“NYSIP was an important part of my development and created a number of opportunities for me both on professional and social levels.”
Arthur Artinian is a leading intellectual property (IP) lawyer based in London and a partner at K&L Gates, a global law firm with 48 offices. Throughout his career Artinian has worked on and overseen high-profile projects around the world: the U.S., South America, Europe, Asia, the Middle East and Australia. Being a key adviser to the London Organizing Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) and the International Olympic Committee in 2012 is amongst his most rewarding accomplishments.
Born and raised in Sydney, Australia, Artinian is an alumnus of AGBU Alex Manoogian Saturday School and the AGBU New York Summer Internship Program (NYSIP).
In this conversation, Artinian reflects on his professional life, acknowledging NYSIP as a major boost for his career, and gives valuable advice to young people.
What was your experience like growing up in Sydney, Australia?
My parents and grandparents moved to Australia from Egypt in the 1960s. I grew up in an Armenian environment and, fortunately, my family was actively involved in the Armenian community and AGBU. My father Vahe Artinian was the chairman of AGBU Sydney for many years. Although my father is now retired, his dedication to the community has continued to be a big part of our family life. I attended AGBU Alex Manoogian Saturday School in Sydney from a very early age and participated in several AGBU programs, including the AGBU Young Professionals (YP) and NYSIP.
How did you develop an interest in Law and decide to specialize in IP law?
Having a keen interest in communications and international issues, I initially wanted to become a journalist. I studied law and communications for my bachelor’s degree and looked for an opportunity to combine both fields.
In my final year of university, when I was doing an internship in a leading law firm in Sydney, I worked on IP projects and got familiar with law-related aspects of communications, marketing, brands and technology. I soon discovered that many of my interests were closely connected to the IP law. I have been in the field ever since.
What kind of impact did NYSIP have on your career and personal growth?
I was fortunate to participate in NYSIP in 2001 and intern at the United Nations (UN). NYSIP was an important part of my development and created a number of opportunities for me both on professional and social levels by exposing me to the work ethic of an international organization and the professional culture of a big city. Through the program, I connected with Armenian and non-Armenian professionals and I have kept in touch with many of them since.
I often reflect on my NYSIP experiences. A few months ago, at a meeting with a client in New York, I mentioned my internship and instantly built a connection with him based on our common experience. Many of my non-Armenian friends asked me how I managed to get an internship at the UN. It was a very proud moment, as I told them that this was possible due to hard work of my community and AGBU which invests in the future and new generation. I am very grateful for those opportunities.
What is it like to be a partner at K&L Gates? What do you like about your job?
IP is probably one of the most international areas of legal practice because it deals with assets and projects of companies in many countries. An IP issue, whether it relates to a new product launch, a transaction or a dispute resolution, is rarely relevant to only one country.
From early on in my career, I was involved in international projects. Many of my clients do business around the globe and I am currently working on several projects in the U.S., Europe and China. This enormously affects my schedule, making it hectic: the differences in time zones, frequent travel and the challenges of working with different people in many countries. But I truly enjoy my job, as there is always something new and my workday is very rarely the same.
Tell us about your experience with the London Olympic Games
I advised LOCOG on the IP aspects of the London Olympic Games in 2012. I have had experience in the Olympics and sport-related IP issues from the very early stages of my career through the involvement in the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games.
When Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, the company I previously worked for, became the official law firm for the London Olympic Games, I was involved on the IP side — a four-year journey of preparation and delivery of the Olympics. I dealt with all sorts of issues including ambush marketing, sponsorship, brand protection, licensing, music rights and performance.
It was a very exciting, rewarding and challenging experience. Unlike other projects, there is no backup plan for the Olympic Games. We were working on the assumption that whatever happened, the opening ceremony was going to take place on July 27, 2012.
It was one of the highlights of my career to date. I was lucky to be invited to attend the opening ceremony and see the fruits of my labor unfold in the London Stadium because many of the projects I had worked on were featured at this esteemed event in front of the world.
What advice would you give to young Armenian lawyers aspiring to succeed professionally?
Firstly, it is critical to find something that you are truly passionate about and would be happy to do every day, otherwise, it is impossible to succeed. Identifying my true passion was one of the most important steps for me.
Armenian families sometimes instill in their children stereotypical perceptions of success — being a lawyer or doctor is often considered to be one of the key measures of success. It is the right path for some people, but not for everybody.
Secondly, it is important to take every opportunity and give it absolutely everything you have. You never know where an opportunity will lead you. For example, NYSIP gave me the international outlook and exposed me to the multicultural work environment at the UN. People sometimes underestimate the impact of the smaller opportunities they are given. Small things that do not seem big at the time might lead to something very promising and relevant in the future.
Lastly, success does not come easy. Successful people work very hard. It is true for my generation and my parents’ generation. This will also be an important quality for young Armenians.