Spotlight on Advisory Board Co-Chair David De Lorenzi
David De Lorenzi has never shied away from a challenge, a philosophy that has made him the person he is today – driven, committed and always looking for new opportunities to achieve greater levels of excellence, for himself and his colleagues, and for new ways to better serve his clients and the legal community.
After graduating from Bowdoin College in 1986, De Lorenzi was set to attend Case Western Reserve University School of Law, when he received a call that put a hold on his plans.
“The Headmaster of my high school – St. Benedict’s Preparatory School in Newark – asked me to come back to the school to teach and coach,” he recalls. “I wanted to give back to Benedict's in some measure what the school had given me, which was so much. So, I deferred my admission to Case Western, moved in with my brother Daniel, and for the next year I taught English, American Civilization and Spanish, and coached soccer and wrestling. It was an incredibly rewarding experience, and I still regard it among my fondest memories.”
After graduating from law school in 1990, De Lorenzi joined Gibbons P.C. (then the Crummy, Del Deo firm), where he demonstrated his affinity and talent in the area of Intellectual Property (IP) law, first by taking on trademark litigation and later patent and copyright matters as well. In 1997, he was once again given a challenge to make a difference. "Literally the day after I became an equity partner, the firm asked me to be responsible for charting and building a standalone firm IP practice. At the time, general practice firms were just beginning to offer full IP services, and even those were generally limited to major cities like New York, Chicago and Los Angeles. Particularly with our firm headquarters in New Jersey – home to so many pharmaceutical, telecommunications and other technology companies, we knew even then that IP was of growing importance to our clients and that a robust IP practice would complement the firm in a meaningful way," he says. "And so, in our usual fashion, Gibbons took a visionary step forward and we have never looked back."
"It was a lot of fun, but also a lot of hard work, to build the practice. It took a few years to create momentum, which we fully expected for what was then a fairly niche discipline. The firm was incredibly supportive – not just financially, but culturally as well. In many respects, it was a pioneering step. Today, IP is the second largest practice area in the firm with 45 practicing lawyers, together with patent agents, IP paralegals and other IP trained personnel", he continues. As one just testament to what we have accomplished, the firm often handles more IP litigation outside the New York/New Jersey area than it does in its own backyard. "This tells us that our clients are hiring us for IP work because of who we are as a firm – and not just because of where we are located."
The Gibbons law firm's approach to growth radiates well beyond conventional legal practice. For example, in 2007, Gibbons endowed $1 million to the Seton Hall University School of Law to establish the Gibbons Institute of Law, Science & Technology – a leading center of excellence nationwide. Led by De Lorenzi, Seton Hall Law Vice Dean Erik Lillquist and Professor of Law David Opderbeck, the Gibbons Institute educates and trains the next generation of attorneys and professionals for the complex issues they will face as scientific and technological advances challenge business, law and legal institutions. Further, the Gibbons Institute regularly hosts symposiums and other conferences among industry leaders, jurists, federal agencies, academics and members of the Bar to debate and discuss controversial and evolving legal issues core to the role of intellectual property in today's global business community."
De Lorenzi explains, "The Gibbons Institute establishes Seton Hall Law as a premier school in the field of Intellectual Property. It was a wonderful opportunity for the Law School – and for New Jersey – to stand out nationwide as leaders in the IP field. The sheer number of technology companies headquartered here, combined with our proximity to New York, our wonderful engineering and medical schools, and our sophisticated bench at both the district court and state levels, clearly defines New Jersey as a hub for IP. And, with Seton Hall Law in the epicenter of all that, in my mind it was perfectly natural for the Law School to emerge as a center of excellence for this area of practice."
De Lorenzi notes that since the Institute was founded, there has been significant progress toward developing this identity and reputation for the State. "Today, New Jersey is the 5th most active patent litigation docket in the country. In 2011, the New Jersey District Court was one of 14 federal district courts selected to participate in a 10-year pilot project designed to enhance expertise in patent cases among U.S. district judges. Our judges here do not shy away from IP cases. Rather, they embrace them with pride and with sincere interest."
De Lorenzi's work with the Gibbons Institute Advisory Board also provided the basis for the innovative Gibbons Apprenticeship Program. "The Institute Advisory board was brainstorming about ways to increase hiring opportunities for students graduating from the law school when I suggested that perhaps the time had come to follow the example of our European counterparts and offer a one-year apprentice program," he recalls. "It really is a win-win opportunity. The program affords recent law school graduates with a full time paid position, exposure to the day-to-day responsibilities of a law firm junior associate, and training in a 'real world' law firm environment that will allow them to develop practical legal and client interaction skills in a variety of disciplines. The Apprentices 'shadow' attorneys throughout the IP Group – at the firm, in court and, when appropriate, at client meetings."
Gibbons’ first Apprentice was John J. (Jay) Cahill ’10; he is now an Associate at the firm, Gibbons has since hired a second Apprentice in the IP Department (as well as Apprentices in other practice groups), and the firm's third Apprentice joined Gibbons this Fall.
De Lorenzi views his work with Seton Hall Law and the Gibbons Institute of Law, Science & Technology as both personally and professionally rewarding. “Gibbons has long been committed to supporting the Law School, but I must say that the Law School likewise has brought me into its fold. And, I am very proud and honored to be among such highly respected company.”
De Lorenzi and his wife Terri, and their four children, live in Little Silver, New Jersey.