Knobbe Martens Announces New Chairs for Medical Device and Litigation Practice Groups, Diversifying Leadership

Knobbe Martens, one of the leading intellectual property (IP) law firms in the world, announced today that it has appointed new leaders for two of the firm’s largest practice groups.

Salima Merani, Ph.D. and Sabing Lee will now co-chair the Medical Devices and Procedures group, succeeding former chair Gerard von Hoffmann, who led the practice for over a decade. Sheila Swaroop and Michael Friedland will co-chair the Litigation group, taking over from Joe Cianfrani.

“Salima, Sabing, Sheila and Mike are savvy and seasoned attorneys who have the depth of experience needed to meet the demands managing a practice group requires,” said Managing Partner Steven Nataupsky. “All four are accomplished attorneys and charismatic leaders with unique styles and backgrounds that complement each other. I also want to commend Gerard and Joe for a job well done and for their years of strong leadership.”

Dr. Merani has more than 20 years of experience building strategic patent portfolios and negotiating high-stakes agreements for life sciences companies, along with extensive expertise conducting patent due diligence for venture capital and investment firms. She has received multiple awards and honors in both national and international forums for her legal accomplishments, including being named for the past three years to Managing Intellectual Property’s “Top 250 Women of the Year” globally. The prestigious Chambers Guide lauded her as an exceptional strategic advisor, and she was awarded the coveted "Client Choice Award" for IP by the International Law Office (ILO). In just the last few years, Merani has been lead IP counsel in deals worth over $3 billion.

Lee has almost 25 years of experience representing clients in a wide range of technologies, with an emphasis on medical devices including cardiovascular, orthopedic, wound care, and healthcare AI technologies. His practice includes strategic patent procurement, portfolio management, IP due diligence, and general counseling on infringement, licensing, international IP protection, and post-grant proceedings. Among other awards and honors, Lee was recognized from 2018-2021 in Managing IP's "IP STARS" guide for his outstanding IP work. In 2018, Lee was named a "Life Sciences Star” and has received "Star" recognition numerous times in recent years as part of the "Life Sciences Survey" published by Legal Media Group (LMG).

Swaroop has more than 20 years of experience representing life sciences, pharmaceutical, medical device, and consumer goods companies in contested matters through trial and appeal. She is a registered patent attorney and litigator. For her outstanding work, Swaroop has been named to The Best Lawyers in America annual list since 2018, and has been recognized as a “Life Sciences Star” by LMG. In the community, she is a founding member and former president of the Howard T. Markey Intellectual Property Inn of Court, which upholds standards of practice and encourages respect for the justice system. She is also a former president of the South Asian Bar Association of Southern California.

Friedland has represented clients in more than 200 IP cases in his 30 years as an attorney. His practice encompasses patent, trademark, trade secret, and copyright cases, in industries including consumer products, medical devices, computer software and apparel, among others. He is the co-founder and former president of the Harvard Law School Association of Orange County, is a member of the International Trademark Association’s (INTA) Alternative Dispute Resolution Committee and served as a former adjunct professor at Whittier Law School. Mike has been recognized numerous times as an “OC Top Attorney” by OC METRO magazine, and as a leader in trademark law by World Trademark Review (WTR).

The appointment of diverse leaders across both gender and ethnic backgrounds underlines the firm’s commitment to establishing an environment where all attorneys can succeed. The American Lawyer has consistently named Knobbe Martens among the most diverse law firms of its size. The firm’s other DEI initiatives include active outreach and recruitment; internal programs to ensure the firm values the needs and goals of diverse attorneys and staff; and an annual 1L Diversity Scholarship Program for first-year students belonging to groups historically underrepresented in the legal profession.

You can learn more about the firm’s commitment to diversity here.

About Knobbe Martens

Consistently ranked among the top intellectual property firms in the nation and worldwide, Knobbe Martens has about 300 lawyers and scientists nationwide and dedicates its practice to all aspects of intellectual property and technology law, including litigation. Knobbe Martens serves a diverse group of clients from multinational corporations to emerging businesses of all stages. The firm is headquartered in Orange County, California, with offices in Los Angeles, New York, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington, D.C., and enjoys an international reputation for excellence. More information about the firm can be found at