Hofstra Law alumnus William A. “Bill” Munck ’92 is the managing partner of Munck Wilson Mandala, LLP, a technology-focused law firm headquartered in Dallas. He chairs the firm’s IP section and has successfully grown Munck Wilson Mandala from five to over 70 attorneys in the past two decades. The firm ranks as the second-largest patent law firm in North Texas and the 10th-largest in Austin. In 2018, Munck Wilson Mandala received recognition as an Inc. Best Workplace and a Texas Lawyer Litigation Department of the Year finalist, and its client Raytheon was issued the historic patent number 10 million by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
Tell us about your career — where did you start and how did you get to where you are now?
I grew up on Long Island. My dad was a cop and my mom was an office worker. The way I was raised instilled in me a diligent work ethic and a respect for family and honor, which I believe shaped who I am as an attorney and a leader today.
I was the first in my family to attend college, and I earned a B.S. and an M.S. in computer science at Hofstra. I worked as a software engineer before attending law school. My first job as a lawyer was with a 300-attorney regional firm in Dallas that had a small IP practice. Within my first year there, I took on files for Dell, House of Blues and the creator of Barney (the purple dinosaur).
My wife and I felt like North Texas was poised to be a very significant high-tech business center, and we knew that it was a great place to raise our family. We had to relocate back to New York when my father passed a couple of years later, but we did return to North Texas later in the ’90s and raised our boys, and I have been with the same firm, ranked the second-largest IP law firm in Dallas, since 1997.
What is a standout moment or accomplishment you are most proud of in your career?
In May of 2017, I celebrated 20 years of leadership at Munck Wilson Mandala. When I took the lead in the late ’90s, we had less than 10 attorneys. Today we have 70 attorneys, with offices in Dallas, Austin and Los Angeles.
How did your Hofstra Law education help shape your career?
I learned how to wade through masses of information to get the relevant points necessary for law professors, which eventually translated to solutions for clients. Today, that is a huge skill to have because lawyers will always be challenged by mile-high volumes of information and they need to know how to curate the facts or areas of law that matter for their clients.
What trends do you see in your practice area?
We are filing many more patent applications related to functions being performed by “smart” devices or embedded devices. We are also filing many more patent applications related to functions that rely on the availability of large amounts of processing power, such as artificial intelligence and machine learning techniques.
What advice do you have for students entering the legal market?
Be worthwhile. As simple as that sounds, there is a lot more to it. Being worthwhile means that you look at everyone as your client — teachers, peers, friends, strangers — because you never know where your work is going to come from. Several of my clients came from me coaching their kids on a state team and had nothing to do with me being a lawyer.
People remember those that take the time to understand them, their business and their business’s legal needs, and formulate actionable suggestions about improving their professional lives. If you focus on being worthwhile, you will be a successful attorney.
How do you spend your leisure time?
I am very close with my family and we have many traditions, such as an annual vacation to Disney World, a Thanksgiving golf outing, and other events throughout the year. Our firm also has several nonwork events, such as an annual golf tournament, movie days and annual holiday parties. We involve our families. I am fortunate to have a close circle of friends I have known since childhood that I see on occasion, and during lacrosse season I travel to watch my younger son who plays for Skidmore College.