Sidebars

Anthony Jones: Limitless

November 28, 2021 Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton LLP Season 1 Episode 12
Sidebars
Anthony Jones: Limitless
Show Notes Transcript

Anthony Jones is an enrolled member of the Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe of Washington and an intellectual property attorney. An associate at Perkins Coie, his practice focuses on patent matters, including prosecution & portfolio counseling, involving complex technologies such as telecommunications, artificial intelligence, machine learning, cryptocurrency & blockchain, and software-based technologies. 

Anthony’s journey to the practice of IP law includes a variety of legal experiences. He served as an in-house attorney for the Tulalip Tribes, focusing on tribal governance, economic development, and Tribal court litigation. He was also an appellate and pro tem judge for the Northwest Intertribal Court System and a hearing examiner pro tem (trainee) for the City of Seattle Office of Hearing Examiner. In 2021, he was named one of the 20 under 40 honorees by Leadership Kitsap. He is currently the president of the Northwest Indian Bar Association.

An avid tinkerer from childhood, Anthony first set his sights on an engineering career and therefore applied and was accepted to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, from which he graduated with a B.S., Engineering. But when he realized that a career in engineering would not provide an outlet for his people skills, he changed tacks and embarked on a career in the law. Then, Anthony made another small course correction to fully embrace both his engineering background and his legal training by passing the patent bar exam after studying for it on his own.

Anthony grew up steeped in the traditions, culture, art, & living history of his Tribe. From a young age, he participated in Tribal journeys with his grandfather, building his capacity for perseverance, determination, & success. In this episode, Anthony shares how growing up on the reservation instilled in him a strong sense of self & allowed him to pursue his dreams - without limits. 

  •  From growing up on a reservation to culture shock at MIT (3:24)
  •  Being in a place where you’re one of just a handful of people like yourself (5:31)
  •  Coping with implicit bias from a young age (6:53)
  • A precursor experience to becoming a lawyer (7:55)
  •  Stretching one’s wings and finding new challenges (10:51)
  •  Handling imposter syndrome and gaining a feeling of belonging (12:45)
  •  Living history (14:16)
  • Finding the perfect way combine one’s soft skills with one’s engineering expertise (17:20)
  • Finding a community in law school (19:37)
  • The value of a solid grounding in tribal culture (22:53)
  • Tribal journeys that build a strong sense of self and the ability to persevere (24:38)
  • Art as a means of keeping Native American traditions alive and passing them down to future generations (30:28)
  • Walking in two worlds: Native American cultural traditions vs. BigLaw (34:45)
  • The shocking rarity of attorneys in general – and IP attorneys in particular - from Native American backgrounds (37:05)
  • Using your status as the first or only person in a situation to set an example for others (39:49)

Learn More:

**The opinions expressed are those of the attorneys and do not necessarily reflect the views of the firm or its clients. This podcast is for general information purposes and is not intended to be and should not be taken as legal advice.

Anthony Jones:

There's this whole phenomenon of imposter syndrome. Right. You know, you feel like you, you don't belong there. Maybe, you know, they didn't mean to admit you and you don't feel like you're part of the, the group that's there. And, you know, I think what I would say is from talking with a lot of my peers with those kinds of experiences, everybody has that feeling at some point. And so you kind of have to push it to the back of your mind. If you're there, then you belong there. You know, everybody's worked hard and everybody's sort of arrived there in different ways. And so just embrace the experience.

April Abele Isaacson:

Welcome to Sidebars, Kilpatrick Townsend's limited podcast series focused on women in patent law. I'm April Isaacson, a patent litigator and partner in the San Francisco office.

Kimberlynn Davis:

And I'm Kim Davis, a patent prosecutor and partner in the Atlanta office. We're here to discuss the gender gap in the patent bar and have candid conversations with female patent practitioners on their career paths

April Abele Isaacson:

Today, in the second of our two-part series in honor of American Indian Heritage month, I have a very special co- host Bree Black Horse. Bree , would you like to introduce yourself? I know the listeners got to hear a little bit about you last [episode], but if you could introduce yourself and also our special guest.

Bree Black Horse:

My name is Bree Black Horse. My Indian name is Prized Woman. I am an Associate in the Native American Practice Group and an enrolled member of the Seminole Nation of Oklahoma. And with us today is our special guest Anthony Jones. Anthony and his Associate in the Seattle office of Perkins Coie. And he is an enrolled member of the Port Gamble S'klallam Tribe of Washington. Anthony's practice area focuses on intellectual property matters, patent prosecution, and portfolio counseling. Anthony regularly drafts and prosecutes patent applications for various complex technologies, including telecommunications, artificial intelligence, machine learning, cryptocurrency, and blockchain & software-based technologies. He also conducts their own analysis of large patent portfolios and advises clients regarding risk and opportunities based on his findings. Anthony attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology with a Bachelor of Science in Engineering. While at MIT, Anthony's studies focused on mechanical electrical and computer technologies. Prior to joining Perkins Coie, Anthony was an in-house attorney for the Tulalip Tribes, focusing on tribal governance, economic development, and tribal court litigation. He was also an appellate and pro tem judge for the Northwest Intertribal Court System and a hearing examiner pro tem for the City of Seattle Office of Hearing Examiner. In 2021, Anthony was named one of the 20 under 40 honorees by Kitsap Leadership and he is currently the President of the Northwest Indian Bar Association.

April Abele Isaacson:

Anthony, welcome to Sidebars.

Anthony Jones:

Thank you. I'm glad to be here. Thanks for having me on.

April Abele Isaacson:

Normally we start out by asking what made someone pivot from science to law, but I think your story is just so much more interesting, enriched than that. Can you talk about what made you kind of get interested in science in the first place?

Anthony Jones:

I've always been kind of a tinkerer, even when I was a kid. I like to understand how things work and take them apart and, you know, just try to figure them out. And so for me, engineering just seemed like a natural fit because it was just kind of, for me, an extension of my personality, I think.

Bree Black Horse:

Anthony, where did you grow up?

Anthony Jones:

I grew up on the Port Gamble's S'Klallam Reservation in Washington State West of Seattle.

April Abele Isaacson:

How was that for you going from living on a reservation to MIT?

Anthony Jones:

Oh gosh. I would say it was culture shock basically. You know, as I moved across the country, I was only 17 and basically went from living in a small community where I had known everybody my entire life to a big city where I didn't know anybody, you know, very different city from the places that I'd been before as well. So it was, it was a big adjustment.

April Abele Isaacson:

My understanding is it is your , the reservation where you grew up is that called little Boston and then you went to MIT in big Boston. Is that, is that accurate?

Anthony Jones:

That's right. Yeah, the, the neighborhood , uh, actually I still live here on the reservation now. I moved back and uh , we are called little Boston here. So I went from a little Boston to Boston.

Bree Black Horse:

Do you know why the reservation is called little Boston?

Anthony Jones:

I wish I did. No I don't.

Bree Black Horse:

And can you tell us about your experience at MIT to study, if there were any other native students?

Anthony Jones:

It was a challenge for sure. They have this analogy that they like to make about going to MIT. They say it's like drinking from a fire hose. It's just kind of coming at you hard and fast and you just kind of take in whatever you can. You know, that that's a very apt comparison. That's very much what my experience there was. I think most people who go to MIT have that kind of experience of just kind of, you go there being one of the best students in your high school, and then suddenly everybody around you is sort of on your same level. And so the amount of competition and rigor and all of that is just beyond, I think, what most people have any experience with before that it was tough for that reason. Uh , it also was tough because, you know, I was in such an unfamiliar environment. There really weren't many , Native American people there, not many people with life experiences like mine. When I was there, we ended up re-establishing a chapter of the American Indian science and engineering society. And at any given time, there were no more than half a dozen, usually fewer native Americans at MIT, but we found each other, you know, a lot of the other folks actually, who were native American at MIT had gone there, you know, had struggles or got to homesick and taken a break. And then they were coming back to finish degrees and things like that. So, you know, having that sense of community helped, but I think those experiences of the other native folks was pretty telling about the amount of support we had there. Unfortunately

April Abele Isaacson:

Back to before you got to MIT, where were you having your schooling when you were living on the reservation?

Anthony Jones:

I went to the local public schools in , Kitsap county , here in Washington State. There are no schools on the reservation here. Well , other than the preschool. So I went to preschool on the reservation then , uh, you know, we had to be bused off the reservation to go to the public schools.

April Abele Isaacson:

What was that like being bused off the reservation and leaving for the day to go to school and being away from your community?

Anthony Jones:

I think I cope pretty well with that. I was a pretty high achieving student and all that, but you know, certainly it's , there's a difference in culture and you're sort of interacting with people with very different experiences from, from what you have.

April Abele Isaacson:

Did you feel like there were any kind of implicit biases that people at the school had against some of the kids that came from the reservation?

Anthony Jones:

Unfortunately, I think so. Yes. I mean, I think it's improved somewhat these days, but , there often was a big achievement gap between Native American students and other students. And there often were behavioral differences and things like that. I sort of dealt with that by overachieving a bit and kind of really towing the line and being very rural focused and things like that. I have several brothers and, you know , some of them had a very different experience with the public schools where it sort of felt like the schools were expecting them to have behavioral problems or academic problems and sort of not, not really giving them a chance.

April Abele Isaacson:

I know you're a middle child like I am. And I think we've talked about before the , we tend to be a little bit more the rule followers. Did you find that to be the case?

Anthony Jones:

Yeah, definitely. So, I mean, I think I have some of those classic middle child traits , um , being the peacemaker, trying not to make waves and, you know, being aware of what the rules are and things like that. And , uh , that reminds me of , uh, some experiences I had in elementary school that I think sort of were a precursor to my becoming an attorney later on, I actually was what's called a peer mediator in elementary school. The teachers had sort of identified some of those traits that I was just telling you about. And they invited me to get trained as a peer mediator who would be able to work with other students to resolve disputes. They might have as an alternative to disciplinary processes within the school and that kind of thing. I think those sort of soft human skills served me well later on in life.

Bree Black Horse:

Can you talk about some of the disputes you had to mediate between your peers and you know, how , how that went?

Anthony Jones:

Oh gosh, there's probably not much of interest to talk about there . I mean, they're just, you know, petty little things that elementary school kids fight about on the playground for the most part. I mean, we just kind of roam the playground with our clipboards and, you know, looked for disputes that were happening and sometimes would get referred by the recess aides and things like that. But yeah , the , the problems themselves. Weren't very interesting.

April Abele Isaacson:

Do you know what it was specifically about you that the teachers or some of the staff at the school saw that had them select you to have that type of a job? I guess it is really,

Anthony Jones:

Yeah. That'd be an interesting thing to , to talk with them about, I, I don't know. I mean, I, I tended to be at the top of my class academically in any given year in elementary school. So I think that helped. But also, you know, I just, I think I sort of had this , identification with the authority figures in the school that it just kind of made sense to me and, you know, I knew what the rules were and kind of expected everybody to follow them. So I think it's some combination of those things and also, you know , just the ability to get along with a wide variety of people. I think that helped too .

April Abele Isaacson:

So those are the soft skills you were talking about that you have in addition to the, obviously the hard skills of the science background, that's incredible.

Bree Black Horse:

And Anthony, you , uh, when you were talking about your experience at MIT earlier, you mentioned that , uh , your life experience was different than some of your peers. Can you explain that a little bit more for us please?

Anthony Jones:

Yeah, sure. I mean, I think a lot of it was a function of just the kinds of people who ended up at MIT. You know, you get a lot of private school and prep, school kids or kids from wealthier areas with the , the kinds of programs that you know, are helpful for high-achieving students who want to go into the stem fields. And that was not at all my experience. I mean, I grew up with a pretty modest means and , um , you know, a large native American family. I don't think anybody in my peer group, within my tribe went away to college the same time that I did. So I literally was the only one doing that. Yeah. My experience was just, just , um, very different.

April Abele Isaacson:

What made you decide that you were going to leave little Boston to go to big Boston and then MIT.

Anthony Jones:

Oh yeah. I'm not sure. I mean, I think there are a few layers to that. Uh, certainly, you know, I was 17 and wanting to have a very different experience and I got into a few different colleges. I ended up choosing the one that was farthest away from home. And I think, you know, I did that on purpose kind of welcoming the challenge and the novelty of all of that. I also, I had attended a summer program after my junior year of high school in New Mexico where I studied astrophysics for about six weeks or so on the campus of New Mexico tech. Uh , in a lot of ways, it was kind of similar to what my MIT experience ended up being like, you know, there, there were students from all over the country coming together there and learning about computer programming and astronomy and physics and calculus and things. And that experience sort of opened my eyes a bit to, I guess the fact that there were people like me out there, you know, I didn't always feel like I fit in, in high school, but then, you know, there were these other people , uh , who were interested in the things I was interested in, who are good at the things I was good at. And I learned a lot from that peer group as we were all applying for colleges and things like that, and looking at degree programs and things. So I just, I kind of started doing the things they were doing, I guess, applying to the schools they were applying to. And that kind of led me down the path to MIT as well.

April Abele Isaacson:

Interesting. One of my best friends went to , uh, she got her astrophysics PhD in New Mexico. So I love that connection there. And she's working in the field now, you know, one of the things I wanted to go back to that you mentioned that really resonates with me is showing up at college. And then there are a lot of kids that went to prep schools, or seem to have a lot of these advantages in terms of being able to be prepared for college in the first place. Is there anything that you would want to explain about kind of how you felt at the time to make people who either are in that position or perhaps are parents of children in that position understand what it feels like to be the one that maybe thinks you don't fit in?

Anthony Jones:

Yeah, absolutely. I mean, there's , there's this whole phenomenon of , um , imposter syndrome, right. You know, you feel like you, you don't belong there, maybe, you know, they didn't mean to admit you and you don't feel like you're part of the , the group that's there. And, you know, I think what I would say is from talking with a lot of my peers with those kinds of experiences, everybody has that feeling at some point. And so you kind of have to push it to the back of your mind if you're there, then you belong there. You know, everybody's worked hard and everybody's sort of arrived there in different ways. And so just embrace the experience,

April Abele Isaacson:

The things that Bree said last episode that I really loved was I am here. I'd love maybe if the two of you could talk about that concept a little bit more.

Bree Black Horse:

Yes. So last week I was talking about my educational and professional journey and I'm sure you've had some of these experiences, but you'd often, you know, I'd often be the only native person or the only native woman or the only woman of color in a lot of different situations. Um, but whenever I'm in those situations, I always am very, very grateful that I have the opportunity to be there because as I'm sure is the case with your family , um, my family, you know, going back one to 10 generations suffered and survived so much. So I just always feel very grateful and like it's a privilege to just be here as a result of what my ancestors were able to overcome and survive.

Anthony Jones:

Yeah. Yeah. Well, thank you for sharing that. I mean, I absolutely can identify with that experience as well. My family, you know, of course has been here for thousands of years and has, you know, endured a lot of hardship over the past, you know , couple centuries or so really. And , um, you know, I can name specific people for example, who were survivors of Indian boarding schools and, you know, during the assimilation area of that , uh, federal government's Indian policies, I can even identify this specific person who was a great great aunt of mine, who was the first member of our tribe to graduate from a high school. And , um , she was alive until gosh, maybe a half dozen years ago or so. So, you know, I knew her while she was alive, you know, I think, yeah, just that the fact of being here and getting to do what we do is very much something that I , I don't take for granted.

Bree Black Horse:

And last week when we recorded my session , you know, I went into the assimilation era and what that looked like from, you know, allotment to boarding schools. And I have many relatives who are also survivors of boarding schools. And I often think about their experiences and you know, how while my educational journey has been hard, it has been, you know , so much better than just what my grandfather had to experience. He was an Indian Boarding School. So I tried to keep that perspective as well, even though , uh , you know, when I was in college or when I was in law school, it felt, you know, I was like the only native person or, you know, it was very challenging academically for me.

April Abele Isaacson:

And one of the other things that came up in Bree's episode was the Carlisle School. And I told her that my high school was probably one mile from there. I did a little bit of research afterward. I also shared that I grew up in a neighborhood that was a farm. And before that was a reservation, we'd find arrowheads in the backyard. And then about two miles from my house was an old Indian trading post. And there was a big controversy about them wanting to put a new freeway through and tear it down. So it kind of gave me chills really to think about the native people and what they endured. And it was really around the corner. And it had been turned into a part of the war college now, by the way, the boarding school. Well , you said you liked to tinker around with things and that's what got you into science. I wondered - did that get you into any trouble maybe with your parents at all?

Anthony Jones:

Yeah, absolutely. It did . I mean, you know, if I could get my hands on something, I would, you know, try to take it apart. And , um, I think probably the most memorable thing that I did in that regard was , um, having to do with a waterbed that my parents owned when I was a kid, I was curious about, you know, what was inside of it and how it was put together and all of that. And so I was probably five or six years old or something. And so I figured that the best way to figure out how this thing worked was to drive a nail through it. So I took, it, took a nail and , and stabbed it into this water bed to try to figure out what was in it and how it works .

April Abele Isaacson:

You talked about being at MIT and then knowing that you belong there at some point and kind of finding your people that you could really connect with, how did you end up going from MIT into the law?

Anthony Jones:

I think there were a few different factors there while I was at MIT. I was also doing internships in the summer, in the area of ocean engineering and Naval architecture. You know, I was finding out that engineering, maybe wasn't the best fit for me as a long-term profession, or at least not in the capacity that I was working in engineering at the time. And then another factor was that I was in a , a minor program at the Sloan School of Management at MIT, which was sort of almost like a mini-MBA program where I was learning things like negotiation and management and marketing and things like that. I think it sort of brought me full circle back to some of the soft skills that I have some facility with that I was talking about earlier and, you know, working with people rather than working with things. And so that, that sort of led me to believe that maybe something with a more human services focus would be a good fit. And so I started looking around for , uh , what opportunities might be out there. And I landed on going to law school.

April Abele Isaacson:

How did you land on law school compared to business school? Because you were obviously studying some things in the business school at MIT?

Anthony Jones:

It was a close call. I think I thought about maybe whether I should do an MBA program to do that. Well, I probably would have had to go into the workforce for some period of time and then go to management school. Whereas I wanted to just kind of go right through. I also knew that you didn't need any kind of degree in particular to get into law school. You just needed some kind of a bachelor's degree. And it seemed like there was kind of a lot of flexibility in that profession. And then another aspect of it too, is at the time, basically I knew only two lawyers and both of them were lawyers who'd worked for my tribe. And so sort of my familiarity with the law was people working on issues of native American rights, which was appealing to me as a native American person. And so I felt like there would be opportunities to give back to my community in one way or another through this profession as well.

Bree Black Horse:

And where did you Decide to go to law School?

Anthony Jones:

I went to Washington University in St. Louis. They have a fairly sizeable Native American program centered around their school of social work. They also have some scholarship programs. I ended up getting a scholarship to go there. There are fewer native American folks in the law school there, but , um, you know, they tend to get together with the social work people in the they've got a little community go in there. And so it was, it was a good place to be.

Bree Black Horse:

Was your experience in law school , similar to your experience at MIT in any ways? Or was it different?

Anthony Jones:

So I I'd read a book called One L, are you familiar with the book One L?

April Abele Isaacson:

I feel like we all read it to put the fear in us, right?

Anthony Jones:

Right. Exactly. So One L , the author's name is , it's Scott Turow . Is that, is that his name? So , right as he said, it's sort of this horror story of going to law school and how difficult it is. And the funny thing about that though, is when , when I read that book, it didn't sound that bad to me after what I had gone through it at MIT I thought, you know, this sounds manageable. I , I think in a lot of ways, law school was a little bit easier, but , uh, you know, certainly as academically rigorous and all that, I think one thing that helped in law school is that we had a professor of Native American law who had been out working in tribal communities and things. And so it felt like we had somebody on the faculty who could sort of understand our experience a little better and kind of , um, support us and point us in the right direction and all of that. And then there also were staff and faculty at the school of social work who were more familiar with Native Community. So it felt more supportive there just because of kind of the resources and the people they had.

April Abele Isaacson:

Wash U basically, because of the ability to connect with people or have a sense of community, it made it a little bit easier than you , uh, for you than it was at MIT?

Anthony Jones:

Right? Yeah, that's right.

April Abele Isaacson:

But then you said reading the book made it sound like it was going to be easier. So I wonder what was it about the MIT experience, just the academic rigor being in a city, lack of community or combination of those things that made it made it seem like it was harder than what you read in the book.

Anthony Jones:

Yeah, I think it was somewhat all of the above, you know, it was , uh, well, for one thing, I , I was a bit more mature, you know, being sort of towards the end of college instead of right out of high school. I think also just kind of having that experience under my belt of, you know, being towards the end of my degree program at MIT and just something proven, I think to myself that this is something that I can do, that I can make it in these environments that are unfamiliar and challenging. And then also just the, the academic rigor at MIT was really something else. And so, you know, although law school was a lot of work, I never felt like it was too much. I always felt like it was manageable.

Bree Black Horse:

When you were at MIT, did you ever think about dropping out or taking a break [like] some of your classmates had done?

Anthony Jones:

Yeah, I'd say probably like once a week or so, you know, the thought would cross my mind. It, you know, it was tough. It was in an unfamiliar environment. It was far from home, you know, I didn't know a lot of people, I didn't meet a lot of people who had my kinds of experiences. I often would feel like, you know, it was too much I'd want to maybe transfer to another school or come home or something. You know, I always found some way to keep myself going. I think it helped to understand how many other people had been denied the opportunity to do what I was doing. I think the admission rate was somewhere around 12 or 13% the year that I got into MIT. So basically, you know, there were nine other people out there somewhere who didn't have the opportunity to do what I was doing. So I , I might as well, you know, stick it out and see what I could do. I think it also helped just knowing that my family and my community were always there back home for me, they were always going to be there. And I, you know, I could count on that support. So I decided I could stick it out.

Bree Black Horse:

And to me, that's just such a mature worldview for a 17, 18, 19 year old to have, and to have that kind of character and perseverance to keep going while you're alone on the other side of the country, what do you think it is that gave you that , that perspective and that fortitude at such a young age?

Anthony Jones:

You know, I think having a solid grounding in my tribal culture, you know, my Native American family background, it really gave me such a solid sense of self and a sense of belonging in this culture and in this , uh, you know the traditions of my tribe that I think that helped me make it through as well.

April Abele Isaacson:

I have to say that having had the episode with Bree and then with you, that sense of self is something that really resonates. And I find that there are many kids that would be the same age that wouldn't have that sense of self, where people were 30 years old, 40, 50 years old, that don't have that sense of self. Where do you think that comes from in terms of, you know , digging deep? Because I find people never find it, but you guys, you two, both have it at such a young age.

Anthony Jones:

You know, I think it , for me, it came from just being raised in my family and my tribes traditions, and really having that sense of culture instilled in me from a young age. And a lot of that came through , uh , what are called the tribal journeys, the canoe journeys that they have here on the Northwest coast, which is something I participated in from a pretty young age.

Bree Black Horse:

And for me, Anthony, it's that, you know, I have that same sense of self and purpose. And as I was explaining last week, that's something I've always kind of had. And for me, both, my parents are artists. And so that comes from traveling around to, you know , all these different native art shows and seeing all the other cultures and traditions of tribes different than my mom or dad's tribe. And then for me, you know, you talked about canoe journey. Pow Wow was a big part of that for me, you know, listening to those prayers, those songs, those elders tell us who we are and where we're from, and being out there and dancing and being able to participate in something that goes back generations, you know, as connected me to my community and to my purpose and his voice , um, kept me going three days before the bar. I was, I danced all weekend at Daybreak Star Pow Wow because I knew that something that I needed, all my friends thought I was crazy, but I'm like, no, I need that. I need that connection. And that reassurance to know why I'm here and why I'm doing this. And it's so great to hear that you feel the same way and I've had the same experience and that's, what's kept you going,

April Abele Isaacson:

I guess, at that. And that sense of connection as well, because you hear about me. I think they even have like silly commercials where if someone thinks they're German American, and then they, you know, go and they realize that they're actually not with people who are always trying to connect to something that's from somewhere else. Whereas with you to the connection is from here North America, you know, from, like you said, centuries of it, maybe that there in lies the difference that you feel grounded in some sense by that community. I don't know.

Anthony Jones:

Yeah. I would definitely say so. I mean, you know, for me, especially growing up on the reservation, just surrounded by family and , uh , you know, family that was involved in a lot of different cultural traditions and, you know, some traditions that were being revived at the time after being basically dormant or suppressed for sometimes a hundred years, I think , uh , I was, I was just fortunate to be raised in that environment. And during that particular time period, when a lot of these things were being reclaimed, that just really gave me a sense of belonging to something bigger than myself and something that's been here in this place for thousands of years literally.

April Abele Isaacson:

Can you talk about the tribal canoe journey?

Anthony Jones:

Yeah. Canoe journeys they sort of started in , in their modern iteration just a few years after I was born with the Paddle to Seattle during the Washington Centennial when I was about two or three years old. And as a part of the recognition of the Washington Centennial, various tribes got together and they paddled to Seattle in these traditional Cedar dugout canoes that had not been in regular use for something like a hundred years. And out of that came this annual tradition that started a few years later that one of the participants had issued a challenge for all of these other tribes in , uh , three or four years to be ready to travel to this remote , uh , First Nations Reserve in British Columbia. And so then sort of the, the challenge was there, these tribes rose to the occasion, they got their canoes ready, they got these paddles ready and they got their , uh, polars ready to be able to travel these long distances and, you know, stop along the way and share culture songs and dances with each other and things like that. And after that first challenge, it became , uh, something that happened every year. And so still to this day, you know, each year, some tribe along the Northwest coast agrees to be a host for the journey. And then it's up to all of the other tribes to arrange for their canoes to be ready to paddle from wherever they're starting to that central location. And, you know, as they're traveling along, they're gathering other participants along the way. So, you know, when they get to these final destinations, there are over a hundred canoes in the water and all these different tribes that are represented and they get to share their songs and stories and dances with each other, and they share food. And it's really served as a vehicle to, to bring back a lot of these traditions that hadn't been sort of shared or been out in the open for a very long time. And I was fortunate in that my grandfather was the skipper who sat in the back and steered my tribe's canoe. You know, I think I was 10 or 11 years old when he first brought me along on the journey and I got to paddle the canoe and, you know , hear the songs and the dances and my grandpa's brother, my great uncle was sort of a song leader as well as an artist. And so he gifted me with some traditional regalia and a drum and things like that, which really helped to sort of cultivate that sense of cultural belonging and some understanding of, you know, where I was coming from.

April Abele Isaacson:

You mentioned earlier probably for a hundred years or so traditional canoeing was not being done. Do you know why that was?

Anthony Jones:

You know, I think it's a combination of factors, but ultimately I think what it comes down to is that we, as a people, we're expected to assimilate into American culture, into non -Native culture. And, you know, rather than , uh , using Cedar dugout, canoes or primarily being fishermen and people were expected to go out and work for wages or, you know, be farmers and that kind of thing. So these are cultural practices that were actively suppressed .

April Abele Isaacson:

You mentioned earlier some of the regalia that your , I believe you said it was your great uncle adorned you with when you were 10 11 on the canoe journey. I know that you have an artistic side as well as a scientific side. Can you talk a little bit about some of your art?

Anthony Jones:

Yeah, yeah. For me, my artistic traditions are just sort of an extension of my cultural identity and it really wasn't wasn't until after I came out of law school and I was working at Tulalip as an attorney that I really started to gain some perspective about my cultural identity and sort of my upbringing, because when you're a kid, you don't always think about what's unique about your experiences. You just don't question it. It's kind of all around you. You know, I started seeing all this beautiful coast Salish art at Tulalip . It was reminding me of growing up around my uncles who were artists and seeing their sketchbooks. And, you know, I have some of their pieces that they've made as well that they give to , to me at different times. It just caused me to want to dig deeper and really understand my culture and my cultural experiences on a more intellectual level. So I started studying my tribe's language, looking at, you know , ethnographic literature and things like that. From there, you know , understanding the artistic traditions were just kind of natural extension of understanding the culture. And so I started also looking at museum collections and books and talking to some practicing artists and things like that, mainly just for my own curiosity , uh, you know, sometimes to have things for personal or family use nowadays, I make drums for my children for example. It took on a life of its own. I started also coming across these opportunities to create artwork for others or for public display and things like that. I ended up creating a print that's now displayed on one of the state ferries here in Washington later on. I also collaborated on a large sculptural piece for the Burke Museum, which is really an honor to be included in an institution like that. It's definitely not something I ever would have planned for or expected, but it just kind of came about that way because of my efforts to, to learn about my culture and my tribe's artistic traditions.

Bree Black Horse:

Have you passed a , what you've learned about Coast Salish Art onto anyone in your family or other?

Anthony Jones:

Yeah, I definitely try to keep those traditions alive. My great uncle was kind of one of the primary drum makers for my tribe. He unfortunately passed on a few years ago. So, you know, I feel very fortunate to be able to carry on that tradition that he taught me. And I have had a chance to teach that to fellow tribal members before and also teach about two dimensional design and things. And, you know, just as I'm working as well, I try to show my kids what I'm doing and get them interested in it. They're a little young to do it themselves just yet. They definitely are curious about it. And I hope that they also have an interest in learning that when they're, they're a bit older,

Bree Black Horse:

No , the way you learned about, you know , your Coast Salish traditions and designs , uh, sounds a lot like how my dad learned from, you know, your elders, but also from books and museum collections. I'm curious in looking through books and museum collections, did you ever see anything that formerly belonged to your family or your tribe?

Anthony Jones:

Yeah, actually on my , my father's side of the family, the artists were mainly basket weavers in there. There are some pieces by my great great grandmother, Cedar root baskets that are in some different museum collections. I know for sure the Suquamish Museum has some of her pieces there. I also got the opportunity a couple of years ago to go and study the collections at the Burke Museum. And I saw some pieces that were specifically from my tribe. There was a little , uh , carved grease dish, for example, that was a really stunning piece that came from my tribe that I saw there as well.

April Abele Isaacson:

What strikes me about you is that you have the technical capabilities, you have the science capabilities, the soft skills, and you're just such a humble person with so many wonderful qualities and talents. Where do you think the humility comes from?

Anthony Jones:

Well, thank you. Um, I really think it's a cultural value, you know, again, growing up in my community with my cultural traditions and just sort of learning from family elders and my parents and things, we were not really taught to call attention to ourselves. You know, we sort of each have a job to do and, you know, we're just expected to do our best and sort of , um, you know, if you're, if you're doing a really good job with something, then you just kind of trust that people are going to take notice of it. You don't have to call attention to it.

April Abele Isaacson:

How is that for you then being at a law firm where just the law firm environment in general can be challenging for people who are humble?

Anthony Jones:

Yeah. Yeah. Well, there's, you know, sort of this I'm saying, or almost a cliche at this point about native American people being expected to walk in two worlds, you know, sort of having their own traditions and cultural experiences while also having to live in an assimilated world and sort of having to blend those two experiences. And that's something I've just had to learn to navigate. Certainly as a private practice attorney, I have to worry about, you know, marketing and business development and personal branding and things like that. And it didn't come naturally to me, that was a whole other skillset that I think maybe some people don't have to think about as consciously, because it's sort of more of a cultural norm.

April Abele Isaacson:

When you got out of law school, then you were working with the Tulalip tribe. How did you end up pivoting from that to becoming a patent attorney?

Anthony Jones:

Yeah, it was after about eight years or so of working only a native American law working for the Tulalip tribes that I kind of started to think about how to diversify my experience and my skillset . It was very strange because I had not taken any intellectual property classes in law school. I didn't really have in mind that I was going to be a patent lawyer, even though that's what most engineers turned lawyers do in a lot of ways. I think that was just from not really having the right networks or guidance to sort of plan my career in a very linear way, but I'd figured out that I would qualify to sit for the patent bar. And, you know , I also felt like as much as I loved at Tulalip in as much as I got to do some really great work and learn some interesting things I needed to grow beyond that experience. And so in my free time, while I was practicing studied for the patent bar, just from a manual that I got from eBay,

April Abele Isaacson:

Of course you did. Of course.

Anthony Jones:

And , uh , so yeah, I took the patent bar, I think it was October, 2019 or so. And I ended up getting admitted to the patent bar and, you know , sort of shopping that credential around and landed at Perkins Coie, which has been great just as I was setting out to do, be able to diversify my experience, learned something new and, you know, learn it really quickly just with the large volume of , of work that I'm able to do here.

April Abele Isaacson:

So speaking of diversity, what is your understanding in terms of percentage of people who were admitted to the patent bar that are Native

Anthony Jones:

I'm aware of myself and I believe one other person I have not found any other Native American people beyond that who are members of the patent bar? I know a couple of people who are native American and have done some intellectual property litigation. Yeah. In terms of people admitted practice at the U.S. Patent Office, I'm aware of two .

April Abele Isaacson:

Yeah. That's a kind of almost terrible statistic for lack of a better word. You know, this podcast had originally been about the gender gap in the patent bar and we talked to women and, you know, different things related to that, but this is something also very important to shine some light on is that not only the gender gap, but racial and cultural and all of the like, and how we need to do better.

Anthony Jones:

Yeah. I certainly hope so. And you know, I would hope that there are other people out there. Maybe I've just not found them yet, but I have looked for other Native American patent lawyers and just not found very many. I mean, you know, Native Americans are underrepresented in stem professions and they're underrepresented in the law. So you put those two things together and I think you get very severe under-representation. And I think there, there certainly could be a lot more done to try to encourage more diverse groups of people to get into these fields.

Bree Black Horse:

And so I believe that of all the lawyers in America, less than one half of 1% are Native American people. And Anthony, it sounds like your life you've been kind of a groundbreaker from being, you said the only one to leave home and go to college and at MIT nonetheless, and then I go to law school, where does an even smaller percentage of native American people, and then finish both times for those of our listeners who aren't aware of Native American people for a lot of the reasons that both Anthony have touched on these past two episodes have very high dropout rates in post-secondary education. So I think it's just amazing. You're , you've been able to accomplish everything that you have while also being able to, you know, live in your community and carry on your traditional ways.

Anthony Jones:

Oh, well, thank you. Yeah. I mean, you know, I certainly hope when, when these firsts come about, I , I certainly hope not to be the last in any of these things. I want to try to lift other people up behind me to be able to do some of the things that I've had the privilege of being able to do.

Bree Black Horse:

And Anthony, as you've talked about, you've been the first and the only in so many different situations throughout your life. What advice do you have for someone who finds themselves as the first person or, you know , the only person , uh , in a situation? I think what I would say is don't limit yourself based on what you see going on around you, based on where you're from or your peer group, or, you know , whatever demographic group you come from. Just because other folks who look like you or who come from those places, haven't done those things doesn't mean that you can't do it. I think you should take that as a challenge to work even harder and to show that it can be done so that others can follow your example.

April Abele Isaacson:

I love that don't limit yourself. Those are really words of wisdom that I think anybody can take away from this episode. Anthony, I want to thank you so much for your time and for sharing your story and really big, thanks to Bree for being my fabulous guest co- host. It was wonderful to have this opportunity to speak with both of you today.

Anthony Jones:

Thank you. It's been a pleasure.

Bree Black Horse:

Thank you.

April Abele Isaacson:

Thank you for joining us today. If you enjoyed Sidebars, we invite you to check out the Kilpatrick Townsend's Medicine and Molecules blog at kilpatricktownsend.com to read, watch, and listen to other related insight on patent law. We'll also put that information in the show notes. The opinions expressed on this podcast are our own and are not those of Kilpatrick Townsend.

Kimberlynn Davis:

Also, we woul love it. If you would rate us or leave a review, it helps others find the show. See you next time.