Joe Jasper will mark two decades as an attorney at Hanley Flight & Zimmerman this summer. His practice focuses on patent procurement and product clearance, helping tech companies protect their innovations and mitigate risk as they introduce new products.
“Our client roster is top notch,” he said. “Some of the biggest names in tech look to HFZ.”
We sat down with Joe to ask him about why he chose patent law as a career, his dedication to his clients, what makes HFZ a special place to work, and more.
What drew you to patent law, and then to HFZ?
Like many HFZ employees, Joe started in engineering before pivoting to law school. He majored in biomedical engineering to continue learning about life sciences.
“Engineering is challenging, respected, and rewarding,” Joe said. “There is a sense of accomplishment when you work through something technologically complex.”
But as Joe progressed through engineering school, he realized he enjoyed the writing aspects of his classes more than the lab side. To build on his technical background and incorporate more writing, he decided to go to law school with the intent of becoming a patent attorney.
After law school, he had a panel interview for a job with HFZ.
“I initially thought that I was walking into what would be a terrifying experience – you know, with three attorneys questioning you from across the table. But instead of a deposition-like interrogation, it was the best interview I had,” Joe said. “It was a comfortable, naturally flowing conversation, which happens when you vibe with people.
“That said everything I needed to know about working at HFZ.”
HFZ’s goal is to give its clients the best possible patent protection; can you give an example of how this is accomplished?
To answer this question, Joe referenced a scene from the TV drama “Ozark” in which the lead character, Marty Byrde, has a conversation with an attorney.
Marty says “I’m an accountant, I move numbers around,” and she retorts with “I’m a lawyer, I move words around.”
“That scene resonated because every word matters in patent prosecution,” Joe said. “I’ve had long conversations about which is the most appropriate preposition to use.
“Attention to detail is paramount as it reduces litigation costs and ensures our patents secure broad coverage that protect our clients’ business interests.”
What impresses you the most about your colleagues?
Joe said it’s how they make everyone around them better.
“You don’t learn how to be a patent attorney in school. You need to learn it on the job,” he said. “There is a culture here to teach new attorneys well and to do things the correct way from the start. And that culture of learning is promoted with respect.
“We also work in a very collaborative manner. I have never felt a need to navigate tough office politics. There also is a great personality fit – you want to genuinely like your coworkers.”
HFZ delivers great work for its clients, but how does the firm take care of its employees as well?
Joe says HFZ quickly recognizes and rewards good work by its employees.
“In my experience, responsibility, opportunity, and promotion were offered early,” Joe said. “Perhaps that’s a testament to the quality teaching culture here.”
What would you be if you were not a patent attorney?
“After spending a summer in college working a toll booth, it wouldn’t be that,” Joe said. “That job did give good stories for parties, though.
“If I didn’t have this career… I don’t know… perhaps something in meteorology or astronomy. So – still technical. I guess not much of a stretch.”