Reed Smith LLP
You boast in-house experience – how has this benefited you in sharpening your IP skill set?
Working in-house taught me to deliver pragmatic advice that business leaders can readily understand and use. Working closely with senior management, I saw how business leaders made strategic and tactical decisions and understood how my legal advice influenced and enhanced the decision-making process. Through this experience, I developed strong corporate leadership skills and promoted robust teamwork. I apply this expertise to my practice today. I provide pragmatic advice that in-house clients can easily adapt, have a laser-like focus on clients’ hot-button issues relating to trademark and brand protection, and fully exercise my leadership and teamwork skills. Whether working with a team, a mediator or a judge, leadership is a cornerstone of success.
What challenges are being raised by clients most frequently at the moment, and how can these be tackled?
One challenge that we see from clients today is urgency. Companies are launching their ad campaign tomorrow. They need a new trademark as soon as possible. They have to stop an infringer immediately. Our clients are under pressure and so are we – to give the best advice possible, as soon as possible. The tools that we have developed in-house (eg, Gravity Stack) have been an enormous help. Using multi-faceted perspectives built on real industry knowledge, the Gravity Stack platform helps our team to provide comprehensive strategic advice quickly and efficiently.
What does leadership in the field of IP law look like to you?
The face of leadership across the field is changing to reflect the diversity of our clients and their customers. Clients drive this changing dynamic through their legal expenditures and active participation in organisations whose focus is on diversity and inclusion. ChIPs is an example of what leadership looks like in the IP law field today. It is an organisation that was founded nearly 15 years ago in Silicon Valley by seven women chief IP counsel to focus on advancing women in law and technology. This is the face of leadership: seven women chief IP counsel finding each other and taking action. The changing face of leadership in intellectual property does not get any better than this.
You are active at INTA and the European Communities Trademark Association (ECTA). In terms of professional development, why is such engagement important for law firm practitioners?
Professional development is vital to successful private practice attorneys. We must be at the top of our game – our clients certainly are! INTA and ECTA drive cutting-edge issues. My membership on ECTA’s Law Committee gives me a front row seat to urgent, ever-changing legal questions across the European Union and allows me to actively participate in the advancement of trademark law within the European Union and its member nations.
Finally, what advice would you give those in the early stages of a career in IP law?
Be your authentic self. Stay true to your values. Know your audience. Learn the foundation of your practice, then look for cutting-edge issues or niches and become an expert. Be adaptable and open to a variety of paths to success in your career. Sometimes the people who mentor or sponsor you may not look like you and may come from unexpected backgrounds and experiences. Mentoring has been a vital part of my career; it is wonderfully satisfying to watch others succeed and I am happy that some of those I have mentored have become my clients. Find colleagues who will help to make you successful in all aspects of your life – then work together to support each other. I have continuously sought to improve my profession. I am the Silicon Valley office chair for Reed Smith’s women’s initiative and a member of the firm’s LeadRS Business Inclusion Group. I also stay active in a variety of pro bono matters, including representing minors in special immigrant juveniles status cases and women and children seeking asylum held in detention in Dilley, Texas. I measure success in terms of:
- my reputation as an attorney and my clients’ satisfaction with my services;
- the success of my colleagues and the next generation;
- the increased diversity and changing face of my profession;
- my contribution to those who cannot afford legal services; and
- my family and community commitments.
Define your own success; do not let others define it for you. You can only control so much; by looking at the bigger picture and keeping some balance, you will find more opportunities to chart your career and build a successful one.