Meet Noel Gillespie: An IP Attorney Focused on Entrepreneurs and Family
This profile is part of a series introducing Procopio attorneys.
Noel Gillespie doesn’t believe in lunching alone. At least that’s something he advises not only his startup and emerging growth clients, but really anyone in business to avoid. “Every lunch time,” the Procopio Intellectual Property Partner says, “is an opportunity to market yourself or your business to someone.”
Noel loves counseling early-stage entrepreneurs “because it allows me to help them plan their IP strategy from the very beginning and then see it through to enforcement or monetization.” He also enjoys spending time with others, in particular his wife, two boys and two girls.
His interest in companionship goes way back, including a childhood incident that also demonstrates both his determination and disinclination to idleness. When he was two years old he snuck out of the house while his mother was cleaning, grabbed his dog and rode his tricycle a mile to his grandmother’s house. “Grandma called Mom and asked if she was missing anything,” Noel says. “And yes, I actually remember it.”
His drive for action and interaction serves him well with his startup clients, for whom he often acts as a de facto general counsel. “I’m involved in everything the company is doing and that gives me better insight into how to really help them grow,” he says. That said, he also makes time for family, faith, and volunteering. He loves coaching youth sports. He also allows himself fun diversions such as golf. Not surprisingly, the favorite place he has ever visited is Pebble Beach.
Noel didn’t start out on a path to the law. “I was working as an electrical engineer, designing cellphones, but wanted to do something different,” he says. “Law school was more interesting than business school, but I didn’t really want to be a lawyer until I discovered patent law.” Noel has practiced at Procopio for nearly fifteen years, and has been a leader in the Life Sciences and Medical Technology industry groups and its Intellectual Property team. In the last several months he has been recognized as a WIPR Intellectual Property leader and named to the IAM Patent 1000 list.
A graduate of San Diego State University with a BS in electrical engineering, he stayed in San Diego for law school, earning his JD at University of San Diego. He’s a third-generation San Diegan who met his wife at SDSU and was born in La Mesa’s Grossmont Hospital, the same hospital his father was born in. While he loves to travel, an ideal day for him is relaxing at home with his family, enjoying coffee in the morning and wine in the evening.
Avoiding lunch alone isn’t the only advice Noel has for entrepreneurs. “You really need to understand your path to success, however that is defined.” They need to determine how much they can raise immediately, how far that will get them, and if they can reach the next inflection point allowing them to raise more money. “Entrepreneurs or would-be entrepreneurs are often passionate problem-solvers, but jump in without really understanding what it will take to get to the exit they want.”
Not that his clients shouldn’t engage in problem-solving. “Often clients are focused on solving huge problems that will take years and years, instead of focusing on what they can change today,” he says. “Worry about understanding what the immediate problem is and solving it, and this will get you noticed by customers, partners, investors, etc. Show you can solve today’s problem, and then people will have faith you can solve tomorrow’s problem.” Another key lesson he offers is one he practices himself as an attorney. “Listen. Listen to your clients, listen to your partners, listen to your employees/associates. Listen. Then figure out what you want to say.”