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Building and Evolving an IP Law Firm With David Lowe

Building and Evolving an IP Law Firm With David Lowe

December 6, 2023   |   Written by Gladiator Law Marketing
David Lowe David LoweDavid Lowe is a Registered Patent Attorney and a Founding Member of Lowe Graham Jones, a Seattle-based, full-service law firm specializing exclusively in intellectual property law. The firm is known for providing exceptional services to clients from emerging to established companies, both locally and globally. For over 24 years, David’s expertise has encompassed all facets of intellectual property law, including patent, trademark, and copyright procurement, with a particular focus on intellectual property litigation and client counseling. His comprehensive experience extends to dispute resolution, encompassing mediation, arbitration, and litigation. David is licensed to practice in federal courts at all levels and holds admissions in various states across the United States.
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Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:

  • David Lowe shares the founding story of Lowe Graham Jones
  • How and when David knew he wanted to become an attorney
  • What sets Lowe Graham Jones apart from other IP law firms
  • Starting a law firm after law school
  • Growth strategies for a successful law practice
  • How the pandemic impacted Lowe Graham Jones

In this episode…

What does it take to build and evolve an IP law firm in today’s dynamic legal landscape? How does one navigate these complex waters to create a successful, resilient practice? According to David Lowe, a renowned intellectual property attorney, the key is a deep integration of legal expertise with technological insight and a proactive approach to changes in the legal environment. His experience, from the dot-com boom to the challenges of the pandemic, highlights the importance of adaptability and responsiveness. David emphasizes that building a successful IP law firm goes beyond just understanding the law; it’s about anticipating industry shifts, nurturing client relationships, and maintaining a global perspective in a rapidly evolving field. In this episode of 15 Minutes, Chad Franzen speaks with David Lowe, a Registered Patent Attorney and a Founding Member of Lowe Graham Jones. They discuss the development of an IP law firm, adapting to changes in the legal landscape, and the importance of building lasting professional relationships. David also shares insights on Lowe Graham Jones’ global expansion, their unique approach to litigation and transactional work, and the strategies behind their success.

Resources mentioned in this episode:

Sponsor for this episode…

This episode is brought to you by Gladiator Law Marketing, where we deliver tailor-made services to help you accomplish your objectives and maximize your growth potential. To have a successful marketing campaign and make sure you’re getting the best ROI, your firm needs to have a better website and better content. At Gladiator Law Marketing, we use artificial intelligence, machine learning, and decades of experience to outperform the competition. To learn more, go to or schedule a free marketing consultation. You can also send an email to

Episode Transcript

Intro  0:01   You’re listening to 15 Minutes, where we feature community leaders sharing what the rest of us should know but likely don’t. Chad Franzen  0:12   Hi. Chad Franzen here, one of the hosts of Share Your Voice where we talk with top notch law firms and lawyers about what it takes to run a successful law practice. This episode is brought to you by Gladiator Law Marketing, delivering tailor made services to help you accomplish your objectives and maximize your growth potential. To have a successful marketing campaign and make sure you’re getting the best ROI your firm needs to have a better website and better content. Gladiator Law Marketing uses artificial intelligence, machine learning and decades of experience to outperform the competition. To learn more, go to or you can schedule a free marketing consultation. David Lowe is a registered patent attorney with a technical background in computer science and software engineering. He is a first chair intellectual property litigator and founder of Seattle IP boutique law firm Lowe Graham Jones. David has experience in all aspects of intellectual property intellectual property law, both in the united states and foreign countries, including patent, trademark and copyright procurements with an emphasis on intellectual property litigation, and related client counseling. David is admitted to practice at all levels of federal courts and in various states across the country, and helps clients of all sizes throughout the US and many international jurisdictions. David, thanks so much for joining me today. How are you? Happy to speak with you. Hey, so tell me a little bit more about Lowe Graham Jones and what the firm does. David Lowe  1:39   Sure, we were founded in 1999, July 1, in the middle of, boom, when there was a crazy need for intellectual property attorneys. I came out of law school at 94 from the University of Washington and started the practice with local Northwest firm called Christian. So Connor spent about five years there was a senior associate, learn everything that you kind of needed to do for the practice. And there was just people banging down the door, they wanted patents, they wanted to copyrights trademarks. Because, again, that was the bubble, if you recall back in that time, and there was just not enough IP representation. So myself and a couple of other senior associates have founded the firm at the time, Black Lowe and Graham was subsequently one of the partners left and we became Lowe Graham Jones in 2011. But we are a boutique firm, we specialize only in intellectual property, both procurement of trademarks, patents, copyrights, as well as enforcement of those rights once they’re procured, as well as related issues, you know, trade secrets and the like. Chad Franzen  2:44   How and when did you know you wanted to become an attorney? David Lowe  2:48   It’s a good question. I’ve been asked that by my kids many times. And you know, back in high school, I grew up in a rural eastern Washington on an asparagus farm of all places, but I had this passion for two things. I loved technology and science. Again, this was the early 80s. And I loved speaking. And so I joined the school’s debate team. And we, you know, went to state and regional did a lot there. And then also I participated every year in what’s called the science fair, I don’t know if you remember that from your own high school. You know, the geeky kids get together and they work on experiments. And they go on, they compete. And I did that and went to international science fair for four years. So I had this desire to do both. I love technology, I thought about going into science, I love speaking. And so I went off to to school at Brigham Young University, and started out in computer science and engineering. And it wasn’t until I got near the end of that program, that I decided that wait a minute, the best way to blend those two was to go to law school. So off I went. And it was only the about the second year of law school that I kind of stumbled upon intellectual property. There, you get to deal with people on the cutting edge of technology, working with them, you have to kind of keep up to speed on the technology while still knowing how to translate that into the legal realm and to secure rights and enforce those rights. Chad Franzen  4:09   So you didn’t necessarily know that this is what the kind of the legal needs that you were going to follow when you entered law school, or did you know that right away based on your background? David Lowe  4:18   Well, not really is interesting. In the early 80s, there was about 5 million general practice attorneys, and you know, maybe 100,000 Intellectual Property attorneys just wasn’t a big demand. It wasn’t a big specialty. Back then there were boutique firms, and most of the general firms didn’t even have IP departments and listed property departments. And so it wasn’t until I kind of stumbled into this. In fact, one of my professors at University of Washington was Donald Chisum, who happen to have literally wrote the book on patent law. And so he kind of got me into that and University of Washington of all places because of his influence and others was kind of really keen on a pathway to take these attorneys that have technical background and Moving intellectual property for patent law, many people don’t realize this, but for general practice law, you know, you can have any kind of background Political Science, English, you know, whatever you want. It doesn’t have to be science and you can sit for the bar and you can become authorized to practice. But there’s a separate bar, you have to take offered by the US Patent and Trademark Office in Washington, DC, to be able to represent people to secure patents because of the technical nature. And so it’s a very small percentage of people that go to law school that have the technical background necessary to sit for the Patent Bar. And so that’s why there’s such a few number of those is very hard to pass, you know, the pass rate is like 35%, compared to 75%, for general practice bar. So you really have to take two bars, which makes it a very small kind of a group of both the you know, it locally and nationwide. Chad Franzen  5:51   I don’t know that much about, like, or I know, I’m not very good at computer science. does. Does it require a whole different way of thinking when it comes to computer science as opposed to law? Or are they similar? I would think that they’re pretty different. David Lowe  6:05   Well, you know, you raise a good question. And it’s a point that I’ve made repeatedly. So most of the patent patent and trademark attorneys, intellectual property attorneys, they do either one type of law, transactional law, or a different type of law, litigation, or enforcement, right. So so for example, in patents, you have to be very detail oriented. That’s why a lot of scientists and people with science backgrounds become that you’ve got to be very meticulous about how you describe inventions, how you claim inventions, how you argue back and forth with the Patent and Trademark Office to secure patents. That kind of transactional work lends itself to people like engineers who are science related computer scientists and the like. On the other hand, you have people that are better like to speak, right like to argue, like to debate things like that like to present in front of a judge or a jury. That’s usually a very different type of an outgoing personality than you get with engineers. So what you have in most practices and intellectual property is a division. You have your group within these these firms, boutique firms are large firms that do intellectual property, a group that does transactional work, you know, the works on prosecuting patents, securing trademarks, securing copyrights, but they really don’t get involved in disputes or go to court, then you have a different group, that doesn’t really do the prosecution, they just go to court, right. They work with clients, they go and litigate. They make the presentations, they argue their cases. Actually, there’s myself and a few at our firm are really kind of a maverick in that, in that we combine those two, very few people can do both the prosecution of intellectual property and litigate. And as you saw from from my resume, and what we do myself, and a couple of my partners are unique in that, in that we both get it we understand how to prosecute patents and trademarks on the one hand, but we also can present to judges and juries, on the other hand in a convincing and compelling way. And I think that that leads to the very best type of attorneys, because on the one hand, given that you prosecute patents and trademarks, you understand what it takes to get those you understand the process of negotiating with the Patent and Trademark Office. And that makes you better at litigate, because then you understand the backdrop and the context for these patents that you’re enforcing. On the other hand, I think the fact that the you litigate, and you enforce you stand in front of a judge and jury, and you have to explain these things to a lay perspective, makes you that much better about knowing what you need to do in terms of prosecuting these patents. So very few, if you look at out of the you know, you know, the attorneys that are out there in intellectual property law, very few do both patent and prosecution and litigation. Chad Franzen  8:53   Yeah, absolutely. I would imagine I was gonna say you guys are like, kind of beautiful unicorns almost, I’ve met, you know, you know, the people who help fix my computer where I work. And while they’re very good at their jobs, very nice people, I wouldn’t want them necessarily communicating on my behalf. So, so you guys are very unique in that in that respect? What is it that you like most about what you do? David Lowe  9:15   It goes back to my years growing up in high school, I love both the technology, I mean, literally, by definition to obtain a patent. Um, it has to be something that’s new, novel, not obvious, something that’s not been done before. So when you work with inventors, whether they’re sole inventors in a startup company, whether they’re some of the works of Boeing, or Amazon or Microsoft, no, no matter how big or small, those inventors are on the cutting edge of their fields, and so to be able to work with them, you know, harkens me back to the days about my experimentation and my science projects. I love that aspect of it. On the other hand, I love the ability to enforce these paths right to counsel with clients. Like I don’t I always urged people to avoid litigation. I do everything I can ahead of time, you know, an ounce of prevention is worth, you know how many pounds of enforcement later on. But I always urge people to take the steps necessary to protect their rights, just keep them out of litigation. But when it eventually happens, and it’s almost inevitable if you’re a business these days, then I enjoy working with people interacting with the clients, again, whether they’re small startups or whether they’re large companies, and be able to counsel them on how best to enforce their rights, defend their position, whatever it takes. Chad Franzen  10:32   You told us a little bit earlier about the about how Lowe Graham Jones kind of came about over the early days at the firm like I know, you would you’d already been working for five years after law school. What were the early days of kind of having your own place? Like? David Lowe  10:47   Yeah, well, I’ll tell you. So there was three of us and a senior associates that left the same firm and started our own firm. And for the first six months, we rolled up our sleeves, and we said, Okay, look. And we did it the right way, we left we did not tell any of the clients that we had worked for the other firm that we were leaving until we put in our notice, given our two weeks, and we’d left. And then we reach back out to them. And we said, look, we’re starting a new firm, we’re happy to work with you if you want or you’re welcome to get handed off to other attorneys at the firm. And we got word of mouth and we managed to really all the all the clients we had worked with before elected to come with us. We were young, we were aggressive. We’re all similarly situated. We’re all you know, 30 something with you know, kids, and a really a focus on style of living. But we were willing to work hard. And we started out and said the first six months, we’re going to just literally operate out of one of my partner’s basements, we didn’t have we were virtual of that type long before it became vogue to be virtual, we were virtual, right. We got our letterhead, we got our business cards, we reached out and clients came to us. And we’re able to make that transition and continue doing great work for them. We were lean and mean, you know, our rates were very competitive, we were very efficient. What we did, we weren’t bloated, like so many law firms get. And we’re able to do a great job. And you know that the way we do our compensation structure, we started out with three of us and quickly grew to a dozen attorneys, because we attracted laterals of other attorneys that had a similar kind of a mindset and a style again, that was in an age where, you know, the 80s 90s firms have become so large and bloated. And you know, the the overhead rate was 60%, when it should be 30%. And you had a situation where where the client started to realize, wait a minute, why are we paying for the for the AE plus space and the gray view, when we can get the same or superior work done for a lot less. So we’re able to find that niche combined with the fact that there were just so many companies that bubble, looking for, for attorneys looking to have work done looking to get patents and trademarks filed quickly. And it was taking just so long that these larger firms that were slower to act, and so that allowed us to get off the ground. Again, within the first year, we grew from three to a dozen attorneys. And you know, we haven’t looked back since. Chad Franzen  13:05   Yeah, it sounds like you guys had some amazing growth. And it happened right away. Was there anything maybe from a business perspective or something that you guys kind of realized that none of us really knew this? David Lowe  13:18   Well, I mean, it’s nothing revolutionary, it’s things that go back, you know, hundreds of years, 1000s of years, I mean, it, I think there’s two keys. And, you know, you’re here, I know, focusing on marketing, and I think there’s a lot can that be done this kind of a presentation. Um, you know, having a good website these days, having having, you know, some advertisements may or may not be good over the years, we’ve done advertisements in local bar journals and things like that. But to be honest with you, the two fundamental things that I think that make a successful law practice, at least to have been for us come down to things that are that are the same kind of qualities that people have been looking for, for centuries. And that is, number one, provide good service for us provide quality legal service in a cost efficient and timely manner. Because this leads to continued representation of those clients, and repeat business be responsive. I mean, you know, you sacrifice a little bit on the home front, but I get calls and emails and all kinds of day or night and on the weekend. And I get back to people, right? Because in the legal field, at least when people have a problem. They churn insurance, and they want an answer, right. And that’s what we’re here to guide that. So be responsive. And then the other thing is that it’s important to always be honest with your clients. And even if the outcomes aren’t good, our job is to give you the tools to help you make a business decision. You as the client, right? Good or bad. Here’s the risks. Here’s the rewards. Now you go make a business decision. So one thing is provide quality legal service and if you do that, you’re going to get referrals. I can’t tell you how much of my business comes from one client referring to know that hey, here’s a great attorney he responsive, he’s very efficient go to. The second thing I would say, is lasting relationships, right? Not just with your clients, but especially with other attorneys. So because we’re a boutique firm, we specialize in intellectual property patents, trademarks, copyrights, trade secrets. We don’t do slip and fall cases. We don’t do employment issues. We don’t do corporate corporate structure, things like that. So we have relationships where we’ve made over the years where, hey, if you’ve got an employment question, I’m going to send it to my my friend down down the way the practices there. On the other hand, if they have any kind of intellectual property question, who do they come to? They come to me. And you’ve got to be willing, I think, to spend a few minutes, they talk about pro bono in the law profession, you know, donating time and things like that, you know, I don’t track it, but I can’t tell you the number of hours. You know, over the weeks, months, years, I’ve spent just answering calls, potential clients or other attorneys. And a lot of times that doesn’t lead to a direct billable event or compensation at that time. It’s okay, I’m willing to spend a few minutes and answer a question. And maybe it will go a whole different direction, and they won’t need my assistant. Because every time you do that you establish and reestablish that relationship. And that’s, that makes them comfortable, these other attorneys to come back and ask you later on, hey, I feel comfortable with you representing my client, in this intellectual property question, knowing that I’m not going to lose business to you like what happens at a large, firm, large firm, they have IP departments, somebody refers into there, and then they have a tendency to try to suck all their other business away, we don’t do that. So it’s about preserving those relationships. Last thing I would say is, over the last 15 or 20 years, we’ve become a global firm. And so we have a fair amount of our work that comes from all over the world, Europe, China, Southeast Asia. And it’s because we establish these relationships with equivalent intellectual property attorneys and other places right. Now, over there. Interestingly enough, unlike in the US, I can be a patent attorney, that also goes to court, you may know that in England, they have barristers and solicitors that there’s a big demarcation between transactional work and others. And so I’m able to appeal to both. And that’s the way it is a major stiction, I’m able to appeal to both those that want transactional help, as well as enforcement help. And you know, for instance, every year, I go to something called into international trademark Association, where there’s seven or 8000 trademark attorneys from all over the world that get together, I just got back in May from Singapore, where we have a conference there. So every year, they have a different location, you meet with those, you establish those relationships, they send me work, I send them work, and that represents, you know, 20 or 30% of our overall business. So I think quality legal service, and I think those last two relationships, in addition to being visible marketing website, you know, things like that in the community. But those are the keys. Chad Franzen  18:04   Sure, sure. Well, it sounds like you’ve had some some amazing growth, I mean, to go from a basement to being global, is amazing. Is there maybe like some specific moments or milestones that you’re particularly proud of during the lifespan of your firm? David Lowe  18:16   Yeah, good question. I mean, they often say that a business has to last, what two years to be able to survive. So, you know, July of 2001, was a key moment, right? Where we were two years, and we looked at each other. Now by that time, it was interesting. We, we started off in the basement, the first six months, we kind of stumbled into so you remember, there was a dot bubble in 99-000, then about 2001, boom, the bubble burst 2002, right. And then you went from having all this work, and this clients to having a lot of empty space, all these startups in Seattle disappeared. And so we happen to stumble on too much Martin selek that owns several buildings in Seattle that had a third floor of an 1880 built building above the Metropolitan grill. And so we kind of gravitated from the basement, we signed our first lease. And we’re actually downtown and official, right, um, you can look down the road. And you can see that the Mariner stadium and look up the street and see the space needle, look out over the water. It was a great location, but it was, you know, b2b space. But, but we still kept all of our clients. We started bringing in more support staff and told you we grew to about a dozen people. And then we just took off. So that was kind of a key moment where you hit that two year mark, and you move. Another key moment was in 2011. At that time, we had our one of our original partners that left decided to do a different area of practice and took several associates and went in house. That was a bit of a setback, right? You go from probably 15 or 18 attorneys down to 10 or 11 At that point, right. And so we kind of had to regroup, keep the core together, change our name to allow Gramma Jones and then take off and about that time within a few years. We get and several other laterals. And off we went. And, you know, we experienced some pretty significant growth between about 2011 and probably 2018 19. And then, you know, COVID hit. So I guess the third milestone, and it’s probably not unique it to many other businesses was was tough because of COVID, we saw not as much a diminishment in work, because we had established cases and clients and people needed work, but it’s just a whole new tile, of how you operate. As you know, right, we had many more people that were locked down, especially in Seattle area where they locked down a ton of people, you weren’t able to go into the office. So we really kind of this transition to virtual we, we reduced our footprint, we changed offices, and you know, a lot of us who left then didn’t ever go back or didn’t go back on a regular basis. But we’re still strong, you know, we still have what do we have about 12 or 13 attorneys now and staff, but they’re just spread out more, right, a lot of work from home at different sides. But we still provide work, we still got a great core, we’ve been able to keep throughout the 20 plus years of our existence coming up. We just passed what are we 24 years now, we still be able to keep you know, our core values, which are lean and mean, low overhead. You know, we aren’t the cheapest firm, but we aren’t the most expensive firm. And we offer that sweet spot to clients not only locally, but up and down the west coast and throughout the country right now. And we love what we do. Chad Franzen  21:27   You mentioned lean and mean, you guys, you grew pretty fast. He started out in six months in the basement, you were already hiring new people. Was it a big leap of faith or kind of adult to bring in somebody new and know that they were going to be on the payroll and doing things that maybe you were you were used to doing? David Lowe  21:44   Well, it was a leap of faith. I mean, I remember with my partners when we decided to leave in 1999 saying, Look, we have a steady salary we have you know, we all got families, we have mortgages, we have obligations, do you really want to do this? And we said, Yep, let’s do it. Because we were confident in our own abilities, right? And the circumstances the environment was right. Well, the same kind of thing. When we decided to grow, we said, look, the way that we structured our firm is not what you call an an eat, what you kill type of firm, where you just get based on your billings, but it’s also not the kind of firm which we never did like, which is bloated. You know, in most firms, they give you a set salary, they have the compensation committee that goes in at the end of the year. And they evaluate that and they say, Well, we think you’re worth more, you’re worth less with things like that. We didn’t like any of that. So we created a system in 99, where it was objective, right? It was based on what you originate, what you bill, and how you help manage the firm. And but it’s all in a in a business model that is highly transparent. Everyone can see what they’re doing. If you want to work more hours, you’re gonna make more money. If you want to take more time off, you don’t, you know, unlike most of them, we didn’t have billable requirements, right, you could really gauge what you wanted. But we were all out there and aggressive and wanting to work and develop our practices. So we knew because the people we brought on that it would be successful. And instead of having this, you know, mysterious compensation committee, everybody knows, we made them partners early on in the process, you know, a piece of the action, so to speak, and it crept provided this incentive, I mean, instead of most law for law firms, which puts you on a membership track to seven or eight years, you can be a member invest in after two or three years, right. So that was highly incentivized to really take ownership of this firm and grow it. So for those reasons, you know, it was a high risk, but a higher reward. And we really brought in people that were like us more entrepreneurial in nature than those people who just wanted to be plotters and get a stack of papers and work through it and get their salary and go home. Chad Franzen  23:45   So it sounds like you guys are a very unique and forward thinking firm. I have one more question for you. But first, how can people find out more about Lowe Graham and Jones? David Lowe  23:52   Well, there’s a couple of ways that our website And you can look us up I’m listed there, you can give me a call. Like I say I touted my responsiveness I’ll be responsive 206-335-3303 Give me a call, you can shoot me an email, So there’s a number of different ways our website has some some general information about our practice areas. If you have any kind of intellectual property needs, you know, if you have an idea or an invention, you’re not quite sure whether it’s anything, you know, give us a call. We’re happy to spend a few minutes to help guide you. Maybe it’ll turn it off to something maybe not. If you’ve got a great brand that you know a trademark if you’ve got if you’ve written something a book, a website, if you’ve got an issue with I’ve got this secret, how do I interact with my employer because this is really separate from that. Any of those kinds of questions. We’re happy to help guide you and just give us a call or shoot us an email and we’ll follow up. Chad Franzen  24:55   Hey, last last question for you. You mentioned that you guys were kind of remote before remote became in vogue. How did how did remote work look, when you guys first started doing it compared to you know how it is now? David Lowe  25:08   Well, it wasn’t nearly as acceptable, right? I mean, when I started practice in the early 90s, it was still suit and tie every day, right and five days a week. And then it wasn’t really until what the late 90s, early 2000s, when people started going more to business casual. And so at the time, people were still, I want to be in person, I want to be able to walk into a law firm see the brick and mortar and that kind of thing. So it was tough at that time, right? Because we didn’t have a presence, we had to rent space that we met with clients back at that time. But begin because we were so responsive, and we were willing to get back to people and they liked the results. We managed to kind of smooth that over, we didn’t really have much of a hiccup in the transition. Now that didn’t change of course, for another decade, or plus, right. And COVID was really the final nail in the coffin and people says, we don’t need this brick and mortar anymore. But it was interesting, even 20 years ago when we first started doing this, that because we were willing to travel to clients go to the businesses meet in other locations. It seemed to work out alright. Chad Franzen  26:13   Sounds good. Hey, David. It’s been great to talk to you really appreciate your time today. Thank you so much. David Lowe  26:17   You bet. happy to speak with you. Chad Franzen  26:18   So long, everybody. Outro  26:21   Thanks for listening to 15 Minutes. Be sure to subscribe and we’ll see you next time.

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