Meet IPIC's Young Practitioners Committee Chair: Richard Mar
Richard Mar is an associate at DLA Piper and Chair of the IPIC Young Practitioner’s Committee. On the cusp of his 10th year of practice and his final term in the Committee, Richard discusses his practice and reflects on what he’s learned in this first stage of his career in IP law.
Tell me about your practice
The bulk of my practice is high-tech patent prosecution, but I also work on IP acquisition and transfers, enforcement, and provide strategic advice on portfolio development and management.
What drew you to IP?
Before becoming a lawyer, I studied physics and worked in a lab that developed a lot of IP. Once I’d decided I didn’t want to work in a lab anymore, I went to law school and naturally gravitated to IP.
What has surprised you about practicing IP law?
Coming from a research background that dealt with patents, I didn’t really appreciate how much went into obtaining patent rights to an invention. I also didn’t appreciate that patent prosecution was such a niche field.
What traits do you think are most important for your practice area?
I think that the ability to grasp high level concepts about an invention and the ability to bridge the gap between a layperson and an expert in the field is important. On one hand, you have a person who spent their life designing and building complicated devices (or chemicals, drugs, etc), and on the other hand you have a jury (such as in the US) or other fact finder interpreting the documents that will ultimately determine whether your client will be able to protect their IP. In addition, you must not lose sight of the business objectives of your client. Different clients need IP for different reasons and it may be easy to lose sight of that when trying to draft claims, or more broadly build a portfolio.
What do you wish you had known when you first started out?
In law school, I wish I had known that I didn’t have to worry so much about forcing myself down a particular path. As you move through your career you’ll see what you like and what you want to do. Stressing about the small things early on isn’t helpful.
What part of your practice do you enjoy the most?
My practice is mainly drafting originating applications, so I get to go out and meet with inventors. I really enjoy talking with inventors about what they’ve invented, and then helping the client understand what might be patentable as well as developing a patent filing strategy to maximize value for the client.
What advice would you give to those just starting out?
Law involves hard work and long hours, so you have to enjoy it. Find something you like and become good at it.
You also need to keep in mind where you want to end up. For patent prosecution, like all other aspects of law, you need to put your time in. Early on, you’ll need to start with the basics, which may not look and feel like what you envisioned you would be doing. However, with experience, you will hopefully end up doing the fun stuff that the person training you is doing.