JD Profiles: Megan M. McKeon, Marketing Director, McDonnell Boehnen Hulbert & Berghoff LLP

In this new series, we are profiling legal professionals and J.D.s and asking them the hard questions that don’t always get answered in law school. For example, how did they find their job? What do they do on a day-to-day basis? And, was law school a worthwhile investment?

Megan M. McKeon worked her way through the evening J.D. program at The John Marshall School of Law and graduated in 2004. By day, she worked as a Marketing Magician for Schiff Hardin, an Am Law 200 firm, where she assisted with the firms marketing and recruiting efforts, including handling media relations, drafting external and internal communications, and promoting firm-hosted events. Rather than use her law degree to practice law on a daily basis, Megan continued to work in the marketing department of law firms. Eventually, Megan returned to school and achieved her M.B.A. in Marketing Management and Leadership and Change Management from DePaul University’s Charles H. Kellstadt Graduate School of Business. Today, she applies her legal and business background as Marketing Director for McDonnell Boehnen Hulbert & Berghoff.

RecruiterEsq: Hi Megan. Thanks for responding to my request on Twitter.

Thank you so much for the opportunity to share my story!

You have an interesting background. How did you decide to go to law school?

I always wanted to be a lawyer, or so my mom tells me. I don’t really remember, but apparently at the tender age of five, I told my parents I was going to be an attorney. In those words! That said, I let the dream fade quite a bit – in college, I focused on a business education and had set my eyes on work in finance and/or marketing. But, when a friend told me she was taking the LSAT, and I checked out her study materials, the interest was rekindled. I honestly took the LSAT on a bit of a lark – I didn’t study much the first time around – but I scored quite well, and thought that if I studied I might get an excellent score. I was lucky.

That’s a cute story. I am fascinated by people who can work full-time and go to law school. How was your experience as a night student different?

Honestly, that’s a bit hard to answer. Schiff Hardin was a very flexible workplace and they fully embraced my legal education as a benefit not only to me but to the marketing department and a firm. While I was officially enrolled in the evening program, I took a good share of daytime classes, often coming in early or staying late at work and taking a lunch hour to attend class. So, I didn’t have the true evening student experience. That said, it’s a challenge working and attending school – I’ve done it twice (for my MBA as well), but I relish the challenge of juggling multiple commitments.

Were there any courses on legal marketing or anything like that in law school?

Sadly, no. I have a good friend who teaches an optional course on legal marketing at Chicago-Kent, but John Marshall didn’t offer anything of the sort. I’ve been lobbying them, through their Alumni Association, to offer a seminar – or anything – on the topic. I’d love to be involved in that type of course.

As a professional, do you think there should be those types of courses offered?

Absolutely. They’re essential, whether you’re at an AmLaw 100 firm or you’ve hung out your own shingle. Marketing is more than just sales or advertising. It’s about developing relationships. You need to know how to talk to clients, how to understand their problems on their terms. Marketing helps all of that.

I always joke about how I never heard of an Am Law firm until I started recruiting. When I brought up the term to friends who worked at Am Law firms, they told me it was recruiting jargon. That’s one indication that legal education doesn’t prepare you for the day-to-day business realities of practicing law. If a law school taught courses on marketing, what do you think should be on the curriculum? What are some books or articles or magazines that helped you along the way?

I’d actually like to see two separate classes – one targeted to law students intending to practice in solo/small firms and the other to those looking for work in larger firms. The basics remain the same for both, but much of the practicality and the nuances are a bit different.

For the solo/small firm class, I’d focus on communication skills, business development basics, and marketing on a shoestring. The course needs to be a bit broader for these folks, as they will be doing everything themselves.

For the larger firm class, I’d focus primarily on project management, business development, and general client relationship skills. I’d stay away from the marketing basics, as a firm of any substantial size will have personnel to handle that work.

Much of my “education” on the topic has been a baptism by fire. I do recommend The Law Firm Associate’s Guide to Personal Marketing and Selling Skills by Beth Cuzzone and Catherine Alman MacDonagh. Dale Carnegie’s classic, How To Win Friends and Influence People, is always applicable and is a fast and very worthy read.

Did you ever think you wanted to practice law?

Absolutely. I have a keen interest in appellate practice, and I still consider practicing. I maintain my license, and therefore I attend the MCLE classes; I choose classes that are either marketing or appellate practice related. I also occasionally select patent law classes, as my firm’s focus is on intellectual property law.

Do you assist clients now or focus solely on marketing?

While I do have some interaction with clients on a limited basis, my focus is solely on marketing and business development for the firm. I will often interact with clients at events, trade shows, etc., and am certainly well-prepared to talk with them about our firm’s selling points as well as legal developments and potential implications. I keep up on IP news and developments and, as an attorney, I can speak of those developments on a different level than others may. I think my firm has seen a benefit from my J.D.

How do marketing and business development differ? Give me an example of an activity you consider marketing that’s not business development or vice versa?

Business development generally involves direct face-to-face interaction with a client, while marketing is the collateral side of that. They certainly combine together in many situations – for instance, while engaging in a business development activity such as hosting a conference, an attorney may hand out a marketing brochure. The two disciplines support and build off each other.

What’s a typical day like for you? A typical week?

It depends on the time of year, and it’s much easier to answer the “typical week” question. Right now, a typical week is spent spot-coaching our attorneys on individual business development activities – answering questions such as, “What do I do when…” or “What’s the best way to follow up with…”. Since it’s close to the holidays, I’ve been providing advice on holiday gifts, cards, and so on. We’re launching a new Website in Q2 2011, and I’m working heavily on that, coordinating needs from different departments and practices, and surveying all of our attorneys and staff on their preferences. It’s a really neat project and I cannot wait for our site to launch. This time of year, I also spend a good amount of time tracking down various vendors and ensuring that deadlines will be met, that we can get invoices before we close out our year, confirming pricing for 2011, and such. It’s a little slower at this time of year – not so many events on the immediate horizon. When we’re in events season, it’s long hours (well worth it) with a moderate amount of travel, while juggling a dozen projects or so.

As I mentioned, we connected on Twitter. What social networking sites do you use on a regular basis?

Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn are my favorites. I use Twitter and LinkedIn professionally, and Facebook personally.

What is your firm’s stance regarding social networking? Does the firm recommend for lawyers to use any specific sites? Does the firm prohibit any sites?

We do not have a social media policy at my firm. Not because we don’t think that social media is important – quite the opposite – but because we, culturally, have not been a policy-motivated firm. We encourage our attorneys to use their best judgment in all forms of social media, and I offer occasional training on the different sites. A group of our partners runs Patent Docs, a widely-read pharmaceutical and biotech patent law blog. Another partner authors the Orange Book Blog, a blog centered on FDA law. Dennis Crouch, a former associate at MBHB, developed Patently-O, the most widely-read patent law weblog, while he was at our firm. We continue to proudly support Patently O as the exclusive sponsor of the blog. So, you can see that we very much embrace social media.

Do you train lawyers on how to use social networking sites? E.g., proper conduct, how to make connections…. If so, what are one or two takeaway points from your training sessions?

Yes, I run training sessions for our attorneys, primarily on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Some of my favorite points:

  • Social media is a conversation. It’s give and take. You have to listen more than you talk.
  • Use LinkedIn and Twitter for competitive and client research. Hit up the standbys, but always check out those two sites to see what’s being said about the company/firm.
  • LinkedIn Groups are underutilized, in my opinion. Pick a few groups that cover your area of interest, and join them. Listen to the conversation and participate if appropriate. Some groups will end up being service providers promoting themselves, but others have valuable discussions with industry stakeholders.
  • Use social media to humanize yourself. It’s OK to post pictures of your children, talk about your volunteer work, and share your interest in competitive extreme ironing. While there’s always a line – and you must remain sensitive to that – have fun and enjoy the experience. That’s the only way you’ll come back.

You have your law degree and your MBA. Do you think one degree or the other helps you in your position? Or is it the combination?

Both degrees are helpful, I believe. I started on my MBA in late 2008 and finally got it earlier this year. I did have a BBA, so I already had a lot of the business education that’s attendant to an MBA. I found the connections and the communication skills I learned through the MBA program were more invaluable than the actual classes themselves. As for the JD, I don’t think I would have gotten this job without it, frankly. I was 25 when I was hired here, and I don’t think anyone would have taken that risk on me without knowing that I had the level of sophistication that a JD brings. It puts me on more equal footing with the partners, and allows me to speak to them on their terms.

For lawyers who want to transition to a marketing role within their firm or law students who want to find a law firm marketing position, what type of advice do you have for them? What should they be prepared to do that they may not like? What skills will they have to learn or re-learn that were not part of the law school curriculum?

Learn everything you can about marketing and business development. If you’ve already got a degree in marketing, you’re ahead of the game, but I don’t know that it’s mandatory. Start thinking from the mindset of the client. Who are you marketing to? Why would they want to work with your firm over another? How can you communicate that to them?

I really like every part of my job. Dealing with politics – and they exist everywhere – is probably my least favorite part, but it’s always educational and I come out of the situation knowing so much more about the personalities I deal with every day. I think one of the things I love best about my firm is that we’re mid-sized. That means I know every attorney, and I know most of them very well. I know their quirks (who needs extra reminders, who can I count on to talk to the media, who doesn’t get in until 10:00, and so on).

Marketing and business development are not part of the law school curriculum at most law schools. So, all of those skills will need to be discovered and learned. Luckily, the legal marketing community is very helpful. The Legal Marketing Association, of which I am an active member, has chapters in many metropolitan areas, and meets on a regular basis. The LMA Listserv is an invaluable resource for those new to the field, and members of LMA are friendly, helpful, and accessible.

What tools do you use on a daily basis? E.g., type of cell phone, computer, phone apps, SaaS

I wish I could say I use some cool exotic tools, but I really don’t. I have a Dell Latitude E6410, running Windows XP, with Office 2010. I use Adobe Creative Suite for most of my ad designs. My mobile phone is an iPhone 3GS that will soon be upgraded to either the iPhone 4 or the Droid X (still considering my options).

How has legal marketing changed since you started in 2002? How do you think it will change in the next five (5) or ten (10) years?

I’ve seen legal marketing evolve towards a focus on client relationships. I’m very much excited to see how the field will shape up in the future – I see marketing becoming even more essential to firms as attorneys realize the importance of client relationships and client development. I look forward to a time when legal marketing isn’t initially equated to phone book covers and low-production-value television ads!

Megan, thank you very much for telling our readers about what you do for a living.

Thank you for the opportunity.

Megan M. McKeon is Marketing Director at McDonnell Boehnen Hulbert & Berghoff, an intellectual property boutique with offices in Chicago and Washington State. You can connect with Megan on Twitter or LinkedIn.

Lessons from #LawJobChat: @BaranCLE + @LawLine on CLE + Your Career

On Thursday, December 16, 2010, we hosted our sixth #LawJobChat.  Six months.  Wow.  That’s pretty awesome. I’ll write a separate post about this but it’s so awesome that at the end of November we decided to start a #LawJobChat LinkedIn group that you should join!

This particular #LawJobChat was pretty awesome too.

Topic:  CLE + Your Career with @BaranCLE + @LawLine

We spoke with Tim Baran (@BaranCLE) and Jeff Reekers, the Marketing Director  @LawLine, about CLEs.  In specific, we talked about how they can boost your career and how technology is changing them.

Lisa Solomon, a previous #LawJobChat host, brought up some great points and offered some technology tips as well.  I’ve pasted the full transcript below.

5 Takeaway Tweets

  • BaranCLE: for a course to be CLE accredited, the provider must apply in each state. We help you through that process
  • Lawline: Its many papers to fill out! To stay on top of them all is a job in itself. Always have to keep in mind state specifics*

*Fine, 6 takeaway tweets

  • BaranCLE: As in many industries today, it’s becoming increasingly important for CLE positions to include social media skills
  • BaranCLE: Places to look for jobs include: CLE providers, Bar Associations, Law Firms, any entity that offers accredited CLE courses
  • Lawline: RT@lisasolomon Yes! Young attys don’t realize how easy it is 2 become a speaker. Organizations are hungry for content to present

Next #LawJobChat: January 27th, 9-10 pm Eastern

Before I paste the full transcript, I’ll remind everyone that #LawJobChat #7 will take place on January 27th, 2011(!!) from 9-10 pm Eastern.

We’re finalizing the topic and guest host for next time but we’re also open to your suggestions and requests.  You can leave a comment and/or send me an e-mail at melissa at recruiteresq dot com.

Full Transcript

2:00 am aellislegal: Welcome to #LawJobChat! Our topic tonight is CLE & your career. 1st part of discussion will be about jobs avail in CLE #lawjobchat
2:00 am Lawline: Ditto RT @BaranCLE Plz excuse. Back to regularly scheduled tweets in an hour RT @mjsq#LawJobChat soon w/ @LawLine & @BaranCLE.
2:00 am aellislegal: We’ll also talk about advancing your career with CLE – both the skills that help you and the visibility of speaking at CLEs #lawjobchat
2:01 am BaranCLE: Honored. Hey, love the new @lawline avatar #LawJobChat
2:02 am aellislegal: We have 2 CLE experts as our guest co-hosts – @barancle and @lawline. I’ll let these 2 experts introduce themselves #lawjobchat
2:02 am mjsq: Btw, I love @BaranCLE‘s job board. Not only CLE jobs. Great resource. http://www.barancle.com/cle-jobs/ #LawJobChat
2:02 am Lawline: Honored as well! Changing up the picture just for the night :) #LawJobChat
2:02 am aellislegal: @barancle @lawline tell us your backgrounds, current roles. Then, I’ll start with questions (will try to # the questions) #lawjobchat
2:03 am BaranCLE: My name is Tim and I’m a Twitter addict. I’m also a CLE entrepreneur #LawJobChat
2:04 am BaranCLE: my entrepreneurial venture is BaranCLE which offers CLE accreditation services and serves as a hub for info and community #LawJobChat
2:04 am Lawline: Jeff here. Been working with @lawline for past year in accreditation and many other areas. #lawjobchat
2:05 am aellislegal: @BaranCLE @lawline can you elaborate a bit about “accreditation services” for participants unfamiliar with the process? #lawjobchat
2:06 am Lawline: Company has been producing online CLE for past 11 years online. Many new cutting edge products on the way as well! #lawjobchat
2:06 am aellislegal: @BaranCLE @lawline Also, did you work in CLE before obtaining your present roles? #lawjobchat
2:06 am BaranCLE: for a course to be CLE accredited, the provider must apply in each state. We help you through that process #LawJobChat
2:07 am BaranCLE: 45 of the 50 states have a mandatory CLE requirement #LawJobChat
2:08 am BaranCLE: Yes, I was the director of CLE and library at NYC law firm for a decade. I’m getting up there in age #LawJobChat
2:08 am fredabramson: RT @BaranCLE: my entrepreneurial venture is BaranCLE which offers CLE accreditation services and serves as a hub for info and community #LawJobChat
2:09 am Lawline: Its many papers to fill out! To stay on top of them all is a job in itself. Always have to keep in mind state specifics #lawjobchat
2:09 am aellislegal: Q1: what kinds of jobs/roles are available for JDs in the CLE field? #lawjobchat
2:10 am BaranCLE: CLE jobs range from clerical to those requiring a law degree #LawJobChat
2:10 am Lawline: JDs work with us to create programs with our faculty. Their perspective allows them to work hands on and develop great content. #lawjobchat
2:10 am BaranCLE: To answer your Q: CLE jobs for JDs include executive positions at bar associations – lots of bar assns out there #LawJobChat
2:11 am DavidCohenEsq: @BaranCLE I’m surprised all 50 don’t require it. Even if it isn’t required by state, it’s important to keep learning. #LawJobChat
2:11 am BaranCLE: State and federal agencies also a source for #CLE jobs like the courts and related admin offices #LawJobChat
2:12 am aellislegal: @DavidCohenEsq @BaranCLE And, in some states that don’t require it, you still need CLE for malpractice insurance! #lawjobchat
2:12 am Lawline: @DavidCohenEsq It’s getting close. With NJ coming over and MD close to it. #lawjobchat
2:13 am BaranCLE: @DavidCohenEsq yeah, me too. But there is a significant voice of attorneys that oppose mandatory CLE in ANY state #LawJobChat
2:13 am BaranCLE: but that mandatory vs not is a huge can of worms, probably not suited for this discussion :-) #LawJobChat
2:13 am mjsq: And, @BaranCLE, you mentioned you were Director of CLE in a law firm so there are those jobs as well. #LawJobChat
2:14 am aellislegal: @BaranCLE And, what about firms? you mentioned you were dir of CLE at a firm, so opportunities there? #lawjobchat
2:14 am mjsq: @aellislegal @BaranCLE haha, great minds think alike ;-) #LawJobChat
2:14 am aellislegal: @mjsq @BaranCLE great minds think alike :) look at our last tweets! #lawjobchat
2:15 am BaranCLE: Yes, you’ll find many opps in law firms, though directors or coordinators tend to have other responsibilities #LawJobChat
2:15 am aellislegal: @barancle @lawline what about CLE providers like @lawline? What kinds of roles do JDs hold in CLE providers? #lawjobchat
2:16 am BaranCLE: In law firms CLE positions are usually part of the library, marketing or prof dev departments #LawJobChat
2:16 am Lawline: Creating programs and facilitating programs. #lawjobchat
2:17 am Lawline: In NY, for example, a non-attorney course can be accredited, if the program is facilitated by a lawyer #lawjobchat
2:17 am aellislegal: Q2: any special skill set needed for JDs to work in CLE role in bar association, firm, provider, or state agency? #lawjobchat
2:18 am Lawline: Many great minds outside the legal community for great content, we leverage this using program attorneys to facilitate #lawjobchat
2:18 am aellislegal: Q2(cont) do JDs need to practice 1st before transitioning to role of working in CLE (at provider, bar association, state agency) #lawjobchat
2:19 am BaranCLE: As in many industries today, it’s becoming increasingly important for CLE positions to include social media skills #LawJobChat
2:19 am aellislegal: Interesting RT @Lawline: In NY, for example, a non-attorney course can be accredited, if the program is facilitated by a lawyer #lawjobchat
2:20 am DavidCohenEsq: @BaranCLE I see that combo. Firms often hold MCLE for in house counsel on their own or through bar group. Good way to network. #LawJobChat
2:20 am BaranCLE: JDs don’t need to practice before entering the CLE profession, but it helps to have an understanding of how law firm life works #LawJobChat
2:20 am mjsq: Nice! RT @BaranCLE As in many industries today, it’s becoming ++ important for CLE positions to include social media skills #LawJobChat
2:20 am lisasolomon: The NY rule requiring an atty on every program is completely boneheaded. But I suppose that’s another discussion for another day #lawjobchat
2:20 am Lawline: Q2: It doesnt hurt to have experience. And as @BaraCLE said, social media skill is an effective tool #lawjobchat
2:21 am Lawline: @lisasolomon Well said! #lawjobchat
2:21 am BaranCLE: @lisasolomon Lisa, that NY #MCLE rule is one of tons of boneheaded rules around the country! #LawJobChat
2:21 am mjsq: @lisasolomon (same w/ rules about social media courses….) #LawJobChat
2:22 am aellislegal: Q3: where can JDs find job postings/openings for CLE positions? @barancle, tell us about your job board and what it covers? #lawjobchat
2:22 am BaranCLE: @DavidCohenEsq yes, law firms and in-house depts offering CLE is a great way to network and provides vital service to clients #LawJobChat
2:22 am Lawline: Q2: its a 2-way road. Young JDs develop great experience facilitating and developing CLE courses. An intro to the community #lawjobchat
2:23 am mjsq: re Q2: @Lawline, do the JDs contact you & say they want to help develop CLE course or how does that work? #LawJobChat
2:23 am FrankFurbacher: RT @BaranCLE: 45 of the 50 states have a mandatory CLE requirement #LawJobChat
2:23 am BaranCLE: @mjsq yes, that “bonehead” comment applies to many #MCLE rules including marketing and social media accreditation #LawJobChat
2:25 am BaranCLE: CLE jobs boards are rare, which is why I created the listing at barancle.com. #ACLEA is another good source. #LawJobChat
2:26 am BaranCLE: Jobs listed at barancle found via web search, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and relationships formed on those platforms. #LawJobChat
2:26 am DavidCohenEsq: @Lawline The public speaking skill development is huge too. Especially for young litigators who need to speak in front of jury. #LawJobChat
2:26 am Lawline: @mjsq re Q2: We post openings for program attorneys, seek applications, etc. seel those with a passion for learning #lawjobchat.
2:26 am aellislegal: @BaranCLE What is #ACLEA for participants who may not be familiar? Do you have link to your job board? #lawjobchat
2:27 am BaranCLE: Places to look for jobs include: CLE providers, Bar Associations, Law Firms, any entity that offers accredited CLE courses #LawJobChat
2:28 am Lawline: @DavidCohenEsq Re speaking: Absolutely! It is a great skill to develop early in the career. CLE is an ideal way to develop it. #lawjobchat
2:28 am BaranCLE: Yes, here’s the link to jobs board http://www.barancle.com/cle-jobs/ #LawJobChat
2:28 am mjsq: @BaranCLE & @LawLine: re: @DavidCohenEsq‘s pts about networking & public development, how has online CLE changed those aspects? #LawJobChat
2:29 am BaranCLE: @DavidCohenEsq really good point, David. Presenting at CLE events improves public speaking and also provides networking opps #LawJobChat
2:29 am mjsq: Is there still potential for networking & public speaking* development with online CLE? #LawJobChat
2:30 am aellislegal: Q4 @DavidCohenEsq tweeted re importance of public speaking as critical skill for young litigators speaking in front of jury #lawjobchat
2:30 am aellislegal: Q4 cont How can young lawyers speak at CLEs? Do they have to be asked or can they volunteer? #lawjobchat
2:30 am BaranCLE: @aellislegal aclea.org is the Association for CLE, a GREAT resource for establishing connections and building relationships #LawJobChat
2:31 am Lawline: @mjsq look at what has developed on Twitter! those with the bug to engage, CLE can serve as a platform, even online #lawjobchat
2:31 am BaranCLE: Good Q, Amanda. There’s a kind of line that speakers follow from offering their services to becoming “known”, then charging #LawJobChat
2:32 am Lawline: @mjsq re networking: The potential to be seen by a larger audience opens up as well. #lawjobchat
2:32 am BaranCLE: @aellislegal young lawyers should reach out to providers and offer to speak. It would help if they establish expertise #LawJobChat
2:33 am aellislegal: RT @BaranCLE: @aellislegal young lawyers should reach out to providers and offer to speak. Helpful f they establish expertise #lawjobchat
2:33 am BaranCLE: Many bar assns offer a formal process on their websites for lawyers to present. I’m compiling a chart of links. Coming soon #LawJobChat
2:34 am lisasolomon: Tho I wouldn’t call myself “young,” I’ve gotten many speaking gigs by sending proposals 2 organizers of confs. I want 2 speak at #lawjobchat
2:34 am BaranCLE: …and many of the bar assns I just mentioned also promote diversity opps for lawyers to speak at CLE events #LawJobChat
2:35 am Lawline: @BaranCLE Agreed. personalities that take initiative to teach, also likely will develop great content for others process #lawjobchat
2:36 am lisasolomon: I started speaking locally, for the county bar ass’n & local women’s bar ass’n chapter. Now do state/national confs as well #lawjobchat
2:37 am BaranCLE: @lisasolomon Lisa, if young lawyers followed your example of proposing gigs, they’dbe successful. Let’s chat about this ltr? #LawJobChat
2:37 am mjsq: great idea, @lisasolomon! What materials do you include in your proposals? #LawJobChat
2:38 am maggieesq: interested in the answer too – RT@MJSQ Is there still potential for networking & public speaking* development with online CLE? #LawJobChat
2:38 am lisasolomon: @BaranCLE Any time; always love chatting with you #LawJobChat
2:38 am DavidCohenEsq: RT @Lawline: @BaranCLE Agreed. personalities that take initiative to teach, also likely will develop great content for others process #lawjobchat
2:38 am aellislegal: Q5 There was @atlblog post few wks ago by an in-house csl suggesting outside csl present CLEs at office of in-house csl #lawjobchat
2:38 am BaranCLE: @aellislegal Amanda, you book is great resource for job seekers. Social media so important in job search these days #LawJobChat
2:39 am lisasolomon: Young attys don’t realize how easy it is 2 become a speaker. Organizations are hungry for content to present #LawJobChat
2:40 am aellislegal: Q5 cont Suppose sr assoc at firm wanted to create/present CLE onsite for her in-house csl. What’s the next step? #lawjobchat
2:40 am BaranCLE: Totally skipped by that online CLE Q. @lawline, you may be more qualified to answer :-) #LawJobChat
2:40 am aellislegal: @BaranCLE Haha!! Thanks for the plug :) #lawjobchat
2:41 am Lawline: RT@lisasolomon Yes! Young attys don’t realize how easy it is 2 become a speaker. Organizations are hungry for content to present #LawJobChat
2:41 am lisasolomon: @maggieesq Yes, you can integrate attendees into the system you have in place 4 follow-up w/all contacts #lawjobchat
2:42 am BaranCLE: Re: networking for online CLE speakers — the exposure they get facilitates the easiest of networking – peeps call them! #LawJobChat
2:43 am aellislegal: @BaranCLE @lisasolomon Re proposing CLE, is it easier to do this for a local (smaller) bar assn rather than a state bar assn? #lawjobchat
2:43 am Lawline: re Online CLE: The outreach is incredible. More than just community, it can spread across the country. #LawJobChat
2:43 am lisasolomon: @BaranCLE #lawjobchat Sort of – as in all marketing, a single contact (even a valuable online program) isn’t sufficient to make the sale
2:44 am DavidCohenEsq: @Lawline it’s true. I’m chairing an all day MCLE next month. The hardest part is finding the speakers. #LawJobChat
2:44 am BaranCLE: @aellislegal may be test case for your book! Thinking of P/T gig to supplement entrepreneurial venture -prefer to grow it slowly #LawJobChat
2:45 am lisasolomon: Easier to propose to local bar ass’n b/c you probably already have contacts there who are happy to provide a platform for you #lawjobchat
2:45 am BaranCLE: I’ve been chatting with a few folks about creating CLE speakers bureau of sorts. Would be great for young lawyers AND providers #LawJobChat
2:46 am aellislegal: Q6 Is it easier for young lawyer to become speaker for online CLE course rather than live event or is there no difference? #lawjobchat
2:46 am aellislegal: LOVE! RT @BaranCLE: Ive been chatting with folks re creating CLE speakers bureau. Would be great for young lawyers AND providers #lawjobchat
2:46 am lisasolomon: If you want to get invited back as a speaker, submit your materials on time and complete; don’t make organizer hound you #lawjobchat
2:47 am mjsq: Q7 I don’t mean to dwell but one of best parts of attending CLE is meeting other *participants*. Does online allow for that? #LawJobChat
2:47 am BaranCLE: I think it’s much easier for a speaker to hone skills online before stepping in front of a podium. @lawline, you think? #LawJobChat
2:47 am aellislegal: RT @lisasolomon: Easier to propose to local bar assn b/c you probably already have contacts there, happy to provide platform #lawjobchat
2:48 am Lawline: @baranCLE re speaker bureau: it would turn the tables. The larger pool of speakers could also provide more energy to CLE. #LawJobChat
2:48 am aellislegal: RT @lisasolomon: If you want to get invited back as a speaker, submit your materials on time and complete #lawjobchat
2:48 am BaranCLE: A REALLY good way to start speaking is to join associations and BLOG about your specialty. They will seek you out! #LawJobChat
2:49 am aellislegal: RT @BaranCLE: A REALLY good way to start speaking is to join associations and BLOG about your specialty. They will seek you out! #lawjobchat
2:49 am Lawline: @mjsq Q7: Online is increasingly interactive. Just like webpages were once static and now we have Twitter… the same is coming #LawJobChat
2:49 am DavidCohenEsq: RT @lisasolomon: If you want to get invited back as a speaker, submit your materials on time and complete; don’t make organizer hound you #lawjobchat
2:50 am lisasolomon: @mjsq I include a title, complete program description, and link to past speaking engagements in my proposals #lawjobchat
2:50 am BaranCLE: Another advantage (or not) of online is that they offer reviews. @lawline does an excellent job of this. #LawJobChat
2:50 am mjsq: Like yr pts, @LawLine. I agree – e.g., if there’s a hashtag involved w/ CLE or comment forum but wanted to hear from experts. #LawJobChat
2:50 am Lawline: @mjsq re Q7: That being said, live programs will always have that advantage to a degree. Being able to shake hands is important #LawJobChat
2:52 am BaranCLE: There’s been huge cry about online vs live re quality, etc. Live is going nowhere. Online provides accessibility and convenience #LawJobChat
2:52 am aellislegal: Q8 – Some states allow CLE for ‘self-study’ (i.e., prof reading) – what about CLE credit for tweeting? Any states allow? #lawjobchat
2:52 am Lawline: RT @BaranCLE: There’s been huge cry about online vs live re quality, etc. Live is going nowhere. Online provides accessibility and convenience #LawJobChat
2:53 am lisasolomon: If ur serious re: speaking, have a friend in the audience videotape u, put samples on ur website (http://tinyurl.com/2uo7djs) #lawjobchat
2:53 am mjsq: @Lawline, true- but @lisasolomon @barancle @aellislegal & you & I all met online then shook hands in person. Could work w/ CLE #LawJobChat
2:53 am BaranCLE: Great points by @lisasolomon when presenting, be prepared. Know the rules re: materials, bios, outline, etc #LawJobChat
2:54 am BaranCLE: @aellislegal CLE for tweeting, blogging and other social media engagement would be great. But the regulators are not even close #LawJobChat
2:54 am Lawline: Great Pt!@mjsq true- but @lisasolomon @barancle @aellislegal & you & I all met online then shook hands in person. #LawJobChat
2:55 am mjsq: Wow, @lisasolomon! Another great idea! (she posted clips & testimonials on her website:http://tinyurl.com/2uo7djs) #LawJobChat
2:55 am lisasolomon: CLE speaking isn’t really that much work: can present same program for many diff organizations, in diff formats (live/online) #lawjobchat
2:56 am Lawline: re q8: Yes we have a ways to go for tweetCLEs, but what an innovative idea! It would be truly interactive, moreso than live. #LawJobChat
2:56 am mjsq: Question for @LisaSolomon – how has presenting CLEs helped/advanced your career? You seem to be great example of it working. #LawJobChat
2:57 am lisasolomon: @mjsq Most important tip: use a tripod and wireless lavalier mic for best recording quality #lawjobchat
2:58 am BaranCLE: @lisasolomon Lisa has some of the best practical advice on speaking, preparing, oh, and mushrooms (the kind we eat). #LawJobChat
2:58 am aellislegal: Final (official) Q (though keep tweeting if you wish) – how would someone use your services @barancle? #lawjobchat
2:58 am aellislegal: Final Q (cont) – and, @lawline, how can attorneys find out more about your CLE programs? #lawjobchat
3:00 am BaranCLE: You’re sweet for asking, Amanda. If putting on a webinar, 3-day conference or any CLE activity and need accreditation, we help #LawJobChat
3:00 am lisasolomon: @mjsq Speaking (along w/writing) gives me greater credibility w/potential clients. Exposes me to PCs (I work only 4 other attys) #lawjobchat
3:00 am BaranCLE: Again, CLE jobs at CLE providers, Bar Associations, Law Firms, any entity that offers CLE courses. Use social media to find ‘em #LawJobChat
3:01 am Lawline: final q: go to www.lawline.com. There are options to become a presenter there as well. We respond to all requests. #LawJobChat
3:02 am lisasolomon: Even if other attys aren’t ur clients, listing CLEs u’ve presented on ur website will make PCs think “he/she must be an expert” #lawjobchat
3:03 am aellislegal: @BaranCLE @lawline Thanks so much!! I should include @lisasolomon, too – you all shared brilliant advice #lawjobchat
3:03 am mjsq: I contacted @BaranCLE to see if my blogging for lawyers course could be accredited. I had no idea the process before I asked. #LawJobChat
3:04 am aellislegal: As always, I’ll post summary + transcript tomorrow. And, back on schedule in Jan with #LawJobChaton the last Thurs – 1/27/11 #lawjobchat
3:04 am BaranCLE: Thanks guys, this was a lot of fun. That hour flew by! #LawJobChat
3:04 am mjsq: Agree w/ @aellislegal, awesome chat. Lots of topics/different directions but it was very enjoyable. #LawJobChat
3:06 am Lawline: @aellislegal Thank you for organizing. As @BaranCLE stated, it is a pleasure to participate. #lawjobchat
3:12 am econwriter5: RT @mjsq: Btw, I love @BaranCLE‘s job board. Not only CLE jobs. Great resource.http://www.barancle.com/cle-jobs/ #LawJobChat
3:14 am econwriter5: #lawjobchat looked like a good one tonight. Will have to read transcript.
3:14 am econwriter5: RT @BaranCLE: for a course to be CLE accredited, the provider must apply in each state. We help you through that process #LawJobChat
3:15 am DavidCohenEsq: @Lawline @aellislegal @BaranCLE @mjsq Great job tonight! #lawjobchat

BigLaw Job Lists – December and Archives

For those who receive my newsletter, this may be some old news. But, who knows, maybe you missed it.

I updated the BigLaw 200 Jobs.  You can download the updated version for $4.00!  You can even share the link with a friend – you’re allowed 3 downloads with each purchase.  I hope to get the BigLaw 100 Job List up there soon.

If you don’t want to pay $4.00 for the most up-to-date information, you can wait for the BigLaw Job archives. First available? October 2010 – BigLaw 200 Jobs.

Some of the jobs on the archived lists will no longer be available because, well, time is of the essence. (Which is why you should buy ‘em when they first come out!)  Therefore, I won’t be including any links in the archives either.

JD Profiles: Nicole Gesher, Mediator and Owner, Gesher Mediation

In this new series, we are profiling legal professionals and J.D.s and asking them the hard questions that don’t always get answered in law school. For example, how did they find their job? What do they do on a day-to-day basis? And, was law school a worthwhile investment?

Nicole Gesher is a San Francisco based mediator and attorney. She founded Gesher Mediation in February of 2010, where she happily helps resolve conflicts for her clients throughout the Bay Area. While relatively new to the ADR scene (she’s not even 30 years old!), Gesher tied for 2nd place in the Individual Mediator/Arbitrator category in the Recorder’s Best Poll (San Francisco based Legal newspaper – results published 12/6) (PDF). She is currently a panelist for the Bar Association of San Francisco, and the Contra Costa County Superior Court. She is also a volunteer mediator for Community Boards, a local non-profit.

RecruiterEsq: Hi Nicole! Thanks for answering questions for us today. Mediation is not a common career path for law students. How did get involved in mediation?

Nicole Gesher: I first became involved in mediation through the Mediation Clinic at Hastings (run through the Civil Justice Clinic). As students, we were taught advanced mediation theory. Then, we were able to put our knowledge to practical use in Small Claims Court in San Francisco. It was a very hands-on program. Right before the judge came in, we’d give a brief explanation of mediation and offer our services free of change to help litigants resolve disputes before the judge heard their case. It was invigorating, sometimes frustrating, but always interesting. And we were on the clock – we had 45 minutes to help the parties come to an agreement. After taking the clinic, I was very interested in pursuing mediation as a career, but it seemed like a difficult thing to do without many years of experience. So I took a 40 hour training with Community Boards, a local non-profit dedicated to helping resolve neighborhood disputes. I became certified with them, and began to volunteer as a mediator on their panel. After a few years of mediating on a volunteer basis, I decided to take the plunge and start charging for my services.

When applying to law schools, did you look for schools that had mediation clinics or was it a mixture of luck and opportunity?

I looked for schools that had clinical programs that would give me real experience with clients and practical applications for what we learned in class. Hastings has a fantastic clinical tradition, and I took two clinics during my time there, the Individual Representation Clinic, and the Mediation Clinic. But if I’m totally honest, I was more excited about living in San Francisco than I was about any particular law school.

Thank you for being honest because I think you brought up a fantastic point. Law school location is an important factor, especially because many people end up working in the region where they attend law school. Back to mediation, however, how do you see the legal landscape changing in terms of alternative dispute resolution (“ADR”)?

I think people are drawn to ADR because of several reasons: cost, efficiency, and a more tailored solution. As a result, I think more and more would-be litigants will pursue ADR first, before they head to court. Many courts already mandate mediation before a judge will even set a trial date – mediation/arbitration is highly encouraged as a way to reduce backlog in the court system.

What types of mediations do you specialize in? (E.g., employment law, contracts, housing, family)

I specialize in civil business disputes, family law, and landlord tenant cases.

There are a few different mediation styles. You describe yours as facilitative. What does that mean?

Basically, as a mediator with a facilitative style, I won’t direct the parties to any particular decision. I’m there to help them, to guide them as needed, but I really believe it’s important to let them drive the process. However, I will certainly offer my opinion if asked or if the parties are at an impasse. I am there to facilitate a conversation between two people for whom open communication has become difficult. Beyond ensuring that the agreement doesn’t contain anything illegal, I strive to keep my own agenda out of their solution.

How long do mediations usually take? What is the process like?

It really depends on the type of case and how many issues there are to resolve. A business partnership dissolution usually requires at least 10 hours of mediation, case management, and agreement writing time. A divorce can take anywhere from a few weeks to six months, depending on whether the couple is amicable, in a rush, if they have children, real estate, etc. I do an intake session with each new set of clients in which I try to identify major issues. But each case is different, so it’s hard to answer how long any mediation takes.

Regardless of which kind of case comes in the door, I try to speak with each party before we meet, and have a conversation about why they are seeking mediation to better understand their expectations. I run them through the legal process, which can be quite regimented for family law cases, or very loose for cases that won’t go through the court system at all. When we meet, I ask each party to speak, voicing their side of the story, and we take it from there together.

You previously worked at one of the top litigation law firms in the country – you were a contract attorney for Quinn Emanuel. You got to see the nitty-gritty realities of litigation. Did this experience strengthen your conviction that mediation is a viable alternative as opposed to litigation?

Working on major litigation projects certainly allowed me to see just how much time and money goes into litigation, often with disappointing results. My work in mediation is much more satisfying, both for my clients and myself. We construct our own solution collaboratively, rather then fighting things out to the bitter end.

What can clients expect from mediation as opposed to litigation? Is mediation only right for individual clients or would clients involved in these huge lawsuits benefit as well from mediation?

I love mediation because it allows a more closely tailored result. I think it’s ideally suited for individual clients, though I think it could be useful for corporate clients as well. However, when engaging in mediation, it’s imperative that the parties trust each other – and this trust can be hard to build across corporate competition (I would imagine).

If a lawyer wanted to learn more about mediation and other ADR topics, what are some good web resources that you recommend?

I think mediate.com is a good place to start. Also, a good 40-hour training is very valuable (and essential) if one plans to mediate. Nothing beats practical experience, though!

What type of technology do you use in your mediation practice (e.g., type of cell phone, cell phone apps, Microsoft Office? SAAS/cloud computing?)

I use a Google Voice account for a phone line (through my cell phone) and I have an online fax number. I also use agreement software, Microsoft Office, Google Docs, Gnu Cash, and Excel.

As a female entrepreneur, what advice do you have for other entrepreneurs or female entrepreneurs? Or, what advice do you have for anyone who wants to leave the practice of law but is hesitant.

It can be scary to go out on your own, but if you are passionate about your work, and you can engineer low overhead costs, you can make it work. I kept my old job while I built up my mediation practice, and switched over when I felt like I could earn a living with the mediation. I can say that it’s incredibly rewarding (and sometimes very stressful) to be your own boss – but at the end of the day I own my successes and my failures. It’s really wonderful to love what you do, and I feel that every day. And, as awful as I found law school, my legal education helps me on a daily basis in my mediation practice.

Thank you so much for answering our questions today!

Nicole Gesher is the owner of Gesher Mediation.  She is a California licensed attorney, a Bar Association of San Francisco approved mediator, a Community Boards certified mediator and volunteer, as well as a member of the Contra-Costa County Superior Court ADR Panel. Nicole can be reached on LinkedIn.

State Bar Association Job Boards

I’ve been going through the state bar associations and compiling links to their job boards to present in one easy reference guide, which is now a link in the Recommended Resources box on the Career page of my site.

I think my favorites in terms of ease of use and which seem most helpful to job seekers are:

What do you think? Are state bars helpful in finding employment? What would you recommend for them to do, if you think they need to change?

Attorney Recruiting Manager Opening at Cooley in NYC

As I was updating the BigLaw 100 job listings, I came across this opening for an Attorney Recruiting Manager at Cooley Godward in NYC.

Looks like you can apply through the website.

Attorney Recruiting Manager

Cooley LLP is seeking an Attorney Recruiting Manager to be based in the firm’s New York office. The Attorney Recruiting Manager will be responsible for managing both the New York and Boston office attorney recruiting programs. Duties include, managing the in-office interview program, the summer associate program and the on campus recruiting program for New York and Boston. The Manager will also maintain a high level of proficiency in the Attorney Recruiting database, including reporting and data entry procedures, to ensure accuracy of office data. 5+ years of legal recruiting experience is required, as is experience with HR/recruiting software. The ideal candidate must have proven supervisory and leadership skills, the ability to work with others and excellent organizational capabilities. A Bachelor’s degree is strongly preferred. Cooley offers a competitive compensation and excellent benefits package.

Turning Productivity into a Game

Part of the allure of applications like Foursquare or Get Glue are the badges that participants can earn.

The premise is simple:  you share information like your location or what movies/books/music you like and, in return, you earn badges like Foursquare’s “Photogenic Badge” (check-in to a place with a photo booth) or GetGlue’s “Murakami” badge (named after one of my favorite authors, Haruki Murakami).

These badges seem silly but their appeal is undeniable.  Once you join any of these social networks, not only will you want to collect badges, you’ll want more badges than your friends.  Trust me.

What if you turned productivity into a similar type of game – where you are awarded points for productive behavior and you could compete with your friends, connections, colleagues for leaderboard clout?

That’s what 750words and 0Boxer set out to accomplish.

  • 750words is a website for people who write for their job or their hobby.  The object is to write 750 words per day.  Each day you do that, you gain a point.
  • 0Boxer is a plugin for Chrome or Firefox that encourages people to reach the ever-so-zen inbox zero.

By rewarding points and badges, these sites reward their users.

How can more organizations turn productivity into a game?

Extra credit: How can they turn it into a game that can be played on a mobile device?

JD Profiles: Kevin Noonan, PhD, Patent Attorney, McDonnell Boehnen Hulbert & Berghoff LLP

In this new series, we are profiling legal professionals and J.D.s and asking them the hard questions that don’t always get answered in law school. For example, how did they find their job? What do they do on a day-to-day basis? And, was law school a worthwhile investment?

Kevin Noonan, Ph.D., is a partner at McDonnell Boehnen Hulbert & Berghoff LLP, an intellectual property boutique with offices in Chicago and Washington State. With a PhD in Molecular Biology from Princeton University, Kevin specializes on biotechnology clients, including hot topics such as gene cloning and gene patenting. Kevin also co-founded the blog Patent Docs, which he manages with Donald Zuhn, Jr. Ph.D., his colleague at MBHB. Kevin talks to us about how a cab driver in New York City decides to become a patent attorney and how teaching and blogging about biotechnology patent law keeps him updated with the current issues affecting his clients.

RecruiterEsq: Thank you for speaking to us today!

I always wonder how scientists – especially scientists who’ve already achieved their PhD and spent a million years in school – segue over to law. How did you decide to go to law school?

One of the joys of being a scientist is actually doing it – designing experiments, setting up the reactions, doing whatever analysis is appropriate and then interpreting the results. As with many things, that is also one of the problems with science, since it doesn’t always work out the way you expect, and it can be very frustrating when an experiment doesn’t “work” and you can’t figure out why.

But as you progress from graduate student to post-doc to assistant professor, your role changes – professors write grant applications and teach, and because of that you have fewer and fewer opportunities to actually do what drew you into the profession in the first place. For me, I was ready to make that transition in 1990, and the job market was not good, I didn’t get the opportunities I wanted (and I wasn’t the world’s greatest scientist), and the future looked like it wouldn’t be much fun.

I had a friend who had preceded me from the lab into patent law, and I thought it would be a good way to continue to use the science knowledge. Also, by the time I left science I was pretty tired of being poor.

I heard that you were a cab driver at some point in your career? When did that happen? Any life lessons that you learned on the road?

That was over summers and vacations during college. I drove 4pm to 4am in Manhattan, and I learned that the end of the night at most bars is not pretty.

I’m sure you met some very interesting people. On a more serious note, how does your post-graduate work at Princeton, your Postdoctoral Fellowship, or your position at the National Institute of Health help you when representing your clients?

My clients hire me for my legal skills, and the science background gives us something in common. Plus, having a science background gives me the ability to remember biotechnology inventions, since the training gives me a structure and context that helps – I am certainly not unique in this, of course. But it would be a mistake (and it is a common mistake) for anyone to think I am still a scientist. You lose that pretty quickly once you leave the lab.

What are some hot issues that you see in your work?

The hottest issue these days has been the effort of the ACLU to have the courts declare isolated human DNA to be patent-ineligible. It is a hot-button issue because it can be (and has been) cast as a “who owns you” issue, when that isn’t the case at all. But the combination of human genes and disease propensity and corporate ownership/exploitation does rub many people the wrong way. Add to that the arcane nature of patenting and the general lack of technology savvy by most people, it is easy for the emotional argument to prevail. Since I can’t raise a logical argument to refute the “it’s just wrong” tenor of the debate, I try to explain how much worse it would be if genes could not be patented

I recently read The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot, which is the story about HeLa cells and also Henrietta Lacks, the woman from whom the cells were taken. The book presents the complexity of these issues. Speaking of books, I’ve seen cloning or genetic issues referenced lately in pop culture. For example, in Gary Shyteyngart’s Super Sad True Love Story: A Novel, the main character works for a company called Indefinite Life Extension. Lawyers and doctors know that pop culture doesn’t always reflect reality. What issues does pop culture fail to convey in regards to genetics, patents, or pharmaceutical innovation?

It is easy to make corporations, particularly drug companies, to be the bad guys, and as with anything involving humans there are things that can be criticized in any corporation. But I have many start-up biotech companies (where a lot of innovation occurs), and universities as my clients, and patenting helps those people protect their IP during the very long time it takes to go from a result or observation at the benchtop to a commercial product. While it is true that these companies and their investors want to make money, it is also these folks who take very great risks associated with developing cutting-edge technologies, under circumstances where everything can go belly-up with the results of a clinical study 10 years (and hundreds of millions of dollars) after the project started. While generic drug companies have their place in reducing costs, they rarely produce new drugs. The public has no idea how much it costs and how risky it is to innovate in this area; they just want medicine to make themselves, their kids or their elderly parents better. I understand that, but it isn’t reality to ignore the details behind producing new drugs.

You maintain Patent Docs with Donald Zuhn, Jr. Ph.D., another McDonnell Boehnen Hulbert & Berghoff patent attorney. How did you decide to start blogging? Was it a decision between the two of you? Was your firm involved in the decision?

Dennis Crouch, author of the Patently-O blog (and a big supporter) was an associate at our firm when he started his blog. Don and I talked about a biotech-specific one, but I have zero ability to get something like that off the ground technically. Don is good at that, and he does all the administrative stuff. We kid each other about who came up with the name Patent Docs, but the logo was my idea.

Dennis Crouch is one of my own inspirations! (I give a nod to Patently-O’s Job Board on my own job board.) That’s really awesome that MBHB has that type of environment where it encourages its attorneys to blog or try new things. While you and Don may have started Patent Docs, other MBHB attorneys now contribute as well. How does your team manage the blog? Is there a schedule for posting?

We wish more of the biotech attorneys would blog – it has a number of advantages. First, it keeps your head in the game – between Federal Circuit decisions, PTO actions and proposed rules, patent reform and other bills in Congress, and hot topics like gene patenting, writing for the blog makes you pay attention. It also makes you think about the law and developments in ways that helps in our practice. And it sharpens writing skills that we don’t always use – you need to be able to write a story that will be understandable to people who don’t want to invest the time to read every decision, but want a heads-up on those things they should pay more attention to.

I agree. The tough part about blogging is finding the time to read the news and write an interesting synopsis or opinion or sticking on a schedule. Unfortunately, some of the benefits of blogging are not easily discernible on a financial statement – it’s hard to quantify some of the benefits you mentioned, for example. On the topic of time management, how many hours per week do you dedicate to Patent Docs? How many of those hours are spent creating content?

Everything I do on the blog is creative – Don does all the boring stuff, as well as putting out a topics list on a fairly regular basis. I guess I spend 10-15 hours a week, and Don spends more.

Patent Docs uses TypePad (one of our affiliates!). How did you decide on that as your content management system?

You’ll have to ask Don, but I think it has to do with being able to handle our content – we illustrate almost every post with some kind of graphic (which was an idea from a former associate and author, Jason Derry), and we need to be able to get comments on the blog as well. TypePad seems to fit our needs.

Are any other individuals at MBHB involved with the blog, e.g., marketing or IT?

Megan McKeon, our firm’s Marketing Director, has been helpful with getting us in touch with vendors for mugs and other give-aways, and we link the blog to the firm’s website.

As one of the original group of MBHB attorneys, what advice do you have for an attorney who wants to open up his/her own firm?

Think about it long and hard. The grass always looks greener, and while things have turned out pretty well for us, it was tough at the beginning – like walking across a minefield carrying a dozen eggs on a plate. You have to do all the transitioning, including getting all the systems up to speed, etc., all the while being sure the client’s interests are protected. Even the logistics can be a problem – I received a file late on a Friday night that had a deadline in Asia on Monday morning = Sunday night here. If I hadn’t gone back to check what had come over in the late shipment, there could have been a problem. So if you do want to head out on your own, prepare, prepare, prepare.

Do you think being part of a team helped during those first few entrepreneurial years?

Well, we all pulled together (we still do) and it was fun in the days where we could all fit around a conference table. But I think we have tried to keep that entrepreneurial spirit alive.

You have a great list of resources on your site, especially other patent sites. What websites do you visit on a daily basis?

CAFC, Patently-O, PTO, NYT, Washington Post, CNN, and I get a lot of e-mail from biotech-specific sites.

You now teach a course on Biotechnology Patent law at DePaul University College of Law. Did you approach the school with your course or how did your adjunct professorship begin?

Professor Kwall visited us when we had just started the firm, and at the time I was helping John McDonnell teach a course at John Marshall. So it was a natural extension of that experience.

How does teaching biotechnology patent law complement your practice?

As with the blog, it keeps you on your toes – especially these days, there are a lot of cases (and not just biotech cases) that affect how and what I teach. It also makes you understand the issues and the cases, and since my class is very interactive I need to be able to answer (and ask) interesting questions.

Finally, if you had to do it all again, would you become a lawyer?

Like most people, I think it would be nice to have a trust fund. But lawyering is fun and I am glad I did it.

Thank you very much, Kevin!

Kevin Noonan, Ph.D., practices patent law at McDonnell Boehnen Hulbert & Berghoff LLP where he focuses on clients in the biotechnology, chemical, and pharmaceutical industries. Kevin co-founded Patent Docs, a biotech and pharma bio news blog. You can follow the Patent Docs team on Twitter.