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Breaking the Ice: IP attorney also values pro bono service

Todd Nelson//May 20, 2020//

Breaking the Ice: IP attorney also values pro bono service

Todd Nelson//May 20, 2020//

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Name: Dean Eyler

Title: Partner, Lathrop GPM

Education: B.A., political science, University of Northern Iowa; J.D., University of Iowa College of Law


Lathrop GPM partner Dean Eyler continues hearing from other IP attorneys and friends about serving as lead writer of an amicus brief that was on the winning side of a recent U.S. Supreme Court trademark infringement ruling.

“It’s a fun time to talk about that because it’s a big story for those who practice IP,” Eyler said.

The court ruled that trademark owners may obtain a profits award without proving willful infringement. Eyler was lead author of the brief in Romag Fasteners Inc. v. Fossil Inc. on behalf of the AIPLA, the international intellectual property legal association.

While Eyler enjoys his specialty in intellectual property litigation, he’s also active in pro bono service, including representing clients seeking asylum as a volunteer with the Advocates for Human Rights.

Eyler worked with a group that earned 2016 Attorney of the Year honors from Minnesota Lawyer for founding the Appeals Self-Help Clinic at the state law library.

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

A: I’m a big sports fan, so a lot of people who are also sports fans talk to me about events, particularly basketball and football. Or ask me a good question about my family.

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

A: I competed in debate in college and loved that experience. I didn’t have family members who were lawyers, but a lot of my friends and peers through debate were going to law school. I was attracted to the ability to tackle complex problems, and the process seemed to translate somewhat from competitive debate to litigation.

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

A: Nelson Mandela’s “Long Walk to Freedom.” On Audible I recently listened again to a book I love, “The Alchemist,” by Paolo Coehlo.

Q: What is a pet peeve of yours?

A: People being rude. Sometimes people tend to conflate rudeness with effective lawyering.

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

A: It’s probably independence. I enjoy the ability to work on a lot of different things and with a lot of organizations that are important to me. I love the opportunity to learn about new issues and new clients. Over time even more it’s become the ability to help people with really important, complex problems. With the asylum work, helping people who are new to this country navigate our legal system and obtain asylum is a special and rewarding experience.

Q: Least favorite?

A: The billable hour.

Q: What’s a favorite activity outside your job?

A: Probably skiing. I love snow skiing in the mountains, downhill skiing. I also love waterskiing. I grew up in Iowa but we traveled up to our family cabins that my grandparents had built in northern Minnesota.

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

A: In Cedar Falls, Iowa, I would probably take someone to see a game or a show at the university or take them to dinner at an Italian restaurant that my family used to take my sister and me to for celebrations.

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

A: I have tremendous respect for the lawyers at the Advocates for Human Rights. The work they do promoting human rights and helping the vulnerable people in our society is really incredible. After law school I clerked on the 8th Circuit for Judge Donald Lay, and that was a wonderful experience, particularly with my co-clerks who are now judges in Minnesota, (U.S. District Judge Nancy Brasel) and (Court of Appeals) Judge Kevin Ross.

Q: What is your favorite depiction of the legal profession in popular culture?

A: Bryan Stevenson’s book “Just Mercy.” He’s such a great storyteller and is doing such important work.

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