Partner, Dow, Lohnes & Albertson, PLLC
University of Rochester
University of Chicago Law School
I attended the University of Rochester and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts with a double major in mathematics (with honors) and in political science. Even while I was in high school, I intended to attend law school. I had always done well at math: I enjoyed the logic and the problem solving aspects of it. Once you solved an equation, you had an answer and you were done.
Once in college, my advisor suggested that I should have some courses on my transcript that showed I knew "how to write a sentence," so, I took a few political science classes. I found them far less difficult, but, in many ways, more interesting than math courses in that they taught me about the "real" world. As a result, I signed up for more and more and, by my senior year, found that I had enough for a double major.
While in law school and, now, in practicing law, I still find myself thinking and reasoning linearly, as I would in solving a math problem. Step A leads to Step B which leads to Step C and so forth. In law, you start with a basic legal principle or proposition, apply the principle to the facts at hand and reach a conclusion. f(x) = y, so to speak. But, in the practice of law, to say the least, the conclusions are not so clear cut.
In particular, I practice primarily in the field of trademark law where virtually nothing is black or white: everything is a shade of grey. For example, a word may be protectible as a trademark if it is considered sufficiently distinctive to identify the source of the product to consumers. But, the same word may be distinctive for one product (e.g., APPLE for computers), but, generic for another (APPLE for fruit). In addition, one mark may infringe another if there is a likelihood of consumer confusion. That question turns, in large measure, on whether the respective marks are too similar considering numerous other factors, such as the distinctiveness of the respective marks, the similarity of the respective products, the channels of trade through which the products are sold or promoted and the level of sophistication of the consumers. The analysis of whether there is infringement is truly a multi-factor, non-linear inquiry.
Thus, particularly in my area of practice, virtually everything is subjective and reasonable minds can differ. Despite the satisfaction that I have always enjoyed in "solving" a puzzle, I have come to enjoy and embrace the ambiguity involved in the practice of law.