The first new CEO in 20 years at Fish & Richardson, a law firm with a dozen U.S. offices, is also the first to be based in its Minneapolis office.

John Adkisson effectively took over late last month as CEO and president-elect of the intellectual-property law firm, replacing Peter J. Devlin, who has served in the role since 2000.

“I’m taking over at this firm at a really good point in its history,” Adkisson said, adding that the firm’s IP emphasis “gives us a strategic advantage in the marketplace.”

Fish & Richardson has 1,100 employees across 14 offices, 12 of which are in the U.S. Founded in Boston in 1878, the firm established an office in the Twin Cities in the mid-1990s. It moved its administrative hub to Minneapolis in 2015 and now has 350 employees based here. In 2019, the firm recorded $472 million in revenue.

Adkisson, who also is a principal in the firm’s Minneapolis office, specializes in patent-infringement litigation and said he will maintain his practice while serving in the presidential role.

“It’s critical that someone in my position understand the challenges that our clients are going through day-to-day and I think the way to do that is to stay in the arena,” he said. “I’m going to have to learn a little bit as I go how to best balance the two.”

Adkisson said he plans to pursue initiatives like increasing international outreach, uplifting young talent pursuing law careers and focusing on diversity.

J. Patrick Finn III, managing principal for the Minneapolis office, said Adkisson has strong leadership skills.

“We’re so excited to see John selected as the next president of our firm.

“He’s an outstanding lawyer, wonderful colleague and mentor to our Twin Cities office,” he said.

The leadership change comes at a time when law-firm consolidation has become a norm in the industry both in the Twin Cities and U.S., typically meant to increase the span of services and better compete with larger firms.

Last year, there were 115 law-firm combinations in the U.S., surpassing the previous record of 106 set just a year earlier, according to Altman Weil MergerLine, which tracks law-firm mergers.

In October, Minneapolis-based Gray Plant Mooty said it would merge with Lathrop Gage, a Kansas City, Mo.-based firm, creating Lathrop GPM LLP.

Last summer, another Minneapolis-based firm, Briggs and Morgan, agreed to merge with Taft Stettinius & Hollister, combining about 600 attorneys.

Adkisson said his firm has no plans to further consolidate. Fish & Richardson has 443 lawyers and technology specialists.

“We have a long history and tradition of being independent and I don’t see that changing,” he said.


Caitlin Anderson ( is a University of Minnesota student on assignment for the Star Tribune.