Anthony J. Fitzpatrick is a partner at Duane Morris LLP, and practices in the area of intellectual property litigation, with a concentration on patent and trade secret matters. He serves as co-chair of the firm’s Intellectual Property Litigation Practice. Tony has extensive experience as lead trial counsel in federal and state courts and before arbitral tribunals. Although he has handled cases involving a wide variety of complex technologies, Tony has gained particular experience in pharmaceuticals, biologics, medical devices and other life sciences. Tony has been named a 2013 “IP Star” by Managing Intellectual Property magazine, and he has been named on several occasions to Irish America magazine’s Irish Legal 100. Tony has been a member of the Boston Bar Association’s Amicus Committee since 2004, and has also served on the Boston Bar Journal’s Board of Editors and as Co-Chair of the New Lawyers Section.
- What does it take to run an IP litigation practice? to lead a trial team as lead trial counsel?
In patent litigation, you frequently have larger teams than in other kinds of litigation, and there can be a lot of moving parts to those kinds of cases, especially when you get to trial. You can have a lot of issues to deal with and a lot of people to lead – lawyers, the support team, witnesses, etc. It can also be quite stressful if you are in the heat of trial. From a leadership point of view, it’s really important to make sure that every team member has what he or she needs, and is motivated in whatever way is appropriate to do his or her job. It’s also crucial to lead calmly. People can get nervous and out of their comfort zone, whether that person is a lawyer or witness. As a leader, you want to make sure that people are focused and able to do the job.
There’s a related skill set needed when leading a practice group – again, it’s about motivating and empowering people to do their job, while making sure people have what they need. It’s important to try to build an esprit de corps. People want to feel that they’re part of a team; getting people connected and working toward a greater purpose, whatever it might be, is very important. In a large law firm, you can have people on a team working in different offices who don’t see each other on a regular basis, so connections are key. Our firm holds an annual all-attorney meeting where we not only get together for business meetings, but also for social activities so that people can get to know each other and their respective capabilities. Building that sense of community, and also integrating new people – whether lateral partners or new associates – is important to help to grow the group. When I started at Duane Morris, we had about 12 lawyers on the IP team; now we have more than 80. A lot of what I’ve done as a leader has been devoting time to recruiting new people and integrating them into our group.
- How did your time on the BBJ’s Board of Editors and as Co-Chair of the New Lawyers Section relate or contribute to your continued growth as a leader?
All of the experiences I’ve had at the BBA have had one thing in common, namely that I’ve been able to work with extremely talented, bright, prominent lawyers, in a very collaborative atmosphere. I served on the Journal’s Board of Editors at a time when Maria Recalde as Chair was working to reinvent the Journal. She did a great job, and the Board was comprised of smart, committed lawyers. I have great memories of the meetings and the thoughtful give-and-take discussions about particular articles and issues.
Similarly, being on the Amicus Committee has been just as rewarding because, like the Board of Editors, it’s a group of really smart, committed lawyers. We’ve handled some sensitive issues, like whether we ought to recommend that the Association file a brief, what the brief should say or argue, and in some cases having to recommend that we not file a brief. The process of handling these issues has always been very open and collaborative – and this atmosphere has produced great results.
As Co-Chair of the New Lawyers Section, I tried to create an open playing field, because it’s all about empowering people to get the work done. Collaboration and respect are key. That’s very much the way Duane Morris also operates, from the top down, as a firm culture. In many ways, that is how I have developed my own leadership approach. It’s consistent with what I’ve seen from within successful leaders both within my firm and at the BBA.
- Working on the BBA’s Amicus Committee surely involves making some tough calls. How do you work with others and ensure the proper course of action?
It’s a matter of putting the time in to study the issues – whatever that may be – and to understand them; then you’ve got be willing to state your opinion. We’ve certainly had discussions where not everyone has seen eye-to-eye, but I can’t recall an instance where we ultimately, after discussion, didn’t reach some kind of consensus. There have been some issues that have been quite sensitive, and we’ve ultimately not made a recommendation but instead laid out the issues and referred it to Executive Committee and Council to make the final decision, but I can’t ever recall a formal vote or divided majority and minority opinions. We’ve been able to achieve consensus by talking things through, being thoughtful, and making sure that everybody was listening to everybody else’s opinion – and the committee has worked really well in that regard.