Practice Tips: Building Your Personal Brand

Building your brand in a law firm as a young associate is no easy feat. Not to mention, trying to build a book of business at the same time. Richard Segal, however, has proven in his time at Kluger Kaplan, that he knows how to climb the ladder. Rich’s path has been influenced by the firm’s mentorship program, where founding partners mentor new partners and associates to provide them the tools to build and market their practices—something he hopes to pay forward. So, we asked Rich for his advice on building a successful career trajectory.

Networking

  1. What did you learn early on in your career that helped guide you on your path to success?
    I learned early on to give more than I take when it comes to climbing the ladder. Join industry and charitable organizations, and attend networking events. In these organizations and within your firm, lend your time with the goal of obtaining a leadership position. Those around you will be impressed that you devote your time for the benefit of an organization and moreover, will perceive you in an authoritative and professional role. Every fruitful marketing relationship starts off by giving—and the return will inevitably come.
    If you happen to find yourself in a networking situation where you know other colleagues in the room, always speak highly of them and praise their accomplishments. Remember, what goes around comes around.
  2. You now work side by side with veteran litigators, handle major class action suits, counsel high profile clients – what have you learned so far from those experiences?
    Walk the walk and talk the talk. It may be easier said than done, but confidence can go a long way. If you doubt yourself, it is easy for others to do the same. Some of the most successful, veteran litigators I’ve worked with have an air of confidence that makes you want to work with them. Be confident, not cocky.
  3. What can a young associate/lawyer do to promote themselves in and outside of the firm? Why is this important?
    Do what comes naturally to you and be authentic with your choices. It’s important to find your strength and stay true to that. If public speaking doesn’t come naturally to you, write articles. If you’ve developed a deep connection to an organization, dive in headfirst. Begin within your personal comfort zone, but don’t be afraid to push your boundaries when opportunity presents itself. Learn to understand your weaknesses and turn them into an active pursuit towards personal growth. When opportunity arises, you want to be ready for it.
  4. As a young partner yourself, how are you helping the firm’s young associates learn the skills you’ve learned?
    I like to encourage associates to do more than just attend charity events or networking events. Take ownership and organize the events yourself. Differentiate yourself. And make yourself seen by demonstrating the qualities of a leader.
  5. Is there anything you learned the hard way? Any missteps you’ve made that an associate eyeing your success could learn from?
    I joined the Miami Beach Chamber of Commerce early in my career and quite frankly did not know how to “work a room.” I left many networking events feeling defeated—as if I missed an opportunity to appeal to colleagues and peers more authentically. I eventually realized my story was the key to working a room. My grandparents moved to Miami Beach in 1948, my father was born in Miami Beach, I was born at Mount Sinai, and my son was born at Mount Sinai. Starting to see my connection? While I didn’t know at first how to work the room, if I could do nothing more than just tell people my story, about my roots in Miami Beach, I was connecting. Your authentic story is what will bring you to success.

 

Richard SegalRichard Ian Segal is a partner and practices in Kluger Kaplan’s commercial litigation and family law groups, assisting clients in a range of business and corporate litigation matters, and matrimonial disputes.

Google: A Victim of Its Own Success?

ELLIOT V. GOOGLE, 2017 WL 2112311 (9TH CIR. MAY 17, 2017)

“Google it.”  Of course, we all know what this means. Indeed, the word “Google” has earned such widespread recognition that in 2006 it was added to the dictionary.  While this might be considered the epitome of success, it can be a nightmare in terms of trademark protection.

Google Lawsuit

Background

“Google” is what trademark law refers to as a fanciful mark.  Fanciful marks are made up, and similar to arbitrary marks, have no association to a particular type of goods or services.  For example, “Apple” has no apparent relation to computers just as the names Uber, Twitter, and Amazon give no indication of the particular product or service it provides.  For that reason, fanciful and arbitrary marks generally garner the highest level of trademark protection because it usually takes the trademark owner significant effort marketing its business to reach the point that the public associates its product or service with the mark.

However, when a fanciful term receives such unimaginable success that it transforms itself into a concept or in Google’s case, an entry in the dictionary, it may be in danger of losing its trademark protection and becoming a dreaded “generic” term.  Both “aspirin” and “escalator” were victims of “genericide.”

To determine if a mark has become generic, the Ninth Circuit Court established the “who are you/what are you” test.[1]  Applying this test, a finder of fact would analyze if a term points to the source (who you are), or if a type of good (what you are).[2]  An example is that the trademark “Coke” indicates a soft drink made by “Coca Cola” and the generic term “soda” indicates any carbonated soft drink. Once a term is found to be generic, it has no trademark protection, and can be fairly used by anyone in connection with describing goods or services.

Case

Aware of this risk, Google has vigilantly sought to protect its name.  In 2012 Google discovered that Chris Gillespie (“Gillespie”) acquired 763 domain names that included the term “Google.”  David Elliot (“Elliot”) purchased and registered the domain names using Gillespie’s GoDaddy.com account. Each of the domain names paired the term “Google” with a person, brand or product, such as “googledisney.com” and “googlebarackobama.com.” Google promptly objected to the registration of the domain names and filed a complaint with the National Arbitration Forum (“NAF”) using its dispute resolution procedure. Google argued that the domain names were confusingly similar to the “Google” trademark, were registered in bad faith and constituted cybersquatting.  Google prevailed and NAF transferred the domain names to Google.

Elliot then filed an action in the Arizona District Court (Gillespie later joined in the suit) for cancellation of the Google trademark on the grounds that the word “google” had become a generic term to describe the act of internet searching.

Ruling

After cross-motions for summary judgment, the district court found that Elliot and Gillespie failed to present sufficient evidence to support a jury finding that the public primarily understands the word “google” as a generic name for internet search engines[3].  Elliot and Gillespie appealed to the Ninth Circuit claiming that (1) they had presented sufficient evidence to create a triable issue of fact and (2) that the district court misapplied the primary significance test and failed to recognize the importance of the use of google as a verb.

On May 17, 2017, the Ninth Circuit affirmed the finding that a claim of genericide must always relate to a particular type of good or service, and that use of ‘Google’ as a verb is not synonymous with a finding of genericide[4].

Impact

Like Google, trademark owners must always be vigilant, monitor the public’s use of its mark and take affirmative steps to correct any public misuse to protect against potential claims of genericide.

 

Terri Meyers

Terri Meyers is a Partner at the Miami firm of Kluger Kaplan Silverman Katzen & Levine, P.L. and leads the firm’s Intellectual Property department.

 

 

 

Mayda_Nahhas

Mayda Nahhas is a law clerk at Kluger Kaplan Silverman Katzen & Levine, P.L., a rising third-year law student at Nova Southeastern University – Shepard Broad College of Law, the Goodwin Alumni Editor for Nova Law Review Vol. 42, and the Founding President of Nova Southeastern University Fashion Law Association.

 

[1] Official Airline Guides, Inc. v. Goss, 6 F. 3d 1385 (9th Cir. 1993).

[2] Yellow Cab Co. of Sacramento v. Yellow Cab of Elk Grove, Inc., 419 F.3d 925, 929 (9th Cir. 2005); Filipino Yellow Pages, Inc. v. Asian Journal Publication, Inc., 198 F.3d 1143, at 1147 (9th Cir. 1999).

[3] Elliot v. Google, 2017 WL 2112311 at 2 (9th Cir. 2017).

[4] Id. at 3.

Kluger Kaplan Announces Midwest Expansion Plan, Opens Minneapolis Office

Dan Rosen

Miami-based litigation firm Kluger, Kaplan, Silverman, Katzen & Levine announces its plans to expand into the Midwest market, with prominent litigator Daniel Rosen joining the firm on May 1 and serving as partner-in-charge of its new Minneapolis office.  The move marks the firm’s first physical footprint outside of the South Florida market and is designed to support the litigation powerhouse’s existing national practice, while creating a deeper platform across the Midwest.

With more than 30 attorneys in South Florida, Kluger Kaplan has built a national reputation for handling high-stakes business and commercial litigation disputes, including securities and financial fraud, probate, class actions, complex matrimonial, probate and trust litigation.   The firm’s attorneys serve as lead counsel in trials in federal and state courts across the country, and are consistently recognized by Chambers USA, Super Lawyers and Best Lawyers in America.  The firm was recently named a Top Litigation Firm by the Daily Business Review, an ALM-affiliate and sister publication to the American Lawyer, Corporate Counsel and National Law Journal. 

“Minneapolis is one of the fastest growing metropolitan cities in the country, with roughly 3.5 million people, major corporate headquarters, and a diverse economic base,” said Alan Kluger.  “This move will allow us to tap into the region’s unlimited growth potential, while better aligning our geographic footprint with our clients’ interests.”

According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, in 2015, Minnesota’s gross domestic product (GDP) was $328.3 billion, ranking 17th in the U.S.  Additionally, 17 of the Fortune 500 companies are based in Minnesota, including General Mills, Target, Land O’Lakes, Hormel Foods, Best Buy and 3M. Yet despite the city’s robust economy, Mr. Kluger says that most law firms have traditionally eschewed the market in favor of major ‘power’ centers such as New York, Boston and Washington, D.C.

“Minneapolis is well-regarded for its sophisticated court system, highly experienced bench and bevy of major national corporations – but continues to be overlooked by the big litigation firms,” said Abbey Kaplan, founding partner of Kluger Kaplan. “Dan’s esteemed reputation, coupled with our resources, will bring immediate value to our existing clients and fill a need in this underserved market.”

Mr. Rosen previously served as partner of Parker Rosen, where he established his reputation as a veteran trial lawyer and advocate for some of Minnesota’s largest businesses and national corporations.  With 23 years of courtroom experience, Mr. Rosen focuses his practice on complex commercial and real estate litigation.  Prior to becoming a lawyer, he was an officer in the U.S. Navy.

As the leading Minnesota lawyer representing property owners in eminent domain takings, he successfully represented international developer, Hines Interests, in the largest eminent domain case in the state’s history.  Additionally, he has garnered a reputation for representing major national corporations with interests in the Midwest, including Exxon Mobil, Walgreens, Sears Holdings and Kmart.

“Coming to Kluger Kaplan is a natural fit and aligns seamlessly with my clients’ needs and interests,” said Mr. Rosen. “By combining forces, we can deliver exceptional legal counsel while creating a platform for additional growth across the Midwest.”

Mr. Rosen is a recognized force in the Minnesota business and civic communities.  He currently serves as Chairman of the Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board, which is a governor-appointed position tasked with regulating campaign finance and lobbyist activities in state campaign. Additionally, he is the past chairman of the Minnesota Council of the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and is a member of the organization’s National Council.

Kluger Kaplan’s Minneapolis office will be temporarily located at 80 South 8th Street, before moving to a permanent location in the city’s downtown district. The firm also anticipates opening subsequent locations across the Midwest, such as Chicago and St. Louis.

The 5 Best Ways To Improve Your Image At The Firm

Law360

 

 

 

 

 

By Y. Peter Lang

Law360, Los Angeles (March 21, 2016, 2:08 PM ET) — In a BigLaw culture in which doing great work and hitting your billables is par for the course, it’s easy for even excellent attorneys to get lost in the crowd. Boosting your image from reliable worker bee to law firm standout is essential to advancing your career, experts say.

The work comes first — there’s no way to get ahead at a firm without first delivering great results to senior partners and clients. But lawyers who keep their noses to the grindstone and never look up risk languishing with all the work and few of the accolades.

There are essentially two routes to burnishing your image at the firm: developing strong relationships with colleagues and making it rain, experts say. Here, they share five tips for focusing on those two areas to improve your image among firm colleagues.

Become a Leader

Find opportunities to lead within the firm, even if that means taking on an undesirable task and turning it into a leadership role, Reed advises. Volunteering to serve on an internal committee, testing new software or devices, or stepping up to investigate a new practice area opportunity are all things that will be noticed by both your peers and firm decision makers. Continue reading

Rainmaking the “Old-Fashioned” Way

By Deborah Chames

More and more firms in South Florida are investing time and money in their business development programs to encourage young attorneys to bring in new clients. With so much of the business development focus centering around social media and online communications, it is important not to underestimate the power of connecting with people offline. As a former solo practitioner, I grew a family law practice before the advent of Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.  These are some of the strategies I employed that are timeless and often overlooked in today’s social media-focused legal community.

Continue reading