Brian Jarman took his training as an engineer to law school, and he now finds himself as an influential rising patent attorney at the state’s largest law firm, representing clients with collective gross sales in excess of $36 billion. Jarman also is immediate past national president of the Triangle fraternal organization of professional engineers. He is active in organizations such as Chemo Buddies, which champions children battling cancer, and he advocates for diversity and inclusion, including for the LGBTQ community.
How did you become interested in intellectual property law?
I have always had an inquisitive mind. I wanted to know how things worked, why they worked and how they could work better. This naturally led me to engineering. During my time at Purdue University, I met several intellectual property attorneys from Barnes & Thornburg who started as engineers while studying at Purdue, but then changed course. They were the first to suggest that engineering and law could be merged into a gratifying and rewarding career. I continue to be inquisitive and, because of that, I thoroughly enjoy and am immensely honored to help clients protect their innovations while avoiding competitor patents.
If you weren’t a lawyer, what do you imagine you might be doing?
I expect that I would be managing an engineering team, working in collaboration to solve today’s engineering issues. Since I take pride in partnering with and learning from everyone I work with, as well as helping form productive teams, I imagine doing the same in a corporate environment.
A colleague told us that as a firm diversity leader, you shared your personal coming-out story. How challenging was that?
Vulnerability is always challenging. However, we have worked very hard at the firm since I joined in 2008 to create an environment that encourages and supports our diverse team members and drives inclusion. That made being vulnerable easier, and ultimately, very rewarding. I have also witnessed what tremendous opportunity can come from sharing your story. Sharing my own story has allowed others to follow along an easier path.
How can law firms better advance opportunities for LGBTQ employees and clients?
Our challenge today is to stop looking at our problems as zero-sum issues where we must choose winners and losers. Instead, we must start looking for ways to increase the size of the prize for everyone. The great opportunity for firms is to stop doing it by themselves and look for ways to join clients that are interested in the same outcomes. The promise of diversity and inclusion is that we can accomplish more together, rather than alone – that promise holds true for law firms and their clients. Together, we can raise the tide and lift all ships.
If you could change one law in Indiana, what would that be?
I would establish funding for statewide preschool. Through my work with the Joseph Maley Foundation and my fiancé’s professional endeavors as a speech pathologist for Indianapolis Public Schools, I have seen, very directly, the tremendous value of early intervention and support of children. What is that saying, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”? We are expending immense resources trying to address challenges later rather than handling them at an earlier stage.
What do you gain from service involvement with Chemo Buddies, Joseph Maley Foundation and others?
Connection. We all want to be connected to one another. Chemo Buddies seeks to bring additional support and connection to those undergoing cancer treatment. The Joseph Maley Foundation seeks to create and enhance connections by helping children with special needs participate fully in school, sporting events and other extracurricular activities. Through my involvement with these organizations, I have the opportunity to help bring and extend connections for others while also growing my own connections — to individuals and to my community. Further, I have also found ways and opportunities to provide pro bono counsel and representation to those in need.
What advice would you give your younger self?
I would have told my younger self to be genuine and authentic — with my family, friends and colleagues — sooner than I did. I have been rewarded immensely by those individuals because I choose to be open about my full self and my fiancé. I would have told myself that people in our lives who support us, who love us unconditionally, will always be there rooting for us. Those who don’t will fall to the side.
Who is someone who mentored you, and what did you learn from them?
Rick Rezek, a fellow partner at the firm, has been one of my best mentors. I have learned a great deal from Rick, but one of the most important lessons has been helping clients get what they need as opposed to what they want. Rick is adamant about the value of investing in client relationships so we, as their counsel, can better understand who they are and help guide them in the direction of what is needed to maintain, grow or protect their businesses. Rick has consistently instilled in me, and others he interacts with, that it is critical to show up and spend quality face-to-face time with clients. Giving of our time, my time, is how I demonstrate their value, their importance and that they are worth investing in – this is how we build trust and long-lasting relationships. Rick serves as an unwavering model in that regard.
What do you most like to do when you have free time?
My fiancé and I recently bought a house with some property, including woods and a pond. We have enjoyed learning to keep up the property — developing new skills while putting the property back in order. We also enjoy traveling and being able to experience new people, places and things.
Where do you see yourself professionally in another 10 years?
Right where I am now – here at Barnes and Thornburg as a member of the patent group and continuing to volunteer with nonprofit organizations in the wider Indianapolis community. I have been a part of our continued growth as a firm and a part of our enhanced strides toward inclusion, which has expanded our client work. We have indeed been striving to lift all ships, and I only see that the tide will continue to rise, bringing us together and making us all better.•