She Has Extensive Experience in The Fields of Trademarks, Copyrights & Related Intellectual Property Matters. Meet Kansas City Attorney, Cheryl Burbach
Q: When did you know you would pursue a career as an Attorney?
CB: I received a full-ride scholarship in undergraduate school to participate in collegiate debate. I majored in political science and English. Given my background, law school seemed like a natural fit.
Q: Can you share with our audience, the types of law you specialize in?
CB: I specialize in intellectual property law. I generally handle all things IP, except for anything related to patent law (although my firm is an IP boutique firm and has many patent attorneys).
Q: What aspects of the daily job of being a lawyer interest you the most?
CB: I like being a problem solver. I enjoy working with startups and businesses that have issues concerning intellectual property. I enjoy being able to help clients identify the issues and give them strategic options. I also enjoy managing large trademark portfolios for clients that need assistance domestically and globally.
Q: Why did you decide to attend law school?
CB: I wanted to be empowered to assist people with their legal needs. The legal system can be intimidating and, even though I practice in a niche field, I wanted to be able guide friends and family to the right attorney and provide some comfort in an intimidating arena.
Q: What types of cases do you handle?
CB: Trademark, copyright, unfair competition, and domain name disputes.
Q: What is your approach or philosophy to winning or representing a case?
CB: I believe that it is usually to the mutual benefit of parties to try to reach a business resolution whenever possible. If litigation is necessary, I feel it is critical to conduct oneself with the utmost professionalism and civility in prosecuting or defending against legal claims. Cases should be won on the merits, not on gamesmanship.
Q: Can you share with our audience the type of pro-bono work you do?
CB: I have assisted all kinds of non-profits and artists with protecting their intellectual property assets. That effort often allows them to set themselves apart from others and generate revenue in ways that support a struggling business or the mission of the non-profit, including in the fields of STEM education for children and charitable fundraising for worthy causes.
Q: If we interviewed all your past clients … what is “one” common word that comes up when they describe working with your law firm?
CB: I would hope that they would say responsive and accessible. I thrive on minimizing legalese from my work product and try to make sure that they benefit from the nuances of intellectual property law.
Q: What was the most challenging part of law school for you?
CB: Having no social life. I am naturally a social person, but I knew I needed to buckle down and focus on my studies while I was in school to make sure I reached the highest level of excellence possible for me.
Q: What advice would you give to young women who want to pursue a career as an Attorney?
CB: Do it! The legal practice is ever-evolving. Women are now a majority of law students nationwide. The advancements in the legal profession over the past few years have made it much more conducive to women and their values, such as work life balance priorities.
Q: Were there moments in your career that were pivotal to getting where you are today?
CB: Indeed. I was blessed with some incredible mentors in law school and at my job. I have succeeded in certain areas in large part due to their willingness to advocate and educate me.
Q: What are the best practices you have employed to build a successful career?
CB: Be organized and timely communicate with clients. A mentor once told me that clients do not usually get unhappy for over-communicating with them. It’s the lack of communication that can strain a professional relationship.
Q: What is it about your job that most excites you?
CB: Reaching milestones. Whether that means securing a trademark registration for a client or resolving a dispute so that the client can return to focusing on their business.
Q: What's your advice for women in male-dominated fields?
CB: You don’t have to adopt certain masculine approaches in order to succeed in business. There are many ways to help a client reach their goals.
Q: What's the greatest fear you've had to overcome to get where you are today?
CB: I do not always have a quick solution to my clients’ problems. My area of law is always changing and evolving because of technology, and I am constantly having to grow my area of knowledge. After many years I have understood that I don’t need to have all of the answers, as long as I know what questions to ask and where to get the answers.
Q: Can you tell our audience one of your most memorable moments your career?
CB: I once had to give an oral argument before the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board at a conference for lawyers and law students. Usually, the argument would be held at the TTAB with a limited audience. After giving my arguments, the conference organizer asked me to stay and listen to the discussion about my case with a panel and audience members. It was humbling and very educational. After a straw poll, I lost by a slim majority. But I won the case before the three TTAB judges.
Q: What’s one lesson you’ve learned in your career that you can share with our audience?
CB: I have learned that it is important to not carry your clients’ issues home with you. It is easy to feel passionate about a client’s business or problem, but it is important to put those in context and remember that I will not always be able to fix the client’s problem or solve the issue to their satisfaction. I have certain tools in my toolbox to work with and sometimes, there are no tools to address the real issue when it falls outside of the legal arena. But that flows into my second lesson—be creative! Often times, the client needs something that can be addressed outside of the legal field, i.e., with technology or in business methods. By understanding your clients’ business and being informed, you add value to a client when you can suggest non-legal remedies to address an issue.
Q: Which woman inspires you and why?
CB: Lots of women inspire me. Women that paved the way for me and were the first to attain partnership at their firms when they were a small minority. Women that make the difficult decision to stay home and parent their children and operate the household full time. Women of color and certain sexual orientations that have faced discrimination. Women that have fought hard to prove that they could successfully work with a less-than-traditional schedule or practice.
Q: What are some of the challenges you feel women face today?
CB: It is unfortunate, but there still appears to be a stigma against women who want to work part time or from home. As a result of the pandemic, some women have been able to overcome that perception and thrive. But it is still a reality for many women in the workplace, not just the legal field.
Q: What advice would you give to young women who want to succeed in the workplace?
CB: Find a mentor—and that person does not have to be a woman. Most of my mentors were men who took their time to help me succeed. A mentor can be invaluable in providing context, history, and advice.
Q: Can you tell us how you manage your work life balance?
CB: I am fortunate to work at a firm that appreciates the importance of work life balance. I strive to be as productive as possible during business hours, and then disconnect from work on evenings and weekends when possible. As a single mother, I try hard to be fully present to my daughter whenever we are together.
Seven Things About Attorney Cheryl Burbach
1. What’s the most amazing adventures have you’ve ever been on?
I had the pleasure of going to South Africa. We went to Cape Town, on safari, and visited wine country. Seeing the stars in the Southern Hemisphere was magnificent.
2. What’s your favorite international food?
3. What’s your favorite app on your phone?
4. Are you a morning person or a night owl?
5. What would your perfect Saturday be like?
A dinner party with friends.
6. What was your favorite subject in school?
English literature and art history.
7. Cake or pie?