After more than 23 years of Federal government service, I came to Drinker Biddle in 1996 as a lateral partner from a boutique DC firm to help establish a national Drinker intellectual property practice. I was recruited by three great Drinker standard bearers: Dick Jones, Vern Stanton and Jack Pettit. The challenge of creating a new practice group combined with Drinker’s illustrious history, devotion to client service, excellent lawyers, and commitment to the highest standards of professional performance were quite attractive to me. During my seventeen years at the firm, I have not regretted my decision.
My current practice has three components: first, a copyright law practice sprinkled with associated trademark, rights of publicity and privacy; second, governmental affairs work in the areas of copyright, patent and civil justice reform; and, third, a healthy dose of pro bono charitable and educational work. I have always been very interested in issues that merge science and the humanities. Working at the vortex of law and technology is a dream come true. I was raised under the guiding hand of a law professor father who taught me (and many others) that law practitioners should not be deterred from pursuing, beyond their representation, charitable and political endeavors to improve the administration of justice.
I am a former Peace Corps Volunteer in the Ivory Coast (1969-71), where I first lived in a rural village without either electricity or running water and thereafter moved to a small town where I worked for the Ministry of Rural Construction as a surveyor and construction supervisor. I became adept at architectural designs, septic tank and sports field construction. I also perfected my ability to speak French and met my wife. After graduation from the University of Wisconsin (UW) Law School, I clerked for a federal district judge and became a Fulbright Scholar, studying French administrative law. My first job in the Nation’s Capital was in the U.S. Department of Justice’s Honors Program, where on my first work day I was assigned to the Presidential Clemency Program in the Ford White House. Thereafter, I served as an appellate lawyer in the Department’s Criminal Division, became Counsel to the Committee on the Judiciary (under Chairman Peter W. Rodino), and worked as Deputy Government Affairs Officer for the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts (under Chief Justice Warren E. Burger, who at the time chaired the Judicial Conference of the United States).
In 1982, the door opened for my life as an intellectual property lawyer when I was named Chief Counsel of the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Administration of Justice by Chairman Bob Kastenmeier, one of the great IP legislators of all time. My decade of work for the Judiciary Committee introduced me to copyrights, patents, trademarks and privacy. I also served as House counsel for the impeachment and removal from office of a Federal district judge.
My most unusual representation occurred in 1981 while I was a public servant in the federal judicial branch. I was asked to represent pro bono a Wisconsin family mired in the international process of adopting an orphan girl from one of Mother Teresa’s orphanages in India. An Indian court had already approved the adoption. However, a state social worker refused to clear with federal immigration authorities the issuance of a visa, opining that after the child – born with a club foot – arrived in Wisconsin she likely would become a ward of the State. Mother Teresa’s representatives thought that I would be an ideal advocate because I was from Wisconsin and my wife and I had already adopted two orphans from Mother Teresa. With ethics clearance to work on resolving the matter short of litigation, a public relations strategy was pursued. Mother Teresa was in Milwaukee to receive the Pere Marquette Discovery Award, and raised the problem with the editorial boards of the Milwaukee newspapers. After the publication of an editorial, the roadblock was removed, a visa issued, and upon arrival, the girl was greeted by her new parents, in the presence of their town’s mayor and the high school marching band.
So far, I have not represented any other saints but I have represented some mighty fine clients, among them, Broadcast Music, Inc. (the world’s largest performing rights (musical works) society)), the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (an internationally recognized non-profit patent licensing organization for inventions and discoveries at UW - Madison), and the U.S. Chamber’s Institute for Legal Reform. Over the years, these clients (and others) have benefitted from contributions of a strong team of Drinker partners, associates, paralegals and administrative staff.
Drinker is a different firm than the one that I joined in 1996. The legal and economic marketplace is in a constant state of flux and Drinker has changed with the times. One thing is constant; the firm still strives for the highest standards of client service and service to the community. Drinker is a better place. As in any business enterprise, individuals come and go but I am proud to be part of this firm that recognizes the importance of maintaining relationships with all of our alumni and that remains dedicated to fostering and growing these relationships.