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Interview with Chief Justice Broderick, Part 2


Written by Gene Quinn
President & Founder of IPWatchdog, Inc.
Patent Attorney, Reg. No. 44,294
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Posted: February 21, 2011 @ 10:41 am
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John Broderick, former NH Supreme Court Chief Justice & Dean of UNH School of Law

There have been several big changes recently at Franklin Pierce Law Center, the law school I attended, which is known as one of the best intellectual property law schools in the country.  First, the school is no longer “Franklin Pierce Law Center.”  Before the start of this academic year an affiliation which may lead to an eventual merger was struck with the University of New Hampshire, so now FPLC is the University of New Hampshire School of Law, but with a Franklin Pierce Center for Intellectual Property.  The other big change occurred at the end of January when long time New Hampshire Supreme Court Justice John Broderick assumed the position of Dean and President of the law school.

I caught up with the Chief Justice and newly minted Dean on January 31, 2011.  Part 2 of my interview with him follows.  Part 1 is available at Exclusive Interview: Chief Justice John Broderick.

QUINN: I can certainly understand all the thinking that goes into that. And I can understand also some of the folks that are a little, I guess skeptical may be the right way to say it. And I don’t know that, at least I haven’t heard people who are skeptical regarding the business and necessarily the autonomy of the school and the direction and curriculum and things like that. I think it boils down to the name Franklin Pierce Law Center. And I know in a lot of places that doesn’t mean anything to people, and some people don’t believe it’s maybe the greatest law school in certain areas. But those of us who are in the intellectual property world know the reputation that Franklin Pierce has always had both domestically and internationally.

BRODERICK: There’s no question. Let me just say this. If you look at the list, when they first started doing these ranking we were number one, then we were number four, and then we dropped. Now we’re number nine, and they only rank through number ten. So we’re tied for ninth with Duke, which is amazing given our size and our location. Now, the schools ahead of us are Michigan, Harvard and Stanford. In many ways we would never be on that list. To remain on the list, we needed to be in a bigger boat. We needed more resources. Otherwise, we might be pushed off the list, and we don’t want to fall off that list. So I think in some ways we were entrepreneurial as the school has always been, in ensuring our long term vitality. I think our capacity to be a larger player potentially with more resources, with more interdisciplinary activity in our IP center, has been enhanced. I mean, IP is not just law, as you well know, it’s science and it’s business as well. The University is going to build a $57 million structure business school. The business school’s excited about being involved in our IP Center. Their engineering is also very excited about what we’re doing here. I think it’s going to allow us to play with in a larger arena, and more effectively than we would have been able to if we remained independent.

QUINN: And I think that’s a good point to make. Are some of the joint degree programs that you were talking about be in affiliation with the engineering school?

BRODERICK: Yes. One of them is intended to be with the engineering school, one’s intended to be with the business school. One’s intended to be with the Department of Social Work. One of the things that I think the graduates understand but if they’re IP people they may not quite focus as much, and that is although a lot of the students here are interested in IP, only about 30% have chosen it as their discipline. So we’ve got a huge chunk of this law school that also needs attention. And so while we are tied for ninth with Duke in IP, we’re not tied with Duke in everything else. And so part of my goal here is to maintain our preeminance in and enhance the quality of its fingerprint nationally and globally, while at the same time invigorating the balance of this law school for the 21st Century. And one of the things we do very well is making our graduates practice ready to enter the world of lawyering. Most law schools are interested now in teaching more lawyering than in teaching only legal theory. When I graduated from the University of Virginia, I would have starved if I had to hang out a shingle. And that wouldn’t be true here. I was just reading the Cornell alumni magazine last night and the dean of the law school had an article touting the fact that they now have a full year course in “lawyering” for first year students so they will be more practice ready than ever before when they take their first summer job in a law firm. So what this school has been doing for a long time the rest of the legal world, even the top tier schools, is saying it needs to do a better job.

QUINN: That’s interesting because it’s always been this academic bias, and I really quite frankly have not understood, against teaching law school students how to actually be lawyers.

BRODERICK: Well, you’re right. What has been going on at this law school for some time, long before it changed its name is to provide a good foundation in theoretical knowledge, and a world class foundation in being practice ready the day you leave the building. We have, the Webster Scholar Program here. We take about 20 students into the program at the end of their first year. Once they’re in they spend two years in the program, and they are put through their paces. And the Supreme Court of New Hampshire is so enamored with the Webster Scholar Program that if you graduate a Webster Scholar, you are automatically admitted to be a member of the New Hampshire Bar without sitting for the bar exam. My colleagues and I would never have allowed that if we thought that it wasn’t a better legal education. That program has been noted nationally. I was at a program in San Francisco recently where the dean of the University of Missouri said in a room full of 200 people, “If you don’t know what they’re doing at that law school in New Hampshire you ought to find out. They’re way ahead of the rest of us.” And she was talking about the Webster Scholar Program.

QUINN: Is there any interest, or maybe interest isn’t the right way to say it, is there any plan to expand the Webster Scholarship Program?

BRODERICK: Well, I’ll tell you, they are expanding it modestly next year. It’s in its fourth year now and we’re learning more and more about the program, the skill sets that are developed. And what I want to do is see if we can distill it so we can deliver its best features to the balance of the students who are not in the program. I also want to make sure that our graduates have a good theoretical knowledge of the law. I think we can do both. I think we need to continue to think outside the box, which this law school has always done. And so anyone out there that would say, well, my old law school has just fallen into line, I would say that your old law school has wisely crafted a path that will not only allow it to survive the changes of the 21st Century but to prosper as a result of those changes. I would be fearful if the law school didn’t pay attention to the gravitational pull of the 21st Century. I think that would be a mistake. So I’m very proud of what we’re doing here.

QUINN: I agree, I think one of the things always in my mind distinguished Franklin Pierce is the interest in being a trailblazer rather than just pulling up the rear. And I think if you look at the genesis of intellectual property programs, Franklin Pierce played no small part in brining that to the forefront of legal education. I think people thought well, if this small school in New Hampshire can do it, with our resources we certainly should be able to do it. And one of the things, and we can talk numbers and surveys and statistics are what they are, but a lot of the schools that are ahead of Franklin Pierce on that list don’t have nearly the depth of program.

BRODERICK: I think that’s true. And I agree with everything you’ve just said. Because we didn’t have huge resources, it’s amazing what this law school did. It’s absolutely amazing what this law school has done and continues to do. And some of the people who made that happen are still here. There are some new faculty who are also world class people and scholars. And so I think if we had just remained self satisfied because we aren’t huge, but we’re very good, we had to align ourselves with someone a little larger, someone who could provide us some exponential opportunities that maybe we would not have generated on our own. I hope the IP Center will be a national and global convenor. I think we have the potential to be. We’re currently looking to hire an IP director. And I think once again there are a lot of schools that have IP that don’t have an intellectual property center and won’t become national and global convenors. I think because we’re smaller we have to be smarter, we have to be more agile, we have to be more entrepreneurial, which is the way this school has always been managed . So, I think all we’re doing, in a sense, is aligning ourselves to our core principles, not abandoning them.

QUINN: Well, that’s very good to hear.

BRODERICK: Oh, it’s true. If we weren’t changing, then we would be failing the ethos of this school. This school has always been open to new ideas so it can be quicker, faster, more entrepreneurial. So I would say to those who question whether it’s a good idea, I think it’s the only safe solution to maintain and enhance what this school has always offered. And I’m committed to it.

QUINN: Well, good, good. Now, I suspect that you’re going to be reaching out to some of the FPLC alums over the next year to get to meet folks. What do you have in the works already?

BRODERICK: Well, I’ll tell you something. I became dean on Friday. Two weeks before that I asked the communities here, if I could record a video message, and they said sure. So I did that. I didn’t want to be just a photograph. The video e-mail it was sent out to thousands of alumni on Friday.

QUINN: Yes, I saw that. That was I thought very well done.

BRODERICK: Well, thank you. And I intend to do more of that. And what I intend to do, Gene, is maybe every two months, I don’t want to wear out my welcome, and I can’t talk for more than two minutes because people are busy. But I might give alumni an update on what we’re doing with UNH and how the affiliation is moving forward. Things they might not know about. I think we have an obligation to keep people informed. I asked the development office here to get me the names of the hundred alumni of the school I should reach out to initially to let them know that I’m interested in what they have to say, which frankly, I am, it’s their law school. We have an alumni dinner here in New Hampshire. This is only the second year they’ve had it. And I’ve been writing notes and sending cards to people. So far we have four times the attendance for this year’s dinner as last year’s. I have invited 12 New Hampshire lawyers to serve on an advisory committee so I can better connect with our 1300 alumni in this state. I intend to increase fundraising and contributions to the school. But I understand that cannot happen unless the alumni are informed and included. So I intend to reach out on a continual basis. At some point I’ll be traveling more. I’m going to be in San Francisco for an IP conference in May. And they tell me in past years we’ve had a hundred alumni there. And so I’d like the opportunity to meet with them in a break out group in session. And so I’m going to continually do that to see if we can’t benefit from a lot of experience and knowledge out there. I also intend to bring some of our alumni to the school. It’s going to be easier for those who live closer, but it’s not exclusive. I’m going to start something here called Lunch with the Dean once or twice a month where I’ll bring in a graduate of this school, most often, not always, to talk to our students. We are talking now about establishing an UNH law Public Policy Forum, which will allow us, I think, to gain more visibility in New Hampshire because we’re now part of the University. But it also allows us to be a player across the board nationally on issues, not just IP issues, but also some broad public policy issues.

That’s a laundry list of some of the things I’m trying to do. But it will continue to evolve. I’m trying to find out ways to better communicate with our alumni because they not only represent the school’s past, but also because they are critical to its future.

QUINN: Well, that’s good to hear as somebody who is a member of the alumni. Again, that was one of the things I think that set things apart at Franklin Pierce was this desire to hear what people thought and to realize that everybody has good ideas. So to have some kind of forum to be heard is encouraging.

BRODERICK: One of the things I’m interested in, and I will spend a fair amount of my time on it is alumni outreach. And whether the alumni choose to make donations or they don’t, they have a right to know what’s going on here. But I also believe that if we are to continue to remain as well regarded as we have all these years, we also need to continue to raise more money. And it’s just the blood reality of the 21st century. Law schools that are wealthy are better known than law schools that aren’t. Law schools that are wealthy hire better faculty, retain better faculty, attract better students. So it’s the life blood of any operation. My goal is to say to the alumni globally I’m here because I want to work with you and I want to make your degree and your brand even more valuable than it was when you left here. And so I need a lot of people to play. Some people I’ll ask to write a check. Others I’ll ask for support in different ways. Maybe I’ll ask them to visit the school and talk to our students, or help us in the job market. So there are a lot of people that can help and do a lot of different things. And my job is to reach out and find out what people might do to help. But I can’t do this job, Gene, I can’t succeed without the alumni, that’s obvious to me.

QUINN: Well, that’s good to hear. And we could go on and on and on talking, and I know you don’t have all day, but I do have a few last questions I’d like to ask you that are hopefully fun. I don’t know whether you’re familiar with James Lipton of the Inside the Actor’s Studio.

BRODERICK: Oh, yes, I see him from time to time, yes.

QUINN: Yes, he asks some enlightening questions. Some of them are embarrassing, I’ll stay away from any of the embarrassing stuff he might ask the celebrities. But just to get to know you a little bit better as a person, if you’re game?

BRODERICK: Sure.

QUINN: Okay. Your favorite pastime or hobby?

BRODERICK: Reading biographies.

QUINN: Any particular ones?

BRODERICK: Well, I enjoy politics immensely, government and politics. I chaired two New Hampshire primary campaigns here in my past. One for President Clinton and one for the current vice-president, Joe Biden. I practiced law with a governor for several years. So I love politics and I’m always reading political biographies and autobiographies. I may be the only person in America that read My Life by Bill Clinton from cover to cover. So I’m always reading. I don’t like fiction, particularly. I just finished reading Too Big to Fail, which was about what went on Wall Street the last few years. I would rather read reality than novels.

QUINN: Okay. How about your favorite sport?

BRODERICK: My favorite sport to watch is probably baseball followed closely by football. My favorite sport to play, although when I was younger I played a lot of baseball, is golf. God didn’t bless me with the gift, but I love it.

QUINN: God didn’t bless me, either. It’s the most frustrating several hours that I ever experience is when I try to play golf.

BRODERICK: Gene, let me tell you the secret to good golf. I learned this after years of playing. Do not keep score. I realized that I wasn’t going on the PGA Tour when I was about 17, and then I thought if I keep score there’s always the quadruple bogie that I drive home with. And so if you don’t keep score you remember the two or three holes where you were fabulous and you largely forget the rest.

QUINN: I’ll tell you, when I first started to play golf it was right after I passed the bar. I figured every good lawyer’s has play golf, right? So I was out golfing and I came into the office and one of the guys at the office was a really very, very good golfer and he asked me how I did. And I said, I shot 163. And he looked at me and he said, well, that tells me a few things. One, he says, it tells me you’re honest because nobody in their right mind would ever admit to that. And two, it tells me you’re awful and should be doing something different.

BRODERICK: Well, but if you have the right attitude. I mean, I’ve reached a point in my life, I’ve never seen a really ugly golf course, and a beautiful afternoon on almost any golf course beats being in the office. And so if you don’t lose it because of a bad attitude, you can actually enjoy it. I love golf, but it’s more the company. Let me tell you my last theory in golf. There’s a lovely golfcourse on the ocean here, Wentworth By the Sea in Portsmouth. My closest friend belongs there so I go over four times a summer. And we play ten holes and then go to the outdoor patio with the umbrella tables which is located just short of the par 5 11th. We almost never tee off on the 11th And the theory is if you’re playing well after ten holes, why would you risk losing it on the par 5 11th? And if you’re playing badly after ten holes, I don’t think you’re going to be stuck with the gift on the 11th tee. So we have lunch. Golf should be a ten hole game followed by lunch at an umbrella table. And if you do that well, you’ll enjoy it.

QUINN: Yeah. Okay, how about your favorite movie?

BRODERICK: I am not a movie buff. My wife loves movies. It’s funny, I see three movies a year, maybe. I never watch them on television. I just can’t get into it. If I were watching real life I could be more interested than in fiction. A movie that crosses both boundaries I suppose is Saving Private Ryan which I found compelling. A movie from my childhood that I saw four or five times, and I haven’t done that since was The Great Escape with Steve McQueen. And the other movie I liked in my adulthood was Dancing With Wolves. It was just an amazing film. But I am not a movie buff.

QUINN: Okay. How about your favorite vacation spot?

BRODERICK: Well, actually, my favorite vacation spot is where I’ve gone every summer since I’ve been two years old. And basically to the same beach. You don’t think I’m in a rut, Gene, do you?

QUINN: No.

BRODERICK: I go to Harwich Port on Cape Cod, which is on the Cape’s south shore. The next town down is Chatham. The water temperature’s in the low 70s. And why I like it is because I’ve moved several times in my life, but the street that I walk down to the beach, although I’m sure if I saw it through the lens of time lapsed photography I would see its changes, I’ve been there so often I’ve assimilated the changes without knowing it. So that street seems the same to me as it did in the 1950s. The beach, if you close your eyes, has the same sound as the 1950s. And it’s stretched between two harbors about a mile and a half apart. And it feels the same. And so while everything else in our lives is changing, it’s the one place I can go every summer and feel that maybe that’s not true. And so it’s very restorative for me to go down there.

QUINN: Okay. Who would you most like to meet? And the theme here is famous U.S. inventors, Benjamin Franklin, the Wright Brothers, or Thomas Edison?

BRODERICK: Benjamin Franklin. Not only because he was an inventor, but because he was an amazing, although somewhat flawed, founding citizen of the United States. And two of the books, you talked about that earlier, that I enjoyed were John Adams and 1776 by David McCullough. And you realize what those people did. Franklin being one. He spent much of time in France, as you may know, during the American Revolution and often in the company of beautiful women. But he also helped the United States in the war effort through politics and finances. Franklin, I think, combines the curiosity and intellect of an inventor, but possessed the practical concerns of a civic minded person, and obviously a fair amount of courage. I think he’s an interesting person.

QUINN: How about the best fictional inventor? Emit Brown from Back to the Future, Q from James Bond, Tony Stark from Ironman, or MacGyver?

BRODERICK: Q from James Bond. I grew up on those movies. And what seemed so far-fetched then, almost space age, now looks quaint when you look back on it.

QUINN: And that really brings it to an end. I really appreciate you taking the time to chat with me.

BRODERICK: Gene, thank you. I’ve enjoyed the opportunity to do it. And I’m excited to be here. I think the law school like every law school has challenges. But this place is laden with opportunity now and I want to maximize it. And I hope the alumni will assist because we could use the help.

QUINN: Well, I know you can count on me. I think the folks that are still there know that, but just I’ll tell you, anything I can do to help just let me know.

BRODERICK: Gene, thank you very much. I hope to meet you face-to-face.

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About the Author

is a Patent Attorney and the founder of the popular blog IPWatchdog.com, which has for three of the last four years (i.e., 2010, 2012 and 2103) been recognized as the top intellectual property blog by the American Bar Association. He is also a principal lecturer in the PLI Patent Bar Review Course. As an electrical engineer with a computer engineering focus his specialty is electronic and computer devices, Internet applications, software and business methods.

 

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