Daniel H. Shulman is currently the Chief IP Counsel at Reynolds Group Holdings Ltd. and FRAM Auto Group and is a Loyola University Chicago School of Law alum. Dan has a math and science background from Northwestern University and had the intention of becoming a physicist. But throughout his schooling, including his 4th grade mock trial over Alice in Wonderland, Dan realized he had a knack for arguing and loved it. After reconsidering his interests, Dan decided that going to graduate school for physics was not his career path. Instead, he came to law school with the intention of becoming a patent lawyer. We recently had the opportunity to talk and ask Dan a few questions on his experience during and after law school in the field of IP.
Why should one choose Loyola University Chicago School of Law?
I can’t speak for other legal markets as I’ve been in Chicago my whole life. But, I can tell you that I don’t believe another law school in this market— and there are a number of very good law schools in Chicago—combines the quality of education with the sense of community that Loyola brings. The sense of camaraderie that is evident among the students during law school is a permanent bond. Chicago is such a great market for lawyers and legal work, that if I wanted to stay here for my whole career (as I did), Loyola was absolutely the right choice.
Tell us about your time at Loyola.
In my first year, I had Dean Kaufman for civil procedure, and he was a phenomenal teacher. He gave useful advice when I was trying to figure out if I was doing law school right. Other than that, first year was learning the basics of law school survival – learning different professors’ personalities, learning rules, etc. I still thought like a math or science student. So around finals, I realized that my outlines were about 4-5 pages long, while my classmates had 30, 40, 100 page outlines. The difference was they wrote their outlines in narratives and long text. I wrote mine like equations, with notations I learned from math and science class, with arrows, and symbols, all to be shorthand for the rules. People were jealous of my outlines because they were so short, but they couldn’t understand them! But that was just how my brain worked. I was part of law journal as the articles editor. I spent most of the time in the law journal office. I did moot court and the IP moot court competition. I also worked at the career services office. Throughout law school, I lived in Evanston, so I took the train every day and I also got married my 1L year, so I had to balance both home life and law school.
Was there anything you wished you would have done differently in law school that you did not realize until you started to practice?
I was lucky with the opportunities I got, so it’s hard to say because everything worked out in the end. Part of the reason is that even though I could have worked harder, and could have been in the library studying all day, I was dedicated to other personal interests that mattered to me. I took advantage of the fact that Loyola is a religion-based institution. The library has a ton of religious books, so I spent lots of free time in the library pursuing other interests of mine, particularly Jewish studies.
How was your job search experience?
To get a job my 1L, I wrote a letter to every single patent firm in the city and sent my resume. I finally had one guy reach out to me and did some patent prosecution work. I learned how to write patent applications that summer. The summer after 2L, I went to work for another small IP firm—this time four lawyers instead of one. I did mostly trademark litigation but I did a complete patent application that eventually issued several years later. That hands-on patent prosecution experience was the most important factor in me getting my first job out of law school. I had ended up taking the patent bar during my 3L year. I did the Patent Law Interview Program and received an offer from Mayer Brown. The reason I got my first job at Mayer Brown was because of my patent prosecution experience in drafting patent applications.
How do you ensure you stay current with legal trends and continue to develop as an attorney?
In several ways. First, I speak frequently. I sit on panels, give speeches, attend conferences where I interact with peers and other Chief IP Counsels. Second, I read the newly published Federal Circuit cases every morning. They post at 10 a.m. and it takes about thirty minutes. Third, I still manage litigations, so I research the law frequently to make sure what I think is the law is still the current law.
Once you get out into your career, especially as an IP lawyer, it’s very often a binary choice. You might be that lawyer who works crazy hours chasing partnership, and sacrifice a better quality of life in my opinion. The other option is to be the kind of lawyer that makes less money and is not considered for partnership right away but understands that trade-off for a decent lifestyle. You can work at the pace you want and know what you are giving up to focus on family. For me, the most important job and the job I’ve always wanted was to be a Dad. I can’t do both exceptionally well, so I had to find that balance and make some sacrifices to live the life I consider happy. Just have your eyes open and know what you want.
Interviewed by: Sneha Nyshadham, Juris Doctor Candidate, May 2020