drove the growth of ARNOLD RUESS and taught Peter and Bernhard their first entrepreneurial lesson: it was not just the SMEs that were interested in working with a specialised boutique law firm. Sony’s faith in ARNOLD RUESS’ expertise and boutique approach would prove well founded and later solidified by other MNC requests.
In the following year, Peter and Bernhard’s former colleague and close friend Cordula Schumacher joined them as ARNOLD RUESS’ third Partner. Thanks to their close relationship – Cordula and Peter had even studied together at the University of Bayreuth – the three Partners consider their firm a family business rather than just a typical corporate. They keep this in mind for every decision they make, whereby unanimity across the organisation – such as hiring decisions – and holding up a high level of transparency about the firm’s strategic path are essential and key to keeping everyone on the same track, Peter says.
Winning the 2012 JUVE Award for best Start-Up Law Firm of the Year was a great honour for ARNOLD RUESS as a young boutique law firm and further assisted its development and reputation. Together the now four partners of the firm Peter Ruess, Bernhard Arnold, Cordula Schumacher and Arno Riße were able to create a significant success story, winning clients within the pharma and healthcare sector and guiding clients such as Nokia through highly visible patent litigation cases. This new wave of clients and big-ticket cases did not go unnoticed and ARNOLD RUESS was subsequently nominated for the JUVE IP Law Firm of the Year Award in 2012, 2015 and 2017. This year, therefore, marks the fourth year of nomination, further highlighting the continued success of the firm.
The future looks bright for ARNOLD RUESS. Plans are afoot to organically grow the practice over the coming years, however not at any cost. Internally, the desire is to build from within rather than onboarding expensive laterals. Further, Peter and his colleagues do not believe in the “classic” big law firm career that seems to be built around becoming a partner after long years of sitting at a desk and doing what a client asks you to do. They are convinced and have demonstrated that a good and successful lawyer needs to be his or her own brand as a reliable advisor.
In the view of ARNOLD RUESS, it is not years of experience or knowledge within IP that make an outstanding lawyer, Cordula explains, rather it is much more important to be a truly passionate lawyer in litigation with the ambition to become a great legal advisor for the clients. Peter is a great example for this: as a lawyer with a focus on soft IP, he is very often selling the firm’s patent litigation service, an example emphasising once more that a modern business lawyer needs to have a certain business rationale.
As a nominee for the JUVE Award IP Law Firm of the Year, ARNOLD RUESS has both the big-ticket work as well as an original and very successful approach to growing their firm. On October 24, we will find out if their efforts will be recognised with the award.