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The following is an excerpt from Practice Perspectives: Vault's Guide to Legal Practice Areas.

Dan Tucker focuses his practice on the interplay among district court patent litigation, post-grant proceedings before the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB), and Federal Circuit appeals. Dan has litigated numerous patent infringement cases from filing to resolution and has experience in all stages of litigation, including all aspects of discovery; drafting dispositive motions and claim construction briefs; working with experts to prepare expert reports; and arguing in court, including claim construction hearings, PTAB hearings, and Federal Circuit appeals. He has represented clients across a broad range of technologies in the computer and electronics fields.

Lynn is the leader of the firm’s privacy practice and focuses on privacy compliance, governance, and counseling for clients navigating the dynamic privacy landscape. Her years of privacy experience provide her with the sharp ability to provide actionable privacy advice and guidance, and a keen understanding of the ways technology can be used to protect individual privacy. Prior to joining the firm, she served as chief privacy officer of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). In that role, Lynn was responsible for advising the Secretary of Homeland Security on matters involving privacy for the department.

Describe your practice area and what it entails.

Dan: When a patent is asserted in district court, the defendant usually challenges the validity of that patent in a proceeding before the PTAB. I help our clients (plaintiffs and defendants) develop and execute winning district court and PTAB strategies that leverage the unique aspects of each forum. I also advise clients on strategies for appeals from these cases to the Federal Circuit. 

Lynn: Privacy is a cross-cutting area of law that impacts all industries. I help clients align their business practices with complex and evolving privacy laws. My practice is focused on counseling and assisting in the development of privacy governance and compliance frameworks that are suitable for the needs of each particular client.   

What types of clients do you represent?

Dan: I have represented a wide variety of clients ranging from startups to Fortune 500 companies.

Lynn: I provide advice to a variety of clients across multiple industries, from small companies to multinationals.

What types of cases/deals do you work on?

Dan: At any given time, I am typically engaged in multiple district court litigations, PTAB proceedings, and Federal Circuit appeals. Given my technical background, most cases are in the computer or electronics space.

Lynn: I frequently provide privacy compliance counseling and governance advice to clients. Clients often need assistance with conducting marketing and advertising initiatives in compliance with new privacy laws, sharing data with third parties, as well as international data transfers. I also provide guidance on implementing artificial intelligence tools into business processes. 

How did you choose this practice area?

Dan: I am an electrical engineer by training, and I was always interested in patent law. After trying my hand at two different engineering jobs (for Lockheed Martin and General Electric), I decided that I wanted to do something different, so I took a job as a patent agent at a boutique law firm. I loved the work, so I went to law school, applied to Finnegan, and I never looked back. 

Lynn: From a very young age, I always understood that personal information was powerful. When I got my first privacy-related job in the Department of Homeland Security Privacy Office many years ago, I immediately knew that this was the field for me. Privacy is a universal issue that impacts everyone, and I could see how the work I did provided more protections for the public. I love helping companies think creatively about how to protect privacy in a manner that furthers their company goals.

What is a typical day like and/or what are some common tasks you perform?

Dan: Every day brings different excitement based on the timeline of each case. Some days include preparing for or participating in depositions or court hearings in various parts of the country. Almost all days include at least a few team or client-facing meetings for ongoing cases. But this work also requires a lot of reading, analysis, and writing; so, I spend a few chunks of time each day reading underlying materials and drafting or reviewing briefs or other papers. 

Lynn: Every day in privacy is different, in large part because it is such a rapidly evolving area of law.  Some days I am providing advice on the privacy implications of implementing artificial intelligence. Other days involve providing advice on advertising and marketing campaigns, reviewing or drafting privacy policies, conducting privacy assessments, or counseling companies on various aspects of privacy compliance. I also review data protection agreements and contracts, and provide advice on international data transfers. 

What training, classes, experience, or skills development would you recommend to someone who wishes to enter your practice area?

Dan: Learn to explain complex technical and legal issues as simply and clearly as possible, both verbally and in writing. To do this, you need to practice. New attorneys can hone their writing skills by reading many of the great books on writing and by reading legal briefs written by excellent writers. Similarly, I’ve learned a lot about oral advocacy by observing court hearings. But for both written and oral advocacy, the best way to improve is to seek out stretch opportunities, overprepare to excel at those opportunities, and then seek honest but constructive feedback from trusted colleagues.

Lynn: New entrants to the field should have good listening skills and a willingness to engage in rapid and continual learning. I strongly believe that the future of privacy exists at the intersection of law and technology, and that privacy lawyers need to develop their understanding of new technologies in order to provide comprehensive legal guidance. Additionally, privacy lawyers often need to translate legal requirements into business actions, so new entrants should also develop the capacity to communicate clearly with non-legal audiences in addition to lawyers. 

What is the most challenging aspect of practicing in this area?

Dan: Breaking down complex technical or legal arguments into simple terms so that they are persuasive to the judge or jury. The law can be nuanced, and technology can be complicated. Patent law brings the two together and often leaves folks scratching their heads. Our challenge as patent attorneys is to make these obtuse issues easy to digest. It requires careful analysis and a clear delivery. But it is also rewarding when you generate work product that persuades the decision-maker and helps win the case.

Lynn: The pace of change within privacy is unbelievably fast. New privacy laws are passing every day, which is both challenging and exciting. The way data is collected, transmitted, and stored is also increasingly more complex, and sometimes requires the application of law for circumstances the law simply did not contemplate. The application of privacy also requires an understanding of new technologies, which means that privacy lawyers must develop these skills or be in communication with technologists who can assist with learning about a new or unfamiliar technology.

What do you like best about your practice area?

Dan: One thing I love about patent law generally is that I am always learning about interesting new technologies. One thing I love about patent litigation in particular is building teams and fostering relationships with my colleagues and clients. My favorite work memories all revolve around great teams coming together to secure a win for a client. 

Lynn: I enjoy the collaborative aspects of privacy counseling. Sometimes questions about a specific legal issue result in larger brainstorming conversations. I enjoy helping companies think through methodologies to design processes or launch products in privacy-sensitive ways. It’s exciting to see a legal recommendation turn into a product or a plan.

What is unique about your practice area at your firm?

Dan: Finnegan is a special place because of its culture. Most organizations talk about culture, but Finnegan practices what it preaches: we work hard, we work together, and we truly care for each other. This starts in the partnership: partners openly collaborate on business development and substantive legal work, and we share that work across the partnership based on the best interests of our clients and the firm. And it carries through with our associates: the firm invests large amounts of resources into training our associates, and we encourage them to develop broad practices spanning different technologies and aspects of the law. We also work hard to give associates early opportunities for growth, both in terms of substantive legal experience and business development opportunities. 

Lynn: Privacy is a cross-cutting area of law, so it allows me the opportunity to work with a wide variety of my colleagues supporting clients across multiple industries. My privacy practice is business-objective driven with a strong focus on the technology underlying the organizational processes. Having a team of attorneys with STEM backgrounds is a valuable complement to our privacy policy, governance, and compliance experience, and allows me to provide more robust guidance.

What kinds of experience can summer associates gain in this practice area at your firm?

Dan: Our summer associates will gain a variety of experiences that fall into three buckets: formal training, hands-on experience, and culture building. Finnegan’s formal in-house training programs are second to none and span virtually all aspects of IP law. In terms of hands-on experience, typical projects include legal research, brief writing, and assisting with presentations. Summer associates are also often invited to sit in on and observe depositions and hearings. We have fun during the summer program and view this as an opportunity to get to know each summer associate and allow them to bond with each other. I am still great friends with those in my summer class because of the bonding we did during the summer program.

Lynn: Summer associates can expect a hands-on experience that fully integrates them into the team.  The work can include drafting articles to inform clients of new developments in the law. Summer associates have the opportunity to conduct legal research and analysis and assist with presentations regarding a variety of topics, often on cutting-edge issues. Moreover, summer associates get to know the firm through fun social events as well as organized professional development sessions.