A judge who has overseen patent cases in one of the nation’s hottest venues for patent litigation is moving on to the greener—and much more lucrative—pastures of private practice.

As of this week, Magistrate Judge Chad Everingham has stepped down from the federal bench in the Eastern District of Texas and taken a position as a partner at one of the nation’s biggest law firms, Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld.

Magistrate judges typically handle the earlier stages of civil litigation, like discovery. But as the Eastern District’s patent docket heated up, it became typical for Everingham to oversee entire cases and trials, in cases where all parties agreed. In four years on the bench, Everingham ushered more than 20 complex patent cases all the way through trial, and presided over more than 200 civil cases in all, according to the press release put out by Akin Gump. The “vast majority” of those cases were intellectual property disputes.

The chance to join Akin Gump’s IP practice was a “tremendous opportunity that I could not pass up,” Everingham said in a statement put out by the law firm.

Everingham can certainly expect a significant raise working at Akin Gump. The firm is home to hundreds of America’s best-paid lawyers; in 2010 the firm earned $1.6 million in profits for each partner, according to data published by The American Lawyer earlier this year. His knowledge of how the courts are run in a venue that continues to be hot for patent cases will surely be of value to Akin Gump clients, whichever side of the courtroom they may be on.

Everingham will be replaced by Shreveport attorney Roy Payne, who was a magistrate judge in Louisiana for 18 years. Michael Smith’s E.D. Tex blog has more background on Payne.

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