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Michael Florey identified his future practice area while clerking for the late U.S. District Court Judge Robert Renner. (File photo)
Michael Florey identified his future practice area while clerking for the late U.S. District Court Judge Robert Renner. (File photo)

Breaking the Ice: Appreciating variety in practice, dining options

Name: Michael Florey

Title: Senior principal, Fish & Richardson

Education: B.A., economics, Carleton College; J.D., University of Illinois College of Law

Michael Florey’s intellectual property litigation caseload has covered everything from pacemakers and concrete retaining walls to dialysis machines and lawn ornaments.

That’s what the senior partner at Fish & Richardson likes about his work.

“You have to have a deep understanding of both the technology and your client’s business,” Florey said. “That changes dramatically from case to case. That keeps it very fresh.”

Florey identified his future practice area while clerking for the late U.S. District Court Judge Robert Renner.

“The patent and copyright and trademark trials were just more interesting,” Florey said.

Florey’s work in a long-running patent dispute, a precedent-setting victory that earned him Attorney of the Year honors, led to involvement in a products liability case for the same client.

He helped work with products liability lawyers “to bring some technical expertise into the product liability world … in explaining why [the client’s] products were safe and effective,” Florey said.

Q: What’s the best way to start a conversation with you?

A: Start talking about restaurants in the Twin Cities, in America, anywhere in the world. My wife and I, it’s our hobby. We love going to great restaurants.

Q: What prompted you to study law and pursue it professionally?

A: At Carleton I did a lot of work in macroeconomics and economic history and analysis of English literature. I found that I enjoyed working on problems that were multifaceted and didn’t have a clear-cut answer, that my strong suit was analyzing the gray areas. A lot of people said that’s kind of what lawyers do.

Q: What books are on your bedside table or e-reader?

A: I like to read cookbooks. I have been reading Alice Waters’ “The Art of Simple Food” and “The Art of Simple Food II.” Alice Waters is a genius in terms of her restaurant. She writes about sustainability and sourcing ingredients. Her recipes are absolutely fantastic.

Q: What is a pet peeve of yours?

A: Lawyers who burden their support staff by always filing everything at the last minute.

Q: What are your favorite aspects of being an attorney?

A: The multifaceted nature of the problem solving. We take the facts of the case, the complex IP law related to the case and the unique aspects of the client’s business, and try to weave those all together to obtain a good result.

Q: Least favorite?

A: I’ve definitely run across some opposing counsel who I think are intentionally unpleasant and want to fight about every single thing whether it merits a fight or not.

Q: If someone visits you in your hometown, what would you take them to see or do?

A: I live in St. Paul near Grand Avenue. We’d probably walk up and down Grand Avenue. There are all kinds of fantastic little businesses and things to see and do along the way.

Q: Is there an attorney or judge, past or present, whom you admire most?

A: [The late U.S. District Court] Judge Robert Renner, whom I clerked for for two years, is one of my heroes. His sense of impartiality and integrity and wanting to do the right things for the right reason without caring about the politics of it or what people thought of him.

Q: What’s a misconception people have about working as an attorney?

A: People have this idea that cases, trials are won or lost by the attorneys giving impassioned Shakespearean-like speeches to the judge or the jury. Obviously you want to do a good opening and a good closing. But really cases are won and lost by doing the hard spade work of building the facts, being able to tell your client’s story with hard evidence and facts and laying it all out in a comprehensible fashion rather than me pounding on the podium and giving a soliloquy.

Q: What is your favorite depiction of the law, the legal professional in popular culture?

A: “My Cousin Vinny” is the best. The genius of that movie is it’s incredibly funny but the legal scenes are extraordinarily accurate.

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