How did you wind up in the IP industry?

Much like the vast majority of my peers, I began my academic pursuits in engineering. During my first years in school, I wasn’t exactly the most studious of students. I still made decent grades, but I wouldn’t say I did my best. It wasn’t until towards the end of school that I realized what I could accomplish if I actually applied myself and worked hard - and I became addicted to the challenge. I finished strong with a degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Akron and although I had landed a job right after graduation, I quickly ruled out engineering as a career, and decided to pursue the urge to go back to school.

I knew I wanted to do it right this time, and I promised myself that law school would be where I really challenged myself - and I actually ended up falling in love with it. Although I knew that with my background in engineering that pursuing patent law was the logical connection, I found myself truly fascinated by all aspects of law. Turns out, I actually enjoyed studying! I loved reading about all kinds of (real-life) cases, using critical thinking, presenting interesting quandaries and learning about all that incredible history.

Tell us how you landed at Renner Otto.

During law school, I knew that there was a high demand for patent attorneys and the career could be a lucrative one. While in school, I began clerking at Renner Otto, which I enjoyed. However, after graduation, I was lured to Washington D.C. by a larger firm, where it didn’t take me long to regret that decision. Thankfully, I was still in touch with the people at Renner Otto and I realized that they could offer what the other larger firms couldn’t: collaboration, mentorship and the opportunity to really grow your career. I joined the firm full time in 1989.

Everyone here is not only approachable and welcoming, but they are genuinely interested in helping you learn - which meant a lot to me as a young attorney. I’ve been here now for my entire career and can say with full honesty that I have never felt taken advantage of and have always been rewarded fairly.

What do you like most about the IP industry?

This may seem unusual for an attorney to admit, but first and foremost, I love the art of persuasion and debate. I will never get tired of the challenge of making a great argument out of anything and engaging others. Other than being a professional arguer, I do love the technological aspect of this industry. We get to work with impressive companies from around the world that are behind some of the most spectacular technological advances - and it’s sort of like having a front row seat to innovation. We are the behind the scenes team helping establish and protect these ideas and inventions, which can often feel inspiring.

Any advice for aspiring patent attorneys?

I will always be fully in favor of pursuing law school. As for the patent industry - it’s a great field and a good gig to have - you’re going to do well for yourself. My biggest piece of advice would be to choose wisely when it comes to where you end up after school. Mentorship is absolutely key to your success, and I know this first hand. Even to this day, I feel a duty to help train or mentor our young attorneys. If someone asks me how to do something - I don’t care how trivial or obvious it might seem - I would never criticize, because I believe you owe it to someone who’s trying to learn how to become a better.

Tell us about life outside of work.

I grew up in Northeast Ohio my whole life and now reside in Chagrin Falls. My wife and I have 3 children (and 7 dogs!); Our eldest daughter recently graduated law school and is working for the Department of Justice, my middle daughter is finishing up her Master’s in France and my youngest son just recently graduated college. I purchased my dream vacation home about 13 years ago on Oak Island in Southport, North Carolina where I spend as much time as possible – and look forward to being able to travel to again whenever this pandemic is over!

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