10th Anniversary Edition - 10 Things to Know about LexDellmeier - Past, Present & Future
Alexandra Dellmeier is a German Attorney at Law and Certified IP Attorney. She founded the law firm LexDellmeier Intellectual Property Law Firm 10 years ago in Munich, Germany. It is time to say:
“Thank You” on behalf of great clients and colleagues in Germany and around the world!
“Happy Anniversary” to all its fantastic team members!
To celebrate this milestone, here are highlights from our interview with Ms. Dellmeier featuring 10 things you may or may not have known about LexDellmeier.
1. Why did you call the firm “LexDellmeier”?
As a trademark attorney, I wanted to establish a “brand” – different than other firms who usually use the founders last names, string them together and end up having extremely long firm names. “Dellmeier” reflects my last name. The “meier”-part makes it rather clear that we are German or have German roots, and are perceived around the world as hard-working, diligent and reliable. And “Lex” has two meanings. In Latin “Lex” means “the law”. And, “Lex” is also a short version of “Alexandra”, my first name. So, that is the how the brand “LexDellmeier” was born.
2. Ms. Dellmeier, what was your first contact with IP?
Coincidence. Curiosity. Luck. On my first day as a legal intern at a Munich IP firm in 1997, I discovered a gigantic shelf of Adidas t-shirts, shorts and jogging suits in the office. I was excited and immediately ran to one of the partners and proclaimed: “I would like to join the firm’s soccer team!” The managing partner looked bewildered and told me that the firm did not have a soccer team. I persisted: “But, I saw the full closet of sports clothing …” - I still remember his loud and hilarious laugh. After a moment, he finally explained that the sportswear was counterfeited and confiscated by German Customs from a shipment coming from Turkey into Hamburg harbor.
So, trademark infringement, counterfeits and border seizures were my first entree to IP. I will never forget that first day, which sparked my interest in Intellectual Property.
3. How has your career developed in the field of IP?
Prior to starting LexDellmeier, I was an equity partner at another renowned German IP firm with 100 people. During those years, I had the opportunity to work on incredibly interesting and prestigious trademark, design, patent and utility model litigation cases. That is where I made the link between non-technical and technical protection and I became a “true” IP attorney. Before that, I worked as VP/in-house counsel at a German broadcasting and television studio which gave me an insight into what it is like to be inside a company and contract out for legal services. This experience gave me a better understanding of what my clients need from my firm as an outside attorney and I designed our services accordingly.
One of my best talents that has supported my career from the beginning and maes it possible for me to work internationally with ease, are my language skills. In this resepct I was quite fortune. My father was a chemist and exchange scientist in the United States and I had the opportunity to go to school in the US for six years. Growing up in a bi-lingual home, speaking German and English, has been a real advantage for me professionally.
4. Why did you start LexDellmeier?
I love my work and I really enjoy advising clients all over the world, especially the international aspect of IP. My aim was, is and always will be to be part of a firm that has a passion for IP, its clients and its employees. I did not find this combination in any other firm in Germany. So, with 12 years of IP experience under my belt, I decided to start my own firm and do things differently and better back in 2009. First, we listen to clients. Second, I trust my colleagues and team members. Third, I am happy when clients and employees are happy.
5. Do you still have clients from 10 years ago?
Yes. I am proud and honored to say that we still advise and represent almost all of the clients we started with 10 years ago. We had a small number of clients back in 2009. Over the past 10 years, LexDellmeier has grown its client base. Traditionally, we had more clients from overseas. Today, approximately 40% of our clients come from Germany – 60% from other countries including USA, Canada, China, Switzerland, France etc.
6. What markets and clients do you represent?
We represent clients from different industries, such as the cosmetic and fashion industry, automotive, high-tech, medical, pharmaceutical, aerospace, food & beverage sector, etc. We enjoy working with single applicants, start-ups, SME’s and large companies and have a great mix of clients and industries which makes our daily work challenging, interesting and rewarding.
7. What three things are needed to be a successful IP boutique law firm?
Expert knowledge in the IP field, understanding clients and their business needs – and PASSION! The ability to listen to clients’ needs, strong communication and language skills as well as “thinking outside the box” are talents I believe are important, too.
Of course, you need to have a fantastic team. LexDellmeier started as a one (wo)man show on 1 May, 2009. Three days later I had my first employee, Elisabeth Sandmair, a certified IP paralegal with an LLB law degree who still works with me. And now, LexDellmeier has eight highly qualified, communicative and fun team members.
8. How important is education in the field of IP?
Extremely important. As Kofi Annan once said: “Knowledge is power. Information is liberating. Education is the premise of progress, in every society, in every family (… and in every firm).
We have internal firm meetings every two weeks where one person gives a lunch talk about changes and updates in law, new technologies etc. In addition, each firm member is encouraged to attend at least one CLE class in the field of IP. I myself started the INTA paralegal roundtable in Germany in 2013 in order to specifically support paralegals to have access to valuable education. Since 2017 I have been an adjunct professor at the Hochschule der Bayerischen Wirtschaft (HDBW) in Munich, Germany for IP Law. And, each year we have two to three law students working as interns in our firm. They receive valuable technical training and are also involved in the daily business of the firm.
9. What are your short-term future goals and your long-term vision?
Our short-term future goals are to "go green" and fully paperless as of 1 January 2020. Our IP software and docketing system has already been reprogrammed so that we can work fully digital. We are currently in the process of streamlining our work and changing and adapting procedures and working 100% digitally In addition, we are experimenting internally with AI and its applicability to the legal field - especially regarding IP. We are also testing chatbots to see if they are useful for our clients. I love technology - but, sometimes I have mixed feelings about the speed of innovation in this area. We are open-minded about technology and use it to help clients and our team in our daily work. Our primary focus remains to be a boutique firm with a personal touch - we still like to talk to our clients and meet up with them in person. Going forward, we will continue with both approaches - personal and technology driven.
Albert Einstein once said: “Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere”. My vision was and is to continue having a local presence and boutique office in Munich, Germany but, to also to expand virtually. We have team members with young children. They cannot travel long distances to the office every day or only want to work part-time when their children are small. LexDellmeier offers the option to work from home part-time and strives to enhance work-life balance for its employees. Our systems are highly secure, with firm-paid hardware, software and IT support. Prerequisite is, however, that the employee has a separate room or office to work from home. A coffee table in a kitchen is not a professional surrounding and we do not support that. Our guideline is that employees come to the office at least 50% of the time to talk, participate in meetings, interact, eat lunch together and stay up-to-date. This was my vision 10 years ago when I started the firm and it has become reality. Besides being flexible regarding work hours, the possibility to work from home has attracted some highly qualified women to our firm as their careers came to a stop in large law firms when they started families. Bottom line: If managed correctly with clearly stated expectations, flexible work arrangements are a win-win for all involved - clients, the firm and the employees.
10. What are LexDellmeier’s 10th anniversary plans?
May 1 is “Labor Day” – a public holiday in Germany. Therefore, the firm will be closed on that day. We have always been known for having “party” plans throughout the year that suit our boutique law firm’s culture. We will celebrate with our international clients at the upcoming INTA Meeting in Boston from May 18 – 22, 2019 (world’s largest IP conference with over 10,000 trademark experts). In Germany, we plan a trademark seminar during the Oktoberfest in Munich in September 2019, a great reason for a business trip for our clients from near and far away. Towards the end of the year from November 22 – 24, 2019, the entire firm and all its team members are going to our bi-annual very special “spa and strategy” retreat.. The date is set and the hotel is booked, but the location is still a secret and a surprise. Work sessions are planned from 9 am – 3 pm, then everyone has free time to get a massage, go hiking, swimming or just chill and get to know each other better. In preparation for the work sessions, each team member selects and presents a topic of their choice, typically a specialty area of their expertise to share their knowledge and educate the others. This is also the time, when we discuss how to improve our services and response time, plan new alliances, educate and improve ourselves – and have some fun at the same time.
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