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Leadership in Law 2014: Constance R. Lindman

Partner, SmithAmundsen, Indianapolis • Indiana University Maurer School of Law, 1989

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15col-Lindman.jpg Constance R. Lindman (IL photo/Eric Learned)

In the nearly 25 years that Constance R. Lindman has worked as an intellectual property attorney, she’s built a nationwide practice and served important roles in the growth and development of firms, businesses and individual lawyers. Connie has been an integral part of SmithAmundsen’s Midwest growth since joining the firm in 2013 and spearheading the development and expansion of the firm’s Indianapolis office and IP practice. She is described as a “people person” who’s a pleasure to work with, so much so that other attorneys routinely refer their clients to her for IP matters.

What’s something about you not many people know?

I worked for TSR Inc., the publisher of Dungeons & Dragons games and books, many years ago. It was the most marvelously creative place filled with great characters (real and imagined) and truly a one-of-a-kind workplace. I didn’t have enough experience with other work environments to fully appreciate it at the time, and I look back on those days very fondly now.

How has IP law changed since you started practicing?

Twenty-five years ago, only large companies were concerned with intellectual property rights. Intellectual property is (rightfully) on everyone’s radar now, even start-up companies. In the last few years, I’ve seen an increasing trend where established companies, sometimes decades old and definitively not in the tech arena, are developing new products and services that are technology driven. For example, an insurance agency that developed a mobile app with integrated cloud services to increase sales force productivity and regulatory compliance, and that has been adopted by major insurance companies. Another change is the global nature of business generally and legal challenges regarding international intellectual property protection. A firm colleague and I will be attending the International Trademark Association Annual Meeting in Hong Kong next month where we will meet with direct clients as well as foreign associates that assist with foreign filings for our clients and send U.S. work to us for their clients. The sentence highlighted in yellow can be cut from print if the questions consumes too much space.

What do you think about the change in the U.S. to the “first-to-file” system for patents?

Although the first-to-file aspect of the America Invents Act (AIA) was implemented over a year ago, the full effect of the change won’t be known for years in the future as patents filed under the new system begin to issue and face challenges. However, I’m hopeful that the elimination of costly interference proceedings between patent applicants will be worth the added burden, especially on small companies, of having to file patent applications earlier in the development cycle of new products or services.

What was the worst or most memorable job you had prior to becoming an attorney?

When I was 16, I worked for a greasy fried-chicken place in Bloomington after school. Bobby Knight was mean to me on my fourth day on the job. So it was both my worst and most memorable pre-attorney job.

If you couldn’t be a lawyer, what would you do for a living?

My undergraduate degree was in applied mathematics and I considered going for a Ph.D. in physics. I love practicing intellectual property law but, as a second choice, I would combine my interest in science with my love of writing and be a journalist covering scientific advancements.

What’s something you’ve learned over the years that you wish you could go back in time and tell your younger self?

If you are living life to the fullest, your life will be filled with one challenge after another. Enjoy the present and don’t expect that things will be easier in the future. It will just get harder, but also more rewarding.

What’s been the biggest change in the practice of law you’ve seen since you began?

My first position right out of law school was as a lowly first-year associate at a large Chicago firm. Nevertheless, I had my own secretary; my own smart, talented and extremely bored secretary. I preferred to compose on the computer, mostly made my own edits, and I only dictated short letters on an occasional basis, so she spent her days asking other secretaries for overflow work. Today, we have assistants who are smart, talented, professional and vital to the productivity of three, four or more attorneys. We couldn’t serve our clients effectively without great assistants, and those assistants are anything but bored.

What are some tips for achieving a work/life balance?

I don’t think there is any secret sauce for work/life balance. All I can recommend is to do the best you can, be kind to yourself and don’t harbor regrets, and most of all stay in the present and try to enjoy whatever you are doing right now.

Why do you practice in the area of law that you do?

My educational background in math and physics led me to the intellectual property department of a large Chicago firm for my first job out of law school. It was a great fit for me, and I’ve never considered practicing in any other field. I particularly enjoy the fast pace of change in the intellectual property field, as the law struggles to keep up with advances in technology. The Internet was just an infant when I began practicing and now it affects every aspect of business and our lives.

Why do you think people often have negative stereotypes about lawyers?

Attorneys are usually associated with some type of trouble – resolving a dispute, avoiding violations of laws and regulations, reducing risk and liability. Talking to a lawyer can be like going to the principal’s office. On the bright side, an attorney who learns the client’s business and is responsive to the client’s concerns may have the privilege of becoming a highly trusted advisor and advocate whom the client turns to when it matters most.

What civic cause is the most important to you?

It is hard to pick just one, but the advancement of women in their careers would be among the top. And I don’t mean just talking about it (though that is good, too). I’m very supportive of organizations like the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) who provide a platform for women business owners to network, support each other and, critically, to do business together.

We hear a lot about civility. Have you noticed a change in how attorneys treat each other since you began practicing?

I know that the erosion of civility among the bar is a common lament. My experience is that, like any other profession, attorneys come in all stripes. The bad ones are awful to deal with and the good ones serve the client’s interests well. I can’t say things have gotten better or worse since I passed the bar.

Who is your favorite fictional lawyer?

Atticus Finch in “To Kill a Mockingbird.” I was an avid reader growing up and I couldn’t begin to list all of the books that I read. But this book is so powerful, it was unforgettable.

What class do you wish you could have skipped in law school?

Criminal law.

 

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  1. From back in the day before secularism got a stranglehold on Hoosier jurists comes this great excerpt via Indiana federal court judge Allan Sharp, dedicated to those many Indiana government attorneys (with whom I have dealt) who count the law as a mere tool, an optional tool that is not to be used when political correctness compels a more acceptable result than merely following the path that the law directs: ALLEN SHARP, District Judge. I. In a scene following a visit by Henry VIII to the home of Sir Thomas More, playwriter Robert Bolt puts the following words into the mouths of his characters: Margaret: Father, that man's bad. MORE: There is no law against that. ROPER: There is! God's law! MORE: Then God can arrest him. ROPER: Sophistication upon sophistication! MORE: No, sheer simplicity. The law, Roper, the law. I know what's legal not what's right. And I'll stick to what's legal. ROPER: Then you set man's law above God's! MORE: No, far below; but let me draw your attention to a fact I'm not God. The currents and eddies of right and wrong, which you find such plain sailing, I can't navigate. I'm no voyager. But in the thickets of law, oh, there I'm a forester. I doubt if there's a man alive who could follow me there, thank God... ALICE: (Exasperated, pointing after Rich) While you talk, he's gone! MORE: And go he should, if he was the Devil himself, until he broke the law! ROPER: So now you'd give the Devil benefit of law! MORE: Yes. What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil? ROPER: I'd cut down every law in England to do that! MORE: (Roused and excited) Oh? (Advances on Roper) And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you where would you hide, Roper, the laws being flat? (He leaves *1257 him) This country's planted thick with laws from coast to coast man's laws, not God's and if you cut them down and you're just the man to do it d'you really think you would stand upright in the winds that would blow then? (Quietly) Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake. ROPER: I have long suspected this; this is the golden calf; the law's your god. MORE: (Wearily) Oh, Roper, you're a fool, God's my god... (Rather bitterly) But I find him rather too (Very bitterly) subtle... I don't know where he is nor what he wants. ROPER: My God wants service, to the end and unremitting; nothing else! MORE: (Dryly) Are you sure that's God! He sounds like Moloch. But indeed it may be God And whoever hunts for me, Roper, God or Devil, will find me hiding in the thickets of the law! And I'll hide my daughter with me! Not hoist her up the mainmast of your seagoing principles! They put about too nimbly! (Exit More. They all look after him). Pgs. 65-67, A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS A Play in Two Acts, Robert Bolt, Random House, New York, 1960. Linley E. Pearson, Atty. Gen. of Indiana, Indianapolis, for defendants. Childs v. Duckworth, 509 F. Supp. 1254, 1256 (N.D. Ind. 1981) aff'd, 705 F.2d 915 (7th Cir. 1983)

  2. "Meanwhile small- and mid-size firms are getting squeezed and likely will not survive unless they become a boutique firm." I've been a business attorney in small, and now mid-size firm for over 30 years, and for over 30 years legal consultants have been preaching this exact same mantra of impending doom for small and mid-sized firms -- verbatim. This claim apparently helps them gin up merger opportunities from smaller firms who become convinced that they need to become larger overnight. The claim that large corporations are interested in cost-saving and efficiency has likewise been preached for decades, and is likewise bunk. If large corporations had any real interest in saving money they wouldn't use large law firms whose rates are substantially higher than those of high-quality mid-sized firms.

  3. The family is the foundation of all human government. That is the Grand Design. Modern governments throw off this Design and make bureaucratic war against the family, as does Hollywood and cultural elitists such as third wave feminists. Since WWII we have been on a ship of fools that way, with both the elite and government and their social engineering hacks relentlessly attacking the very foundation of social order. And their success? See it in the streets of Fergusson, on the food stamp doles (mostly broken families)and in the above article. Reject the Grand Design for true social function, enter the Glorious State to manage social dysfunction. Our Brave New World will be a prison camp, and we will welcome it as the only way to manage given the anarchy without it.

  4. When I hear 'Juvenile Lawyer' I think of an attorney helping a high school aged kid through the court system for a poor decision; like smashing mailboxes. Thank you for opening up my eyes to the bigger picture of the need for juvenile attorneys. It made me sad, but also fascinated, when it was explained, in the sixth paragraph, that parents making poor decisions (such as drug abuse) can cause situations where children need legal representation and aid from a lawyer.

  5. Some in the Hoosier legal elite consider this prayer recommended by the AG seditious, not to mention the Saint who pledged loyalty to God over King and went to the axe for so doing: "Thomas More, counselor of law and statesman of integrity, merry martyr and most human of saints: Pray that, for the glory of God and in the pursuit of His justice, I may be trustworthy with confidences, keen in study, accurate in analysis, correct in conclusion, able in argument, loyal to clients, honest with all, courteous to adversaries, ever attentive to conscience. Sit with me at my desk and listen with me to my clients' tales. Read with me in my library and stand always beside me so that today I shall not, to win a point, lose my soul. Pray that my family may find in me what yours found in you: friendship and courage, cheerfulness and charity, diligence in duties, counsel in adversity, patience in pain—their good servant, and God's first. Amen."

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