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The International Practice Management Association (IPMA) is the primary source of information and education for managers in law firms, corporations, and law departments. We provide an inclusive community that promotes and enhances the proficiency and professionalism of our members. We deliver practical resources and cutting-edge solutions on the value and management of professionals in the legal environment.

July 2021


© International Practice Management Association. The contents of this publication may not be reproduced in whole or in part without the written consent of the IPMA. Opinions expressed in Inspired Leadership are those of the writers and are not necessarily those of the IPMA. The appearance of advertisements and product or service information does not constitute an endorsement by the IPMA as to the quality and/or reliability of the products or services. Product information is based solely on material received from suppliers.
 

IN THIS ISSUE:
 
- Conference Committee Update: Managing the New Normal
Patents Rights and Paralegals: Understanding Patent Paralegals
- Board Perspective: 5 Reasons Why You Should Consider Chairing a Committee or Chapter
- What Are Your Summer Vacation Plans?
Book Review: Our Iceberg is Melting, Holger Rathgeber & John Kotter
37th Annual
IPMA Conference & Expo


October 13-15, 2021
Conference Theme: Managing the New Normal





Conference Committee Update: Managing the New Normal

By: Patty Maxwell, Litigation Specialist, Arnold & Porter LLP



Hello IPMA!
 
We are so excited to share with you all our plans for the 37th Annual IPMA Conference & Expo which will be held October 13-15, 2021.
 
As much as we wanted to be together in Atlanta this year, we realized that it’s going to be too difficult for our membership. With professional development travel and budgets still up in the air, we have decided to make conference virtual this year. We wanted to decide as early as possible, and here we are.
 
The Conference Committee is planning a great event around this year’s theme- “Managing the New Normal” which will help us all figure out what that looks like as we head back to the office (or not) and tools and tips for how to make this as easy as possible. We will be focusing on what it’s like to manage in a virtual environment and ways to successfully lead your team in a hybrid world. There is lots of fantastic content.
 
We are super excited because we learned a few things last year and we plan to make this year’s Conference even more special. One take away from last year was that we all missed being together and hanging out. To address that, this year we are adding an hour break mid-day which will be “Our Time” so grab some lunch, join a breakout room and spend some time with your friends and colleagues catching up. If you prefer, you can use that time to catch up on work (ugh) or take a walk or (in case you are missing this part, and you know who you are) do a little on-line shopping.  
 
Another change we’re making is to extend the expo hall hours. Last year you all said that it felt very rushed. We decided to change the Expo Hall hours to the beginning and end of the day, which will give us all much more time with much less pressure to visit our valued Business Partners. There are a few Expo Breaks in between sessions as well, but the majority of the time will be before and after sessions for the day.
 
We are still planning lots of fun activities/networking events so please stay tuned to News and Notes for updates after registration goes live on July 16.
 
One final note, CT Corporation is hosting the Closing Party and is always the case, you won’t want to miss that FUN!!!  I have a little inside information on this and I know that I can’t wait!
 
Looking forward to “seeing” all in October.
 
Patty, Huascar, and the entire Conference Committee

 

Patents Rights and Paralegals: Understanding Patent Paralegals

By: Brendy Belony, Paralegal Supervisor & Training Coordinator, Perkins Coie LLP

11 Million U.S. Patents and Counting
On May 11, 2021, the United States Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) issued patent number 11,000,000 to 4C Medical Technologies, Inc. for a heart valve device. In case you were wondering, the first patent issued by the USPTO, Patent X1, was granted to Samuel Hopkins in 1790 for an ingredient used in fertilizer. From fertilizer to heart valve devices, innovation and the pursuit of patent rights continues to expand. While inventors, corporations and patent practitioners (attorneys and agents) are often recognized as the key players in securing patent rights, there is a group of individuals that is rarely mentioned: Patent Paralegals. But before we go any further, let’s get into some basics.

What is a patent?
A patent excludes everyone except the patent owner from making, using or selling the patented invention during the patent term (15-20 years, depending on the type of patent). A patent begins as an idea which is transcribed into a written description (specification) and drawings (where applicable) by the inventor(s) and/or the patent practitioner. Once the specification and drawings are drafted and finalized, these documents are filed as a patent application with the patent office and the process of patent prosecution begins. Prosecution affords the inventor and/or patent practitioner the opportunity to convince the patent office that the idea is patentable. U.S. prosecution can last from 1 to 10 years depending on numerous factors including patent office caseload. If all goes well during prosecution, a patent is granted.  

What role does a patent paralegal play in the patenting process?
The short answer: EVERYTHING! These paraprofessionals are the ultimate customer service representatives, multi-taskers and client managers. They serve as point persons from intake until the patent expires. During prosecution, patent paralegals are responsible for tracking and meeting all deadlines. They file applications, respond to patent office notices, prepare templates for practitioners and so much more. Patent paralegals manage patent portfolios for all types of clients including single inventors, small startups and large international clients. Patent paralegals are also master investigators who can find missing inventors or track down related patents in foreign countries. Without patent paralegals, patent practitioners and clients would be hard pressed to keep up with the ever-changing rules, procedures, databases and forms of patent offices worldwide. Some patent paralegals work with patent litigation attorneys to present cases before the Patent Trial and Appeals Board (PTAB), while others work with foreign associates (lawyers in foreign countries) to facilitate prosecution of patent applications abroad.

Patent prosecution paralegals carry heavy workloads. The average workload of a mid-level patent paralegal is 250-350 active matters. Day to day, they are required to meet multiple patent office deadlines, provide cost estimates, create spreadsheets, review invoices, etc. It is not uncommon for a patent paralegal to work on 20 to 30 matters per day.

Patent Paralegal Career Path
Patent paralegal skills are unique, but anyone can learn. There are no certification requirements and most people receive on the job training. The traditional career path for a patent paralegal generally starts with a position as a paralegal assistant or clerk. I personally started my career as a receptionist/clerk at a patent boutique firm. In 20+ years, I’ve held several positions including: paralegal, application specialist, coordinator, supervisor and trainer. Because patent work is vastly different from all other practice areas, it is difficult (but not impossible) for established paralegals in other practice areas to move into a patent prosecution role (and vice versa). Some firms offer structured cross training programs. In other instances, there may be opportunities to assist with patent prosecution overflow work, where you learn little by little by working on simple tasks.

The Road to 12 million U.S. patents and beyond
To keep up with demand, patent practices continue to reimagine the role of the patent paralegal. Some practices divide paralegals into specialists, where paralegals handle one or 2 aspects of patent prosecution for every client. For example, I worked as an application specialist and would file every application for all of the clients in the practice group. In other patent practices, paralegals manage every aspect of patent prosecution for multiple clients. There are also patent analysts who assist attorneys with due diligence requests for patent portfolio transactions and patent assistants who assist paralegals with various tasks. As patent practices and paralegals continue to figure out the best ways to serve their clients while maintaining the highest levels of quality, efficiency and SANITY, one thing is certain: patent paralegals are vital in a world where securing patent rights for innovative ideas is at the forefront. So, the next time you use something that makes your life easier, send positive vibes to patent paralegals. At least one of them is probably working hard on a patent application for the next great invention.
 

 

Board Perspective: 5 Reasons Why You Should Consider Chairing a Committee or Chapter

By: Brian Bernhard, Office Administrator, Dentons US LLP
      Patty Maxwell, Litigation Specialist, Arnold & Porter LLP

For the past few years, the IPMA has been asking its members to consider doing just one thing for the association, and the Board of Directors has been so pleased to see how many of our members have stepped up in a variety of ways to do one, or two or three things for the IPMA. For those of you who are still looking for that one thing or even better for the next thing you can do for the IPMA, we would like you to consider volunteering to lead a chapter or committee.

Thinking back, I (Brian) can remember the first time I was asked to lead a committee. I about DIED when Lynda McNie and Kimberly Cooley Reyes approached me with this “great” idea to co-chair the Membership Committee with Lynda. I wondered if they didn’t know that I had a job and a family!!!! Upon inquiry, they confirmed that they were aware that people have lives outside of the IPMA and they promised that it would not take up near as much time as I might think and that it may help me be more efficient in my day-to-day work. AND THEY WERE RIGHT!
 
I was very surprised by how I was able to co-chair a committee and then a chapter and then run for the board of directors and eventually become president of the association and still managed to get my day-to-day work accomplished, and my wife and I had a second child, and we became foster parents and we adopted our son all during my time when I started co-chairing the Membership Committee until the time when I was the Immediate Past President. Suffice it to say, if I can do it, any of you can, too!  And in case you haven’t heard, I do not have a type-A personality, and rumor has it and my performance evaluations will confirm that I am not super organized or detailed-oriented.   
 
If you are still not convinced that you should jump in the deep end, we have brainstormed five really good reasons why we think you should consider chairing a committee or chapter. 
 
Reason 1 -- To Be In The Room Where It Happens: Chairing an IPMA committee and chapter is a wonderful way to be part of the shaping and planning IPMA initiatives. The IPMA always welcomes new ideas and perspectives, and we also need people who can take these ideas and put them into action!  As an association, we must stay relevant and current with the times, and we rely on ourselves and members to inform each other of the trends and developments we are seeing in our firms and corporate legal departments to ensure the content we are producing for our conferences and webinars remains at the cutting edge. 
 
Reason 2 -- Building and Strengthening Your Network: One of my favorite things IPMA is how easy it is to build your network.  Everyone is so friendly, smart, and engaging and are looking for others to be part of their network, too. In the role of a chapter or committee chair, you will have the opportunity to get to know other IPMA members, continue building your “phone a friend” network and to stay in regular contact your fellow members locally and internationally.  Warning: The contacts you make through the IPMA can lead to forming lasting friendships and networking opportunities.
 
Reason 3 -- An Overwhelming Sense of Accomplishment: Joining IPMA and moving into a leadership role is one of the most fulfilling things that you can do. Just like when you were first promoted into a leadership role in your firm or corporate legal department comes tells you that you are on the right track to a successful career. This is no different when you rise in the IPMA ranks.  The feeling of accomplishment, along with the growth and development you will experience is the same.  You will also gain additional experience running meetings, public speaking and assist in connecting and developing fellow members. 
 
Reason 4 -- Stay on the Cutting Edge:  Our leadership assures us that they are staying on the cutting edge of what other firms and corporations are doing and how they are handling the situation at hand, whether it’s their return-to-work plan, remote work policy or new performance evaluation program.  What we need to know, however, is how this plays out for us and our teams.  Attending regular IPMA meetings and playing a key role in leading these meetings will keep you abreast of how other firms are handling the same situations you are going through. This has proven to be particularly useful during the ever-changing environment during the Covid-19 pandemic. There seemed to be a portion of every meeting that was dedicated to “how are you handling this…” 
 
Reason 5 -- A Resume Building Opportunity: Don’t even think that employers don’t recognize volunteer leadership roles you’ve held when they are reviewing resumes. We know we do. Candidates who have been active in associations will also be active in the “extra” work we need volunteers for around the office and will add to our firm culture. When interviewing people involved in the IPMA or other associations we are involved with, the questioning of who they know, what committees have they been on, and which conferences have you attended starts immediately. Hopefully this will lead to a jovial conversation of shared contacts and/or experiences that will build a great rapport with the interviewer and will significantly increase your chances of getting that new job!  
 
Having been on the Board of Directors for a while now and coming from the position of President, I (Patty) can honestly say that joining a committee or two after my first conference was one of the best decisions that I ever made. I felt totally overwhelmed at my first conference and couldn’t imagine how everyone around me got to be so close. Brian, my co-author, convinced me to join the conference committee and the communications committee and in doing so I got to know a number of my fellow members, now my friends (many of whom I am still very close with even though they have retired or left the profession). From there, it was a natural progression (in my case trial by fire- but that is a story for a different day) to co-chairing the conference committee, running for various seats on the board and then finally deciding to run for President. I will forever be grateful to Brian for prodding me into joining my first committees as this has truly been one of the most meaningful things that I have done during my 40-year paralegal/manager career. I love this Association and will continue to be an active part of helping to shape where it goes by being on committees even after I leave the Board this year. We have done the work for you- you don’t need to figure out what the one thing is- just join a committee, then become its chair and then run for the Board. You will be so happy that you did.
 
 

What Are Your Summer Vacation Plans?

By: Ciara Hodges, Senior Association Coordinator, IPMA

The Communications Committee has implemented a new series to find out What You Are Doing. Whether you're spending a weekend at the lakehouse or driving down the West Coast. The IPMA wants to continue to get to know its members. 

 
Here's where your peers are vacationing this summer:
 
  • Lake Okoboji, Iowa
  • Bancroft, Iowa
  • Long Beach Island, New Jersey
  • Charleston, South Carolina
  • Coast of Maine
  • Coast of South Carolina
  • Glenwood Springs, Colorado
  • Lakehouse in Plattsburgh, New York
  • Fairfield Glades, Crossville, Tennessee
  • Big Sur, California
  • Crater Lake, Oregon


 

Our Iceberg is Melting: Changing and Succeeding Under Any Conditions

Book Review Written By: Chanel Bradden, Manager, Assistant Corporate Secretary, Lockheed Martin Corporation
   
John Kotter and Holger Rathgeber. 10th Anniversary Edition. www.ouricebergismelting.com. John has been on the faculty at Harvard Business School since 1972, and is the author of eleven award-winning titles.

Our Iceberg is Melting is a dynamic story of a colony of penguins, yes, penguins, who work together to find a solution to a melting iceberg. The mantra of this book is “Changing and Succeeding Under Any Conditions,” and it illustrates John Kotter’s pioneering research into the eight steps that can produce needed change in any kind of group. This book provides an inside look at how organizational change is made when the right tools and resources are employed. The book answers the question of what it is like to be faced with a potentially catastrophic event and how the right types of communication and action can inspire success. 
 
Now, let’s get into it! This book is superb, genius, and a plethora of other adjectives that can be used to describe a masterpiece. It is a simple and comical guide to organizational change management from the vantage point of a colony of penguins facing extinction because of a melting iceberg. This book is compelling, and as a leader, it helps me to understand the intricacies of organizational change and the importance of finding the right leaders with the right skills to empower others to action. 
 
The book begins with the history of the penguins and how they’ve lived on the iceberg for many years. It was their home and by all accounts, would remain their home forever. Sort of how a tenured employee would view their job and their company. The problem with that philosophy is that while an organization may be around for many years, the environment in which it operates will certainly change and there is no way around that. Leaders must prepare themselves for that inevitable change.
 
On the colony lived 268 penguins, male, female, and child, alike. Each with a different personality and different gifts. To accomplish the organizational change of finding a way to survive the melting iceberg, the colony, through communications from the guiding coalition, successfully moved the colony to another iceberg. Sounds simple? Not even close. However, there was a method to the madness, and it involved Kotter’s Eight Stage Process for organizational change (Kotter & Rathgeber, 2005).
 
Establish A Sense of Urgent[1]
Upon the recommendation of an astute and well-informed penguin, the leaders made the decision to act swiftly to rally the troops to secure cooperation. By understanding what was at stake through data analysis and interpretation, they were able to proceed strategically and expeditiously.
 
Create the Guiding Coalition
The penguin leadership evaluated the skillset of not only their leadership, but of other penguins to determine which were most compatible to handle the enormity of the situation. You would not have to think too hard to figure out which of the characters you relate to the most. Fred, Alice, Louis, Buddy, the Professor, and NoNo each represent a part of any organization. My favorite character is Alice because she represented agile leadership. She was also a respectful and respectable active listener who was approachable. Most of all, she trusted others to take the necessary actions.
 
Develop a Vision and Strategy
Although challenging, the guiding coalition worked to develop a vision and strategy to accomplish the mission. The book discusses the steps they took to get the leadership team on board with the strategy which included gathering and measuring data which allowed leadership to make an informed decision. The question you have to answer is “how will the future be different from the past, and how do we make that future a reality? (Kotter, 2012)”[2]
 
Communicate for Understanding and Buy-In
This goes beyond sending an email or making an announcement on the loudspeaker. This requires getting enough people from varying ranks of the organization on board with change and willing to help communicate the change.
 
Empower Others to Act
This is what the author considers “removing barriers to action.” It deals with finding out what
hinders progress so those who are willing to support the change and carry out the vision can succeed. This is how true innovation occurs, by knowing your plan and anticipating roadblocks.
 
Generate Short-Term Wins
In the book, there were several steps the penguins had to take to accomplish their mission. By celebrating the successes along the way, they were able to motivate the masses to continue to their goals.
 
Don’t Let Up!
With each short-term win, keep pushing! The book shows us how being relentless when working towards organizational change can help make the vision a reality.
 
Create a New Culture
With organizational change comes a change in culture that should change behaviors that become patterns that, once strong enough, can become new and better ways of doing things. This book shows you not only how to manage through one catastrophe, but how to put the behaviors and steps in place to handle future events as well. Creating a new culture is about preparing your organization to adapt to change and to become agile organizations.
 
While this book takes you through the eight steps, it also provides general guidance on how to effect organizational change. One of the additional points it makes is for organizations to appreciate the value of group discussion. The book takes you through several cases that show how ineffective dialogue can kill momentum for organizational change.
 
My favorite part of the book was the anticipation of seeing what it would take for the leaders to get on board with the mission and the different avenues they took to rally the troops to make everyone feel included. It considered the differences in perspectives and experiences of all penguins and found a way to unify the approach – successfully.
 
This story gripped me from beginning to end. I had to read it for one of my required courses while pursuing my MBA in Leadership, but once I completed the first chapter, I was hooked! I thought to myself “how is this story about penguins going to change the way I think and feel about leadership?’ The answer is simple, organizational change is fluid and relatable to many other types of groups that experience change.
 
I would recommend this book to leaders on all levels, as well as people who aspire to leadership, as it provides solid examples of how change can be successful if the right behaviors are at play and if people are willing to put in the work and operate harmoniously towards a common goal.
 
The 159 pages of this book landed on my top ten list of leadership books that I highly recommend. I give “Our Iceberg Is Melting” 10 out of 10 stars!
 
Chanel M. Bradden is Manager, Assistant Corporate Secretary at Lockheed Martin Corporation, supervising  a dynamic team of subsidiary management specialists responsible for corporate secretarial governance and compliance matters relating to Lockheed Martin’s global wholly owned subsidiaries and affiliates. Ms. Bradden has served as the Editor-in-Chief of the National Capital Area Paralegal Association’s  premiere publication, OnPoint, for over four years.  She received her Bachelor of Science in Legal Studies from the University of Maryland Global Campus and is  currently an MBA candidate with a Leadership concentration.

Kotter, J. P., & Rathgeber, H. (2005). Our iceberg is melting. New York, NY: St Martin’s Press.
[2] Kotter, J. P. (2012). Leading change. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press.