Monthly Archives: July 2008

Brinks Hofer Gilson & Lione sponsors legal institute

Each week Chicago Lawyer will highlight a different case or legal happening, and solicit your thoughts on the impact of it in the legal community.

Brinks Hofer Gilson & Lione, a sponsor of Just the Beginning Foundation’s 2008 Summer Legal Institute, hosted a panel discussion June 20 for more than 40 high school juniors and seniors.

The panelists, which consisted of Brinks president Gary Ropkski; shareholder Nick de la Torre; and associates Julie Leichtman, Michelle Miller, and Rashad Morgan, introduced students to the field of intellectual property, shared memorable cases and answered students’ questions.

Morgan said the students were not afraid to ask questions and talk to the lawyers. They were very impressive, Morgan said. They even came with business cards that they handed out to lawyers they met.

Just the Beginning Foundation is a non-profit organization supporting students of color and traditionally underrepresented groups by providing free educational and mentoring programs to inspire at-risk students and increase diversity in the judiciary and legal profession.

The foundation was built on the contributions of African-Americans in the federal judiciary, and offers a series of pipeline programs aimed at keeping underrepresented students of all ages on a path towards a legal career.

Morgan said, “It’s a great program to explain to kids what kind of law our firm is involved in, open them to areas of law beyond those exposed on TV, and show these kids we do care about them.”

— Danielle Feinstein

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Brinks Hofer Gilson & Lione sponsors legal institute

Each week Chicago Lawyer will highlight a different case or legal happening, and solicit your thoughts on the impact of it in the legal community.

Brinks Hofer Gilson & Lione, a sponsor of Just the Beginning Foundation’s 2008 Summer Legal Institute, hosted a panel discussion June 20 for more than 40 high school juniors and seniors.

The panelists, which consisted of Brinks president Gary Ropkski; shareholder Nick de la Torre; and associates Julie Leichtman, Michelle Miller, and Rashad Morgan, introduced students to the field of intellectual property, shared memorable cases and answered students’ questions.

Morgan said the students were not afraid to ask questions and talk to the lawyers. They were very impressive, Morgan said. They even came with business cards that they handed out to lawyers they met.

Just the Beginning Foundation is a non-profit organization supporting students of color and traditionally underrepresented groups by providing free educational and mentoring programs to inspire at-risk students and increase diversity in the judiciary and legal profession.

The foundation was built on the contributions of African-Americans in the federal judiciary, and offers a series of pipeline programs aimed at keeping underrepresented students of all ages on a path towards a legal career.

Morgan said, “It’s a great program to explain to kids what kind of law our firm is involved in, open them to areas of law beyond those exposed on TV, and show these kids we do care about them.”

— Danielle Feinstein

Q & A with Sandra Frantzen

Each week we will pose these three questions to different lawyers in the legal community.

This week we talk with Sandra Frantzen, a shareholder at McAndrews, Held & Malloy, who has been practicing since 1999.

— What do you find the most interesting about your practice?

Patent lawyers are lucky because we are constantly learning about new technologies.  I have litigated cases involving ultrasonic toothbrushes, angioplasty catheters, rail car parts, printers, bone paste, and other technologies.  In one case, I got to learn how a lava lamp works. It’s a lot of fun. You always get a chance to challenge yourself.

— What makes a good lawyer?

There’s a tendency sometimes to “over-lawyer” things.  A good lawyer takes a business-focused and value-oriented approach to legal matters. He or she understands the client’s business and finds the most cost-effective and value-enhancing way to meet the client’s objectives.

— What is the biggest legal news right now, and what is its impact?

For me, two things. As a patent lawyer, the big news is the Supreme Court’s sudden interest in patent cases. In the past, like many courts, the Supreme Court seemed to avoid patent issues. However, in the last few years, the Supreme Court has changed the patent landscape quite a bit with rulings limiting the scope of patent owner’s rights; for example, making it easier to invalidate patents and harder to get an injunction. The Federal Circuit (which generally has jurisdiction over patent cases) has seemed to respond to this trend.  And even the Patent Office has tried to implement changes. As the public becomes more aware of patent rights, it’s a new world out there.

As an Arab American, I constantly hear about issues swirling around my community.  In fact, there has been a lot of news about immigration generally. Sometimes we forget that we are a nation of immigrants, but there has been a lot of progress. We are in a period in history where we have to strike a delicate balance between national security and the freedoms that make our country so great.  Justice Kennedy recently said that “[l]iberty and security can be reconciled; and in our system they are reconciled within the framework of the law.”  I believe that. And, as legal practitioners, we should work to ensure it.

Q & A with Sandra Frantzen

Each week we will pose these three questions to different lawyers in the legal community.

This week we talk with Sandra Frantzen, a shareholder at McAndrews, Held & Malloy, who has been practicing since 1999.

— What do you find the most interesting about your practice?

Patent lawyers are lucky because we are constantly learning about new technologies.  I have litigated cases involving ultrasonic toothbrushes, angioplasty catheters, rail car parts, printers, bone paste, and other technologies.  In one case, I got to learn how a lava lamp works. It’s a lot of fun. You always get a chance to challenge yourself.

— What makes a good lawyer?

There’s a tendency sometimes to “over-lawyer” things.  A good lawyer takes a business-focused and value-oriented approach to legal matters. He or she understands the client’s business and finds the most cost-effective and value-enhancing way to meet the client’s objectives.

— What is the biggest legal news right now, and what is its impact?

For me, two things. As a patent lawyer, the big news is the Supreme Court’s sudden interest in patent cases. In the past, like many courts, the Supreme Court seemed to avoid patent issues. However, in the last few years, the Supreme Court has changed the patent landscape quite a bit with rulings limiting the scope of patent owner’s rights; for example, making it easier to invalidate patents and harder to get an injunction. The Federal Circuit (which generally has jurisdiction over patent cases) has seemed to respond to this trend.  And even the Patent Office has tried to implement changes. As the public becomes more aware of patent rights, it’s a new world out there.

As an Arab American, I constantly hear about issues swirling around my community.  In fact, there has been a lot of news about immigration generally. Sometimes we forget that we are a nation of immigrants, but there has been a lot of progress. We are in a period in history where we have to strike a delicate balance between national security and the freedoms that make our country so great.  Justice Kennedy recently said that “[l]iberty and security can be reconciled; and in our system they are reconciled within the framework of the law.”  I believe that. And, as legal practitioners, we should work to ensure it.

DLA Piper and Accenture’s partnership

Each week I will highlight a different case or legal happening, and solicit your thoughts on the impact of it in the legal community.

About 10 years ago Accenture and DLA Piper attorney David Mendelsohn began working together on the issue of Y2K.

That client-lawyer relationship blossomed over time and today DLA Piper and Accenture team up not only on legal matters, but also on projects to improve diversity through pipeline programs, and provide pro bono services.

“Both of the organizations have values that are in common,” said Christina Martini, hiring partner for DLA Piper’s Chicago office. “A lot of it is about giving back to the community, and a lot of it is about diversity.”

Both companies work together on a number of programs and projects.

For example, they participate in a project with Chicago Public Schools’ John Barry Elementary School to help improve the students’ literacy and vocabulary skills. Each fall attorneys from both organizations teach a semester-long program about the basics of constitutional law. There is also an annual literacy night where volunteers read to the students, and that occurs in tandem with a book drive. And in the spring they work together on a career-tutoring program to help the Barry students think about career interests early on.

“You have to reach out to students at all levels, and try to make a meaningful difference in their lives,” Martini said.

Accenture and DLA Piper also work together on a program called, “Accentuating the DLA Piper Summer Experience” It’s a summer associate program where a group of DLA Piper summer associates get to spend two weeks at Accenture learning about what an inside counsel does.

Last year, five summer associates participated. This year six participated, and visited the Chicago and Reston, Va. Accenture offices for two weeks on a rotation basis, said Joel Stern, Accenture’s director of legal services, Americas.

This program has a number of benefits including exposing summer associates to inside counsel, giving them additional mentors, and helping them create a relationship with Accenture that may benefit them when they someday work at DLA Piper, Stern said.

Many of the law students who participated went back to their law school excited about what they experienced, and excited about Accenture and DLA Piper, he said.

Accenture gets to not only experience high-quality, cost-effective legal support with DLA Piper, but also experiences a partnership that allows them to try to make a difference in people’s lives, he said.

“We have been able to take a normal attorney-client relationship and extend it to the corporate citizenship area,” Stern said. “It continues to grow to this day. It is not only a partnership, but also a lot of fun … The more we talk about it the more these messages will get out and once again that will make a difference. We want other companies to copy us and we are looking at what other companies are doing as well.”

“I think it would be fair to say that the personal relationships that exist are much more meaningful,” Mendelsohn said. “and much more personal than ever would be the case if we would not work on these projects together.”

Lawyer endows IP speaker fund

Each week I will highlight a different case or legal happening, and solicit your thoughts on the impact of it in the legal community.

Welsh & Katz founding partner A. Sidney Katz endowed a new intellectual property law speaker fund at The George Washington University Law School called The A. Sidney Katz Intellectual Property Law Speaker Fund.

The law school plans to host at least four speakers each year, and is contemplating also hosting lectures of interest to law school students pursuing a career in intellectual property law. All of the events will take place at the university’s campus in Washington, D.C.

“I think it’s a way of keeping abreast of the changes in intellectual property law, and from people who are in the know,” Katz said. “There are a number of legislative proposals to revise the patent laws in the United States pending in Congress. I would expect those issues will be the subject of discussion also. It could help even our legislators get a handle on what the best reform should be for patents.

“Intellectual property is really become more and more important, I think, strategically for corporate America. There have been a number of recent and major developments in intellectual property.”

Katz received his law degree from the school in 1966 and serves on the Dean’s Intellectual Property Advisory Board. He’s also endowed the A. Sidney Katz Admissions and Financial Aid Reception Center in 2003, and the A. Sidney Katz Archway in 2006, which connects the University Yard to 20th Street, between G and H Streets, on the school’s campus.

“When I went to George Washington in the 1960s, I think they had the most prominent patent law department in the country,” he said. “And I still think, in my view, that it ranks at the top of all the law schools with respect to particularly patent law. Because that’s my profession, I’ve stayed in touch with them.”

Husch Blackwell Sanders announced in June its intent to combine with Welsh & Katz.

Lawyer joining council

Each week I will highlight a different case or legal happening, and solicit your thoughts on the impact of it in the legal community.

Illinois State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias recently appointed Anita Ponder to the Women’s Affairs Council.

The goals of the council include making recommendations to the Illinois State Treasurer regarding initiatives, policies and programs that will have a tangible, positive impact on the female community in Illinois.

Ponder, a partner in Drinker Biddle & Reath’s government and regulatory affairs group, said some of her responsibilities in the council include advising the treasurer’s office on broad community trends, upcoming events, potential partnerships and outreach opportunities. The council will also help the office develop programs, and connect with the community.

“I think this council will help the treasurer have an open dialogue with women throughout the state,” she said, “and build positive relationships that can help him kind of initiate and implement significant programs and services that make a difference in the lives of women in Illinois.”

She said the council will meet quarterly, and members will receive information regarding activities and initiative that they can also pass along to others.

“I’m very honored to be part of a group that I think will be making a significant difference in how the treasurer’s office will affect change in the lives of women,” she said.