Dennis C. Hopkins, Esq.
Partner, Intellectual Property; Patent Litigation
Perkins Coie LLP
New York, N.Y.
Dennis C. Hopkins’ days as an Army attack helicopter platoon leader are long over, but his battle-winning prowess is still very much in operation as he pilots gains for his law firm’s clients and the next generation of lawyers of color. Hopkins, a partner in Perkins Coie LLP’s Intellectual Property and Patent Litigation practices, focuses on all facets of IP law, including patent, copyright and trade secret litigation, within the firm’s mammoth IP practice of nearly 250 IP attorneys.
A graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point with a bachelor’s degree in physics and nuclear engineering, Hopkins skipped the traditional undergraduate-to-law school route to commence an Army career as a platoon leader in an attack helicopter battalion. “It was an amazing job,” he recalls in an interview with The Network Journal. He affirms that his military leadership skills mirror the ones he wields today as an IP lawyer and litigator. “Leadership skills are leadership skills, whether you apply them in attack helicopters or in the courtroom. Just as leaders in the military want to see strong leaders working for them, clients want to see strong leaders advocating for them. Clients want their lawyers to fight for them, advise them and get them the best results,” he says.
After his stint in the Army and while still serving in the Army Reserves, Hopkins went to work as a sales engineer at a chemical company during the day and attended Rutgers School of Law at night. His day job precluded him from taking advantage of career-important summer associate internships. Not letting that stop him, he independently researched, negotiated and secured a summer work arrangement with “a great law firm” and stayed on throughout the school year, becoming an associate after graduating from law school. After several years at that firm, he joined what he terms “a large, national, general practice firm with a significant presence in intellectual property.” He subsequently affiliated with Perkins Coie, where, as a partner, he is establishing and directing new business in the firm’s IP Group and other practice areas. “My undergraduate degree is in physics and engineering, so with Perkins Coie having such a large IP presence, I get to do work that I really enjoy.”
In 2014, the Counsel of Urban Professionals (CUP) named Hopkins among its Catalysts, designating him “Change Agent – Law.” Hopkins is active in various bar associations, serving on the board of the Metropolitan Black Bar Association, the Advisory Committee of the Asian American Bar Association of New York and the New York City Bar Fund Board. He is deeply committed to guiding and grooming the next generation of lawyers, and to that end serves on the board of Practicing Attorneys for Law Students (PALS), a mentoring organization and one he cites among the biggest influences on his career choices as a student. He encourages aspiring IP lawyers to develop the skill of handling a multitude of technologies. Equally important, he tells them, “Find out what aspects of the job you really enjoy, work hard and stick with it.”