David Leichtman

David Leichtman selected as a 2016 Lawyers Who Lead by Example honoree for Pro Bono by The New York Law Journal

IP Institute member David Leichtman, a partner at Robins Kaplan, was chosen by The New York Law Journal as one of the Lawyers Who Lead by Example honorees for 2016 in the Pro Bono category. This award recognizes attorneys with an outstanding record of providing crucial legal services to poor and nearly poor New Yorkers.

The annual Lawyers Who Lead by Example award honors attorneys in the three following categories: Lifetime Achievement, Public Service, and Pro Bono. The New York Law Journal announced the names of honorees on July 7, 2016, and will feature the attorneys in a special section of the publication. The honorees will be publicly recognized at an awards dinner on September 20, 2016. View the full list of names here.


New York Law Journal
Lawyers Who Lead By Example: David Leichtman
September 20, 2016

david-leichtman-ip-instituteFor much of David Leichtman’s early years, education and the arts held a special fascination. His mother was a New York City public school teacher and he got an early taste of the theater in the first grade when he wrote and put on a play about robots on the moon.

Those strands come together in Leichtman’s pro bono work. A founding partner of Robins Kaplan’s New York office, Leichtman has been a board member of the Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts since 2003 and its chairman since 2008. The organization helps working artists make a living, assisting with such issues as contracts and intellectual property rights.

“If we don’t have a way of ensuring that from a legal standpoint, then we will have fewer artists. And it’s important to me that we have lots of artists in the world,” he said.

At the firm, Leichtman specializes in intellectual property and business litigation. He also co-chairs the New York Intellectual Property Law Association’s inventor of the year committee and is a member of its patent litigation committee. He is also a founder of the Intellectual Property Institute of the Litigation Counsel of America.

Leichtman, 47, studied the theater as an undergraduate and grad student with the intention of becoming a university professor and playwright. Once armed with a master’s degree, however, he discovered the scarcity of theater teaching positions.

Taking a cue from his future wife, who was about to attend law school, Leichtman decided to test the waters as a paralegal and found himself assisting and observing in a trade-secrets case.

He was struck by the parallels between the theater and the courtroom. “The only difference being, of course, in a theater piece you can make up the facts,” he said, “aside from that, I found it to be quite similar in terms of process.”

After graduating from Columbia Law School in 1996, Leichtman went to work for Morgan, Lewis & Bockius and later Lovells, before joining Robins Kaplan in 2010.

Leichtman and VLA figured prominently in two recent cases. He wrote a widely cited amicus brief in the U.S. Supreme Court case Kirtsaeng v. John Wiley & Sons. The June decision provides assurances for artists in copyright disputes that they won’t have to pay opposing attorney fees if their case is reasonable.

He also represented one of the two disputing filmmakers of the documentary “Among the Believers,” a look at the roots of religious extremism in Pakistan, which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2015. The case was settled out of court.