no. (roses_rejoice) wrote,

And now for something completely different Scroll Scroll Scroll...

One downside to patent lawyering, particularly in a city with a large "patent bar" presence, is that there seem to be a helluva lot of lawyers whose entire career life (possibly their entire Life life too) is wrapped up in the Patent Law, the future of the Patent Law, whether the changes in the Patent Law will continue to provide work for us down the line, etc. etc. blahblahblah. I don't mind if they think about this stuff but I wish they wouldn't yammer to me about it and expect me to care that much.

I can sort of understand this focus of theirs, as I know lawyers have to have a specialty, like doctors. Even GP doctors usually have a specialty or two, like women's ob/gyn or men's heart issues or pediatrics or geriatrics or something. Same for lawyers. I also know there are lawyers whose entire life has been in the patent law because that's what they're primarily interested in, that's what they care about, that's The Big It for them. They chose it. They really really like it.

However, I am not one of those lawyers. I just wanted to be a litigation lawyer. I would, and even now do, litigate most anything you want me to. I'll litigate your antitrust case or your contract collections case or your capital criminal case as cheerfully as I will your Markman hearing. About the only types of litigation law I don't think I could do are malpractice torts or any sort of product liability litigation involving serious icky injuries, because outside of the criminal context, gory medical testimony and evidence makes me ill. I used to sit in torts class right before lunch fighting off nausea every time I had to read about somebody's incorrectly set bone and I had a coworker once who did product liability law and quit after some exploding water heater case involving horribly burned children. I can just about stomach that stuff in the criminal context though it is hard, but private suits nah.

I didn't choose patent law, it chose me because I happened to have been an engineer first and when you do that, patent law is really all anybody ever thinks of you doing. Worse yet, patent PROSECUTION, not litigation, is all anybody thinks of you doing, and you have to work and suffer to beat that notion out of people's heads and sell yourself as an actual lawyer. If you want to litigate, and you're me, the patent case is where they want to put you, so as long as I get to help litigate the case, plan strategy, draft motions and stuff, and not be a "technical expert" (I would suck at that work anyway), that is where I will go.

I have had several cool mentors in my law career. I won't name names here but if you know me or read my blog you can guess who they are. Most of them had worked to some degree with patent law. None of them were gung ho on it or saw themselves primarily as "patent lawyers." They saw themselves as lawyers, and their approach to the patent law was to put it in the greater perspective of the principles of law as a whole. I think that is the right way. I also think that is what the Supreme Court has been trying to do since Roberts took over and they started taking more patent cases, and even though it introduces uncertainty into the process and I'm supposed to HATE uncertainty (OH GAWRSH HOW WILL I ADVISE MY CLIENTS?), the law is inherently uncertain, because so much of it is based on judgment, on judicial discretion, on the facts of a particular situation. You have to accept that. I understand that a lot of techno types can't handle gray areas, that they took math because it has one right answer. And to some degree I also took math because of that reason, because I knew I was good at writing and other shite and I didn't need some teacher passing judgment on it to know that. Didn't want the subjective grades, so I went for the classes where if you had the right answer that was all that mattered. But I have never had a hard time accepting that there are Gray Areas in law and in life, and don't want to start getting uptight about it now.

I would like to do a quality job as a lawyer and litigator. I don't much care about being a Big Gun in the Patent Bar. I've actually knocked myself out showing that I can do other things than patent cases all the time. A lot of people criticize ya for that. I remember my old engg buddy "Joe" (not his real name) hollering at me in a cafeteria across the street from Venable and Finnegan back in The Day, saying all that Supreme Court work was bullshit, what I really should be doing with myself was patent work. Joe was a prosecutor for Finnegan in the days when they were known for dumping tons of icky foreign prosecution on their associates. They were rude to me in a law school interview when they realized I wasn't into doing that and when I didn't show enuf appreciation for how fly they supposedly were or thought they were. *shrug* Last I saw Joe he was the patent office counsel for some academic body. I wish him the best, he had a bunch of kids and needed to make the money, but I'm different. I didn't get where I managed to get so far in life by sticking myself in a box and doing one thing, I do lots of things.

And I don't see anything to be gained by somebody limiting themselves ONLY to patent law and thinking that's THE key thing. Patent law is like tax law, it's man-made law. Patent law has some roots in the English common law and a little relation back to Roman times if you wanna go back and look at scire facias actions or whut not (I did that once) but overall, it's largely a creation of the U.S. Congress. Congress gave and Congress can take away. Whereas, you're always gonna have a criminal code, because that's built into man's society, present in all systems. We are going to be prosecuting people (and probably putting them to death) for a long, long time, and if bizness gets slow the Feds will just lower the prosecution bar and bust more people to keep themselves busy. And you're always gonna have contracts that people will sue over because that's how commerce is done. So why not do some of that stuff too? It's more universal, less likely to be adversely affected by the Hill, and helps you understand what you're doing with the patent crap better.

Of course I could be totally blowing smoke out my ass and end up selling pencils from a cup cuz I wasn't willing to kill myself trying to be the next [insert name of Top IP Partner from Cover of Some Damn Lawyer Magazine Here - and please don't get me started on how boring and depressing those publications are, I read them for the art work which I clip out and use as inspiration for metals pieces] but srsly, I still have an MSEE, an MBA and a completed art certificate. I don't have to be a one-trick pony especially when I didn't even choose the pony. Patent law is cool, it's not my everything and I don't want it to be. And if you wanna lecture me some more about "selling myself" inside a firm, I see where you're coming from, I've been there before, I've been through Bad Tymes at Firms at least three f'in times by now, I probably even already kinda do what you say, and you don't know me, and you didn't bother to get to know me before you started lecturing, and I'm different from you. Different generation, different lots o' things.
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