A group of at least 12 intellectual-property lawyers and professionals have left Squire Patton Boggs to open the Washington office of regional law firm Porzio, Bromberg & Newman, the New Jersey-based firm announced Wednesday.

The group is led by partners Kevin Bell, Scott Chambers and Richard Oparil, who opened the D.C. office this week with Porzio principal Timothy Ayers.

Chambers was chairman of the intellectual-property practice group at Squire Patton Boggs, and the group represents the majority of the intellectual-property practice at Patton Boggs before it merged with Squire Sanders in June, Bell said.

Additional lawyers and professionals from Squire Patton Boggs may be joining soon, but firm leaders did not specify when or how many.

Regional, national and international law firms have been rushing to open offices in Washington in recent years to capture work representing companies in government investigations, regulatory compliance and other legal matters related to the federal government.

At least nine major firms have established new presences here since 2011.

“Porzio has been looking at the Washington market for a few years now,” said Jeff Campbell, Porzio managing partner. “Close proximity to [the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office] is important for a thriving IP practice.

“We also have a rapidly growing life sciences regulatory practice and, increasingly, the level of regulation in Washington as it relates to life sciences makes it highly beneficial to us to have a presence in D.C.”

Porzio is headquartered in Morristown, N.J., and has about 90 lawyers in five East Coast offices in Princeton, N.J.; New York; Westborough, Mass.; and Washington.

The firm specializes in life sciences, representing pharmaceutical companies, medical-
device makers and biotechnology companies in getting their products to market.

Porzio also has a consulting subsidiary, Porzio Life Sciences, which advises life sciences companies on non-legal issues such as getting distribution licenses and providing software programs that help companies track pending legislation.

Before hiring the group from Squire Patton Boggs, Porzio’s intellectual-property practice consisted of about six lawyers and made up between 5 and 10 percent of the firm’s overall business. Campbell said he expects that percentage to more than double within a year.

Bell said his group was “intrigued” by the idea of joining a firm whose niche is in life sciences, which aligns with the expertise and makeup of his group — many have a background in biophysics, chemical engineering or microbiology, and some used to review patent applications while working at the Patent and Trademark Office.

At least 69 lawyers and professionals have left Squire Patton Boggs in the weeks leading up to — and following — the May announcement that Patton Boggs would combine with Squire Sanders.

More than 80 percent of those departures have come from the Patton Boggs side, with large groups of lawyers going to Akin Gump, Holland & Knight and Jones Day.