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Interview: Sharon Israel, AIPLA president-elect

Sharon Israel takes over as AIPLA President during this year’s Annual Meeting. She has already identified a few areas to focus on during her tenure, as revealed in an interview with Michael Loney

Sharon Israel will take over the role of President from Wayne Sobon during this Annual Meeting. One area she would like to focus on is member outreach and helping to enhance the value that members receive from AIPLA.

“We have a lot of members and I would like to focus on being able to reach as many of them as possible and to help support the value that our members get from AIPLA,” she says. “One thing I would like to do is improve and enhance opportunities for members, such as making AIPLA more accessible to people locally. This is especially about targeting younger lawyers and law students. Those are groups of which only a fraction have the ability to attend our stated meetings.”

Some AIPLA committees are good examples of what Israel is talking about. She says the New Lawyers Committee has done a good job of holding local receptions, and even organizing retreats. “We might be able to use the model that they’ve established and try to roll out more local events in that regard.”

The Women in IP Law Committee is another example. It holds an annual networking dinner, but also puts on events in various cities throughout the world.

In addition, the IP Law Associations Committee potentially provides a good opportunity for outreach. “I think we might be able to use that committee as a way to help reach out to local and regional associations and their membership and try to use them to help raise awareness of what’s going on, for example, in IP legislation. So it is about helping to educate,” says Israel. “We can also offer assistance to our local members, in terms of speaking resources and the like.”

AIPLA’s members look to the association to guide them through changes in the IP world. This can be a fast-moving area, especially when trying to keep on top of potential legislative changes.

“It has been a bit of a tumultuous time in the past few years,” says Israel. “One of the services that I do really want to focus on is to provide guidance on some of the policy issues that we address on the advocacy side. We do this very well but obviously it is going to be very important in the next year, with everything that’s going on in the courts, on the Hill, internationally, or even changes that are happening at the USPTO and the Copyright Office.

Israel is a partner with Mayer Brown in its Houston office. Her practice has an emphasis on patent litigation, opinion work and client counseling. She has been involved with AIPLA since 1992 and was first a Committee Chair in 1995. She has been Chair or Vice-Chair of seven committees, served on the Board of Directors between 2005 and 2008 and since 2011 has been a member of the Executive Committee.

“To me, AIPLA operates very well as a meritocracy. Oftentimes the way people rise up through the association is they do committee work, they get noticed as being a good volunteer and a good contributor to the Association, and thus get noticed as being good leaders,” she says. “If you do a good job and make sure you have got those kinds of leadership skills you are well positioned to be tapped to move up in the organization.”

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