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Transitioning From Tech to Patent Law With Barry Lewin

August 2, 2023   |   Written by Gladiator Law Marketing
Barry Lewin Barrin LewinBarry Lewin is a Partner Attorney at Gottlieb, Rackman & Reisman, a full-service intellectual property boutique law firm known for providing expert legal advice on patent, trademark, copyright, and unfair competition law. Barry specializes in patent prosecution for mechanical and electronic inventions, covering technology from software and hardware in the medical device field to telecommunications, material science, and robotics. Before his successful law career, Barry held directorial roles at Lucent Technologies, Telcordia Technologies, and SAIC, leading initiatives in product assurance, intellectual property, and new product development. An active participant in the academic sector, he periodically lectures at institutions such as Tufts University and Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law and has previously taught university-level mathematics.
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Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:

  • Barry Lewin shares what Gottlieb, Rackman & Reisman specializes in
  • What Barry enjoys about practicing patent law
  • Barry’s motivation for transitioning from a career in engineering to the legal industry
  • What was it like for Barry to return to school in his late 40s?
  • How Barry’s engineering background translates to his law practice
  • Barry’s career highlights
  • The best pieces of advice Barry learned from his mentors

In this episode…

Imagine spending decades building a successful career in telecommunications, only to take a sharp turn and dive headfirst into a completely different field — patent law. Such an abrupt shift isn’t for the faint-hearted, but Barry Lewin proved it’s never too late to pursue a new professional path. Barry is a seasoned patent attorney, who once stood on the frontline of telecommunications, but later decided to transition into the intricate world of patent law. Equipped with engineering skills, he embarked on a fascinating journey that took him from telecommunication networks to a law school classroom, and eventually, the international legal scene. In this episode of 15 Minutes, Chad Franzen sits down with Barry Lewin, Partner Attorney at Gottlieb, Rackman & Reisman, to talk about his career transition and how it shaped his outlook and approach in patent law. They discuss Barry’s decision to return to school later in life, his unique ability to bridge the gap between engineering and law, and his unforgettable global experiences. Tune in to learn about navigating career shifts, the challenges and rewards of patent law, and the pivotal role of interdisciplinary knowledge in this field.

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 gladiatorlawmarketing.com or schedule a free marketing consultation. You can also send an email to adam@gladiatorlawmarketing.com.

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  0:13   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 grow 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 tactics 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 gladiatorlawmarketing.com where you can schedule a free marketing consultation. Barry Lewin is a Patent Attorney with Gottlieb, Rackman & Reisman in New York City, where he helps people obtain and retain patent protection for industries including software and mechanical technologies as well as profession. While Barry is licensed in the US his client base is worldwide. Barry worked as an engineer in telecommunications for more than 20 years before changing careers and becoming a lawyer. Hey, Barry, thanks so much for joining me today. How are you? Barry Lewin  1:16   Good. It’s great to be with you. Chad Franzen  1:17   Yeah. Great to have you. Hey, tell me a little bit more than about Gottlieb, Rackman & Reisman and what you guys do? Barry Lewin  1:23   So we’re an IP boutique, meaning we only do intellectual property. Meaning we only do patents, trademarks, and copyrights. But we do everything there is to do about those things. So we help people get patent protection, trademark protection, so on and help enforce their rights, when their rights may be violated. Chad Franzen  1:42   How long have you been with them? Barry Lewin  1:42   I’ve been with them for about 16 years. Chad Franzen  1:47   Okay. Barry Lewin  1:48   Right. I started with them, actually, while I was still in law school. Chad Franzen  1:52   What what is it about this type of law, you know, patent protection, things like that, that you find particularly enjoyable? Barry Lewin  1:58   Well, I have a background as an engineer, I have degrees in mechanical engineering. And there’s a lot of engineering, there’s actually more engineering work involved now as patent attorney than there was when I was a real engineer. So I just find it fascinating to stay on top of the technology, be aware of what’s going on in the world. And knowing it, the sort of back quite a superficial level, but not at a level where you really get into the weeds to really attract to understand the technologies as they are evolving. And how people are using technology to go from one invention to the next to the next to the next. Chad Franzen  2:29   I’d love to hear about your kind of your transition from engineering into law. But tell me a little bit more about how engineering. You know, your background as an engineer really puts you in position to work well with patents. Barry Lewin  2:44   Yeah, so. So in order to obtain patent protection, you really need to have a detailed description, description of the invention. It has to be part of the application. And so somebody who doesn’t have an engineering or science background, might find it particularly challenging, challenging, sorry, to, to be able to put that detail in the application. What’s more, engineers, scientists, such when they invent something, they tend to invent something new thinking that what they’ve invented is exactly the way it will, it will behave in real life. But the reality is that there were many times when inventions evolve, for a lot of reasons, one, when you start to implement it, it may, it may not be implementable the way the engineer really wanted it. And but more particularly, the market doesn’t accept it necessarily exactly the way it was. So one of the jobs I have as a patent attorney is to sort of embellish inventions, thinking about how they might evolve, making sure that’s included in the application and utilizing that as time goes forward to try to get protection. Chad Franzen  3:58   You talked about a lot of people without an engineering background might might find that might find it difficult. My dad is an electrical engineer, and I think he would find it incredibly difficult to become an attorney. How how did that transition go for you? Barry Lewin  4:14   The transition went really went really well. I had been in telecommunications in the in what was known as the Bell System for a long time. And in that industry was evolving and and I decided I wanted to do something differently. And so I got the idea in my head to go to law school, not thinking that I would end up being a patent attorney. That sort of happened as I was going, but I I really enjoyed being in law school. And then I got some great advice from the career services people when I was in law school that suggested that I try to get an internship with a federal judge. I did that and I worked for a federal judge, Judge Jose Linares, the in the district of New Jersey for a long time for about a year and a half. They’re looking had all sorts of cases and was working with and poor judgment heiress that I really got the idea of being a patent attorney. Chad Franzen  5:07   What what did you do then more? What did you kind of do for him? Barry Lewin  5:12   So I acted, it was, it was an unpaid internship, but I acted as a clerk while I was still in law school. And, and he would give me cases to start to help craft opinions. And I would get a case in or whatever or first amendment rights case in property a case in this a case of that, but eventually ended up with a patent case. And, and this was litigation, this wasn’t helping somebody get a patent. But in the litigation, I was actually, I spent a lot of time observing how the briefs were written how the lawyers were conducting themselves. And I thought that that was a pretty fascinating area of the law. And so it was a result of working on those cases. And in actually, he had given me one, and I really enjoyed it. And I asked him for a second one and a third one or fourth one. And we wiped out the docket and then moved on to trademarks. And so it was that area that really I found really fascinating. And that’s, that’s when I decided I was going to do what I was gonna do. Chad Franzen  6:13   So as you were kind of in the midst of your career as an engineer was there, like a specific event or realization that made you realize you wanted to become an attorney? Barry Lewin  6:25   No, I had decided I was going to change careers. I just I wanted to do something differently. I had a lot of experience in business development, actually doing real engineering, a lot of pieces of the business. And it wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do. But I knew I wanted to do something differently. And so I started looking at reading all sorts of literature about people who were trying to change careers. And in there, there was sort of a passing comment about being an attorney and the kinds of things that attorneys do that that resonated with me. So as a result of that, I figured that was in my late 40s. I figured what do I got to lose, I just tried to go to law school and see how that works. worst cases, I pay for one semester, I dropped out. But I got there. And I just loved it. I was in I was going to school nights, still working days. And in a class of people with all sorts of diverse backgrounds. diverse experiences, something that I hadn’t personally experienced because I was really in a very, very limited engineering world. I’ve been educated that way. I was always surrounded by the same people. This was the first time I wasn’t. And I thought that was fascinating. And the idea of thinking about things differently really resonated with me, Chad Franzen  7:35   As a student in, you know, in your late 40s. Were you one of the older people in the in the cohort, or was it a big age span. Barry Lewin  7:47   I was one of the older but there was a big age. And I was far from the oldest. Chad Franzen  7:52   Oh, that’s good. Barry Lewin  7:53   And so we ended up starting a group and I was at Rutgers Law School in Newark, we ended up a bunch of us who, who looked older than everyone else got together and started a group those that we refer to as owls, older, wiser law students, and in rockers had a lot of experience a history of bringing in people who are different, the most diverse law school in the country. And their definition of diversity means a lot of things means color means age means ethnicity. We were roughly 5050 men and women. And so and so there were people like me, people coming from lots of other, not just engineering careers, there were nurses, there were older nurses and older doctors, and older police and a lot of people that people would finance. A lot of people looking to change careers for their own personal reasons. But we all resonated together. And so we were able to actually study together. I still have a lot of contact with those people that I went to law school with, they still they’re referral sources for me and I’m a referral source for them. Chad Franzen  8:59   Yeah, were you, I went to I went back to school, you know, decades after I graduated with my undergraduate degree, and I was just scared to death of turning things in for grades and things like that. Were you intimidated at all? Barry Lewin  9:14   I remember thinking that I didn’t know how to study for these exams. I you know, when I when I had gone to college and graduate school, we took notes with a pen. And and not and this time I was not I was taking, you know, taking notes on a computer. It was a real different experience than what I had gone through back in the 70s. But I was not really intimidated. I was more I found it. I found it as a challenge and it took me a while and you know, law school is really case based, right? You read a lot of cases. And and I had to learn how to read these cases what I thought I was understanding initially I wasn’t and so there’s an there’s literally a learning curve you go through to try to undo Yeah, nice things. I found that to be fascinating. Chad Franzen  10:02   So while in law school you got your first job with got Gottlieb, Rackman & Reisman? Barry Lewin  10:08   Yeah. So I had, I was still working. When I started law school, I was still working full time and telecommunications. And somewhere early on, I decided that I really enjoyed this, I was going to do this and I cut the cord. And then I got the internship with Judge Linares. And then after I had the internship with Judge Linares, I guess was my three year I started, started working for the law firm part time. Just to try to build up experience quickly, I thought, as an older student, I couldn’t be the younger students with very little experience. It’s easy to pigeonhole them based on the needs of a particular firm. And I thought that was inappropriate for somebody who was my age, I really needed to figure out what I was going to do, and then go after it. And so I did, and I came across this firm in New York was living in New Jersey, Kim Carson’s firm in New York. They hired me as a law clerk while I was still in law school, and then I’ve been with them ever since. So that was a partner there for a number of years now. I’m of counsel there yet, but I’ve been there my whole career. Chad Franzen  11:11   Has your background as an engineer benefited you in other ways, besides being able to kind of know what your giving patents do or fighting for patents for? Barry Lewin  11:19   That’s a That’s a funny question. That’s an interesting question. The answer is that part of my practice is in is outside the United States. And the education process in many of these countries, this is particularly true in Europe and in South America, is that when they enter college, when they enter university, the students enter university, they basically have to pick a track to go down. And so the in those countries, there are people who are engineers, and there are people who are lawyers, but there’s nobody who has both of those backgrounds together. And so in many of those countries, they find somebody like me fascinating because they don’t have to deal with two sets the people who themselves have to figure out how to talk to each other. So, so that’s been really beneficial. So it’s, it’s ended up helping and outweigh that some of the stuff I do like in Latin America is related to mining, it’s very difficult to find people who understandable from a legal perspective and an engineering perspective. The other thing is that I a lot of my practice, surprisingly, this is not foreign practice. Mostly, it’s mostly us practice, a lot of my practice is in fashion. And so I help people with with both design and utility patents in the fashion world. And most of the people that I deal with in the fashion world are really fashionistas, right, they’re there because they enjoy fashion. And I’m there because I’m looking at how things put together. So it’s a different perspective on it, it helps, it helps my clients a lot, I believe that at least I get a lot of positive feedback from them. They have somebody like me working with them. Chad Franzen  12:51   Is there like a global experience highlight from your career so far that you have that you’d like to share? Barry Lewin  12:58   A global experience highlight Chad Franzen  13:03   Or a particularly memorable, you know, even if it’s not a highlight, like a particularly memorable global experience. Barry Lewin  13:09   Um, yeah, I’ve been on all over the world doing this. And I’ve really I’ve really enjoyed the property. I’ve watched a lot of the stuff that I’ve really enjoyed, but I’ve gone to a much more practice has been in the country of Chile. And in in Chile. I ended up dealing with a lot of university professors in Chile they University, there’s a there’s a very extensive higher education system there. And a lot of people doing research who are looking for help trying to build businesses. So I worked with a lot of people in Chile, they’re they’re wonderful people to work with. They’re really sharp. And in their building up businesses, some of which you’ll see in the United States, the the, the food industry, the wine industry, a lot of that stuff has kind of evolved here, the fishing industry. So it’s been great to be part of that. Yeah. Chad Franzen  14:16   Is there a moment, either here in the US or abroad that you look back on the particularly proud of like a big success or career highlight? Barry Lewin  14:25   Oh, yeah, there’s several of them. But but there was a, there was a case that came through the Supreme Court, it’s probably been about 10 years now. It’s referred to as Alice, which was a case around limiting how one can obtain patent protection for software. And I recall, I recall one case that I had trying to get somebody patent protection. And in being I may have been the first but I was certainly one of the first people to actually get past the Alice requirements and get somebody patent protection in view of Alice So I felt really good about that being able to do that. Chad Franzen  15:03   Great. Do you have any daily rituals that you find most important for you help you get through a typical day? Barry Lewin  15:11   Yeah, I try to, I try to get out every day, I try to leave the office at some point during the day. And so I am not, I wouldn’t say that I’m particularly skilled, but I’m particularly athletic. So I go out. And every day I try to get out for a bike ride or a run or, or play a sport. And I think that really helps, I think it really helps. What happens is, when you’re doing this kind of pattern work, you know, you’re really very focused on trying to make sure you understand all of the nuances that are going on there. And trying to get away from them for a little while, I think really helps a lot. Yeah, good. Chad Franzen  15:49   Hey, what is maybe the best piece of advice that you can remember receiving maybe from a mentor, either legally or an engineering or in life? Barry Lewin  16:02   I guess two things come to mind. The first is read is when somebody’s inventing something, and they’re trying to put it on paper. They, they’re doing it to the best of their ability, but that what they’re putting on paper has to be written for other people. And so in order to really transform that, the one piece of advice I got was, make sure you really, really, truly understand the invention, really understand what’s going on, so that you can deal with it, you can explain it to whoever needs to hear it and an examiner or something like that. The other piece of advice that I remember getting early on that was really helpful is that if you decide in the patent world, if you decide that you want to be a litigator, make sure you spend time helping people get that in protection, because that becomes really helpful as a litigator. Firstly, if you want to be somebody who’s doing what I do, and helping people get that in protection, litigate tax for a while, because then you can see how they get implemented and how people are trying to manipulate them later. And so I did that early on in my career, I thought that was particularly helpful advice. And it’s, it’s helpful. Like I remember just recently had a conversation with an examiner about one of one of the applications. And then it had to explain to the examiner why I wanted to make changes because I was concerned about what somebody might say later know, two or three years down the road. The examiner wasn’t really thinking that way. So so it’s helpful to have those kinds of thoughts and conversations. Chad Franzen  17:38   I have one more question for you. But first, how can people find out more about Gottlieb, Rackman & Reisman? Barry Lewin  17:45   So you can find us on the web, we’re a grr.com. And we’re, we’re again, we’re an intellectual property boutique, we’re located in Manhattan, in midtown Manhattan. And and the easiest way to find us so you can call the office but you can, you can find us there. And there’s links to all of the attorneys there, you could find me and all the other attorneys there. Chad Franzen  18:11   Hey, I mentioned that my dad is a he’s a very smart and skilled engineer, but he could, he would never be able to go to law school. My nephew is a he’s an engineering school here in Colorado, Colorado School of Mines. But he’s and he’s got kind of an athletic background. He says he doesn’t fit in at all at school, would you say you fit you can relate better to the engineering students you worked with? And the engineering colleagues you had? Or the law students? you were in a cohort with? Barry Lewin  18:39   Both. Both. Yeah, you know, and but and that’s part of the job of being a lawyer. Right. You have to be able to communicate with everybody whether you have the same background or not. Yeah, so no, I, I couldn’t say I was fine with both sets. Chad Franzen  18:53   Yeah. Great. Hey, Barry, it’s been really great to talk to you. I really appreciate your time and your thoughts, and it’s been fun hearing your story. Thank you so much. Barry Lewin  19:01   Thank you. I appreciate it. Chad Franzen  19:02 So long, everybody. Outro  19:06   Thanks for listening to 15 Minutes. Be sure to subscribe and we’ll see you next time.

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