Black-Owned IP Law Firm Emerges in Orlando via Minority Firm Incubator

(July 27, 2021) Dan Roe interviews James Bennin on the launch of the Onyx IP Group for Law.com.

James Bennin’s Onyx IP Group is the first minority-owned firm produced by the Minority Firm Incubator, which Harrity & Harrity launched in 2019 with the aim of increasing diversity in the legal profession.

“There’s a need to increase the amount of diversity in the legal field, especially in the patent field,” said Bennin, who is the first college graduate in his immediate family. “Looking at my career, I guess I’ve been fortunate to have the career I’ve had. I felt it was incumbent on me to give back.”

The article, by Dan Roe, can be read in full on Law.com.

About Onyx IP Group

With combined experience (private practice and in-house) in the electrical, software and mechanical technology areas, the Onyx IP Group provides legal counseling for patent drafting, patent prosecution, trademark, and transactional matters. Visit us online at https://onyxipgroup.com

See more on Harrity’s diversity initiatives: https://harrityllp.com/diversity

Check out our Driving Diversity vlog:  https://harrityllp.com/thediversitychannel

About Harrity & Harrity, LLP:

Harrity & Harrity, headquartered in Fairfax, Va., is a leading patent preparation and prosecution firm specializing in the electrical and mechanical technology areas. The firm has obtained more than 8,000 patents since its founding in 1999. Our clients trust in our high-quality work, experienced people, industry-leading innovation, and outstanding service. Harrity actively promotes diversity and inclusion at the firm and throughout the legal industry, with an additional focus on giving back to the community through Harrity 4 Charity. Visit us online at https://harrityllp.com

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Harrity & Harrity Launches Black-Owned Firm Through Minority Incubator Program

Harrity & Harrity Launches Black-Owned Firm Through Minority Incubator Program

Florida-Based Onyx IP Group is the first Minority Owned Firm Specializing in IP Law to Come Out of Diversity-Focused Program

Fairfax, Va. — June 21, 2021 For Immediate Release:  Harrity 4 Charity (H4C), the giving-back initiative of Harrity & Harrity, LLP, one of the country’s preeminent patent law firms, is thrilled to announce the launch of the Onyx IP Group (OIPG), the first minority-owned firm to come out of the Harrity Minority Firm Incubator (MFI), a program initiated in 2019 to address the fact that the practice of law remains one of the least diverse professions in the U.S.

Based in Orlando, Florida, OIPG is a 100% Black-owned, Intellectual Property (IP) law firm launched by the MFI’s first graduate, James Bennin. Bennin has approximately 15 years of experience in the IP field, with an extensive background in counseling clients on various IP matters in the U.S. and other jurisdictions. Prior to joining Harrity’s MFI program, Bennin was an associate general counsel handling transactional matters (including IP matters) for the University of Central Florida, one of the largest universities in the country and formerly served as IP counsel at Caterpillar, a large multi-national company, where he counseled multiple business units on matters related to IP.

Raised by a single mother in a low-income household, Bennin was the first college graduate in his immediate family. With African-Americans making up just 1.94% of all equity partners in the U.S., Bennin’s launch of OIPG is making strides for a severely underrepresented group in the field of law.

“I understand the obstacles someone with my background needs to overcome to be successful in this profession and the importance of improving diversity in the legal field,” Bennin said.  “I want to use this program/platform as a means to give back and to help provide a blueprint or guide to success for members of underrepresented groups, so they can see that success in any professional field, more particularly in the legal field, is a realistic possibility in their future.“

Serving as Of Counsel for OIPG are Keri Sicard, who has more than 20 years of experience in the field of IP law and is experienced in a wide variety of technologies from the simple to the highly complex; and Michael Antone, who has over 20 years of experience in large law firm, corporate, and venture capital environments in the area of IP and business operations counseling.

Added Bennin, “I am tremendously excited about the opportunity to launch the Onyx IP Group and am well prepared to provide exceptional work to clients while also furthering my goal of making a positive impact – particularly for those, like myself, in minority groups.”

 

The Stats …  According to the 2019 Vault/MCCA Law Firm Diversity Survey on overall law firm demographics, 82% of all lawyers and 89% of all partners are Caucasian. Just 2% of all partners are African-American, under 3% are Hispanic and under 4% are Asian. None of the statistics regarding specific minority percentages have changed over the past decade, despite the fact that those populations in the U.S. have increased during the same timeframe.

About the Minority Firm Incubator … Harrity—which has launched a variety of service-driven initiatives under its H4C philanthropic arm—is hoping to help be the change for diversity in the legal field with the MFI program, which supports the recruitment, retention and advancement of attorneys who will contribute to the diversity of the legal field by launching minority-owned patent firms. A year-long, multi-phase program, Harrity’s MFI program works to train minority attorneys in patent law and help them overcome the barriers to launching their own patent law firms. The program encourages minorities to become leaders in the field for both quality and diversity and sets them up for success.

Commented Elaine Spector, a partner at Harrity, who co-chairs the firm’s diversity committee. “Having a diverse workforce leads to a more integrated practice. Women and diverse inventors want to consult capable attorneys who look like them and who understand them and the context of the goals they are working to achieve.”

Adds partner John Harrity, who co-chairs the diversity committee with Spector, “Diversity generates quality legal innovation. The benefits of differential skillsets, outlooks, approaches and ways of processing make a team stronger, bringing varied and valuable insights to cultures, systems and policies, which is what is required to be change leaders.”

More H4C News on ‘Driving Diversty’ … Visit us online to learn more about Harrity’s multi-faceted diversity initiatives, which, in addition to MFI, also include The Diversity Channel, The Harrity Academy and Harrity for Parity: A Women’s Patent Workshop. Visit the firm’s weekly vlog, Driving Diversity, which addresses such issues as hiring practices; how intersectionality relates to underrepresented groups falling into more than one community; implementing the Rooney Rule 2.0; how a firm’s culture affects diversity; flexibility; patents pathways for women of color; mentoring/tutoring programs; and more.

Harrity’s diversity initiatives: https://harrityllp.com/diversity

Driving Diversity vlog:  https://harrityllp.com/thediversitychannel

 

About Onyx IP Group:  

With combined experience (private practice and in-house) in the electrical, software and mechanical technology areas, the Onyx IP Group provides legal counseling for patent drafting, patent prosecution, trademark, and transactional matters. Visit us online at https://onyxipgroup.com

 

About Harrity & Harrity, LLP:

Harrity & Harrity, headquartered in Fairfax, Va., is a leading patent preparation and prosecution firm specializing in the electrical and mechanical technology areas. The firm has obtained more than 8,000 patents since its founding in 1999. Our clients trust in our high-quality work, experienced people, industry-leading innovation, and outstanding service. Harrity actively promotes diversity and inclusion at the firm and throughout the legal industry, with an additional focus on giving back to the community through Harrity 4 Charity. Visit us online at https://harrityllp.com

 

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Harrity Welcomes Ten Superstar Attorneys in 2020

2020 was a difficult year for all – with plenty of pitfalls, including quarantining, social distancing, and economic concern brought on by the ongoing global pandemic. At Harrity, we were fortunate enough to be able to continue to provide outstanding service to our clients and build upon the productivity and success of our remote workforce. We are pleased to announce that our firm also welcomed ten superstar patent attorneys to our team in 2020, making it one of our biggest years of growth to date.

Check out the newest members of Team Harrity below!

Robert ‘Bob’ O’Loughlin | Lakewood, CO (Joined 1/6/2020)

Bob has over 12 years of experience in patent preparation and prosecution for electrical and mechanical applications, with specific expertise in software patentability in light of Alice. Prior to joining Harrity & Harrity, Bob worked for over a decade in private practice representing clients with a focus on collaborating to navigate intellectual property opportunities and risks in light of his clients’ objectives regarding innovation, commercialization and competition. Click here to learn more about Bob.

James Bennin | Winter Garden, FL  (Joined 2/3/2020)

James is the first recipient of Harrity’s Minority Firm Incubator, a four-year program designed to train, develop, and launch minority-owned patent law firms. James has 15 years of experience in the intellectual property field, with extensive experience counseling clients on various IP matters in the United States and in various other jurisdictions. Prior to joining Harrity in the MFI program, James was previously an associate general counsel at one of the largest universities in the US, and IP counsel at a large multinational company where he counseled multiple business units on matters related to IP. Click here to learn more about James.

Michael Woodward | Albany, NY (Joined 2/3/2020)

Michael has experience in conducting all phases of prosecution for U.S. and foreign patent applications related to computer software, telecommunications, networking devices, and mechanical devices. Prior to joining Harrity, Michael worked at a boutique intellectual property law firm where his practice focused on patent preparation, prosecution, litigation, and patent portfolio management. He also served as Executive Managing Editor of the Albany Law Review, President of the Intellectual Property Law Society, and was a Sponsler Honors Teaching Fellow while attending Albany Law School. Click here to learn more about Michael.

Alexander Zajac | Greenbelt, MD (Joined 4/6/2020)

Alex is a patent attorney specializing in the preparation and prosecution of applications in electrical and computer technologies. Prior to Harrity, Alex worked with an intellectual property law firm in Washington, DC, where he drafted and prosecuted patent applications as well as assisted with opinions and litigations. He also previously worked at the United States District Court for the District of Columbia with Magistrate Judge Alan Kay. Click here to learn more about Alex.

Steven DiPasquo | Basking Ridge, NJ (Joined 6/1/2020)

Steven has prepared and prosecuted hundreds of patent applications in a wide range of technical fields, including artificial intelligence and machine learning, computer hardware and software systems, and telecommunications. Prior to joining Harrity & Harrity, Steven worked for over 15 years in private practice and has extensive experience counseling clients and preparing opinions regarding patentability, infringement, validity, and freedom to operate. Click here to learn more about Steven.

Nelson Nolte | Manchester, MO (Joined 6/16/2020)

Nelson has more than twenty years of experience as a patent attorney, including patent preparation, prosecution, opinion matters, trademark preparation and prosecution, and copyright protection. During this time, Nelson has drafted and prosecuted hundreds of patent applications in the electrical, software and mechanical arts. Click here to learn more about Nelson.

Madhu Ramanujam | Portland, OR (Joined 7/13/2020)

Madhu’s experience as a patent attorney includes diverse areas of technology, particularly in the electrical and software arts. He has extensive experience in developing patent licensing strategies and creating claim charts to maximize a patent’s monetary value. As an inventor himself, Madhu’s knowledge in patent licensing and his passion for inventing has led to him successfully licensing his own patents to several large multinational corporations. Click here to learn more about Madhu.

Edward Kim | New York, NY (Joined 8/3/2020)

Edward’s practice focuses on helping companies build high-quality patent portfolios in an efficient manner, with specific experience prosecuting patent applications related to up-and-coming technologies. Prior to joining Harrity, Edward worked in patent litigation and spent over a decade as a Primary Patent Examiner at the USPTO. During this time, Edward served the Office of International Patent Cooperation on global IP initiatives. He previously has experience working with engineers overseas as an intern engineer and is both fluent in Korean and proficient in Japanese. Click here to learn more about Edward.

George Howarah | Reston, VA  (Joined 11/2/2020)

George is a patent attorney with nearly a decade of experience in all facets of patent procurement and enforcement. Prior to joining Harrity, George worked as a Patent Examiner at the United States Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) and as an associate at Venable LLP and Sterne, Kessler, Goldstein & Fox PLLC, where he prepared, prosecuted, and enforced patents for Fortune 500, midsize, and startup companies. Click here to learn more about George.

Jim Weixel | Sandwich, MA (Joined 12/14/2020)

Jim is a patent attorney with over 20 years of in-house and law firm experience in patent procurement enforcement and in IP operations, including time at Verizon, Bowditch & Dewey, LLP, and The MathWorks Inc. Most recently, Jim served as the IP lead at Accenture for several business units, with a combined annual revenue exceeding $20B. Jim has been involved with protecting innovations in a variety of technologies, such as healthcare, financial services, machine learning, process automation, artificial intelligence, biometric identification, and pharmacovigilance. Click here to learn more about Jim.

 

The Benefits of Incubator Programs for Minority-Owned Firms

The legal profession is making inroads in terms of diversity, but the National Association of Law Placement reports these gains as slow and incremental. The percentage of African-American associates, for instance, was 4.76% last year, finally breaching the previous milestone mark of 4.66% recorded in 2009. Unfortunately, women of color remain grossly under-represented, accounting for only 2.8% of associates last year — down from 2.93% in 2009. Clearly, the legal profession remains one of the least diverse industries, even with institutions like Harvard Law School reporting ever-increasing minority representation.

Invariably, this lack of diversity can only be addressed through change leadership and decisive action, like implementing diversity initiatives and offering incubator programs for minority-owned firms. This desire to make a difference compelled Harrity & Harrity managing partner John Harrity to incubate women- and minority-owned law firms. The legal industry needs more people like Harrity, with Maryville University noting that a change in society comes from those who have the courage to make a difference. This is why more people and industries need to grapple with social inequalities such as under-representation in various professions. But why are incubator programs important, and what are their benefits to minority-owned firms?

Giving necessary support

Incubator programs are vital because they can help jumpstart a firm in the same way venture capital funding helps startups level up their operations. This aid is the main benefit of incubator programs, which support up-and-coming law firms by providing a range of resources such as office space and professional services for a reasonable fee that is often paid out in installments or via negotiated arrangements. This support is invaluable to minority-owned firms, as they are more likely to have less capital and fewer resources to run a sustainable business.

Helping a firm focus on the core business

Crucially, being part of an incubator program can also help minority-owned law firms focus on their core business, which is to provide top legal services to their clientele. This is possible because the program already puts in place the necessary infrastructure to get the firm up and running. This gives all members the ability to fully focus on their cases, as they are freed up from having to accomplish mundane, day-to-day administrative tasks.

Expanding the network

Fast Company details how membership in an incubator program means gaining access to a strong professional network, including industry partners. This network expansion, in turn, opens up plenty of exciting possibilities, like collaborating with big firms, that are often non-existent for a firm in its infancy, especially if the firm is minority- or women-owned. Not to mention, being part of a growing network is also a public relations coup, as associations with bigger firms can help raise the profile of a smaller ones — without necessarily investing a fortune in marketing and PR.

Access to mentors

Another thing about being part of an incubator program is that it gives a firm access to mentors, who can then provide expert knowledge not only on the legal profession, but also on the best practices in terms of running a law firm. Take, for instance, the Minority Firm Incubator program, which is now accepting applicants for its second participant and whose goals include training, developing, and launching minority-owned patent law firms. As such, Harrity & Harrity’s finest get involved in the program and provide guidance to all participants — and by year 4, they already have the necessary knowledge to fully launch their firms.

A final word

We at Harrity & Harrity are committed to promoting diversity in the legal industry, and will continue to nurture our minority-focused programs and their participants to effect change. We hope that initiatives, like our Minority Firm Incubator, will not just begin to address the issue, but inspire others to be change leaders in diversity as well.

By Sharon Drew
Written exclusively for Harrityllp.com

Learn more and/or apply to the 2020 Minority Firm Incubator program HERE.

Harrity Welcomes First Minority Firm Incubator Candidate

WASHINGTON, DC (March 5, 2020) Harrity & Harrity, LLP has named James Bennin as the first Minority Firm Incubator candidate.  In October of 2019, the firm announced the formation of the Minority Firm Incubator, a program developed to help women and minorities establish their own law firms in an effort to change the disparity of minority-owned firms in the field.  James was selected for the program from a large pool of applicants due to both his expertise in IP law and his desire to create opportunities for minorities to succeed in underrepresented industries.

“Our firm’s Diversity Mission is focused on fostering inclusion within the legal community and encouraging the growth and success of individuals from all backgrounds.  The Minority Firm Incubator is a service-oriented program intended to further this mission by helping underrepresented groups flourish in a field where diversity is lacking.  James not only shares our beliefs on the importance of diversity in the practice of law, but is committed to using this role as a community outreach platform to help overcome the socioeconomic barriers that many minority groups face.  These values, in addition to James’s impressive background in intellectual property law, make him the ideal candidate to launch our Minority Firm Incubator program,” said Managing Partner John Harrity.

James is a patent attorney with nearly 15 years of experience counseling clients on matters related to intellectual property law.  His practice focuses on preparing and prosecuting patent applications in a variety of technological fields, including electrical and software technologies. James has experience in private practice and as an in-house attorney.  James began the program, which consists of four phases, on February 3, 2020.

In the first phase of the incubator program, James will focus on efficiently drafting effective, high-quality patent applications through the use of Harrity’s in-house tools and processes.  In the second year, he will focus on prosecuting pending patent applications.  The third phase consists of firm management training, during which Bennin will learn best practices for hiring and training attorneys, establishing and maintaining an office, managing human resources, accounting, and docketing, pitching and retaining clients, and more. At the beginning of the fourth year, James will launch his own firm.  In doing so, James hopes to reshape the perspective of minority-owned firms and improve the diversity of the legal field.

“Given my own background as an individual who was raised by a single mother in a low income household, was the first college graduate in my immediate family, and is a member of an underrepresented group in the legal profession, I am very grateful for and fortunate to have had great experiences in my legal career thus far.  I understand the obstacles someone with my background needs to overcome to be successful in this profession, and understand the importance of improving diversity in the legal field,” stated James.  “I want to use this program/platform as a means to give back in light of the great experiences in my legal career and to help provide a blueprint or guide to success for members of underrepresented groups, so they can see me as a testament that success in any professional field, and more particularly in the legal field, is a realistic possibility in their future.“

With James well underway in Phase 1 of the initial launch, Harrity has reopened the Minority Firm Incubator program to more applicants.  To learn more and apply to the Minority Firm Incubator, and to see Harrity’s other initiatives for driving diversity in the IP legal field, visit harrityllp.com/diversity.

 

About Harrity & Harrity, LLP

Harrity & Harrity is a leading patent preparation and prosecution firm specializing in the electrical and mechanical technology areas and is considered a Go-To Firm for the Patent 300®.  Our clients trust in our high-quality work, experienced people, industry leading innovation, and outstanding service.  For more information, visit harrityllp.com.