BizTimes Bubbler Executive of the Week: Joseph Kuborn

Joseph Kuborn, partner of Andrus Intellectual Property Law LLP
Address: 100 E. Wisconsin Ave., Suite 1100, Milwaukee
Industry: Legal
Employees: 30
Family: Wife, Nancy; son, Adam, 18; son, Drew, 16; and daughter, Abbey, 14.

What was the smartest thing Andrus Intellectual Property Law did in the past year?
“As a result of strategic planning meetings surrounding our 75th anniversary this year, the members of the firm re-emphasized our focus on developing relationships with other attorneys, not only in Wisconsin but in the rest of the United States and abroad. Because our firm focuses exclusively on intellectual property law, including patents, trademark, copyrights and trade secrets, many of our new clients come to us as referrals from other attorneys and current clients. We have been particularly successful this year in attracting new clients from this referral network.”  

What’s new at your firm?
“This year we added two new equity partners to our firm, Tammy VanHeyningen and Ben Imhoff. We now have nine equity partners, which is the most we have had for some time.    

“This summer, we transitioned our computer systems from a traditional server and desktop setup to cloud-based storage and remote desktops. Although transitioning the configuration of a computer system in an office may not seem noteworthy, it was a significant change due to the confidential nature of much of the information stored on our network. The transition has been very well received, particularly by our attorneys who are working remotely. The cloud-based system will allow our clients direct access to their files and docketing information.”

Do you plan to hire any additional staff or make any significant capital investments in your firm in the next year?
“Earlier this summer we hired a new associate. In addition, our law clerk has accepted our invitation to join us as an associate upon his graduation in 2015. We are also looking to hire an associate for our Madison office and will be opening a new office in Massachusetts later this year.

“We are currently working with one of our clients to install and implement an office wellness program. The program will include electronic movement trackers, convertible stand up desks and conference tables and other devices to stimulate movement in the office. We are hoping this will increase the health and wellness of our employees during the work day.”  

How has your firm managed to stay in business for 75 years?
“Although I have been here for only 19 of the firm’s 75 years, the firm culture has not changed since the day it opened in 1939. The firm has always focused on providing an extremely high level of legal and technical expertise to our clients. We have always focused on hiring the best people possible.  

“I think remaining in business for 75 years is a result of a three-pronged approach: First, our attorneys and staff strive to be experts in the field of intellectual property law; second, we strive to provide excellent personal service to our clients; and third, we maintain a strong and lean business model so that we can deliver our services in the most cost-effective manner possible.”  

What will be Andrus’ main challenges in the next year?
“The most difficult, but exciting, challenge for us next year may be maintaining our existing standards and firm culture while expanding our firm in three separate offices. Our client base continues to grow, and we will need to add and train additional attorneys to provide the level of service our current clients have come to expect and our new clients have been promised.”  

Do you have a business mantra?
“I believe the statement ‘client-focused advice’ describes what we try to provide to our clients. Our clients look to us for advice to help solve their business problems and protect their technology, not just to provide a legal analysis of the issues they are facing.”   

From a business standpoint, who do you look up to?
“When I first started at Andrus, Glenn Starke was the senior partner. Whenever I told other attorneys and business associates that I worked at Andrus, they were unanimous in their praise for Mr. Starke. I had a chance to work with Mr. Starke during my first few years at the firm, and he was the epitome of a legal professional. I knew right away that if I patterned my legal practice after his, I would retire proud of my career and of how I influenced those around me.”

What was the best advice you ever received?
“When I was in engineering school, we were required to take a professional development class, which focused on real life aspects of being an engineer. During one class, a patent attorney spoke to us about careers we could pursue with our engineering degree. After class, I had a chance to meet with the attorney and discuss my interest in his career. He strongly suggested that I look into law school and becoming a patent attorney. It was one of the best decisions I have ever made.”

What do you like to do in your free time?
“Over the years, I have coached baseball and basketball teams for all three of my children, which was definitely worth all of the time spent. My youngest is now in high school, so my coaching days are over. I still play baseball and try to golf as much as possible during the short Wisconsin golf season.”

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