Attorney at Law Magazine Cleveland Publisher Jim Shultz sat down with James Lindon to discuss his career.
AALM: When did you first know you wanted to become an attorney?
Lindon: I was working as a pharmacist for nursing homes. I noticed how heavily the industry was regulated and how arbitrarily some of the rules were enforced. While they meant well, some inspectors were applying their opinions instead of the rules they were legally obligated to enforce. I was bothered by the inconsistencies in enforcement.
AALM: How does being a pharmacist help your practice?
Lindon: Pharmacists learn to pay attention to details. This can be a big advantage in the practice of law. Small words like “may” and “shall” can make a huge difference in the meaning of the law. Seeing life through the lens of science makes a definite impression on thinking and problem-solving.
AALM: What drew you to the intellectual property field?
Lindon: My professor for property law in law school noticed I was a pharmacist. He suggested intellectual property as a course of study. He was excited about it – and the material was very interesting to me. Continuously seeing something new is refreshing. Helping inventors and newer companies find out what makes them new and unique can be very exciting. There is almost always multiple ways to do some task or accomplish some goal. Seeing each individual learn to solve problems can be very inspiring. Working with creative people can be very rewarding. Hard work does not replace creativity – and vice versa. Both are needed to succeed in most endeavors.
AALM: Tell us about your law firm, Lindon & Lindon, LLC and its founding.
Lindon: I worked for a couple of patent and trademark firms for a few years before understanding enough to start on my own. I like working directly with the clients, which can be limited when being employed by a firm. I like communicating directly with the inventors and business owners.
AALM: What experiences have taught you the most?
Lindon: Seeing the dishonesty of some, not all, law enforcement folks has taught me to assess each case and each person on his or her own merits – not just respect a uniform or job title.
AALM: What do you find particularly challenging about your practice? How do you overcome these challenges?
Lindon: Some clients have unrealistic expectations. They think obtaining a patent is a sort of automated means to wealth. They forget they will need to make a product that works well at a price consumers will pay in order to succeed. Patent attorneys need to remind clients of the need to think about moving their ideas to the market.
AALM: What case most defined or redefined your practice?
Lindon: When I first became a lawyer, I represented a man in a criminal case where the client was convicted of abusing drugs. The judge sentenced the client to a very long prison term – well in excess of 10 years for abusing drugs. After the sentencing hearing, I was disturbed by seeing the police and prosecutors sitting in court and laughing about how long the client was going to be in prison. Knowing that the ruin of this man’s life was a genuine source of amusement for these agents of the government left me with a real impression of just how unfair our legal system could be. Whether the sentence was fair or not, it certainly was not a matter for joking.
I think the war on drugs has been and always will be a tremendous failure. Picking some drugs to be legal and other drugs to be illegal will always fail because the two substances, though essentially the same, are arbitrarily treated as completely different. We have not yet learned this lesson despite surviving the devastation caused by the prohibition of alcohol. Pushing addiction underground through prohibition will never reduce the desire for people to be intoxicated.
AALM: What do you enjoy doing outside of work? Hobbies? Sports?
Lindon: I have two teenage boys. They both do very well in school and love sports. Keeping them on track is a full-time task.