What does it mean to be a leader?
I think in the law there are two important aspects of successful leadership. The first is to develop thought leadership by staying at the forefront of the law—identifying evolving issues and helping the law progress to that end. Personally, I’ve tried to do my part to help advance and develop fair use law, copyrightabililty, dilution law and the law of survey evidence, among others.
The other quality of effective leadership is to develop a strong team of talented professionals. It’s important to inspire junior members of your team to jump into their work headfirst and give them the opportunity to bring their own ideas to the table. Here at Kirkland, we’ve assembled a wonderful team of fun, hardworking practitioners who not only do great work but also support each other, which is essential when you’re working long hours on complex matters. No case is won by one person.
Name a lawyer or mentor whose leadership inspired you.
When I started practicing, my first mentor was Greg Joseph, who is now at Joseph Hage Aaronson LLC. Greg is a “lawyers’ lawyer”—a terrific attorney who inspired me to not only produce excellent client work but also make a meaningful contribution to the advancement of the law by joining bar associations, writing articles and taking speaking engagements. He explained that this also helped to build a lawyer’s expertise and profile within the legal profession. I now give my associates the same advice!
How are the business and profession of law changing, and how should lawyers adapt for the future?
Law, like society, is becoming increasingly fast-paced and attorneys need to be prepared. Questions that used to be answered in a couple of days now often have to be answered in a couple of hours. Being responsive and efficient is a key part of being a lawyer.
In addition, for decades people have been suggesting in the field of copyright and trademark law that the law is not equipped to handle the latest technological innovations. Actual case law suggests otherwise; existing IP frameworks are flexible and can be easily applied to new facts. Lawyers should embrace that flexibility and make creative arguments grounded in precedent.
What is the best advice for someone considering a career in law, or someone already in the profession who is seeking to make a greater impact?
Find an area of the law that you love. It is hard to put in the hours needed to learn and excel if you do not love your chosen field. Once you do, don’t just passively sit in your office and hope your career will materialize. Get out of your office and get involved in bar organizations, write articles, give speeches and make connections. Doing these things will both build your expertise and give clients confidence that they can trust you—winning a few cases also helps.