Name: Holly Hogan
Job / Title: Partner, IP Litigation
Company: K&L Gates LLP
Industry: Law / Technology
From your perspective, what are the most important trends that will take place in your industry in the next 10 years?
As an intellectual property (IP) litigator, I work at the intersection of law and technology, and believe that we will continue to see efforts to refine and further shape IP law at all levels of government, which will impact both the legal profession and the tech industry.
Let’s take patent litigation reform, for example, where many branches and layers of government are “tuned in” to the concerns about how to do things better when it comes to dis-incentivizing frivolous lawsuits − from the Supreme Court’s recent rulings on the standard for awarding attorneys’ fees in meritless cases, to the White House’s patent reform recommendations, multiple (albeit stalled) bills in Congress, the FTC’s review of patent demand letters, and investigations pursued at the state level. Similarly, in the arena of copyright law, stakeholders are looking for the “next great Copyright Act” that will adapt the current body of copyright law to the new mediums of expression that exist because of technological advances. And it’s not just within the government, as we’re also seeing heightened interest in intellectual property issues in the news and among the general public, making these issues ever more critical to the business side, not only the legal side.
What has surprised you about your industry?
I’ve come to appreciate more and more just how much litigation is about telling a story. Sure, you have to meet the legal requirements and find the evidence, but the compelling case is the one that connects all those pieces together into a narrative that resonates with a judge or jury. There is a (mis)impression that IP litigation is “cut and dry,” but even in cases with intensely complex technology, there is always an interesting story, and I like finding it.
What’s the best career advice you’ve ever gotten? Explain what and why it was so good.
Early in my career a mentor told me to always keep in mind that “people don’t want to hear about problems, they want to hear about your solution to the problem.” Excellent advice. This point is especially true for lawyers, who want to avoid the label of being someone who just tells everyone “no,” and doesn’t try to find a viable alternative. Being someone who can not only spot an issue, but figure out how to fix it, is a great way to distinguish yourself early in your career (and throughout your life). Keeping an eye on solving an issue also builds judgment and decision-making ability. Problems and thorny issues are opportunities to show your ability to work through them.
What role has mentorship played in your career?
It has played a big, and meaningful, role. I’ve been fortunate to have great mentors at every phase of my career who have helped me think “big picture,” opened up opportunities for me, and gave me great practical advice. Earlier in my career, a partner at my firm let me run with depositions, and she invested the time to teach me how to do them well. That experience set me up to lead a piece of the case, which in turn led to great trial experience.
I also came to the CLUB through mentorship. CLUB founder Annie Rogaski mentored me in Leading Women in Technology’s WILPOWER program (which I can’t recommend highly enough). She is an oracle of first-rate, practical advice. For example, a rut that women can get stuck in is being known just as someone who can get the task at hand done well − a “worker bee,” so to speak. Of course you want to be known for doing a good job, but you don’t want your reputation to stop there. You also want people to regard you as someone who can drive a strategy, and think about the overall issues. Annie encouraged me to focus on building that kind of reputation, and taught me that to be strategic, you need to set aside time in the press of getting things done to actually stop and think about strategy − literally, put the time on the calendar! I found that getting myself in that mindset at a dedicated time really trained me to be in that mindset the rest of the week, as well.
We have an excellent group of women in the CLUB who are happy to mentor others, which I think says a lot about the women who make up this organization. Check out the website for information on how to find a mentor.
What does leadership mean to you?
I’m a history buff, so I’ll borrow the wise words of John Quincy Adams; that is, leadership is inspiring others to “dream more, learn more, do more, and become more.” It’s one thing to excel in your own endeavors, it’s quite another to lead others to excel in theirs. The latter requires thinking beyond yourself, and thinking about other people, an organization, and the goal. Leaders who have impacted my life all had an ability to inspire others to “think bigger” and “get things done, better.”
I love to read and have a copy of every book I’ve ever read (Yes, I’m one of the dinosaurs that still buys a hard copy!) I tend to re-read Hemingway, and enjoy his Hemingway-isms, chief among them: “When people talk, listen completely. Most people never listen.”