Honorable Nancy F. Atlas Intellectual Property American Inn of Court

The Honorable Nancy F. Atlas Intellectual Property American Inn of Court in Houston, Texas, shifted gears once the pandemic set in to continue to engage its members and help the greater community.

For its April program, pupillage groups pivoted from their originally planned dinner program to a Zoom-based panel presentation on virtual proceedings. They tapped seven judges and a professional mediator for an engaging moderated discussion covering virtual hearings, mediations, and depositions. The judges and Inn members learned from each other about best practices for our virtual “new normal” world.

The Inn’s June meeting challenged each pupillage group to report on lessons learned while practicing law during a pandemic. This resulted in creative and informative virtual presentations titled “The New Normal for In-house Counsel;” “The Impact of Losing In-person Contact on Professional Relationships;” “War Stories from Virtual Markman Hearings;” “Impact of COVID-19 on Witnesses, Parties, and Jurors;” and “The Federal Circuit’s Arthrex Decision.” The meeting ended with a virtual wine and tapas tasting that featured a local sommelier, cook-at-home food and wine kits, and presentations from winemakers in Chile and Argentina.

Recognizing the ongoing need to promote diversity, inclusiveness, and needed change, the Inn membership approved a charitable contribution corresponding to the cost of the canceled April dinner to the Foundation for Advancement of Diversity in IP Law (www.diversityiniplaw.org). The foundation’s mission is to support underrepresented racial and ethnic minorities in their pursuit of intellectual property law careers.

To promote public service, charitable activities, and pro bono work in a time of desperate need, the Inn hosted a virtual meeting in mid-June to identify tangible ways Inn members could help the community. During the meeting—to which all other Houston-based Inns were invited—members of the Atlas IP Inn and the Garland R. Walker Inn heard presentations from four representative organizations working in the Houston area: the Houston Volunteer Lawyers, Houston Food Bank, Kids Meals Inc., and Harris County Domestic Violence Coordinating Council.