By: Shane Percival

Did you know that I started my career as a network engineer? Looking back, I’m surprised I found the job I love.

A series of events led me to change careers, head to law school in 2003, and become an IP Attorney:

During my last semester at CU-Boulder’s engineering school, I had an on-campus interview with Boeing, eventually flying to Seattle and interviewing at their production facility in Everett, WA. Upon leaving that Friday, I was informed that HR would be contacting me in the next week with the final details of my offer.  

The call from HR never happened. Early that following week, Boeing announced they were acquiring McDonnel Douglas & placed a freeze on hiring new grads.  

Fortunately, I quickly found myself at a start-up in the Boulder area working on videoconferencing technology systems, which quickly led to working on software with Sony Electronics televisions in the San Diego area.  This led to a network engineer gig – writing server scripts for a wireless multimedia startup in San Diego and eventually managing the installation of satellite data receiving and processing systems for another San Diego company.  

Much of my work as an engineer involved traveling internationally to install hardware and software systems.  Over one six-month stretch, I was in Hong Kong more than I was in the U.S.  During another six months, I was based solely in Europe, with my company renting me flats in the Mayfair & Kensington districts so I could quickly access our customers throughout Europe. During these times, I learned the value of communication and helping others. Being patient & ensuring the customer was aware of each detail of system operation ensured the customer would come back again & again for new products.  

However, my love for the engineering process began to wane over this period. My fellow engineers loved coding, frequently discussing the pet projects they were working on in their spare time. I, however, began to really enjoy the communication and operation management aspects of my work.  

Around this time I started thinking about a conversation I had in engineering school:

I was in my fourth year of undergrad and a friend was graduating. His father, a D.C-based patent attorney, knew I was an engineer and he asked me if I’d ever thought about going into patent law. I had no idea what he was talking about, so he described it to me.  As I began thinking about this conversation years later, I realized that my hardware and software technical background, combined with my written and oral communication skills and desire to help others could transition perfectly to becoming a patent and trademark IP attorney.  

Fast forward to today and not only do I love working on and learning about new inventions every day but also helping companies secure and enforce their brands and establishing strategies for protecting a company’s most important assets.  

Why an IP Attorney?

Providing a service to others that helps businesses grow and profit is what gets me out of bed every day and makes me excited to do what I do. These people and companies are relying on me and everyone at the firm they come into contact with to help ensure their businesses succeed. 

I love the fact that I can help people out and make them happy. Many people helped me get to where I am today and I enjoy returning the favor to others every day.  

Another reason I love being an IP Attorney is that I enjoy learning.  Being an intellectual property attorney enables me to learn about new inventions and how businesses operate every day.  Learning new concepts and helping others every day? To me, that’s a life well-lived and I feel lucky and blessed to have the opportunity to give what I’ve learned to people and companies that need it.  

In My Spare Time

I guess since this is an article about me, I should provide some non-work related aspects of my life.  I enjoy reading nonfiction books – historical, political, personal growth, and books on real estate are some that tend to find their way to my nightstand.   

And like 99% of Coloradans, I enjoy many aspects of nature that this state has to offer.  I try to golf, ski, run, fish, camp, and hike as much as I can around work and family. As an engineer in San Diego, I surfed as much as possible, frequently heading out around sunrise before work. Anything that can get me outside is usually something I’m interested in. To me, being outside lets me connect with nature, calming my mind, and feeding my soul.  It’s also a large basis of why I promote sustainable concepts and am a champion of laws and companies that put their energy towards protecting the environment. 

For example, one of my current clients provides power systems for industrial systems. They ensure that power supplied industrial devices are precise and accurate and have developed software that manages that power to ensure that their power consumption is as efficient as possible.  

This isn’t a super “flashy” sustainability product like Tesla’s solar roofs.  Still, it provides significant help to the environment as it decreases power consumption across multiple industrial processes.  I like that I’m able to do the little bit that I do to help out the environment.  

Why I Am Unique

My experience as an engineer makes me unique at Neugeboren O’Dowd. 

Not only have I worked with small businesses and start-ups as an engineer, but I also worked at a very large engineering and operations organization.  I’ve been a part of companies that have less than 20 engineers, a couple of hundred engineers and thousands of engineers – there were around 800 engineers in our one building in San Diego. 

With this breadth of experience, I not only understand how large companies operate but also how small and mid-size companies and start-ups run their businesses. I know how operational details such as budgets and organizational charts affect IP enforcement and yearly goals. 

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Being an IP attorney provides me with the ability to interact with my clients on a daily basis, enabling me to grow personally and professionally with my clients.  I feel lucky on a daily basis to have this opportunity.