Tuesday, March 25, 2008

CIRM Seeking IP Lawyer and Presidential Consultant

Attention IP attorneys and anybody – almost – who wants to tell the president of the California stem cell agency what to do.

CIRM is looking for a couple of people to come to its assistance on a temporary basis. The IP gig is part-time for six months for $150,000. The consultant to the president is scheduled for only four months fulltime for $80,000.

The IP position caught our eye for several reasons. One is that it lists an hourly rate of $150, rather low for a 15-year veteran of the biotech/IP field, which is the experience level that CIRM seeks. Another curiosity about the position: An hourly rate of $150 for 20 hours a week for about six months weeks amounts to $78,000, somewhat less than the $150,000 allotted for the job. The RFP also requires the winning bidder for the contract to cover his own "personal and business" expenses within that rate, except for "additional expenses, incurred at CIRM's direction."

The RFP highlights the nature of the legal work and management structure within CIRM, and not just because the agency is treading new ground on IP. The agency has a general counsel, who one might think would oversee the entire legal staff. However, virtually since its inception, CIRM has signed on with Remcho, Johansen & Purcell of San Leandro, Ca., for legal advice at a cost of more than $1 million.

While the reporting lines are not entirely clear, Remcho's James Harrison seems to be directed primarily by Robert Klein, the CIRM chair. On CIRM staff is attorney Scott Tocher, who once appeared to report to the president of the agency but now has been moved under Klein's control. Tamar Pachter, the general counsel, reports to President Alan Trounson via the chief operating officer. The new legal "temp" will report to Trounson and "coordinate" with the general counsel.

We ran the RFP by one observer who is knowledgeable about CIRM and IP work. That person confirmed that the hourly rate was at the low end and also indicated that the RFP was unclear about whether a firm or person was desired. Our observer also said,
"If the contract is not renewed, the attorney has still been paid to become one of the world's leading experts on stem cell IP, funding and commercialization. There is a good chance that this new-found expertise will lead to job opportunities with law firms, companies, non-profits, universities, etc. Even a law firm might be willing to discount its rates heavily to get this work to establish itself as a player in this field."
The RFP for the presidential consultant seeks a scientific professional (Ph.D.) with 15 years experience. In addition to a wide range of advice, the RFP indicates the person will be asked to develop "alternative resource opportunities for increased flexibility and productivity of CIRM research and clinical applications."

Both positions were posted just last week under "CIRM RFPs" instead of the job listings on the CIRM site. The deadline for applications is April 1 with work beginning shortly thereafter. Given the short time frame, it is likely that CIRM has candidates in mind for both positions.

CIRM is also seeking to fill the IP position permanently through its job listings. Other open positions include finance officer, scientific officer, senior administrative coordinator and communications manager.

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