The following is an excerpt from Practice Perspectives: Vault's Guide to Legal Practice Areas.
Nicholas Plassaras, Associate—Litigation
Nicholas Plassaras focuses on intellectual property litigation and counseling, with an emphasis on copyright, trademark, false advertising, right of publicity, and complex commercial litigation matters. An active member of the Video Game Bar Association, Nicholas works closely with Fenwick’s video game clients, advising them at all stages of game development, marketing, and dispute resolution. He provides strategic counseling on IP enforcement, new business models, and branding strategy. Nicholas also regularly assists clients with IP management, including copyright registrations, recordations, and assignments.
Describe your practice area and what it entails.
My practice involves a mix of litigation and IP counseling work. On the litigation front, I help clients assess the legal and strategic components of initiating or responding to a lawsuit, I write briefs and other documents submitted to the court, as well as assist in any related research, and I manage various other case-specific tasks. On the counseling front, I identify copyright, trademark, and other IP-related risk and then help in-house counsel educate their business teams, product developers, and marketing departments on ways to achieve their goals in light of that risk.
What types of clients do you represent?
I represent a variety of technology clients, but the majority of my clients are from the video game space. As a life-long gamer, being able to work alongside some of the biggest names in the industry is a real treat!
What types of cases/deals do you work on?
I work primarily on cases involving copyright, trademark, unfair competition claims, and the right of publicity. My counseling work also overlaps with each of these areas. In addition to that, I help many of our clients register their copyrights with the U.S. Copyright Office.
How did you choose this practice area?
I was honest with myself about what I was passionate about. The intersection of law and tech fascinated me in law school, and intellectual property law seemed liked the most interesting way to get involved in that area. And my natural interest in the gaming space made for the perfect fit.
What is a typical day like and/or what are some common tasks you perform?
My day generally involves some combination of case management (planning for deadlines; managing and delegating tasks), writing tasks (letters, briefs, research summaries), and calls with clients. I also often help draft guidance that clients can use to help inform their internal teams.
What training, classes, experience, or skills development would you recommend to someone who wishes to enter your practice area?
There are a number of very helpful legal blogs out there that do a great job of keeping me up to date on the latest substantive developments. Beyond that, I’ve found that clients really appreciate when you, as their lawyer, really “get” how their industry works and what their product or service does. So if you’re passionate about a particular industry (like I am), I encourage you to try and keep a finger on the pulse of the market. It can really help inform your overall work.
What is the most challenging aspect of practicing in this area?
Clients in this space are often at the cutting edge of tech, which usually means they’re at the bleeding edge of the where the law is. Bridging that gap can be challenging (but exciting!) because there aren’t always clear answers. But empowering clients to be leaders in these areas can be a very rewarding experience.
What do you like best about your practice area?
The types of clients I get to work with, especially those in the video game industry. As a consumer and admirer of so many of my clients’ businesses, it’s a true privilege to be able to work with them in tackling some of their most pressing problems.
What misconceptions exist about your practice area?
Sometimes people are surprised to learn that my practice is so video-game focused. But the video game industry is one of the largest and fastest-growing entertainment industries, and it faces some of the most complex, interesting, and impactful legal issues.
What advice do you have for lawyers without technical or science backgrounds who want to practice in IP?
In almost all instances, you don’t need it, so don’t worry. Unless you plan on practicing certain types of patent law, a technical or science background isn’t a requirement. Being a good writer, a fast learner, and an effective communicator is much more important.