Extraordinary Team of Seasoned In-House Lawyers Targets Complex Pharma Collaborations
Mark J. Cooper has joined Faber’s New York office, further expanding the firm’s extraordinary team of senior lawyers focused on complex licensing and collaboration agreements for the life sciences. He recently served as Vice President and Assistant General Counsel for Pfizer’s Business Transactions Group.
“We now have five very senior lawyers leading our team that helps clients structure and negotiate the most sophisticated technology licensing and R&D collaborations with Big Pharma,” says principal Joe Faber. “Even compared with mega law firms, this represents a rare assemblage of top talent with this focus. And, like Mark, each of the other senior lawyers in this practice has experience leading in-house legal departments in the industry or, in some cases, serving as CEO or CBO of emerging biotechnology companies.”
“I am absolutely thrilled to join the Faber firm,” says Mark. “Perhaps what excites me most are the complementary experiences and skills this team brings to the table. I think of it as a ‘brain trust’ that we can each tap for a different viewpoint or to confirm an opinion. As former members of pharma or biotech management teams, we bring a ‘real world’ perspective to life sciences collaborations that lawyers who have spent the bulk of their careers within law firms won’t have. This makes us especially well-equipped to come up with creative and effective solutions to meet our clients’ objectives.”
During his 17 years with Pfizer, Mark structured and negotiated a wide range of complex research collaborations, IP licenses, development funding agreements and commercial stage co-promotion agreements. His experience with transactions at all phases of the pharmaceutical product life cycle has given him a deep understanding of business strategies and issues, including those involved with emerging technologies like gene therapy and RNAi.
In June, Mark will teach a half-day seminar on license and collaboration transactions as part of BIO’s Business Development Fundamentals Course, held in conjunction with the 2017 BIO International Convention in San Diego.
A Rare Team
Faber’s Industry Collaborations practice is also led by:
Sumy Daeufer, whose experience as senior in-house counsel for both small and large pharmaceutical firms – Millennium Pharmaceuticals (now Takeda Pharmaceutical) and Warner-Lambert – is unusual. “This dual frame of reference enables me to better understand the agendas of both parties in order to arrive at mutually agreeable compromises,” she says. “The lawyering can be very different, depending which side of the table you’re sitting on.”
For example, Sumy assisted EpiMab in structuring a cross-border, cross-licensing and development agreement with Kymab, involving multi-target, bispecific antibodies.
Greg Ikonen, who was trained in chemical engineering prior to attending law school, has worked with many early stage companies. He served for a time as head of corporate development, and then as CEO, of Mendel Biotechnology. “I understand the pressures that entrepreneurs live with, their limited budgets and short windows—the need to close fast. On the other hand, it’s valuable to have team members who can explain Big Pharma mindsets and operating cultures. This makes for better negotiating.”
Greg recently helped Warp Drive Bio negotiate a significant technology alliance with GlaxoSmithKline. The deal brings together two research platforms in order to discover therapeutics targeting cancers and other serious diseases.
Before joining Faber, Rob Aboud was Assistant General Counsel within GlaxoSmithKline’s legal team, where he had more than 10 years of experience handling all types of business development collaborations and licensing deals with biotechs and universities. He also served as Vice President, Business Strategy, for GlaxoSmithKline’s Center of Excellence for External Drug Discovery, and before practicing law, spent nearly a decade as a research biochemist for Merck. “Licensing and collaboration agreements are tested by the shifting dynamics of ongoing business relationships,” he says. “We’ve all managed deals through their full life cycle, so we know what can potentially go wrong and how to focus on the issues that will be affected most by such developments. Circumstances inevitably change, and we can structure terms that are flexible enough to accommodate that, with the benefit of having seen it all play out over the long-term from an in-house point of view.”
Rob counseled WAVE Life Science Ltd. in its research collaboration, license and option deal with Pfizer, which focused on nucleic acid therapies that target the underlying causes of rare, genetically defined diseases.
Jon Linden was previously senior counsel for Millennium Pharmaceuticals and Apple Computer. “When you’re inside counsel, you really experience the deals you work on,” he says. “There are very few issues that are purely ‘legal’ or ‘business,’ and we’re attuned to the operational needs driving a negotiation. We help clients balance those considerations with the attendant risk in order to arrive at a balanced agreement. The five of us have sat across the table from so many companies with so many different technologies that, as we approach each new client, chances are we’ve dealt with something similar before.”
Jon assisted Yumanity Therapeutics in structuring a discovery collaboration with the New York Stem Cell Foundation Research Institute. The research focuses on treatments for neurodegenerative diseases.
“A great thing about having such a large licensing and collaboration team,” says Joe, “is that there’s always a senior attorney available to lead these complex engagements, so our clients consistently benefit from the insights of very seasoned professionals. They’re supported by 11 other lawyers, and most of them also have significant in-house experience and often have been practicing in this space for a decade or more. In addition, our corporate finance attorneys are available to assist on transactions with hybrid economic structures. I’m very proud of the style of counsel this team provides to our clients’ executives and boards – a product of our focus on the business of the life sciences.”