William A Munck
Munck Wilson Mandala celebrates its 25th anniversary in 2023, how has it kept its eye on the ball?
MWM is a technology-focused law firm. The intersection of technology and law is volatile and ever-changing. This creates a marketplace that challenges our leadership’s ability to sustain, grow and adapt, not only to present circumstances but more importantly to projected change. Our growth has been client-driven – from six attorneys in the summer of 1998 to likely more than 100 by late spring 2023. There is no magic to our growth and success; we have stayed true to our core values and original aspirations. Our commitment is to provide great legal work on interesting client matters.
Post-covid, big law increased attorney fees, attorney compensation and growth, raiding its peers as well as mid-market and small-market law firms for talent. How does Munck Wilson Mandala plan to keep up?
MWM’s business plan is flexible and its strength has always been found in our people, their collective beliefs, values, goals and collaborative abilities. Our law firm model does not require massive attorney headcount. Our trial, transactions and technology groups operate as teams with the singular goal of winning on our client’s behalf. MWM’s law practice is a team sport and to win the strength of any given team must be greater than the sum of its members. Our core belief in the team will continue to enable MWM to succeed.
Texas remains an IP hotbed. How do you advise clients in the ever-evolving IP protection landscape in the United States and around the world?
MWM’s client base is worldwide, embracing the entrepreneur working in their garage to the Fortune 500 companies that power the world. Over MWM’s first 15 years, our clients’ IP representations were predominantly in trademark, patent and trade secret engagements. Over the past decade, however, we have seen an increase in client engagements involving soft intellectual property including copyright, trademarks, trade dress, publicity, design rights, among others. This increase is driven by merging aspects of the entertainment, sports and video game industries. Technological advancements in computer graphics and processing power have resulted in highly creative and collaborative environments for artists, game designers, architects and storytellers among others. The intangible property arena is becoming increasingly complicated and varying IP rights will overlap or become interleaved. We advise clients on contractual, statutory and common law rights of collaborating parties, hopefully before any conflict arises around what each intended at the outset of a project.
Post-covid, what changes to the legal industry and/or working practices do you think are here to stay?
The elephant in the room is the remote working environment and whether it is here to stay – the answer depends on the firm and practice area. At MWM, we have adopted a return-to-the-office hybrid work model that empowers our folks to work from their home offices or wherever they choose, so long as they produce high-quality and timely work product and operate collaboratively and seamlessly with their teammates. Stated a little differently, we believe there are no high-speed elevators to success; we must take the stairs to be successful each day. We manage MWM to align it with our long-term business plan. Most of our workforce has returned to the office, preferring face-to-face collaboration, but we also have high-performing remote workers.
Putting aside Munck Wilson Mandala’s covid response, what challenge have you faced in law firm management over the past 25 years that you did not anticipate?
My generation grew up using the Dewey Decimal System to research topics. Those that grew up with smartphones can quickly click their way to answers. These two generations think and process information differently.
The Dewey Decimal System taught my generation to dig deep – depth first – in our research, whereas those with smartphones quickly process massive and broad swatches of data – breadth first – in their research. There is a real opportunity for large groups of folks to speak past one another. Working to understand one another in a high-stress environment like the practice of law has certainly been one of those unanticipated challenges.
William A Munck
Managing Partner [email protected]
William A Munck is the managing partner of Munck Wilson Mandala, a technology-focused law firm with offices in Dallas, Austin, Houston, Marshall and Waco, Texas, as well as Los Angeles, California and Miami, Florida. Mr Munck is highly ranked in IP law and has been selected by his peers annually as a Texas Super Lawyer, an IP Star and a Best Lawyer in America.