Leela Madan was born in Denver, CO, and comes from a family of well-credentialed attorneys. Even her maternal grandfather was a distinguished barrister, and the crown jewel of his career was serving as chief justice of the Supreme Court of Kenya. Leela is a licensed patent attorney with extensive experience in patent prosecution, specifically in chemistry, as well as various other types of technologies. She earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry and mathematics from St. Edward’s University and a J.D. from South Texas College of Law Houston. Leela also has extensive experience with U.S. federal and state trademark law, including obtaining trademark registrations, as well as defending opposition and cancellation proceedings, conducting regular policing to identify infringers, and handling matters before the U.S. Trademark Trial and Appeal Board. Leela specializes in working with business owners to not only identify and protect their intellectual property, but also to use their IP as a tool to grow their businesses through licensing and franchising. Leela works with business owners and entities of all sizes, ranging from solo practitioners to large corporations.
Ruby Powers (RP): I see that you have experience in a variety of fields, which would you say you preferred or (enjoyed) working in the most?
Leela Madan (LM): Working with aspiring entrepreneurs is really enjoyable because I get to listen to their ideas and goals, and then see how they navigate the path forward. Some have build-it-and-sell-it goals, others want to bring an idea to life, and some want to create a legacy they can pass on to their children. Sometimes I even get to help their children when the time comes! It’s fun to see how different people make a successful business from just an idea and where the path takes them. I often say that their success is my success, and for those who come to me with just an idea, this is especially true.
RP: How much time do you spend on marketing each week? Do you reserve time for marketing activities?
LM: Probably a few hours per week these days. When I began as a solo practitioner after leaving firm life, I would network often and go to every event I could afford to attend. Nowadays I am pickier about which events I will attend, and will send my associates whenever possible so we can cover more ground. Besides attending networking events, I also spend about 30 minutes to an hour a week creating videos and content for our social media accounts (@YourIPattorney and @MadanLaw).
RP: What is your reputation in your industry and your community? What do people think of when they think of your brand/product/service?
LM: Well, I’d like to think that I have a good reputation in the IP industry and legal community! Over the years, I have received some great handwritten thank you cards and gifts from clients, in addition to Google reviews, so I feel like we are doing something right over here. One that stands out in my mind is a client who left a Google review saying it was “a gift” to work with me and my staff, which was really an amazing comment to receive, especially publicly on a platform like Google Reviews. On top of that, we often receive referrals from other IP attorneys, which in my opinion, is the greatest compliment to receive.
RP: How many active followers do you have on each social media platform you participate on?
LM: We have two main accounts: @MadanLaw and @YourIPattorney. Both are active and we post to several platforms (LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok) every week, so our followers continue to grow. At one point, @madanlaw had over 5,000 Twitter followers! But nowadays the hot platforms seem to be TikTok and Instagram, so we focus more on those and LinkedIn. My @YourIPattorney account recently had a video go viral (no idea why!) and it’s had over 7,000 views! We even engaged a client from that video, paid in full right away. Who doesn’t love that?
RP: If you could only engage in one type of marketing activity (e.g., speaking, writing, networking, meetings, participation in bar associations or other trade associations) for the next 12 months, what one activity would you choose and why?
LM: Definitely networking in person. I am a firm believer that the more people you talk to and tell what you are doing, the more momentum you will gain and referrals you will receive. If I could only engage in one type, it would be networking with diverse groups of business owners, not just other attorneys.
RP: What is (or was) different, either about you or your firm, that has allowed you to become a successful rainmaker?
LM: I think most IP attorneys tend to be quite introverted, which I most definitely am not, so the biggest differentiator for me has been that I am an extrovert and am energized by meeting new people and telling them about what we do.
RP: What are the top three tips that you would give to a lawyer who wants to be a successful rainmaker today?
LM: Be brave! First, don’t be afraid to attend an event solo. Second, don’t be afraid to tell a client that you don’t know the answer to their question right away, but that you’ll research it and get back to them. And third, don’t be afraid to ask for help. There are a lot of experienced attorneys out there who are willing to give advice and even be a mentor if you just ask them.
RP: What is the biggest challenge in researching new technology for the purposes of a patent application?
LM: Sometimes the technology is so new there is literally nothing out there like it and therefore nothing to research. In that case, you have to rely on your client to give you all of the information needed and you have to hope they have it right.
RP: How did COVID-19 impact the way you practice law?
LM: It used to be that clients had to meet in person and look me in the eyes to hire me to handle their intellectual property matters. Nowadays, people are totally fine with just a phone call or maybe a video meeting, which makes it so much easier and more efficient to engage a new client and get a project rolling without having to go through the formalities of in-person meetings and traveling to/from an in-person meeting.
RP: What is one thing that helps set you apart from other attorneys?
LM: I genuinely care about the success of my clients and will go the extra mile to help them achieve success. Sometimes this means introducing them to a potential new client or referral partner, or connecting them with a service provider who can help them save money or satisfy a need they have. I do all of these things with no expectation of return to me or my firm. As I mentioned before, I like to say that my client’s success is my success, so if I can help a client achieve success then that makes me feel really good.
RP: How have you overcome a difficult challenge in protecting the intellectual property of a creator?
LM: Sometimes it takes trial and error. For example, a few years ago we had a client who wanted to protect the shape of an object she had created for her business. We weren’t sure what the USPTO would allow her to register, so it took a couple of applications to get it right. But we were open and honest with the client upfront and set her expectations so she knew what to expect, and in turn, she was pleased with the outcome.
About the Author
Ruby L. Powers is the founder and managing attorney of Powers Law Group, P.C., an immigration law firm in Houston, Texas. She also is a law practice management consultant and coach at Powers Strategy Group LLC. Contact her on Twitter @RubyPowers.