Five minutes with… Mitch Boult, Adams and Reese
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Five minutes with… Mitch Boult, Adams and Reese

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Each week Managing IP speaks to a different IP practitioner about their life and career

Welcome to the latest instalment of Managing IP’s ‘Five minutes with’ series, where we learn more about IP practitioners on a personal as well as a professional level. This time we have Mitch Boult, partner at Adams and Reese in Tennessee

Someone asks you at a party what you do for a living. What do you say?

I am a Formula 1 driver for Ferrari. If they don’t buy it, I tell the truth – I help US brands expand overseas, and I help overseas brands expand in the US. A big part of this is establishing and defending intellectual property rights.

Talk us through a typical working day.

Over the first cup of coffee, I attend to overnight emails from Asia and Europe*. Following that, I commute to the office for a barrage of in-person and remote meetings about case or brand strategy. I serve on the firm’s executive committee and lead the firm’s geographic growth initiative, so there’s a lot of that as well. I try to squeeze in lunch and a workout.

*After observing this, my nine-year-old comments that she could do my job quite well because it’s “just texting”.

What are you working on at the moment?

A high volume of inbound trademark and copyright litigation from Asia and Europe; a portfolio of US federal trademark infringement cases for a new client, an anti-‘genericide’ strategy for a famous brand, a steady stream of phishing attacks against institutional clients, a global rebrand for a consumer products company, settling a multi-jurisdictional copyright case, and anti-counterfeiting matters from investigation and test-buys through to successful judgments.

In my free time, I am thinking about what artificial intelligence means for our clients and the firm.

Does one big piece of work usually take priority or are you juggling multiple things?

Occasionally a big piece takes over, but that is the exception rather than the rule. I touch around a dozen client matters per day, plus the firm management things mentioned above.

What is the most exciting aspect of your role and what is the most stressful?

I love winning. Our client relationships go beyond the transactional, and a big client win is exhilarating for the team. But the best thing about my job is training and mentoring members of our global IP team. It’s great to see them master the craft, develop their clients, make partner, and assume leadership roles in the industry and the firm.

Paradoxically, I think the greatest stress comes from the high level of confidence clients place in us. They trust us with 'bet-the-career' matters and the idea that we might let them down keeps me up at night.

Tell us the key characteristics that make a successful IP lawyer/practitioner.

In the trademark field, it’s curiosity, a poet’s touch with words, and the ability to hit commercial rather than legal targets.

What is the most common misconception about IP?

That it’s all one thing. As your readers are well aware, there’s a wide gulf between copyright, trademark, and patent law, and even within those fields, there are widely disparate specialisations.

People (including our colleagues, unfortunately) mix up terminology and ask us to “copyright” trademarks and “patent” copyrights.

What or who inspires you?

My mother, who was a single mom before that was cool, started her own business and allowed me to make (a lot of) mistakes.

If you weren’t in IP, what would you be doing?

I’m a recovering M&A lawyer, so I could always go back to that. But if I had my choice, I would be a history teacher.

Any advice you would give your younger self?

Don’t stop listening to new music. Obviously, The Clash is the best band in history, but I can’t name one artist from the past 20 years and I know I must be missing a lot.

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