Strange cases and organometallic chemistry

Five minutes with David Koedyk, Baldwins Law associate, on his strangest cases and how he combined his love of science with his career as a lawyer.

Five minutes with David Koedyk, Baldwins Law associate.

What made you decide to become a lawyer?

I wasn’t one of those people who always knew what they wanted to be when they grew up.  But I achieved good marks in school and I was in the debating teams in college. I ended up being in a finals team at the National Schools Debating Competition.  Law school kind of just followed from there, and I really enjoyed it!

How long have you worked at Baldwins and what brought you to this position?
I spent quite a few years at university, studying law and doing a BSc, which I followed up with an MSc in organometallic chemistry.  I suppose I always thought that some way through university I would pick a path of either law or science.  When I realised I wasn’t willing to turn my back on either, I decided to combine the two and aimed for a career in patent law.  I had a couple of part time jobs at IP firms while I studied, my first job out of university was at the patent office (IPONZ), and after about a year I was offered a role at Baldwins.  I have been here about 3 and a half years now.

What’s the strangest case you’ve ever worked on/been involved with?
Patent attorneys can get a lot of strange cases, to the point where most of us keep a little file on the side with some of the more bizarre enquiries.  I remember being shown drawings of hover boards that levitate by fractal carving patterns and a gardening tool that looked more like a flamethrower…

If you could invite three people for dinner, dead or alive and excluding family and friends, who would they be and why?
Seth Rogan, Amy Poehler, Bill Bryson. 

You’re based in Wellington – where’s the best place to go for a drink and/or dinner after work?
I often go to Bethel Woods, but that’s because it’s reasonably close to work and has some decent beer on tap.  But my wife and I love the little Saigon Taste on Majoribanks St for dinner - best Vietnamese in Wellington.

What’s the best piece of advice (work or personal) you’ve ever been given?
I have consistently found this one to ring true: “You can’t use reason to talk someone out of a position they didn’t arrive at by reason”.  Probably followed up with my old favourite “best to keep quiet and be thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt”.  I try to remember this one if I’m at the cricket.

Do you have any hobbies/interests outside of work?
My new daughter takes up most of my time at the moment.  But (and embarrassingly clichéd for a lawyer) I love to spend half of a day on the Karori Golf Course if I can get out. 

Complete this sentence: If I wasn’t a lawyer, I would be…
Who knows! Maybe a teacher?

What do you think will be single biggest issue facing the legal space in New Zealand in 2016?
From my point of view, the implementation of the Trans Pacific Partnership still requires new rules for strengthening IP rights.  Also, we patent attorneys are still getting our heads around certain elements of the relatively new Patents Act, which came into force in 2014.  I appreciate that these would not be considered big legal issues for most people though!

If you had John Key’s job for one day, what would you do?
Set an agenda that prioritises our most vulnerable in our society and tax all forms of income fairly so that we can have a productive modern economy. 

What do you love about your job?
That I get to actually combine my interests (and degrees) in law and science by working with some of the world’s leading research companies on their IP issues.  I also love the variety that comes with working with some of our local clients and backyard inventors. 

What would you change about your job right now if you could?
Love my job.  Love my team at Baldwins.  Having said that, it would be great to spend less time sitting in front of computer screens.

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