Most people would not naturally see a connection between civil rights advocacy and patent law. Both are highly specialized, and disparate areas of law full of experts who have spent years, if not decades, toiling in the trenches of academia, public policy and in the courts. I went to law school originally inspired by the desire to engage in pioneering civil rights advocacy, driven by my own experience with regressive practices and jurisprudence in the field. I exited law school as a corporate lawyer, determined to stay as far from courtrooms as I could.
Ironically, despite my background, I have probably become best known for my work in patent litigation, despite being neither a patent lawyer nor a litigator. I did so to help ensure room for continued innovation and entrepreneurism in a world where various interests, via patents or otherwise, are utilizing their considerable resources to attempt to create and exert negative, rent-seeking monopolistic controls over future opportunities.
My talk will focus on how I think anyone can help to bring about positive change as long as they have enough passion, and a willingness to not accept that things must stay the way they are simply because they have always or long been. I intend to share the experiences that led me to a career in the law, and then to try to effect the changes that I considered right and necessary. I want to encourage the members of the audience to each do what they can to practice law effectively by viewing what they do as a mission, and to provide a framework for helping them identify and tilt at their own windmills at work and in society at large.