Elaine Spector Discusses Gender Gap on IP Breakfast Podcast

“Women are amazing advocates for other people, but not good advocates for themselves.”

Harrity Partner and Diversity Chair Elaine Spector was featured on the IP Breakfast Podcast with hosts Albert Decady & Emmanuel Coffy to discuss the gender gap in IP, her experiences as a female practitioner, and what needs to change to bridge the gap and give women the tools and confidences to succeed in a male-dominated field. Listen now at http://ow.ly/fyMu50CnogQ.

 

A Practical Guide to Diversity & Inclusion in the Legal Profession

The Diversity & Inclusion Committee of the Intellectual Property’s Owners Association has released ‘A Practical Guide to Diversity & Inclusion in the Legal Profession.’

The IPO D&I Guide is designed to help improve diversity and inclusion in the legal profession, with contributions by Elaine Spector, Carlyn Burton, Shruti Costales, Serena Farquharson-Torres, Gloria Fuentes, and Rachael Rodman.

Check out the full guide below!

IPO-Practical-Guide-to-Diversity-and-Inclusion-Version-2-Sept-2020

 

Harrity Creates Incubator to Launch Minority- and Women-Owned Law Firms

LAW.COM (October 3, 2019) After years of reading about new legal diversity programs with nothing to show for it, Harrity & Harrity managing partner John Harrity decided he wanted to try something new.

Harrity & Harrity managing partner John Harrity was sick of reading about law firm diversity.

The effort to diversify firms, he agrees, is noble. But over the years he had read countless stories about how this new internship or mentorship program will mend the legal industry’s diversity problem. And despite all these efforts, nothing much has changed.

“We keep doing the same things over and over and over again,” said Harrity, who co-founded the IP firm 20 years ago. “If the programs were really impactful we wouldn’t be having these conversations today.”

After reading a book about apprenticeships, Harrity had an idea for something new: Why not incubate women- and minority-owned law firms?

he idea wasn’t a big hit when he first brought it before the firm’s diversity committee. The biggest objection was that the program would essentially create competition for the firm. Harrity didn’t see it that way.

John HarrityJohn Harrity

“The reality is that there’s a ton of work out there, much more than we could ever handle ourselves,” he said. “And if they’re really good and taking work away from us that means we need to up our game.”

Eventually, the program was approved, and Harrity got to work on structuring the incubator. For each of the next three years beginning Jan. 1, the firm will bring in one woman attorney and one male minority attorney. Candidates must be a licensed attorney with a degree in electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, computer science, physics or a similar technical field.

The first year of the three-year program will teach the candidates how to draft patent applications. In the second year, the attorneys will learn how to prosecute pending applications. The third year marks a shift from legal practice training to management training. Participants will be taught how to hire and train attorneys, establish and maintain an office and pitch and retain clients.

At the beginning of the fourth year, the participants will each launch their own women- and minority-owned law firm.

The minority attorney incubator program has partnered with professional services firm Accenture, which will send work to the nascent firms to help get them off the ground and build a portfolio. Harrity hopes to bring in more companies as the apprenticeship develops.

Joel Stern, CEO of the National Association of Minority and Women Owned Law Firms, described the program as “novel” and “innovative.” Stern spoke with Harrity about the incubator when it was in development, and he applauded his firm for creating an unselfish and innovative program—especially in an area of the law that has traditionally been devoid of minorities.

He hopes that these new firms will join NAMWOLF, which just announced it had helped more than 100 minority- and women-owned law firms win $1.6 billion in legal spend since 2010.

“You can’t just keep doing the same thing over and over again. Harrity is trying something new and novel that I think is going to work,” Stern said. “Even if it doesn’t, he deserves credit. He’s subordinating his interests to help minorities thrive in the business.”

To learn more about the Minority Firm Incubator and Harrity’s other initiatives to drive diversity in the IP legal field, visit harrity.com/diversity.

 

By Dylan Jackson

Harrity Diversity

IP boutique seeks to show that new thinking on diversity is not just for Big Law

IAM (September 10, 2019) In the latest issue of IAM our cover story “the Boston Manifesto” is a call to action for the IP industry to increase gender diversity across all parts of the market. The piece, which subscribers can read here, reflects some of the challenges that women face in reaching senior levels, particularly in-house and in private practice. The article also contains some specific areas that all stakeholders should focus on.

This is a challenge confronting all parts of the IP system as stakeholders try to increase both the gender and racial diversity in their ranks. Arguably it is most pressing among the largest law firms that have struggled to grow the diversity of their workforce, particularly at partner level.

But it’s by no means only the denizens of Big Law who are zeroing in on how they can make their workforces more diverse. Last week Harrity & Harrity, a respected IP boutique with around 30 attorneys based in Northern Virginia, announced the launch of its minority firm incubator, an initiative designed to help foster the growth of minority-owned specialist IP law firms.

Starting in January 2020, the firm will recruit two minority attorneys who will be trained over the next four years not only in the ins and outs of patent drafting and prosecution work but also on how to launch and manage their own firms. To help those fledgling firms thrive, Harrity is signing up a group of businesses as programme partners. They have committed to giving any new firms work on a trial basis as and when they get off the ground. Accenture was the first to get involved, with somewhere between three and six companies ultimately expected to join on top.

Should the Harrity recruits decide that they’d prefer not to go down the route of owning their own firm then managing partner John Harrity said he’s “not going to kick them out the door”. However, he also said that he hoped the new programme would attract entrepreneurial types willing to take the plunge.

Harrity, who established his firm with his twin brother Paul, admitted that he needed to get over some doubts among his staff, such as why they would create more competition for themselves, before getting the initiative off the ground.

“There’s more than enough work to go around,” Harrity said he told his firm’s diversity committee, but he also admitted that there are plenty of concerns to be overcome outside of his own practice.

“One of the things that I’m finding out as we go out to the industry, talking to chief patent counsel at the largest filers, there’s a perception that minority firm means a firm that’s not good and is not going to be able to perform at a high level – we’re going to change that impression,” Harrity commented.

This is by no means his firm’s first diversity initiative. Three years ago it introduced a rule whereby it must interview a female or minority candidate for every male, non-minority candidate for any position. Since then it has gone from 8% diversity at the attorney level to 30% and Harrity insisted that this has had a marked effect. “It’s amazing how my firm has grown in the last three years, as we’ve taken this diversity journey,” he remarked. He pointed to a doubling in headcount, significant growth in revenues and profits, and more innovative thinking among the workforce as clear byproducts of having a more diverse practice.

“If you expand that out to the industry in general I think you’ll see the same types of effects and we’re going to start thinking differently which is really what the legal field needs to do,” Harrity maintained. He pointed out the irony of a lack of innovation on the subject among a patent community where much of the work is grounded in new ways of thinking.

“We’re in a field of innovation, that’s what the whole thing is about, and firms don’t do anything,” he claimed. That maybe an unfair accusation to lay at all IP practices but as Harrity’s new incubator shows, there is a growing realisation that more work is required to produce clear results.

To learn more about the Minority Firm Incubator and Harrity’s other initiatives to drive diversity in the IP legal field, visit harrity.com/diversity.

 

By Richard Lloyd