Back in the early 1990s Richard Miller was general counsel for Prince, the tennis racquet manufacturer, and did some work with Cathryn Mitchell, an outside counsel based in Florida. Pleased with her work, he brought her on as a Prince employee. The two subsequently married, and, says Miller, “I’ve worked for her ever since.”
Miller is probably joking. But it is undeniable that the two became a team. By 1995 they had opened their own firm, Miller and Mitchell, which quickly became well known in technology circles in the greater Princeton area. That firm has now been folded into Cowan, Liebowitz & Latman, a New York City legal boutique with a practice centered on business law and a focus on intellectual property.
“They found us through an executive recruiter,” says Miller. “We had known members of the firm for a long time and had known of its reputation forever. They’re a top notch intellectual property firm. They’re number one in copyrights. They oversee 5,000 patent applications. Their work is very much along the lines of ours. It was a perfect fit.”
The courtship went well, he says, particularly because Cowan allowed the pair to maintain offices in Princeton. “I’ve done the five day a week commute,” says Miller, “and I wasn’t eager to do it again.” He made this remark while sitting in Cowan’s Manhattan offices, but while he and Mitchell will need to be in New York to confer with their partners on a regular basis, they will be able to conduct most of their practice closer to home.
They will not be as close to downtown Princeton’s attractions, though. They have left their offices at 134 Nassau Street, “right above Panera,” and are now in a more corporate setting in Carnegie Center. Offices above a storefront were fine for “a small, quirky firm,” says Miller, but Cowan was looking for something “a little more upscale.” Also, he adds, the Carnegie Center gives Cowan’s newest office room to expand. It now houses four employees.
Cowan, with 50 attorneys, is fairly small by New York standards. But Miller expects that its resources will make a huge difference for his practice. “We had to do something,” he says. “When we have two mergers going, or one big litigation, we have to work all the time. There is no one else.” This meant no real vacations for the married couple. “When we go away, we take our laptops,” he says. “There’s no one to take care of the files.”
Now there will be a support staff and associates to help with the work and partners with whom to confer. It’s not impossible for a two-person business firm to thrive, says Miller, but it’s not easy to do so and to have a life. “We could have kept going,” he says. “We could have worked around the clock.”
Cowan, Liebowitz & Latman PC, 214 Carnegie Center, Suite 108, Princeton 08540; 609-225-5197; fax, 609-275-7144. www.cll.com.