David Hanson enjoys learning how things work. That makes intellectual property civil litigation a natural choice.
“I’m not a patent attorney, but rather I get involved once there’s a dispute involving intellectual property,” said Hanson, who leads the Intellectual Property Litigation Group at Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren in Milwaukee.
When in court, Hanson’s main job is teaching juries and judges about the technology or issue at the heart of the case.
“I provide facts and evidence to help them as they reach their own decisions,” he said. “I work with clients on how they can put their best case together and then advocate for them.”
Although full-blown trials are rare, the specter of going to court is always there, Hanson said.
“Private settlements are common, but you need to keep moving forward,” he said, adding it’s rare that a case is rarely done in a year.
Hanson enjoys the variety of cases that come across his desk. While the businesses are all different, they have one thing in common – they all believe some part of their proprietary technology has been infringed upon.
“Everyone is different, but my strength is in the mechanical and electrical arts, although there’s been more life sciences work in recent years,” he said.
One challenge facing IP attorneys is how to deal with electronically stored information during the discovery phase, Hanson said.
“The haystacks that we need to go through have gotten bigger,” he said. “We have to find ways to make it easier to go through all that information. We’re trying to develop algorithms to make it easier to get through that data.”
Outside of his legal practice, Hanson takes on projects that enhance the teaching skills he uses in the courtroom. He teaches an IP litigation workshop at Marquette University’s Law School, is a guest lecturer at Northwestern University Law School and leads Reinhart’s Associate Trial Skills Workshops.
“My clients know their product and technology, but just don’t know how to put their argument together. That’s where I come in,” Hanson said. “I put together that cohesive argument and then teach the court about the technology and how it was infringed on.”
Wisconsin Law Journal: What makes your work important to you?
David Hanson: Representing people is important. It means standing in for them, taking on their problems and going the distance with them. A lawsuit is an ordeal, something most people hope never to endure. It is an honor to navigate it with the client.
WLJ: Who is your hero in the legal field?
Hanson: I see heroes everywhere in the law, especially people who are doing excellent work motivated by something more than just money. Most of the members of the judiciary fit this definition.
WLJ: What do you do outside of work to deal with stress from the office?
Hanson: Don’t let the phone be the last thing I see at night or the first thing I see in the morning. Talk and laugh with my family and friends. And I like to play trumpet.
WLJ: What’s one thing many people get wrong about what you do?
Hanson: It’s wrong to think all lawyers love to argue and thus get in the way of otherwise simple transactions. More often I see the opposite. Effective lawyers are often the cooler head, the voice of reason between entrenched positions. Lawyers think things through and catch details that really do need to be caught. I love to build arguments, write arguments and give oral arguments, but I don’t pick fights for the sake of fighting.
WLJ: What’s your favorite memory from law school?
Hanson: I can’t choose just one. I commuted to Madison and made great friends in a carpool. The UW small group model also created special friendships. Moot Court was the best substantive activity. And the Law Revue show was great fun. We borrowed heavily from the SNL of the Dana Carvey/Mike Meyers heyday and added music and impersonations of our professors.
WLJ: Is there a certain case that stands out to you?
Hanson: Battling over four years on behalf of two inventors to save their rights in what they created.