By Shira Baratz • November 03, 2015
From a tiny office in rural Alaska to a skyscraper in Manhattan, from The Sunshine State to The Prairie State, Ms. JD seeks to capture snapshots of successful women attorneys practicing law from sea to shining sea. Ms. JD had a few questions for Christina Martini who is a partner at DLA Piper in Chicago, Illinois:
Where do you practice law?
I practice at DLA Piper, in its Chicago office. I have been at the firm since 1994, and I am Chair of the Chicago Intellectual Property Practice Group.
Describe your legal market. What is the size of the market? How would you describe the culture?
Chicago is a large legal market - not quite as large as New York, but definitely one of the largest markets in the country. I have been practicing law in Chicago for 21 years, and enjoy it a lot – while it is an intense culture and requires a great deal of commitment and hard work to succeed, I find Chicago to be a great market in which to practice law.
What are the industries that produce work for lawyers in your area?
As an intellectual property lawyer, I find that nearly every industry you can imagine needs us. Every business has a brand or a series of brands associated with it, and usually has either one or more inventions, or some type of original work that is critical to its business and which is likely entitled to some form of intellectual property protection. This makes my practice very enjoyable and diverse, and no two days are like.
Describe your practice area.
I am an intellectual property lawyer, specializing in trademark and copyright law, as well as domain name, Internet, social media, advertising, unfair competition and entertainment law. My practice includes counseling, prosecution, enforcement, due diligence and licensing matters, and involves assisting clients and protecting their intellectual property rights through litigation and other means, including the courts and uniform dispute resolution procedures.
How did you get started in this practice area?
I first started at DLA Piper's legacy firm, Rudnick & Wolfe, as a real estate lawyer specializing in environmental law. After practicing for about a year and a half, I decided to move into the firm's intellectual property practice. I got my bachelors degree in industrial engineering, and started my masters degree in this discipline as well, and having a technical degree dovetails nicely with intellectual property. When I started law school, I believed I would become a patent lawyer, but also became interested in environmental law along the way. When I start practicing, I realized how much I enjoyed the intellectual property practice, which is why I ultimately made the switch.
Do you think your practice is different because of where you live? If so, in what way(s)?
Given that my practice is both national as well as global in scope, I believe that it would look very similar to how it looks now, regardless of where I live.
What has been your hardest day on the job?
The hardest days on the job are when my clients are experiencing a serious problem or issue that ails them day and night. We have all seen it. Since I make my clients' problems my own, I really feel for them when they are having a tough time, and I am up day and night right along with them pondering the issues and thinking about solutions.
What has been your best day on the job?
My best days on the job are landing new work, either from existing or new clients. I also enjoy those moments where I see my efforts at mentoring and helping other attorneys along pay off.
What advice do you have for women attorneys following in your footsteps?
My advice, first and foremost, is to believe in yourself. Understand that a career in the law requires a lot of hard work, determination and fortitude. Stay committed, through the good times and the bad. You also need to be kind to yourself, and give yourself some space to make mistakes and be forgiving of yourself when it happens. It is how you learn and grow. We are our own worst enemies, and it is the negative self talk that will often do us in. When you find yourself doing it, stop yourself and think more positive thoughts. Consistently look for ways to stretch yourself – just when you feel like you have mastered a certain role or task, it is usually time to look for a new challenge. And don't forget to have fun!
Christina Martini is a partner at DLA Piper. She focuses her practice on domestic and international trademark and copyright law, as well as domain name, Internet, social media, advertising, unfair competition and entertainment law. Tina is Chair of the Chicago Intellectual Property Practice Group and is a member of the firm's Executive and Policy Committees. She is also a member of the firm's Diversity and Inclusion National Steering Committee. Tina received her BSIE from the University of Illinois at Chicago with highest honors in 1991. She graduated from Northwestern University School of Law in 1994.