LEADERSHIP IN LAW 2021: Michael Morris

(IL photo/Eric Learned)

Michael Morris

Woodard Emhardt Henry Reeves & Wagner LLP

Indiana University Maurer School of Law, 2011

Why did you decide to enter the legal profession?

Becoming a patent attorney was the perfect marriage between my interests in engineering, science and the law. I had long-planned on becoming an engineer, and while pursuing that path my interest in the law was piqued through a business law class and interactions with intellectual property in various internships. After meeting with several patent attorneys, I was sold on entering the profession.

If you hadn’t pursued a legal career, what would you be doing?

Probably spending more time with my family. Ha! In all seriousness, I enjoy what I do, and it’s hard to imagine having a different career at this point. Before entering law school, I had job offers from Boston Scientific, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (to be a patent examiner) and the National Air and Space Intelligence Center at the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. Take your pick as to where I would be if I wasn’t a patent attorney. Your guess would be as good as mine!

Who is someone who has inspired you in your career?

There have been so many people, I can’t pick just one. But there are too many to list here! To spare everyone from reading a list of names like I’m accepting an Oscar, the ones who had the greatest impact on my career early on were Tom Henry, Ken Gandy, Chuck Schmal and John McNett — all attorneys with me here at Woodard. Each of them inspired me to pursue the highest level of excellence in my law practice and to do so with only the utmost integrity.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

I tend to be a perfectionist, so, “Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.”

What makes a good lawyer/judge?

Someone who above all else is ethical, but also has a strong command of the law and can apply that law to advise their clients or judge the case before them.

How do you spend your free time?

Easy — with my family. With my biological children that usually involves coloring, reading, playing cars, doing puzzles, wrestling or watching Paw Patrol. With my wife it’s the occasional date nights or as simple as popcorn and TV after the kids are in bed. With my foster kids it’s whatever they are interested in, such as cars, movies, sports, music, etc.

Which superpower would you rather have: invisibility or the ability to read minds?

I already see too many unfiltered thoughts on social media. So, I would go with invisibility.

If you were an animal, what would you be?

If I could choose, probably an orangutan — simply because they have the coolest enclosure at the Indianapolis Zoo.

How does your background in the manufacturing industry inform your IP practice?

It helps in identifying client trade secrets and helping clients choose when to keep something as trade secret or when to pursue patent protection. It also helps to appreciate the clients’ inventions and speak their language when it comes to the manufacturability of products and improvements in manufacturing.

What can you tell us about your experience as a foster family?

There is an incredible need for foster families in our community. There are more than 13,000 children in foster care in Indiana, and only about 6,000 licensed foster parents. Every single child in foster care has experienced trauma because, at the very least, they were removed from their home and family members. Being a foster parent, in my experience, can be challenging, but the rewards far outweigh the struggles. Investing in someone else’s life, supporting the child during some of their most difficult times, showing them that they matter, that I care, is humbling. To me, foster parenting is an opportunity to make a positive impact in the lives of children.•

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