Leadership Lessons With Attorney Bruce Dahl

Attorney Bruce Dahl, our Denver office managing partner performs his work in the role of a hybrid technologist-engineer lawyer. Endlessly curious, he’s a perfect match for providing a full range of strategic intellectual property legal to our clients.

We recently had the pleasure of talking with Bruce about lessons learned, and his life in the legal profession.

Intellectual Property issues seem hotter than ever in the media, and with our clients. What current trends in IP intrigue you the most?

A big issue right now is data privacy. The first major law in this area was enacted by the European Parliament in 2016 and is known as the “General Data Privacy Regulation” or GDPR. The GDPR aimed to provide a single set of data privacy laws across the European Union to provide greater levels of protection and rights to individuals compared to those already in place. The GDPR provides protocols for how businesses and other organizations handle information relating to the individuals who interact with them. The GDPR also provided new definitions of personal data, consent types, accountability standards, and the roles involved in decision making, interpreting, and processing the data.

Shortly thereafter, in 2018, California enacted the “California Consumer Privacy Act” or CCPA.  The CCPA went into effect on January 1, 2020, and requires businesses to implement a number of privacy initiatives similar to those of the GDPR, providing Californian’s with greatly enhanced data privacy rights.

In Colorado, in July of 2021, Governor Jared Polis signed SB190, the “Colorado Privacy Act” which provides a number of privacy protections for Colorado residents.  The Colorado Privacy Act is scheduled to take effect on July 1, 2023.

Similar legislation is pending in a good number of other States.

Tell us about you “Why?” What should clients know if they are going to hire you?

I’m passionate about engineering and technology and have always been fascinated by how things work.  A good patent attorney understands the invention, as well as the inventor.  That’s what I love to do.  Learn, understand, and help my clients achieve their objectives through IP protection.

At this juncture in your career, what aspect of being a successful attorney gives you the most satisfaction? And what would you tell your younger self – or a 1L in law school contemplating a career in the law?

Most lawyers practice law to help others.  For me, that is helping my clients protect their IP so they can succeed.

I would tell a 1L that there is something in the law for everyone.

What was your first job?

Working at the local municipal golf course as a ‘range boy,’ which meant picking up all the golf balls on the driving range so they could be used again.  We started work in the summertime well before sunup, but on the plus side, our day’s work was usually over by 9 a.m.!

Who is your hero – or the person who has had the greatest impact on your life and career?

Abraham Lincoln.  For his ethics, determination, and drive.  Plus he was an inventor.  He obtained a U.S. patent on an invention to buoy and lift boats over shoals and obstructions in a river.  It was Lincoln who, in 1859, wrote that the U.S. patent system “added the fuel of interest to the fire of genius.”

What’s the best – and worst – piece of career advice that you’ve received as a lawyer?

Best:  “Practice in an area of law that you love.”

Worst:  “All law firms are the same – it doesn’t matter which one you join.”

Talk about your greatest failure. What did you learn, and how did you pick up the pieces – and move forward?

Designing and building my own radio-controlled 2-meter sailplane when I was in law school.  It was an unconventional design – a tail-first canard, like the Wright brother’s first airplane.  The first flight revealed a serious longitudinal trim stability issue.  But after it crashed, I thought long and hard about the stability issue, learned what I’d done wrong, then re-designed the sailplane.  It flew beautifully after that.  My longest single flight was about 45 minutes.  There were great thermals that day.

After literally picking up the pieces, I went back to the drawing board and ultimately succeeded.  There isn’t a problem that can’t be solved by good thinking and perseverance.

During our next normal – the ongoing pandemic age – what are you reading; listening to (music or podcast); and watching/streaming?

I’m currently reading the Horatio Hornblower series of novels, and stories by C.S. Forester.

You’re a proud father of two boys and a girl – what do your kids teach you?

Too many things to count!  But really to expect the unexpected.

Many thanks to Bruce, and all of our IP professionals for helping our clients realize their business goals.

And if you’re ready to take your enterprise to the next level, our IP team is here to identify and implement strategies to help you thrive.

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