A Soccer Coach’s Influence on a Lawyer’s Career: An Interview with Richard Rimer

Richard Rimer
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We recently caught up with Attorney Richard Rimer and asked him to reflect on his career and his newest work at Initiating Protection.

Can you tell us about your journey to becoming a lawyer? What inspired you to pursue a career in law?

I grew up in a blue collar neighborhood and did not know many lawyers. I joined a soccer team when I was 11 years old and had my first close up introduction to a lawyer– Coach Shurtz.

Most of my experiences with him simply normalized lawyers in my mind, but late in the season I saw the lawyer come out, and I liked it. Our team was playing a slightly older team in a playoff game, and we were tied 0-0 late in the game. The ref called a handball on our team that may have decided the game. Now I’ve seen plenty of coaches challenge calls, but this was different. Coach Shurtz calmly went out to the ref, agreed that the ball may have hit one of my team’s players on the arm, but explained why it should not be a foul. He then explained what was at stake, that our team had played its heart out and that we did not deserve to lose on a soft foul. He received a yellow card and the call stood, but I respected him for knowing the rules and standing up for the little guys (literally).

Today I fight for the little guy. I left my big firm life in 2021 to help the SMBs understand the value and accessibility of brand protection. Oh, and I’ve coached over 30 youth soccer teams.

What were some of the biggest challenges you faced in your early career, and how did you overcome them? Were there any particular mentors or role models who helped guide you along the way?

You need to chart your own path to be successful. My first firm did not have an established IP group and the firm had a hard time evaluating my growth. They wanted to measure me by how many deals I had managed or how many cases I had lead, and neither pertained to my practice. Further, there were very few mentors for me. I liked the people there, but decided I needed to find a firm that could give me what I needed in my early years.

I left to join a larger, more prestigious firm in town. I spent 5 years at firm #2, and learned a lot while I was there, but it was never “home.” I kept in touch with my original firm and learned that they had grown the IP practice while I was gone. They asked me if I wanted to return to help grow the practice. I was very happy that I got the credentials I needed and got to practice with the people I liked.

The legal field is vast. How did you develop an interest in your practice area?

I was a CPA before I went to law school. I had a Masters in Taxation and worked at one of the Big 6 firms. On paper I had succeeded, but I was unhappy inside.

I started law school to get away from taxation, but knew that law firms would be drawn to me for this experience. I joined a firm that had a good transactional practice and wanted to train me as a corporate lawyer.

Fate had other plans as one day in my summer internship I was assigned a due diligence project that made me aware of an area I had never considered. I was in charge of the IP schedules and fell in love with the area. I returned to my last year of law school and took as many IP courses as I could. I started my career in the same corporate group, but with a focus on IP.

Can you share an example of a particularly challenging case you’ve worked on and how you navigated it?

Every project brings unique challenges. The knock on trademark law is that there are only so many tools available in the area. I look at it a different way; sometimes I’m asked to build a house with my tools, and other days I’m asked to build an airplane. It takes a lot of creativity to solve this.

Many years ago, I was helping a mixed reality client register some of the avatars used in its system. The process was hampered by the fact that the rules recognize still images and short video reels (i.e., “movement” marks), but it did not recognize free-form movement. I resolved the issue by deconstructing the problem and working backwards. (I won’t bore you with the details.)

Not only is the legal field vast, it’s often overwhelming and stressful for us as clients.
How do you balance the legal and emotional aspects of advising clients?

Perspective.

  • First, no one dies on my worst day.
  • Second, I can’t make my clients take my advice.
  • Third, you can’t make the other party be reasonable.
  • Fourth, don’t let other people’s bad moods become your problem.

Don’t get me wrong, I do take my client’s burdens from them and make them my own. The difference is that I realize there is only so much that can be accomplished in certain situations. The key is setting expectations.

What advice would you give to individuals who may be hesitant to start a legal career or who may not know where to begin?

All you need is interest and a little support. Don’t let people tell you why you can’t be a good lawyer– tell the world how you can be a great lawyer.

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Nick Kellermeyer

Nick Kellermeyer is an experienced entrepreneur and angel investor. His startup experience spans restaurant tech, legal tech, ecommerce, marketplaces, food tech, saas, ad agencies, and much more. Nick received his BS from the University of Dayton and his MBA from DePaul University.

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