EPISODE THIRTY ONE | BLACK WOMEN IN LAW
Harrity & Harrity, LLP, a leading patent preparation and prosecution firm based in Fairfax, Va., is excited to announce the launch of a new video blog series, The Precise Prosecutor.
The Precise Prosecutor consists of quick, practical tips and best practices for efficiently prosecuting high-quality patent applications. Brought to you by Harrity Counsel and IP matters expert George Howarah, the vlog is released each Friday across Harrity’s social media channels and its webpage, harrityllp.com/the-precise-prosecutor.
Howarah, a patent attorney for nearly a decade, leverages his wide variety of experience, use of automation tools, and best practices knowledge to strategize and prosecute litigation-ready patent applications in sophisticated technologies. His diverse background provides for interesting insights and well-thought-out guidance shared exclusively in his Precise Prosecutor videos.
After graduating from law school, Howarah spent three years as a patent examiner at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office, examining hundreds of patent applications, learning how examiners operate, and facing a wide range of practices from outside counsel. Since then, he has spent almost a decade in private practice working with a wide range of clients on various technologies, including telecommunications, computer architecture, virtualization, integrated circuits, software as a service, semiconductors, medical devices, and sophisticated computer applications.
In doing so, Howarah has prepared and prosecuted a substantial volume of patent applications, including managing a global patent portfolio of 500+ patent assets for one of the world’s most innovative organizations.
“I have been involved in all facets of the patent process, including patent preparation, examination, prosecution, and litigation,” Howarah says of his experience. “I have prepared and prosecuted hundreds of patents applications, including managing a global patent portfolio for a subsidiary of a Fortune 50 company, and preparing and prosecuting standard-essential patents for a leading telecommunications company. I have opined on the enforcement and validity of patents and been deeply involved in several complex post-grant proceedings at the U.S. Patent Office and the Federal Circuit. Accordingly, I have become aware of the issues that patent prosecutors and litigators encounter.”
Howarah is now looking forward to turning those experiences into actionable advice for followers of his vlog.
“I look forward to sharing the patent prosecution experience that I acquired from examining patent applications at the U.S. Patent Office and from patent procurement and litigation in private practice through The Precise Prosecutor. I hope to provide patent prosecutors with valuable tips on prosecuting patent applications precisely and efficiently while upholding the integrity of each invention and enhancing the quality of this unique practice of law.”
The Precise Prosecutor is the third vlog series to be released by Harrity, joining Neil Kardos’s Practical Patents, which focuses on best practices for drafting high-quality patent applications, and Driving Diversity, a short video series hosted by Elaine Spector on increasing diversity of the patent bar.
You can find each vlog series below:
The Precise Prosecutor: https://harrityllp.com/the-precise-prosecutor/
Practical Patents: https://harrityllp.com/practical-patents/
Driving Diversity: https://harrityllp.com/thediversitychannel/
EPISODE THIRTY | WOMEN’S EQUALITY DAY
EPISODE TWENTY NINE | WORK/LIFE BALANCE FOR PARENTS
EPISODE TWENTY EIGHT | BLACK WOMAN’S EQUAL PAY DAY
EPISODE TWENTY SEVEN| LAWYERS WITH DISABILITIES
EPISODE TWENTY SIX| ARE WINEB LAWYERS PAYING ENOUGH ATTENTION TO UPWARD MOBILITY
EPISODE TWENTY-FIVE | THE MANSFIELD RULE
Harrity’s Elaine Spector helped prepare comments, on behalf of IPO, submitted to the Supreme Court of Florida in response an order issued on April 15 regarding a recently adopted policy regulating the composition of faculty at section-sponsored continuing legal education (CLE) programs. The Court noted that “quotas based on characteristics like the ones in this policy are antithetical to basic American principles of nondiscrimination.”
IPO’s comments, which were prepared with assistance by several additional members of IPO’s Diversity & Inclusion and Women in IP Committees, noted four main issues: 1) A rule requiring a minimum number of diverse panelists advances diversity and the quality of programming with no evidence of harm; 2) the Court fails to offer any guidance on permitted diversity policies moving forward; 3) the order could have a chilling effect on addressing current structural and ongoing inequity; and 4) sua sponte revision of the rule, without notice, will cause harm to Florida attorneys and diversity of the Florida Bar
Read the full response below.In-The-Supreme-Court-of-Florida-Comments
Harrity’s LaTia Brand & Elaine Spector’s research regarding the the gender gap and lack of diversity in the field of patent law, specifically as it pertains to women in the space, was quoted in a recent IP Watchdog Article, On Tiffany Cunningham’s Appointment to the CAFC: An Impeccable Candidate and a Rallying Call for More Diversity in IP.
Cunningham is the first African-American, and therefore first African-American woman, to join the Federal Circuit bench. “Although a cause for celebration, this momentous occasion should not be wasted in self-congratulation but rather should provide momentum for further public and private efforts to increase diversity at the most senior echelons of the IP bar. Without a ready supply of diverse and qualified candidates, we remain in danger of this important ‘first’ becoming a ‘last.'”
Read the full article on IPWatchdog.com.
EPISODE TWENTY THREE | MARYLAND LEGAL EDUCATION SUCCESS COLLABORATIVE
EPISODE TWENTY TWO | PRIDE MONTH
- What are you doing at your firm to ensure that your clients are getting a high-quality work product?
- What is the metric that you use to gauge quality?
- Are you tracking anything relating to quality on an individual attorney basis?
- What tools do you use in relation to quality?
- Are your quality processes today the same as they were 5 years ago and if not, how have they changed?
- When do you use tools like PatentBots, Patent Draftr, ClaimMaster, and Patent Optimizer?
- How are you using examiner analytics in patent prosecution to improve quality?
- Whose work is reviewed and who is reviewing it?
- Are all clients work reviewed and if not why not?
To see more tips for achieving patent quality, visit our Practical Patents page.
Welcome to another episode of Tech Transfer IP. Today I am pleased to speak with Elaine Spector. Elaine is a patent attorney with Harrity & Harrity with over twenty year’s experience in intellectual property law. Elaine’s current practice consists primarily of prosecuting patent applications with a focus on electromechanical technologies.
Before joining Harrity & Harrity, Elaine worked in private practice for over fifteen years handling various intellectual property matters, including patent application drafting and prosecution, trademark prosecution and enforcement and litigating complex patent cases in federal courts. Her extensive litigation experience provides her with a unique perspective in prosecuting patent applications.
Listen as Elaine shares some key differences between working in a University Tech Transfer office and working in a law firm. She also talks about the Rooney Rule and how Hannity has improved it by making it Rooney Rule 2.0, and how the Rooney Rule is different from the Mansfield Rule.
Elaine discusses her company’s rigorous hiring process to remove bias, the factors that contribute to the problem of having a small amount of diverse individuals in the legal profession, and the programs her office has launched to help bring more women into her firm, like the Annual Women’s Patent Law Workshop and the Minority Firm Incubator Program to name a few.
Elaine shares some suggestions for small firms that might struggle to develop diversity and inclusion procedures, standards, and programs. She says that reaching out is one action step patent professionals can take to improve diversity for the Patent Bar.
In This Episode:
- [02:26] Welcome to the show, Elaine!
- [02:48] Elaine shares her career journey from a University Tech Transfer office to a law firm.
- [06:16] She worked at John Hopkins Technology Transfer, which later changed its name to Tech Ventures.
- [06:46] What are some of the key differences between working in a University Tech Transfer office and working in a law firm?
- [09:18] Elaine discusses the Rooney Rule 2.0 and how Harrity takes the rule even further.
- [10:28] How is the Rooney Rule different from the Mansfield Rule?
- [12:39] Elaine doesn’t believe that the “Heavy Stick” approach suggested by some corporations will be effective in helping meet diversity requirements.
- [15:01] Elaine speaks about her company’s rigorous hiring process and how it removes the likelihood of bias.
- [17:20] Can you tell us about the factors contributing to the problem of not enough diverse individuals in the legal profession?
- [20:01] Elaine discusses Harrity’s office’s Annual Women’s Patent Law Workshop.
- [21:46] Elaine discusses another program Harrity has recently developed which is training women and helping them pass the writing part of their application process.
- [22:31] Elaine shares some other programs her firm has that focus on diversity and inclusion.
- [24:28] Elaine speaks about the Minority Firm Incubator Program they are launching.
- [27:39] Harrity has launched a diversity channel this year with a weekly vlog.
- [28:58] How does your diversity committee handle these programs?
- [31:01] Elaine shares some suggestions for small firms that might struggle to develop diversity and inclusion procedures, standards, and programs.
- [33:04] Elaine believes the changes proposed by USPTO will help with gender diversity, and she shares some other degrees that should be included.
- [35:05] What is the one action step patent professionals can take today to improve diversity for the Patent Bar?
EPISODE TWENTY ONE | FLORIDA CLE REGULATIONS CONTINUED
EPISODE TWENTY | THE IDEA ACT
Questions covered in this discussion include:
- There is clear evidence that women and diverse groups are underrepresented in patents compared to their presence in the workforce. Why does diversity in innovation matter?
- Some resources have identified a number of causes for disparity in innovation, such as the pipeline, a leaky pipeline, and a lack of engagement. What have you found at your respective companies to be the biggest issue with regard to disparity in innovation?
- Diversity of Innovation is a complex problem. How did you go about addressing the issue within your company?
- Have you seen progress from your efforts? Are there areas you still need to work on? What key initiatives have you implemented?
- What recommendations would you give a company who is just beginning the process?
- Are there resources you found helpful, such as the Gender Diversity in Innovation Toolkit, developed by the IPO Women in IP Committee?
- How can your approved law firms support you in the process?
- Are there specific questions they should be asking during the inventor interview process?
- What is one thing our audience can do as a result of our amazing discussion?
You can watch the full session below.
You can watch the recording, which shares various perspectives and stories to help and empower law firms to move the needle towards increasing Diversity and Inclusion in a significant way, below.
EPISODE NINETEEN | ARE CLE PROGRAMS DISCRIMINATORY?
EPISODE EIGHTEEN | SIMPLE STRATEGIES FOR ENGAGING DIVERSE INVENTORS
EPISODE SEVENTEEN | GENDER DIVERSITY
EPISODE SIXTEEN | BLACK INVENTORS
Why Continuing Remote Work Options After the Pandemic Will Support a More Diverse and Inclusive Work Culture
Women have been advocating for change with regard to work/life flexibility for years. For decades, choices for women starting a family while working in a law firm setting have been limited: either return to work full-time to stay on the partnership track or return to work part-time and be put on the dreaded “mommy track.” Women in partner roles would often return to work within days of giving birth. That is just how things have always been, the model many women had no choice but to follow. So, it is no surprise that many women, myself included, defaulted to the “mommy track,” or worse yet, left the practice of law entirely.
In addition to a lack of flexibility regarding part-time work, law firms have been reluctant to allow flexibility with regard to remote work. Often, law firms equate lawyers who want to work remotely with a lack of commitment. As such, if a law firm actually agreed to a remote work arrangement, the lawyer working remotely would be taken off the partnership track.
While the pandemic has been a struggle across the world, a lot of women are quietly cheering from their homes. Finally, our employers are forced to allow us to work remotely, and now they see that we can work well at home. In fact, for some of us, working at home is where we shine. We are happy, less stressed, and feel some sense of control and balance. At least, that is the way I feel.
I began working remotely a few years before the pandemic hit. My firm allows for any lawyer at the firm, regardless of the numbers of hours they work or whether they show the requisite face time in the office, to make partner. And I did. Remotely. Working part-time hours. Many of my female colleagues at other firms have reached out to me to ask, “How can we keep the remote work going?” “How do we continue to develop relationships and culture within our firm?” and “Can someone make partner while working remotely?”
As offices begin opening back up, I encourage law firms to look at this time as an opportunity to re-evaluate their outdated policies regarding remote work. Despite the physical separation, you can build a firm culture focused on nurturing relationships. Relationship building is the core of culture, inclusion, and ultimately, success at your firm. Here are five tips to improve your firm culture while working remotely.
- Assign each lawyer in leadership an associate or member of support staff to meet with weekly.
It is critical to continue to build relationships in the remote work environment. How do we replicate water cooler conversations? One way is to require leadership to meet weekly or biweekly with both lawyers and support staff via a video call. This type of face-to-face interaction is so much more engaging than a telephone call, as we have all experienced over the past year. When holding the call, talk about your life to whatever extent you feel comfortable sharing, just as you would at the water cooler. Set up a rotation within the firm, so that leadership is meeting with different individuals throughout the year and be sure to mix it up from those who typically work closely together. This personal connection, untied to any pressing work matters, will transform your internal relationships.
- Hold monthly firm-wide meetings.
Get in the habit of holding monthly firm meetings, which include both lawyers and support staff. The firm meeting is a great place to talk about your shared vision, to highlight people who have done exceptional work that particular month, and to address any issues that might need attention. The firm meeting is also an opportunity to get to know each other. Have a few employees present about their families/backgrounds, or cultural holidays and celebrations. The days of keeping your family and work life separate are over! An appropriate overlap, where employees feel the firm knows what is important to them, will make everyone feel more comfortable and supported in the workplace.
- Form firm committees that meet regularly.
A game changer at our firm was when one of my colleagues suggested forming committees focused on firm goals, such as diversity, employee relations, recruiting, automation, and new client development. These committees perform optimally when the majority employees of the firm participate in at least one committee. It is important to firm culture and work satisfaction that everyone at your firm has a voice, which also inspires innovation and progress. The committee work furthers important objectives at your firm, while forging important relationships among your employees as they work together to create and implement new initiatives and reach common goals.
- Start a Book Club.
A virtual book club is yet another way to build relationships among employees of your firm. The topics can range from fiction, to self-help, to business-oriented books. A book club allows support and professional staff yet another way to get to know each other on a personal level, which is important for firm culture. Participants can grow better through sharing their perceptions of what was read and have a better sense of camaraderie. When employees feel seen and valued, the work environment becomes so much more effective and fulfilling.
- Talk to your staff virtually.
It is important to replicate face-to-face meetings as much as we can. These interactions are crucial to developing meaningful relationships. Face-to-face meetings allow you to see expressions on your colleagues’ faces and talk on a more personal level to allow for a more understanding culture. Make it a policy at your firm, that when you would ordinarily walk into someone’s office, to instead, make a quick Zoom or Teams call with video always on. After all, you wouldn’t force your colleague to speak to you through a closed door in the office – why make them talk to a blank screen? Again, virtual face-to-face meetings are integral to developing a highly effective, remote working environment.
It is far past time to shift perspectives from the old rigid mindset to embracing a more diverse work force. One where we, as women, don’t have to give up the important job of raising our children, while also providing top quality service to our clients. In addition, lawyers should not be excluded from partnership because they work remotely or prefer to work a reduced schedule. An attorney can contribute just as much to the success and advancement of the firm, its culture, and its future without packing in the hours. In fact, the benefits of working a flexible schedule may contribute to more growth and innovation in the firm, as, from my own experience, those who work reduced-hours tend to be less stressed and more engaged. Flexibility is essential for advancing talented women and other lawyers seeking balance in their life and careers.
Law firms have essentially two options for proceeding when offices begin opening back up. Return to the way you ran things, pre-pandemic, with rigid work policies and lack of flexibility. Or, embrace the future, where environments of flexibility and freedom reap the benefits of a happy and productive workforce. You choose.
Harrity’s LaTia Brand & Elaine Spector’s research regarding the the gender gap and lack of diversity in the field of patent law, specifically as it pertains to the mechanical and electrical engineering space, was quoted in a recent Forbes article.
“Although some patent practice areas where women are well represented, such as biotechnology and chemistry, other areas continue to lack significant diversity. According to an Article published by Elaine Spector and LaTia Brand for the American Bar Association ‘women account for only 11.4 percent of patent practitioners with a technical background in electrical engineering and only 11.1 percent of patent practitioners have a technical background in mechanical engineering…”
Read the full article on Forbes.com.
Jack Karp interviews Harrity’s Diversity Co-Chair, Elaine Spector, on improving diversity in the patent bar for Law360 Pulse.
“Few areas of the law are more white and more male than the patent bar, says Elaine Spector. She’s trying to change that.”
Read the full article on Law360 Pulse.
“The expectation of firms to create programs that bring more diverse candidates into the field, rather than merely manipulating data to check boxes or achieve unrealistic quotas, will help address the issue from the ground up.”
As we celebrate Women’s History Month, it is important to point out the role of women in the field of patent law. Women have been members of the patent bar since as early as 1898, when Florence King became the first woman registered to practice before the U.S. Patent Office, as well as the 685th registrant. She became a lawyer first, and then went back to school to obtain a degree in Mechanical and Electrical Engineering so that she could register on the patent bar. As a woman patent practitioner with a mechanical engineering degree, I feel a lot of gratitude to women like Florence King, who paved the way for me. Yet, despite her trailblazing efforts over a century ago, there is still a considerable lack of gender diversity in the patent bar…
Harrity diversity thought-leaders Elaine Spector, Edward Kim, and Ayana Marshall provided comments in response to USPTO‘s National Strategy for Expanding American Innovation alongside other members of the Intellectual Property Owners Association (IPO)‘s Women in IP and Diversity & Inclusion committees.