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     July 21, 2011  
Legal Revolution?


No billable hour. Face time is not required (and attorneys rarely show up to the office). Start-up firm Clearspire keeps very few legal conventions—aside from a prestigious Penn Ave address and past Biglaw lawyers (employment attorney Lily Garcia was with Hogan & Hartson). Oh, and it wants to revolutionize the biz.

Bryce Arrowood, Mark Cohen

Managing director Mark Cohen, right, is a former AUSA and Finley partner. He co-founded the company with entrepreneur Bryce Arrowood. Their goal: “liberate lawyers to practice law.” Hence, the office is just 3,000 sq. ft.; attorneys work mainly from home and don’t have to bring in business. Clients see the duration, fee, and attorneys involved for each project up front. Technology is central to the strategy. Bryce and Mark invested $5M into the company (most of it their own money) much of it toward completely customized software and tech platform, which they tell us costs more than their real estate. Its purpose is “collaboration, not isolation,” so it includes virtual meeting rooms and attorney photos (which indicate whether they're available, offline, or occupied online) and gives clients access to most documents, even once an engagement is over. Perhaps the idea had to come from outside: Bryce, not a JD, got involved in the legal world when he founded and sold staffing company pioneer LawCorps. Bryce presented the idea of Clearspire to Mark, whom he'd met assessing another venture, over lunch in '08.

Long and Shorts of It
These guys looked pretty well dressed at our entrepreneur event this morning at the Capital Hilton, but guess what perk their firm, Sheppard Mullin, is offering today and tomorrow? You can come to work in shorts. (But despite your suspicions, Ed Schiff, Luca Salvi, and Bob Magielnicki were not dressed like TV anchormen below the waist.)
Nemacolin Butler JLDC

Getting Hot, Hot, Hot
David Kappos

Yesterday, Under Secretary of Commerce for IP and USPTO director David Kappos was singing "Stop, in the name of love law." Well, actually, the former IBM assistant GC was giving a lunchtime speech at GMU Law School and Banner & Witcoff's 10th annual conference on hot topics in patent law. He says changes to US patent law are improvements and more favorable to investors globally.

Kane Comp Mini LEGAL
Judge Randall Rader

US Federal Circuit Court of Appeals Chief Judge Randall Rader gave a “thoughts from the bench” talk. He just returned from visiting Korea's chief justice, who offered to have a joint judicial conference with the US in ‘13. America’s first ever judicial conference with Japan is scheduled for this October, and China is in line for ‘12. Judge Rader says he hopes the international interaction will help standardize IP laws and minimize the disruption differing legal systems cause.

Judge Randall Rader

The Judge holds up his phone to illustrate a point about the complexity of calculations that struck him as “completely crazy” (the patent reform bill’s old damages provision). The provision was jettisoned and Judge Rader is “trumpeting the appeal of judicial action” over legislation. However, the Judge tells us he welcomes legislatively-created first-to-file, which America is the last country to adopt. (Now how about that metric system...) As for the issue of singling out subject matters for different treatment, he calls it “troubling” and “using a club to kill a fly.” The treatment could make it easy for countries to squash certain fields by making laws more complex and expensive, driving away R&D and investment.

Foley & Lardner slide with a baby

Foley’s Courtenay Brinkerhoff and Jackie Wright Bonilla showed this slide during a talk on the patentability of genes. (If you squint, the baby’s forehead says “US Pat. No. 8,123,456.") Jackie, a cellular pharmacology PhD and former clerk for Judge Rader, tells us the federal circuit’s decision is pending in the gene-patenting Myriad case after an April 4 oral argument and a related case called Prometheus has just been granted cert. It seems the DOJ feels strongly about Myriad: it filed an amicus at the federal circuit level and in an unprecedented move, acting US SG Neal Katyal personally requested the date so he could make an argument. Their take: human genes, unmodified, are not patentable even if isolated outside the body. (Bad news for Justin Beiber: he won’t be able to patent the genes behind that famous hair.)

Many-Talented Mike
Covington's Michael Labson
Covington's Mike Labson wears many hats. In addition to his FDA practice and hiring partner work, he's pro bono counsel to former death row inmate of seven years Cory Maye in a case that garnered a documentary in ’08 and heavy media attention. Mike just successfully appealed Cory’s death penalty sentence (for shooting a police officer who Cory believed to be an intruder when he raided Cory's apartment, where his one-year-old daughter was sleeping) in exchange for a 10-year prison charge. Based on a settlement reached after the successful appeal, Cory was just released from prison and is planning a family reunion.


Covington's Michael Labson
For an FDA attorney, it’s not unusual to have deal-toys shaped like giant pill bottles. Mike outdoes his with two green stuffed mucuses, courtesy of client Reckitt Benckiser and its product Mucinex (you may remember them from this commercial). As one of the firm’s two DC hiring partners, Mike tells us IP, particularly litigation, is hot. Those with technical degrees are coveted (if you’re an engineer reading this: those hours spent slaving over problem sets weren’t for naught). International cases are growing and more cases contain global aspects, which means firms want to snap up folks with language capabilities. For Chinese, Korean, and Arabic speakers, it might just be a seller’s market.  

IP Lawyers Don't Need Desks

Is it easier to burn calories or churn through every precedent-setting patent law opinion by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit? Nevrivy Patent Law Group’s Mike Sullivan chooses to do both. He’s a former Ironman triathlete who now uses his gym time to read Federal Circuit cases while on the elliptical. He says he began in ’03 and created his 2000-page, comprehensive IP Law Outline now downloadable for free at www.iplawoutline.com. He tells us the hardest thing about working on The IP Law Outline was the rapid-fire rate which the Federal Circuit issued IP law opinions, occasionally producing a backlog of opinions for him to sort through. The goal of the outline, he says, is to make patent litigation more predictable, and the reception since he launched online has been great, frequently receiving emails from around the world, including recent ones from India, Israel, Japan, Sweden, and New Zealand.

Send stories, tips, and info about events to our legal reporter, Roksana Slavinsky.
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