June 5, 2003

First Client Feedback

Yesterday, I dropped a completed Response to Office Action on my supervising attorney's desk. It was so DONE, and I felt excellent.

Except, of course, it wasn't done. My SA walked into my office and said, "Counsel." He then lightly tossed the document on my desk. It was open to a page where he had circled a portion of one of my arguments and questioned why I had introduced that limitation to the prosecution history. He was right. Another page showed a similar error. The interesting thing to me was my reaction to the word "Counsel." No one had ever called me counsel before (well, duh). But, I guess I am counsel to this client. I will be signing this correspondence with my own USPTO registration number. The full weight of that word, coupled with the mistakes I had been completely unaware of was impressive. I have quite a bit of power to REALLY screw up. And I don't know enough to stop myself from doing it. Useful lesson.

As soon as I looked at what he had circled, I knew what I had done wrong. I doubt I'll make mistakes as blatant like as that anytime in the near future (but then again, who knows, I was proud of the draft I gave him).

The story has a very happy ending, though. I fixed the document according to his comments and cleaned up a few of the arguments even further. When I brought him draft 3, he read it quickly and leaned back in his chair, saying, "Not Bad. Not Bad." If I've learned anything about him over the last few weeks it's that "not bad" is a compliment.

I sent the document to our client. His response was full of elixir to my bruised ego in the form of phrases like, "very distinct and well described" and the "remarks are just great".

So, the milestone of sending work to a client has been passed. In fact, it was passed with flying colors thanks in no small part to the vigilance of my SA. I think I'm enjoying myself a little bit here...

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