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Harrity & Harrity Launches Black-Owned Firm Through Minority Incubator Program

June 23, 2021

Florida-Based Onyx IP Group is the First Minority-Owned Firm Specializing in IP Law to Come Out of Diversity-Focused Program

Fairfax, Va. — June 21, 2021 Harrity 4 Charity (H4C), the giving-back initiative of Harrity & Harrity, LLP, one of the country’s preeminent patent law firms, is thrilled to announce the launch of the Onyx IP Group (OIPG), the first minority-owned firm to come out of the Harrity Minority Firm Incubator (MFI), a program initiated in 2019 to address the fact that the practice of law remains one of the least diverse professions in the U.S.

Based in Orlando, Florida, OIPG is a 100% Black-owned, Intellectual Property (IP) law firm launched by the MFI’s first graduate, James Bennin. Bennin has approximately 15 years of experience in the IP field, with an extensive background in counseling clients on various IP matters in the U.S. and other jurisdictions. Prior to joining Harrity’s MFI program, Bennin was an associate general counsel handling transactional matters (including IP matters) for the University of Central Florida, one of the largest universities in the country, and formerly served as IP counsel at Caterpillar, a large multi-national company, where he counseled multiple business units on matters related to IP.

Raised by a single mother in a low-income household, Bennin was the first college graduate in his immediate family. With African-Americans making up just 1.94% of all equity partners in the U.S., Bennin’s launch of OIPG is making strides for a severely underrepresented group in the field of law.

“I understand the obstacles someone with my background needs to overcome to be successful in this profession and the importance of improving diversity in the legal field,” Bennin said.  “I want to use this program/platform as a means to give back and to help provide a blueprint or guide to success for members of underrepresented groups, so they can see that success in any professional field, more particularly in the legal field, is a realistic possibility in their future.“

Serving as Of Counsel for OIPG are Keri Sicard, who has more than 20 years of experience in the field of IP law and is experienced in a wide variety of technologies from the simple to the highly complex; and Michael Antone, who has over 20 years of experience in large law firm, corporate, and venture capital environments in the area of IP and business operations counseling.

Added Bennin, “I am tremendously excited about the opportunity to launch the Onyx IP Group and am well prepared to provide exceptional work to clients while also furthering my goal of making a positive impact – particularly for those, like myself, in minority groups.”

The Stats:

According to the 2019 Vault/MCCA Law Firm Diversity Survey on overall law firm demographics, 82% of all lawyers and 89% of all partners are Caucasian. Just 2% of all partners are African-American, under 3% are Hispanic and under 4% are Asian. None of the statistics regarding specific minority percentages have changed over the past decade, despite the fact that those populations in the U.S. have increased during the same timeframe.

About the Minority Firm Incubator:

Harrity—which has launched a variety of service-driven initiatives under its H4C philanthropic arm—is hoping to help be the change for diversity in the legal field with the MFI program, which supports the recruitment, retention and advancement of attorneys who will contribute to the diversity of the legal field by launching minority-owned patent firms.

A year-long, multi-phase program, Harrity’s MFI program works to train minority attorneys in patent law and help them overcome the barriers to launching their own patent law firms. The program encourages minorities to become leaders in the field for both quality and diversity and sets them up for success.

Commented Elaine Spector, a partner at Harrity, who co-chairs the firm’s diversity committee. “Having a diverse workforce leads to a more integrated practice. Women and diverse inventors want to consult capable attorneys who look like them and who understand them and the context of the goals they are working to achieve.”

Adds partner John Harrity, who co-chairs the diversity committee with Spector, “Diversity generates quality legal innovation. The benefits of differential skillsets, outlooks, approaches and ways of processing make a team stronger, bringing varied and valuable insights to cultures, systems and policies, which is what is required to be change leaders.”

More H4C News on ‘Driving Diversity’:

Visit us online to learn more about Harrity’s multi-faceted diversity initiatives, which, in addition to MFI, also include The Diversity Channel, The Harrity Academy and Harrity for Parity: A Women’s Patent Workshop.

Visit the firm’s weekly vlog, Driving Diversity, which addresses such issues as hiring practices; how intersectionality relates to underrepresented groups falling into more than one community; implementing the Rooney Rule 2.0; how a firm’s culture affects diversity; flexibility; patents pathways for women of color; mentoring/tutoring programs; and more.

About Onyx IP Group:  

With combined experience (private practice and in-house) in the electrical, software, and mechanical technology areas, the Onyx IP Group provides legal counseling for patent drafting, patent prosecution, trademark, and transactional matters.

About Harrity & Harrity, LLP:

Harrity & Harrity, headquartered in Fairfax, Va., is a leading patent preparation and prosecution firm specializing in the electrical and mechanical technology areas. The firm has obtained more than 8,000 patents since its founding in 1999. Our clients trust in our high-quality work, experienced people, industry-leading innovation, and outstanding service. Harrity actively promotes diversity and inclusion at the firm and throughout the legal industry, with an additional focus on giving back to the community through Harrity 4 Charity.

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