Alumnus/Alumna of the Month
Rose Auslander ('92)
Rose Auslander is a partner in the Intellectual Property Group at Carter Ledyard & Milburn LLP. She has represented a variety of record label, television, publishing, fashion, financial service, Internet-related, and consumer product clients, from Miss Sixty, to EMI Group, to Honeywell International Inc. She has litigated a wide range of unfair competition, trademark, domain name, trade dress and copyright disputes, and has negotiated numerous copyright, licensing and trademark transactions.
Ms. Auslander received her B.A. magna cum laude from CUNY in 1989 and her J.D. magna cum laude from NYU School of Law in 1992.
Interview with Alumnus/Alumna of the Month
Rose Auslander ('92)
Partner, Carter Ledyard & Milburn LLP
What is your area of specialization and how did you come to practice in this area?
I am a partner in our firm's Intellectual Property Group - my work all involves trademark, copyright and domain name issues. The majority of my practice is litigation, but I also counsel clients on IP issues; conduct trademark clearance; prepare, file, and prosecute trademark and copyright applications; and draft and negotiate licenses.
My path to this practice area is not typical. I was originally a ballet dancer. All dancers know that the lifespan of the performing career is limited, and mine ended with a knee injury. At that time, I had a friend, also an injured dancer, who had taken a job as a trademark paralegal. She wanted to leave that job to start a ballet school; I couldn't dance, and needed to earn a living. Fortunately, the lawyer she worked for made a logical leap, deciding that because my friend was a dancer who was a good paralegal, all dancers would be good paralegals, and so he hired me. I found the work interesting, and liked the idea of a job I could do sitting down. I continued my paralegal work while attending college at night, so by the time I started law school, I was already familiar with the fundamentals of trademark practice.
Tell us about a particular challenge or situation that was especially meaningful during your personal/career development.
They say that which doesn't kill you makes you stronger. So I surely must be stronger from having survived law school and early practice while starting a family. I was pregnant almost from the outset of law school - at the end of my first year, students were taking bets on whether I'd make it through exams, and through the law review writing competition, before giving birth. Fortunately for me, I did. But getting through second and third year, while on Law Review, with an infant at home, was an even bigger challenge. Failing to learn any lessons from that challenge, I became pregnant with our second child almost from the outset of my first job as a lawyer. Pulling 24 hour shifts working on litigation while pregnant was not easy. But again, the hardest battle was surviving my second year of intense litigation practice without ending up with two beautiful daughters who didn't know my name.
Describe a case or matter that you worked on that you found particularly challenging or rewarding.
These past two years, I was lead counsel in a long, hard, fight by our client Cosmos European Travels AG to win the "cosmos.com" domain name from Eurotech, Inc. Cosmos AG first prevailed in a Uniform Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP) arbitration for the name, which we litigated from our Wall Street offices in the wake of the tragic events of September 11. Our client then faced a federal court complaint not only challenging that result, but also claiming that our client had committed abuse of process, tortious interference with prospective business, and the tort of conversion by simply bringing that successful proceeding!
In a case of first impression, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia ruled that the Noerr-Pennington doctrine protected our client from the tort claims based on its successful UDRP proceeding. The Court later granted summary judgment to our client.
What is the most rewarding aspect of your job?
What is amazing is the entrepreneurial spirit of my partners at Carter Ledyard. I was brought in to help build the firm's intellectual property practice, and the firm has enthusiastically supported every effort to grow that practice. In my two years at the Firm, I have been able to travel to San Francisco, Washington, D.C., London, Dublin, and Amsterdam to attend conferences and visit clients. I have been encouraged to write articles for the New York Law Journal, the National Law Journal, and the Trademark Reporter, and to appear on cable television and at Javits Center conventions to speak on intellectual property issues. The result has been a varied and rewarding practice, with cutting edge work for a variety of clients - from fashion companies, to record labels, to consumer products companies - and the opportunity to depose interesting witnesses such as heavy metal star Tommy Lee.
Who are your role models in the legal profession?
Among my role models are Carol Simkin, who successfully represented Jim Henson Productions and its Muppets in many difficult litigations, and Marie Driscoll, who became one of the country's top trademark lawyers at a time when there were few women in the profession.
What was your first job out of law school?
I was fortunate that my first job out of law school was as an associate at Cravath Swaine & Moore. I was assigned to the team of Bob Mullen, a wonderful litigator who was involved in pro bono work for the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights. During my first year of practice, in addition to gaining extensive litigation practice with a team of fine lawyers, I was privileged to work on the petition for certiorari to the U.S. Supreme Court and the appellate briefs in the Landgraf case, on the issue of whether the amendments to the Civil Rights Act, affecting remedies and jury rights, were retroactive.
How do you balance work and life?
I've been learning how to juggle - I'm only up to three beanbags at a time, but fortunately all I have to juggle is my job, my children and my husband, so I survive. The real key is to do without much sleep (I am up by 5:30 a.m. every weekday!)
Honestly, it is difficult. I cannot give all aspects of my life undivided attention at the same time. I balance over larger periods of time. When work is intense, I cannot spend much time with my family. I try to make up for it by spending more time at home when work allows it. I believe that if you love your work and you love your family, you can find balance.
If you could choose another profession to be in, what would it be?
If money were no object, I would write fiction, choreograph dances, and work as an artistic adviser to ice skaters.
What advice would you give to current students?
It is not enough to work hard and do a good job on work that is assigned to you, although that is necessary. You can work very, very hard and not be rewarded with advancement in our profession. Although there are no guarantees, it is personally rewarding to provide special expertise to your work place and, if you are in private practice, to develop your own clients - and it may be professionally rewarding as well.
I was fortunate to fall into a specialty, and that has been a lucky long term advantage. If you have a specialty, it is wonderful to become involved in bar associations and other groups in that area, and to read advance sheets and articles to keep up with developments in your field. I keep my eye out for current trends, and give talks and write articles whenever there is an interesting issue - and a window of time away from my cases. If you don't have a specialty already, one option is to look for a need where you work and become the guru in that niche.
I wish I had known early in my career that if you wish to work in a firm, it is helpful from the outset to work on building your own clientele as part of your job. It is a good idea to sit down and work out a business development plan - places to go, people to see - and then do it.
All of this works best if you stay true to your own personality, your own likes and dislikes. Don't try to woo someone as a potential client if you don't like them. Don't try to fit yourself into some image of a lawyer - look for what works for you. Find positive adjectives to describe your unique gifts as a lawyer, then live up to them.