Michele Katz is the Founding Partner at Advitam IP, a Chicago law firm focusing on helping people protect their intellectual property, such as patents, trademarks, and copyrights. With more than 20 years in the field of intellectual property law, Michele has built a career on guiding clients through legal processes and creating strategies for protecting their ideas.
In addition to her legal work, Michele is deeply involved in supporting adoption through her foundation, The Plus One Adoption Foundation, Inc. This Chicago-based charity works to help make adoption an accessible and considered choice for families, offering guidance and financial help with the adoption process and post-adoption needs. On top of that, Michele also shares her legal expertise with a broader audience by hosting the Women’s IP World Podcast.
Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:
- Michele Katz talks about her adoption foundation and why she decided to put up one
- What does Advitam IP specialize in and what sets it apart from other firms?
- Michele’s journey from law school to starting her firm
- The early days of Advitam IP
- Why Michele is passionate about intellectual property law
- What is the key to running a thriving and successful firm?
- How Michele became a podcast host
In this episode…
Can a career in law also pave the way for meaningful advocacy? How does one balance a demanding legal profession with personal passions and causes?
According to Michele Katz, a celebrated IP attorney and compassionate advocate, it’s not only doable but incredibly rewarding. She shares that her advocacies do not divert her but rather enrich her career, intertwining her professional expertise with personal causes that impact lives meaningfully.
In this episode of 15 Minutes, host Chad Franzen speaks with Michele Katz, Founding Partner of Advitam IP, exploring the intersection of proficient legal practice and purpose-driven advocacy. Michele shares her insights on leading a thriving IP law firm successfully, advocating for adoption through her Plus One℠ foundation, and elevating women in IP through the Women’s IP World Podcast.
Resources mentioned in this episode:
- Chad Franzen on LinkedIn
- Gladiator Law Marketing
- Michele Katz on LinkedIn
- Advitam IP
- Plus One Adoption Foundation
- Hebrew University
- Richard Gurak on LinkedIn
- Women’s IP World
- Women’s IP World Podcast
Sponsor for this episode…
This episode is brought to you by Gladiator Law Marketing, where we deliver tailor-made services to help you accomplish your objectives and maximize your growth potential.
To have a successful marketing campaign and make sure you’re getting the best ROI, your firm needs to have a better website and better content. At Gladiator Law Marketing, we use artificial intelligence, machine learning, and decades of experience to outperform the competition.
You’re listening to 15 Minutes, where we feature community leaders sharing what the rest of us should know but likely don’t.
Chad Franzen 0:12
Hi. Chad Franzen here, one of the hosts of Share Your Voice where we talk with top-notch law firms and lawyers about what it takes to grow a successful law practice. This episode is brought to you by Gladiator Law Marketing, delivering tailor-made services to help you accomplish your objectives and maximize your growth potential. To have a successful marketing campaign and make sure you’re getting the best ROI, your firm needs to have a better website and better content. Gladiator Law Marketing uses artificial intelligence, machine learning, and decades of experience to outperform the competition. To learn more, go to gladiatorlawmarketing.com, or you can schedule a free marketing consultation. Not only is Michele Katz, a mother of four, she is a seasoned IP lawyer and an international podcaster. She’s also the Founder of a Philanthropic Foundation called Plus One whose mission is to reduce is reduced to zero, the number of children without a permanent loving home, you can find more about find out more about it at plusoneadoption.org. That’s plus one adoption.org Or at plus one adoption on Instagram. Hey, Michele, thanks so much for joining me today. How are you?
Michele Katz 1:14
My pleasure. I’m glad to be here doing very well. Thank you.
Chad Franzen 1:19
I look forward to talking with you about all things associated with law. But first, why don’t we get into your philanthropic foundation a little bit? Tell me what it’s all about, why it’s important to you, and what you guys do?
Michele Katz 1:34
Yeah, so we like you mentioned, my husband and I have four kids. Two of them are adopted from Colombia. And that’s our girls kind of bookended the eldest and the youngest. And then I carried the two boys in between there. And we always had an affinity for adoption as a way to add to our family. And we had very interesting experiences that I have shared with other adoptive families, everyone, like any one’s family building experiences unique, and as, and so is ours. So we adopted our first child, got a call, she was an infant. And we hopped on a plane and headed to Colombia for the first time. Now, of course, we’ve been many times and we have friends who live there, kind of our daughter’s fake aunts and uncles, so to speak. And many of those people, they’re there from the IP community because they were so supportive when we were there, adopting during a strike. And so I was there for nine weeks, with my first time being a mother. And it was different, let’s just say, you know, I didn’t have a lot of kid experience. Prior to that it was the first grandchild on both sides of the family. And when I was on that plane, I was reading the first 12 Months for Dummies, our daughter was four months at the time. Then fast forward after having a successful pregnancy and having my two boys, we adopted again, but this time, she was eight years old. And this was if you could imagine 2019, December, before the pandemic, we were so thankful to get the word that this child had been matched with us and we flew down as a family. We’re a family of five at the time. So we all flew down for winter break, and made it back home with our eight-year-old daughter, and our fourth and last child. And it was it was just such a beautiful, different experience in the first. It’s such a beautiful experience. And then during the pandemic, I was thinking, you know, there is such there’s this gap between people who want to become parents. There’s certainly enough of us out there who want to become parents, far more than those that need permanent homes. So if we could kind of help by providing information, to educate, to create more awareness to those people who want to become parents to consider adoption as a way to build your family. So their birth, the philanthropic foundation, the Plus One Adoption Foundation in 2021.
Chad Franzen 4:33
Right, wow, that’s, that’s that’s a great story. So just out of curiosity, was there a I’m sure that adopting a newborn basically from Colombia was a tremendous experience one that was different than anything you’ve experienced, but adopting somebody who’s already kind of, you know, maybe kind of personality and got their own, got everything that they’re used to how was that?
Michele Katz 4:55
So luckily, we do speak Spanish already. And we do speak Spanish in the home. So that made the transition a lot easier. I think that if we hadn’t, but yes, absolutely she, she had her own personality yet still to be developed, only eight years old but but a lot of new experiences for her we were able to see firsthand when we arrived home on December 31 of 2019. And we live in the city of Chicago, we had to walk up the stairs to get to our front door, we had just had a light snow. And so she was touching snow for the first time. And she was trying new foods for the first time. English is still all around us being you know, she didn’t speak any any English, except for one word, which was yellow, because that was her favorite color. At the time, of course, now it’s moved on several times to other colors. And she became fluent within several months, I would say, summer of 2020. We did enroll her in there was a camp, even during COVID We were able to get her in camp. And that is what really was like a switch for her. But yeah, a very different experience. On one hand, you don’t have the, you know, the all-nighters, you know, with feedings, and diaper changes and that sort of thing. But you have other things, you’re really trying to work on the relationships, not just between parent and child, but also between siblings. And we have two dogs too.
Chad Franzen 6:31
Okay. Yeah. Very exciting. Well, thanks so much for sharing about that. I didn’t tell you we’re gonna talk about that. But I appreciate hearing. And that’s great. Hey, so um, let’s talk about your law practice at Advitam IP Attorneys at Law. Tell me about a little bit more about that. And kind of, you know, what you guys specialize in?
Michele Katz 6:52
Yeah, so my partner and I started at Advitam IP, which means intellectual property for life. Back in 2012, we have now been, what are we, 11 years old. And it was a fantastic transition from where we were before, which was a very large general practice in multiple cities, I would say Chicago was the pulse of the IP work that was going on within the firm. But we were the two of us where we were two out of 250 partners, 650 lawyers. And we thought, you know, let’s try something different. We both had an entrepreneurial spirit. And let’s let’s try this. And it’s been a it’s been a real success. We have emulated I think, from where we originally came from where we grew up as lawyers, which was Welsh & Katz, which was a boutique firm, well known at the time. It was started in the early 80s 1983, by my father was one of the partners, Sid Katz. And it had a real family feel, even though it was a corporation. There, you know, people were pretty much lifers there. And then we eventually merged into that bigger practice many years later, and I was a partner under both firms. So I had the benefit of both types of practices, and was able to kind of, you know, learn from both and take the best from both of those worlds and apply it to our current firm.
Chad Franzen 8:33
What would you say are the few things that you would say kind of separates it Advitam from other IP firms? You know, maybe something you’re proud of, or something you just confident that makes you guys different?
Michele Katz 8:44
Yeah, I think there’s, there’s a couple of things that definitely distinguish us from other firms. You know, people complain a lot about lawyers about how we bill. And I feel like we buy using flat rates, which is been a part of our practice since the very beginning. I actually even in my prior firms kind of rigged the accounting system in order to be able to flat rate bill, because people want to know what they are going to spend in advance. And because we did a lot of international work, prior, we still do, but as I was growing up in in Welsh and cats, for example, we were encouraged to attend conferences, and they were being lawyers from all over the world who also practice the same kind of law, also intellectual property. And they would complain about the US lawyers and not knowing what to charge their clients or quote, you know, at least quoting their clients in advance and so I had come up with the system of flat rate billing, even for litigation that’s been working ever, ever since, you know, just kind of modifying as needed. And I think that piece puts at ease, not just our international clients, but also our domestic ones. Turns out us clients also would like to know in advance what they’re going to be charged. I think that’s that’s one, one thing that separates us, I think the other is that we do a lot of giving back. We give scholarships in the innovative sciences, we are involved in the community. And so I do think that that his take been noticed, I did get a call from a client. At least one who said, Well, you know, I’ve been looking for an IP attorney. It was in the patent space, which we, which we also handle, and he said, You know, I just, I love what you’re doing, we have a portion of our website does, you know, dedicated to giving back. And so we try to keep up with that with the things that we’re, we’re doing to give back.
Chad Franzen 10:54
Why is that important to you and your firm?
Michele Katz 10:57
I feel like it really is the essence of who we are as people. So, as lawyers, we are servicing clients, we are providing a service, we’re helping people. But there are other areas, other passions that we have in our life, for example, I mean, it’s an extension of intellectual property. So for Hebrew University, which is one of the top science universities in the world, it’s located in Jerusalem, Israel, and we give a master’s scholarship specifically in innovative sciences. Wow. I attended that university as a one-year abroad student back in university. So I have a connection to the university and really support what they’re doing. I mean, they’re really, it’s a real humanitarian effort going on there.
Chad Franzen 11:51
Wow. Amazing. That’s incredible. So how and when did you know that you wanted to become an attorney? Well, you’re you came from a legal family, I guess.
Michele Katz 12:02
So my father used to say that he would home-grow his attorneys, because my sister is also an attorney. There’s three of us, the middle child decided not to go into law, as middle children do. But both my sister and I joined the practice that my father had founded. And we just kind of grew up. Knowing about the law, spending time in the office, I, you know, I used to organize various things, you know, for extra cash growing up. And then in college, I was proofreading patents for a summer. So I, you know, the environment was not what was familiar to me. I also loved to travel. I had that bug early on in life. And I’ve lived in several different places. I was coming back to Chicago, but I I love travel. And I still do and I recall my father traveling to for conferences and for cases and things of that nature. And I thought, Well, I mean, the connecting the, you know, the passion for travel with the passion for intellectual property. And of course, the, you know, the job component, right to help fund something that you love to do seemed like a like a good connection.
Chad Franzen 13:24
What makes intellectual property law appealing to you?
Michele Katz 13:30
Wow, well, it’s probably it’s probably changed over the years. In the beginning, I just thought it was so neat to be in court. I love litigation. I was even in law school on a what was called a 711 license. Meaning that I had a supervisor, I was still in school, but they actually let me do direct and cross examinations for more minor things like traffic violations. And I just thought that the energy in the courtroom, it just felt so real. And I just really enjoyed that. Then, you know, in the practice of law, you’re not doing that all the time. But, you know, there’s, there’s trial lawyers, and there’s litigators. And you learn early on the difference that you know, it can take years certainly an IP cases to even get to that point. But I really liked the camaraderie and the teamwork between the associates and the partners. And the, the experience from even before you file a complaint, just what goes on through the the life of a case and it may not get to the end settlement, negotiating and licensing also became a strength of mine and we still do a lot of that today. So I would say all of all the various pieces because we all To do prosecution work the registration side with the government that helped and having a litigation background that helped kind of set up prosecution, like where we see, you know, be careful of how we word this right, or what claims we make here, because that could affect us later. So I kind of like also having that the strategy hat on, you know, the strategy brain to see to use what we know across the different disciplines.
Chad Franzen 15:32
You are actually how did you how did you then get started in the legal industry? You went to law school? What happened from there?
Michele Katz 15:39
So yeah, I went, I went to law school, and I did that 711 license. And I, once I finished, when I when I finished that program, and I started working, I immediately started at Welsh & Katz, we had a small class of associates, and I worked my way up. And after about six years, I was voted into partnership there. And then about four years, four or five years later, we merged into the big, general firm. And then several years after that, then I started my my own firm kind of back. We’re still we’re not as large as what welshing Katz was. But we we lean we, you know, have like a lean and mean team, small boutique firm specializes in IP.
Chad Franzen 16:23
So you’d handle you’d already had experience as a partner and things like that, what were the early days of, you know, launching your own firm, you know, as kind of kind of your own over those days like?
Michele Katz 16:35
it’s so funny, because it’s like a, it’s a blur when one day just goes into the next. But one of the things, one of the reasons why I wanted to start my own firm was to have a little bit more autonomy. I was nursing, a, like I had a third child, right. And so the idea of every January your billable hours, tinkering back to zero, was like, painful for me. And I thought, you know, what, there has to be a different way to do this. And sure enough, after some time, putting together you know, my thought and my strategy for my own firm, which I did start with Richard Gurak, my partner who I worked with already many years. In the prior firms, both both firms, the merged and the pre merge firm. And it just, the timing was right. You know, a lot of that timing was right. And I wanted to be able to be present a little bit more. This is, of course, before hybrid, this is when you were going to work every day, you know, you know, we had hybrid before hybrid was a thing. You know, back in 2012. People weren’t talking about you, maybe they called it like tele commuting or something like that. And we weren’t that either, really. And so we had a downtown office. And we had also, you know, across from the stairs, we’re right, we’re right across from the Sears Tower. And then we have also the ability to work from home, to sit at our desk that looks just basically works functionality and all of that stuff, just as we would if we were downtown. And then, you know, we also had down, you know, downtown space to be you know, that that downtown working lawyer, and the first day, the first day we opened March 27 of 2012, one of my kids had a concert had a spring concert at school. Well, guess what? I work from home on my very first day of theater, my pee, and I popped over we live in the neighborhood of the school. So I popped over for an hour to catch the concert and came home. I mean, that wasn’t stuff that I could actually realistically do prior.
Chad Franzen 18:45
Sure. Sure. Was there anything that was like? I don’t know. I mean, he’d already been a partner. That was kind of like surprising, or, Oh, I didn’t, you know, didn’t learn this in law school type thing.
Michele Katz 18:55
Oh, sure. Sure. Everything is on you. Like you have a tech problem. Don’t think you can call your tech guy at the office. Okay? No, you have to figure out a different a different way of handling the different different issues that come up, right. And when you’re starting out, you don’t have a salaried person to just handle things for you. I mean, they can’t you just get it you can’t call your guy and then he comes by you know, and you kind of go for lunch while he’s working on computer, you come back and well everything’s fixed doesn’t. It doesn’t work is the same with you know, with a lot of things in marketing, and you end up wearing a lot of hats, and there’s a lot of learning curve in the beginning. And eventually, as we become more successful, we’ve been able to bring on staff in various capacities for what we’ve needed. Yeah.
Chad Franzen 19:55
So now that you’ve done it for more than a I think more than a decade, right? 2012 is when you Oh, yes, maybe a key to running a thriving and successful firm like that?
Michele Katz 20:04
Well, you definitely have to be able to keep your cool. Sure. You have to, like, take a deep breath, and just be able to think, problem solving. Okay, how can I best and efficiently and effectively move on from this issue because you have to get through, there’s vital things that go on in running a firm, and you still have your deadlines, you still have these things. And so you’ve got a lot of balls in the air sometimes. Right? So being able to manage and being able to be like, you know, what, in that for now, gotta move to this the ability to be fluid in your day. I mean, there’s a moms and dads kind of trained me for that.
Chad Franzen 20:56
Sure. Sure. Absolutely. I’m sure you also have to keep your cool in the courtroom as well.
Michele Katz 21:03
Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. Are you a litigator? I am not. I don’t know. I’m just okay, well, so. So from the standpoint of Yes, you’ve got a lot of eyes on you, right. And you’re in the courtroom, there’s probably a minimum of eight things going on at any given time. And so yes, you have to be able to take that deep breath, and just kind of splice out and prioritize. You know, what are we going to handle or respond to first, then what’s next, and next, and next. And next until you walk out of there.
Chad Franzen 21:43
I’m sure for like an aspiring attorney working in a courtroom was is probably like a romantic thing. You know, you see that on TV and things like that. When you had your first courtroom experience? What were you? What were you feeling going into it? We were you were like, ready and prepared? Were you nervous? Because maybe the other attorney wasn’t a first time or what were you thinking?
Michele Katz 22:01
I was nervous, I was nervous. It’s like they say, See One, Do one. So you kind of go in just as like a shadow, you may introduce yourself. So you get to speak on the record, which I think is just a nice little appetizer, so to speak, you know, just like softens the introduction. And then when you go in on your own, and it also depends whether you’re in state or federal court, you got to be prepared. And it’s difficult, because a lot of times you go in and you’re trying a case, you’re you’re arguing somebody but it’s not. It’s not what you prepare for something else will come up, maybe unexpected, you can only prepare so much. So you have to kind of be used to going in not knowing what’s, you know, you don’t know what’s going to happen. And in state court, at least here in Cook County in Chicago, they still you have to hand write your orders on carbon paper. That’s pretty shocking for federal attorneys. And we do both we know we find ourselves in both systems. So I always would bring one with me. I always brought one with me from the prior case or from earlier in the case. So I at least have like the initial language, right? And you’ve got to grab your carbon pieces in the in the duplicate of copies and use and then you can you start writing. So there’s little like tricks like that to kind of help ease be prepared, you know, that sort of thing. And that was kind of one of the little tricks that I started doing just because I thought oh, that’s going state court. Don’t forget an order.
Chad Franzen 23:52
Sure. Great. Yeah. Sounds good. Hey, I have one more question for you. But tell me first how people can find out more about Advitam IP Attorneys at Law.
Michele Katz 24:04
Sure, absolutely. So we have a website. It’s www.advitamip.com and advitamip.com. And that’s probably we’re, that’s a great way it has our emails there where we’re located and background information about us testimonials, case summaries. So you can learn a lot about us there.
Chad Franzen 24:29
And it’s plusoneadoption.org. We talked about that a little bit earlier. Hey, last question for you. I mentioned in your intro that you are an international podcaster, tell me about that. How did you get into that? What’s that all about?
Michele Katz 24:42
Yes, so um, gosh, this was back in 2019. I got a cold call which is interesting because I usually screen those and but I ended up talking to this lovely voice from the UK who was starting a magazine called Women’s IP World. And they she asked me if I would be the US contributor. So when they started, they were only taking writers. It was like a noncompete type of magazine. So they’d have a US rep, and then from all various other countries around the world, and I said, Wow, that’s wonderful. I’m interested. So fast forward, I contributed a couple years, the pen, then the pandemic hits. And the editor called me and asked me, Michele, I am going to ask you this question. I know, you’re going to say no, that’s how he asked me said, I want to start a podcast. And I think you’d be great as the host, would you consider it? And I said, Well, what’s the time commitment, right, that’s, you know, as a busy person, even during COVID, I had for four kids at home. So I was intrigued, and I accepted. And now we’re in the third season of the Women’s IP World podcast.
Chad Franzen 25:58
So you, you interview other IP attorneys, or, or what?
Michele Katz 26:02
I do, yes, the format, our guests consist of the authors, so we can do a deep dive into the articles, the research, whatever it is that they are writing about. And it’s, it’s something I just, I’m, I really enjoy doing and getting to know these people and certain during certainly during COVID, when I wasn’t, you know, going to international meetings and that sort of thing. It was a really nice touch point, to, I suppose to promote, to promote the firm is part of it, but also to really make connections and now that we’re back in person, I’m now seeing people in the flesh for the first time after I’ve been speaking with them virtually for a few years.
Chad Franzen 26:50
Yeah, a lot of people think podcasting is just kind of about marketing and getting your name out there. But it really helps with connections like it, like you said, with the, the interviews that you have on the podcast.
Michele Katz 27:02
Yes, it’s good. I was just gonna say, and the the topics are mostly they’re IP related. Right? So they’re so they’re industry, it’s industry specific. But also, you know, there’s this this side about, you know, women’s issues that have you know, transcend not just the IP or legal but kind of kind of just trying to transcend globally. Or you know, as we there’s been a lot of writing and whatnot through the through COVID about how women have been affected by lockdowns.
Chad Franzen 27:35
How can people find it?
Michele Katz 27:39
Good question. There’s also a website for the magazine and it’s womensipworld.com. womensipworld.com.
Chad Franzen 27:52
Okay, awesome. Hey, Michele, it’s been great to talk to you. Thank you so much for all your time and your stories and your insights. Really appreciate it.
Michele Katz 28:01
My pleasure. Thank you for having me.
Chad Franzen 28:03
So long, everybody.
Thanks for listening to 15 Minutes, be sure to subscribe, and we’ll see you next time.