Meet Jeff Morton: Procopio IP Partner, PhD Immunologist, Husband and Father
This profile is part of a series introducing Procopio attorneys.
Every day for Jeff Morton is a different one. Perhaps he’s working with a local entrepreneur to patent her latest life-sciences breakthrough. It could be he’s providing cross-border legal counsel to Canadian companies that are operating in the United States. Maybe he’s coordinating with a foreign IP counsel assisting international clients with their U.S. IP rights.
It’s a good bet on the weekend you’ll find him at Cliffridge Park or Allen Field in La Jolla where his two young sons are active in youth baseball and soccer. Jeff is a man of multiple passions: intellectual property protection, life sciences and medical technology, and family.
Before becoming a husband and father, however, Jeff found himself on an unexpected course, leaving his native Canada to become a Ph.D. immunologist in the United States. It started while an undergraduate at the University of Victoria in British Columbia, where he was selected to study in a year-long cooperative education program in Japan. Working at a prominent immunology-based lab there fired his imagination.
“I had never studied immunology before,” Jeff said. “I thought it was fantastic, and so relevant to every single person.”
Upon returning to Victoria he began applying to immunology graduate schools and won a scholarship to one of the top programs in the field, the Washington University in St. Louis School of Medicine. Jeff’s intellectual curiosity continued to expand his horizons, as he found himself imagining what he would do once he completed his Ph.D. on delineating the immunogenetics of airway disease.
“Halfway through grad school,” Jeff said, he was enjoying his immunology studies but “I didn’t think it was what I wanted to do forever.” He began hearing about intellectual property law. “A leap of faith made me think I would enjoy combining science with IP. I felt perfectly wired for it.”
Jeff took the LSAT and applied to law schools while writing his Ph.D. dissertation, and set off to the University of British Columbia’s law school shortly after graduation. He’s been busy serving clients ever since becoming a lawyer.
Jeff’s intellectual property legal work has been recognized by IAM, a leading global publication on intellectual property law, naming Jeff to both its Patent 1000 and Strategy 300 lists. Says IAM: “Jeffrey Morton is excellent at making complex technical concepts simple and easing the decision-making process for his clients. Delivering practical and cost-effective advice, he thinks holistically about business and the law and really cares about his clients and their success.”
After law school, Jeff practiced in Canada for about five years before a friend lured him to a position in Silicon Valley. He then sat for the California state bar and since then has been certified to practice law in both countries.
“I like living in the United States – it’s very entrepreneurial – and a great country to be an IP lawyer,” Jeff said. He’s practiced law in northern California and greater Phoenix, and now practices primarily in San Diego. It’s a great fit for Jeff considering his passion for life sciences, as that is a growing and vibrant industry across the county.
He and his wife have found San Diego is also a great place to raise a family. “We love that San Diego offers outstanding academic and cultural activities in a relaxed and active environment. We can take our kids to the Birch Aquarium and then down to La Jolla Shores for surfing all in the same morning.” Jeff said.
Jeff does love returning to British Columbia when he can. He advises visitors make their way out of Vancouver and explore some of the more tranquil getaway locations such as Vancouver Island, the Sunshine Coast, and the Okanagan Valley.
Nature is also a great place to enjoy a good book. Combining studies in immunology and law wasn’t Jeff’s first experiment in multidisciplinary studies. As an undergraduate he earned a dual degree in Biology and English. His favorite author is an American one, Ernest Hemingway, particularly the novel A Farewell to Arms.
It’s worth noting that the protagonist in that book, Frederic Henry, is driven by a strong passion to serve others. That’s what Jeff does every day, whether shuttling one of his sons to a local sporting event or securing critical intellectual property protection for a client whose innovation will save lives.