Fun on the Fly
Casting lines with IP lawyer Dan Lueders
Published in 2022 Indiana Super Lawyers magazine on February 14, 2022
Even before he donned waders for the first time and stepped into the crystalline waters of the Snake River about 20 years ago, Daniel J. Lueders knew he was hooked.
As he drove with friends past the brown potato fields of northeastern Idaho, they came over a rise in the road to a spectacular sight: a vast canyon sprawled before them, with rocky walls that plunged hundreds of feet down to a rushing, tree-lined stream. “It was wild and beautiful,” Lueders recalls, “and I knew then that my days of fly fishing were going to be amazing.”
For the managing partner of Woodard, Emhardt, Henry, Reeves & Wagner in Indianapolis, fly-fishing trips are a counterbalance to the pressures of litigating complex patent, trademark, copyright and trade-secret disputes for corporate clients. The work demands a thorough knowledge not only of the law, but of technological intricacies related to such fields as manufacturing, metallurgy, medicine, pharmaceuticals and wireless communications.
“You have to immerse yourself and learn the technology backward and forward, so that you know it almost as well as the client,” says Lueders, 61. Litigating cases that can sometimes take years to resolve requires boatloads of patience. “We’re all techno-nerds, so we enjoy it. But it can be incredibly stressful.”
His clients include pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly and Company; international construction materials company Knauf Insulation; and the University of Florida regarding the school’s interest in the Gatorade trademark.
Since that first foray into a Snake River tributary, he has spent many days on rivers, casting and “mending”—gingerly controlling the line so that his fly drifts on the water’s surface just as a real insect would—in a game of hide-and-seek with fish in search of food.
“At the end of the day, you’re sweaty and tired because you’re constantly doing something,” he says.
Over the years, his pursuit of the sport has taken Lueders to such far-flung destinations as Bolivia, Ireland and Eastern Europe. He took a particularly memorable excursion with a Knauf executive who had asked him to speak about patent law at an engineering conclave the company was hosting in Slovenia. Lueders arranged a side trip for the two on the Soča River, which winds through the southeastern Alps. “When I scheduled the trip, I didn’t even know where Slovenia was,” he admits. “But to my delight, the country is known for some of best fly fishing in all of Europe.”
When Lueders isn’t in the water, he’s near the gridiron. Indianapolis lawyer Rusty Denton met Lueders at a youth-league football matchup when the two were coaching teams of grade schoolers from opposite sides of the field. “He had game-planned and isolated the strengths of our team in a way I hadn’t seen many people do,” Denton recalls. “I mean, who takes notes and videotapes games between young kids?”
As the volunteer coaches became friends, Denton came to understand Lueders’ approach to the game. “If my son sees how hard I’m preparing, it will help him understand that preparation is a key to success,” Lueders told him.
It worked. Blake Lueders went on to become a high school star who was recruited by major college football programs, eventually landing at Stanford. Struck by how complicated and confusing the recruitment process was for students and their families, Lueders began absorbing everything he could find about it. His Parent’s Guide to College Football Recruiting was published in 2015.
“I shouldn’t have been surprised that he wrote the book,” Denton says. “When Dan is engaged, he’s completely committed—he is all about victory and finding practical, common-sense approaches to solving problems.”
Some days, though, if the fish aren’t biting, there’s nothing you can do about it. Not that that’s an issue. “Even if you don’t catch any fish,” Lueders says, “you’re in a gorgeous setting, and it’s still a great day.”