Derek Campbell readily admits he followed in his father’s footprints – even going to law school as an older student.
“My father was a patent attorney when I was working in the computer industry. I was looking to take my career to the next step and knew patent law was definitely an option,” said Campbell, a patent attorney in Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren’s intellectual-property law practice.
While Campbell went to law school in his early 30s, his father waited until his late 40s to make the career switch.
“My father told me while I was in law school that he hoped I would enjoy being a patent attorney as much as he did,” he said. “My hope was that my 17-year head start would help with that.”
At Reinhart, Campbell specializes in patent counseling and prosecution related to computer science, mechanics and electronics. He has managed all aspects of patent prosecution, such as conducting disclosure meetings, preparing patent applications and office action responses, and helping develop and manage large patent portfolios.
“One part of my job as a patent attorney is to expedite patent procurement as much as possible for the client,” Campbell said. “Another important part is helping clients who may not have patents, navigate the landscape they are working in.”
Before going to law school, Campbell worked seven years in the computer industry as a software engineer and network administrator. That experience proved to be essential.
To join the patent bar, attorneys must have a background in science or technology.
Campbell also uses his experience with technology in Reinhart’s Data and Cybersecurity group, which helps clients come to grip with the legal implications inherent in managing and protecting data in business.
“Having my technical background helps me speak with engineers that are explaining their new ideas,” he said.
Wisconsin Law Journal: What do you enjoy most about your work?
Derek Campbell: I really enjoy working with engineers that are enthusiastic about their new ideas.
WLJ: What do you do outside of work to deal with stress from the office?
Campbell: Spending time with my wife and 8-month-old. I also exercise, including playing tennis in a league.
WLJ: What’s one thing many people get wrong about what you do?
Campbell: People often think attorneys spend much of their time in court based on what they see in the movies or on TV. There is so much more to legal work besides what happens in court. It just may not be as exciting to watch.
WLJ: What’s your favorite memory from law school?
Campbell: During my first year of law school, the Supreme Court scheduled a patent case, Quanta v. LG. My father and I decided to try to attend the oral arguments. We read the merit briefs and many of the amici briefs and spent several hours discussing the case and our views of each side. On the day of the oral argument, we were at the Supreme Court and were lucky enough to be able to hear the oral arguments.