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Fireside Chat with Nir Lifshitz

November 24, 2022

Nir Lifshitz

Have you seen geodes before? You know, those hidden gems that seemingly look like rocks from the outside that are easily overlooked. But once cracked open, these hollow stones reveal the most spectacular array of sparkling and colorful crystals lining their inner cavities. I think working parents who are living and breathing the Dual 10 Challenges are like geodes to be discovered.

With the proper gem enthusiast who can see through the geodes’ nondescript surface for their potential inside, and with the right tools, these geodes will soon have an opportunity to shine. But before the right opportunity knocks at your door, how do you to prepare yourself better during the complex formation which takes years to happen to shape you to where you are and where you want to be?

To me, two of the many catalysts are: 1) find your passion, and 2) be a curious and lifelong learner.

This would be a great segue to introduce our next marvelous Fireside Chat guest, Nir Lifshitz, whose genuine sharing resonates with the above and at the same time offering so many more nuggets of wisdom and actionable tips.

It is also significant to have Nir here for several reasons:

§ Nir is a true and fearless leader whom I deeply respect. He is the Vice President of Intellectual Property and Legal of the company I previously worked at and I had the honor to work with him on a few matters. I had witnessed first hand how meticulous and intelligent he was, and he had the perfect blend of business and legal knowledge. Moreover, Nir would spot issues and raise questions and convey them in a clear, courteous, and thought-provoking manner. His positive energy and aura made me wanted even more to stay sharp and be better at all times.

§ I have two young kids and believe me I am pulling my hair at times trying to juggle work-life responsibilities and finding my own equilawbrium (*shameless plug 😉). When I learned that Nir is a father of SIX and yet he has achieved so much. My mind was blown and led me to believe one could achieve whatever he/she wants as a working parent as long as you have a goal and work hard and smart towards it steadily.

§ Nir’s participation in this initiative helped me to be one step closer to fulfill my vision of creating a diverse and inclusive community of legal professionals who are also working parents:

- Working parents: both moms and dads

- Legal professionals: lawyers, patent agents, trademark agents, paralegals, contracts specialists, legal support staff, and law students.

I know you are pumped up by the Fireside Chat intro and can’t wait to dive in. Without further ado, let’s get started…

Part 1 - Introduction

Hi, my name is... Nir Lifshitz.

  • Year of obtaining the patent agent license: Canada – 2007; USA (reciprocal) – 2008.

  • Type of practice, your role, and where: In-house @ Baylis Medical Technologies. I’ve had the privilege of being in-house at Baylis since 2004.In addition to patent work, I oversee all other IP work (e.g. trademarks, trade secrets, etc.) and assist with coordinating legal-related projects.

  • How many children do you have? Proud parent of 6 wonderful children, 4 boys and 2 girls, ranging from almost 8 to almost 20.

  • What do you do for self-care or stress relief? I would like to say that I exercise but that would not be very honest … 😊. I don’t have a TV (which is a blessing!).Spending time with the family is great but also taking time to relax a bit, e.g. by reading books, magazines, etc., and of course continuously working on strengthening my faith.

  • What would you do for work if you weren’t in the legal profession? I’m a biomedical engineer by education, so probably something along those lines.

Part 2 - The first “Dual 10” Challenge: within the first 10 years post-license

Equilawbrium: Did you have a master plan for your career path? What was the driving force behind your career decisions? What are the important things to consider as you are figuring out your career path?

Nir: I can’t say that this career path was actually well thought-out. In fact, I was blessed to almost ‘fall into’ this career. As mentioned, I graduated University as a biomedical engineer and spent a couple of years working on research involving medical devices. I found out about an open position related to IP from a friend of mine and decided to explore it. It was important to me to find a role that would allow me to stay home as much as possible (for example, an engineering position would likely have required travel several times a year to conferences and the like) as I had a young family at the time, and IP seemed to fit the bill. It was also a unique blend of bleeding edge technology and innovation coupled with analytical thinking and creative communication skills, all of which appealed to me. When I started, I had no real knowledge of IP but was fortunate to have very good mentors in the form of external counsel for those first few years until I wrote and passed the patent exams. The rest, as they say, is history!

This will sound obvious, but that doesn’t make it any less true … what I would suggest to others is to try and figure out what they enjoy doing, e.g. what area of law they have an affinity for, and what skills they have that cause them to derive enjoyment from that type of work. Once you have a good sense of what really makes you tick, you can look for positions that would be a good fit.

Of course, there may be other factors to take into consideration, primarily family and quality of life.

Equilawbrium: Please list one soft skill that contributed to where are you now and suggestions on how to cultivate it.

Nir: Having a desire to learn and grow. This is critical to further your career. As far as how to cultivate it, it helps to be naturally curious but if you really enjoy what you’re doing, you should have a tendency to want to learn more about it and become as much of an expert as you can be. From a practical perspective, make an effort to never be stagnant in your knowledge accumulation … subscribe to newsletters, listen to podcasts, set aside a bit of time each week to focus on further developing your knowledge and skills. This will help make you indispensable to your employer.

Equilawbrium: Please list one hard skill that contributed to where are you now and suggestions on how to cultivate it.

Nir: In my case, developing skills in patent drafting and prosecution was critical. Best way to get started is to find a very good, experienced mentor and learn from them. Book learning can help but nothing beats practical experience.

Part 3 - The second “Dual 10” Challenge: have kids in their first 10 formative years

Equilawbrium: How did you juggle work/life responsibilities? Is it possible to have a family life and a work life simultaneously?

Nir: Absolutely possible, but you have to really want it. For example, you may have to give up on some opportunities to be able to maintain a focus on your family. But that’s OK, because you have your priorities straight!

In terms of how I personally manage the balance, I can’t say that I’m doing a perfect job, but I do make an effort to interact with my kids as much as possible when they get back from school. My older kids are pretty independent at this point but I still do homework with the younger ones, and we try to spend some time playing games together at least once a week.

It also helps that there’s been a general understanding in society that a better work/life balance is necessary, so many companies have policies in place that explicitly allow employees to ‘logoff’ after working hours and not be tethered to their devices, emails, etc. It’s important to take advantage of these policies if possible.

Equilawbrium: Having walked the walk, what is the one parenting tip or trick that you wish you’d known?

Nir: Hmm … Not sure that this is a ‘tip’ or ‘trick’, but it’s important to set boundaries for kids. It may seem counterintuitive or ‘mean’ to say ‘No’ but it’s very important that children know that there are limits and consequences for doing things they shouldn’t do.

I may have spoiled my kids a bit too much … 😊

Equilawbrium: What is your fondest memory of your kid(s) at that age?

Nir: Two issues with this question:

1) My memory is, unfortunately, not all that great in general 😊.

2) There were so many great moments!!

I really don’t think that I can pin down one specific event because every milestone from every child was so special. Having said that, what I really love is when the kids start becoming inquisitive and ask questions about the world they observe … “Daddy, why is the sky blue?” or “Where does ‘X’ come from?” … it’s amazing to see how their brains develop, and is a reminder to all of us to never stop being curious!

Part 4 - Achieving Equilawbrium: how to survive & rise from the “Dual 10” Challenges

"Take a deep breath. Once you’ve got your priorities straight, you’ll be able to handle challenges as they come up by keeping your eye on the ultimate prize." – Nir Lifshitz

Equilawbrium: What was your biggest challenge going through the Dual 10 phase? Any advice for our readers who are living and breathing this phase and trying to survive and excel?

Nir: Set priorities. Your family and health should be right there at the top, of course!

Also, be realistic about what you are looking to achieve in your career. Do you really need to reach “X” position or make “Y” money to be happy and fulfilled or is the main goal to be able to support your family, help others succeed, etc.

Equilawbrium: What is your take-home message for our readers who are trying to find their “equilawbrium”?

Nir: Take a deep breath. Once you’ve got your priorities straight, you’ll be able to handle challenges as they come up by keeping your eye on the ultimate prize.

Equilawbrium: What is the one-word encouragement/support that you would want us to remember?

Nir: Breathe.

Geode: unleash your potential

<<End of Fireside Chat with Nir Lifshitz>>


<<Nir's Biography>>

Nir is the Vice President, Intellectual Property and Legal Affairs of Baylis Medical Technologies. Nir founded Baylis’ in-house intellectual property department when he joined the company in 2004. He is currently responsible for intellectual property and legal affairs.

Prior to joining Baylis, Nir conducted magnetic resonance imaging research at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto.

Nir is a Registered Patent Agent (in Canada and the US), as well as a Certified Licensing Professional. Nir graduated from the Engineering Science program at the University of Toronto with a specialization in Biomedical Engineering.

Disclaimer: Any views, information, and personal opinions expressed by the authors or guests are entirely their own and do not reflect or represent those of their employers or clients.

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