While you navigate your career, you’ll find leaders who rise to the occasion before they receive a promotion. Or, if their name is Tiffany Norris Logan, then they’re taking advantage of every opportunity.
As intellectual property counsel at European packaging manufacturer Sidel, Logan wears many hats. Since she’s the only IP counsel at its US offices, Logan addresses every IP matter the company deals with in one of its most competitive markets. She does everything from filing and prosecuting patent applications to drawing patent licensing agreements. “All things transactional are my primary wheelhouse, but I help support litigation in the US and abroad,” she says.
So, how did Logan become a patent prosecution expert? Before joining Sidel in 2019, she spent six years at Parks IP Law LLC, a minority-owned IP boutique law firm in Atlanta specializing in securing and defending patents, trademarks, and other IP centered matters. By entering private practice, she discovered her knack for advising Fortune 100 companies as they launched products.
However, the most important lesson Logan learned in private practice had nothing to do with the ins and outs of her job. Instead, she recognized the value diversity brings to a corporate environment. “It solidified my thoughts and convictions that diversity is needed in all spaces,” she recalls. “As I talked to my colleagues at larger law firms, they maybe didn’t have as much of a diversity experience or a diverse impact; they didn’t necessarily have those conversations. It made me realize how important those conversations are.”
According to Crain’s Chicago Business, 0.86 percent of partners at US law firms are Black women. Not only was Parks IP Law LLC among a handful of Black women-owned law firms, it also hired more diverse talent as attorneys. “Every time we did a project at Parks IP, there was a diverse group of people always working on something,” Logan says. “We were able to challenge each other and really analyze an idea from a lot of different angles because we came from so many different perspectives.”
Fast forward to her current role at Sidel, and Logan noticed a difference in attitudes toward diversity. She regularly attended meetings where Black and female employees were not represented. Even if Logan never worked in human resources, she decided to create a leadership profile that reflects the global population of company. First, she asked female employees about their experiences at Sidel. Then, after realizing how powerful it was to learn about sexism they faced, she pitched a diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiative to the legal affairs team and the executive vice president of human resources.
“I had a very candid conversation [with] him,” Logan remembers. “I said, ‘Hey, we don’t have a lot of women. Do we know that? Are we doing something about it?’ His blunt answer was, ‘Yes, we know about it. We are working on it, but have not gotten to where we want to be yet.’”
Sure enough, Logan’s message paid off. She spearheaded the Think Tank Forum, a roundtable discussion series Sidel sponsored at nine global locations. The roundtable discussions provided female employees with a platform to shed light on the challenges they encounter. Plus, it prompted the manufacturer to reevaluate how it recruits, retains, and promotes women.
“We’re gathering all of this raw data and distilling it into something that can present as a business case to our senior leadership, because diversity and inclusion is not just a nice-to-have, it’s a necessary for companies to function at their most optimal level,” Logan says.
Meanwhile, despite the fact Logan’s days in private practice are behind her, she strives to boost representation for people of color in the legal profession, in general. With the Diverse Attorney Pipeline Program, a non-profit corporation that addresses the continued and systematic decline of women of color lawyers in law firms, she interviews Black female candidates for attorney openings at law firms. Plus, Logan sits on the board at the National Council on Patent Practicum, where she hosts workshops for engineers of color who want to pursue careers in patent law.
Whether you’re committed to your job or change careers religiously, Logan has the same advice:
“Always make your voice heard,” she says. “When you get the degree, you’ve proven that you can do the work, so now it’s about being provided access and providing your value to whatever company or law firm that you are a part of. If you’re in a meeting, and you hear something you don’t agree with it’s OK to share your thoughts. Because that’s what diversity is about. It’s about getting people who are not from similar backgrounds in a room so their voices can be heard.”
“AddyHart P.C. worked with Tiffany and Sidel on several complex IP cases, including a multinational matter involving cases in France, Italy and the US. Our collaboration could not have been more smoothly run and professional.”
–Robert Hart, Co-Founder and Partner