There’s never really a “typical” day at Hanley Flight & Zimmerman. While our practitioners’ work product is consistently high-quality, they’re constantly exposed to cutting-edge technology and innovations and are developing unique strategies for clients to secure the strongest possible patent protection.
One of those practitioners is Patent Attorney Michael Zimmerman. Let’s join him for a look into a day of his work life at HFZ.
How It Started
Growing up, Michael enjoyed exploring and understanding how devices worked and wanted to become an engineer. While completing a combined bachelor’s and master’s degree program in Electrical Engineering, Michael was introduced to patent law. After graduation, he saw patent law as a way to continue his engineering career. Michael initially joined HFZ as a full-time patent engineer who attended law school part-time.
How It’s Going
Now a patent attorney at HFZ after earning his law degree, Michael uses his engineering background to understand inventions, consider the prior art, help inventors explain their inventions, and argue for patentability of inventions.
“Patent law is a great career path for an engineer,” he said.
In his current position, Michael has a mix of tasks. Some are hands-on, such as preparing patent applications or responding to communications from patent offices around the world. Others are supervisory, such as overseeing the work of other HFZ patent practitioners and teaching young practitioners the best techniques in the industry.
He enjoys the challenges and variety of the work. Some days he meets with inventors and drafts descriptive figures and text. Other days, he develops procedures, learns about new rules or case law, reviews the work of other practitioners, and/or develops best practices.
Where He’s Headed
HFZ gave Michael the opportunity to train patent practitioners, learning how to better communicate expectations and responsibilities to newer practitioners. Today, he has advanced from a practitioner working under the mentorship of other attorneys into a mentor providing guidance to other patent practitioners.
Off the Clock
Michael says practitioners find opportunities to fit work time around outside activities. For example, when he’s not prosecuting patents or mentoring practitioners, Michael coaches his son’s baseball team.
“Sometimes I need to get to practices or games in the early evening, but I can utilize the opportunity to get to work early or complete some activities later in the evening,” he said. “Such flexibility has been invaluable in trying to manage all of the different activities and responsibilities in my life.”