Who’s Who at Hinckley Allen: Carol H. PetersMay 7, 2019
Carol is an intellectual property (IP) attorney experienced in all phases of trademark, patent, and copyright law domestically and internationally, as well as in IP transactions, licensing, brand management, and advertising. She currently assists startups, small companies, and large global corporations in successfully protecting and effectively developing their trademarks, brand names, and copyright assets.
How did you get involved in, or what led you to practicing, intellectual property law?
I realized my passion for patent and trademark law while working as an administrative assistant for IP attorneys. That position gave me hands-on experience with trademark and patent prosecution and the law, and was pivotal in my decision to pursue a law degree and become an IP attorney.
I initially became a Patent Agent, qualified to practice before the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, and then enrolled in the evening program at Suffolk University Law School so I could continue working full-time as a Patent Agent and Technology Specialist, while completing my education. Those four years were intense, but I knew I was building the foundation for my career and gaining experience working in intellectual property law.
What unique skill, perspective, or philosophy do you think you bring to your work?
Early in my career, I worked in capital equipment sales to biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies. This position required me to understand and explain highly technical subject matter – a skill that has proven useful in my legal career. Being comfortable understanding key areas of highly specialized topics allows me to understand my clients’ technologies and needs and their broader goals and expectations, as well as to assist them in thinking about getting ahead of potential obstacles and legal challenges.
I bring a unique perspective to my work, given my experience working at law firms and as in-house counsel for a large global consumer products company, developing a varied skill set over the years. I truly understand what clients expect and need from their law firms, having worked on both sides. Companies expect more value to be delivered by law firms and that their attorneys take an interest in their market segment and its challenges, as well as their business priorities and budgets.
My in-house experience provided me with the opportunity to collaborate with product development and marketing and brand teams who shared valuable insights, such that, when approaching legal matters and guidance, I found providing focused, cost-effective, and timely advice was essential, as well as remaining sufficiently agile to address unanticipated changes and challenges. I find I can be most helpful when brought into strategic discussions relatively early, which allows me to foresee potential issues.
Given the challenges working in intellectual property law, what makes it worth it?
I enjoy working closely with companies and becoming their partner and strategic counselor, providing them with legal guidance that helps enable them to protect their IP assets, while anticipating legal risks. It is very satisfying to help companies differentiate themselves from competition through effective use of trademarks, branding, and advertising, and to assist companies in successfully bringing to market their products and services. I think trademarks and brand names are key to a company’s efforts in creating a public identity and developing their reputation.
Who was the biggest influence in your career (mentor/teacher/relative) and why?
I have been very fortunate to cross paths with many influential and supportive people in my career. One person in particular had a profound impact on me. My supervisor at one of my first jobs saw my potential – before I even recognized it in myself – and encouraged me to attend law school, which was not a consideration of mine at that time. I am still extremely grateful for his foresight and encouragement.
What’s the hardest (or best) lesson you’ve learned about practicing law?
Over the years, I’ve learned that it is extremely important for attorneys to work as integrated, collaborative, and agile teams. Hinckley Allen shares this philosophy and offers full-service legal capabilities to clients, working together in developing client relationships and delivering excellent service. In today’s ever-changing business landscape, collaboration and agility are more important than ever to a company’s success.
What advice would you give yourself 10 years ago?
Say “yes” to as many opportunities as you can, because you never know where an opportunity will lead or what lessons you’ll learn. I would also remind my younger self, or anyone starting their career, that you don’t always need to know where you’ll be in 10 years. When I was in college, I never anticipated working in equipment sales, let alone going to law school or working in IP law. I encourage everyone to look for the value in day-to-day work experiences. That value may not be immediately apparent to you, but will likely become clear in a future role. Career experiences snowball over the years, providing cumulative knowledge and an informed perspective that will be essential in future roles.
Who’s Who at Hinckley Allen is an interview series that highlights each individual’s life experiences and skills, which make them valued business partners for clients as we strive to help them achieve their goals. Discover more interviews of our talented and dedicated team here.