Helping Larry Flynt
Intellectual property lawyer Joshua A. Lorentz is no stranger to big-name clients
Published in 2013 Ohio Rising Stars magazine
on December 17, 2012
Updated on February 21, 2013
When Hustler publisher Larry Flynt sued his brother in a trademark spat in Ohio in 2011, Flynt’s trial attorney looked to Joshua A. Lorentz for help.
“Mark [Vander Laan] gave me a call and asked if I had time,” says intellectual property attorney Lorentz, who works with Vander Laan, the head of litigation at Dinsmore & Shohl in Cincinnati. “And I think the true answer was ‘probably not,’ but I had to help out … Plus those types of opportunities don’t come around too often for anybody across the nation, let alone a Midwestern firm.”
Flynt, obviously, isn’t just another client. He’s notorious for pushing the boundaries of the First Amendment in his sexually graphic publications; and for winning a landmark 1988 U.S. Supreme Court case that boosted free-speech rights in the parodies of public figures. (Flynt had parodied evangelist Jerry Falwell, who unsuccessfully sued him for libel.) And in 1978, a man with white supremacist ties shot Flynt—leaving him partially paralyzed and wheelchair-bound—over his magazine’s interracial content.
“With other clients,” Lorentz notes, “there aren’t bodyguards, and people aren’t snapping pictures.”
Over a six-month period, Lorentz had a few dinners with Flynt and visited his Beverly Hills home. And with Lorentz’s help, Flynt won the legal dispute, barring his brother from using the Hustler name or other Larry Flynt trademarks for business purposes.
Only 37, Lorentz has been at the helm of the intellectual property practice at Dinsmore during significant expansion. He functions as counsel for LexisNexis, while remaining outside—a position that allows him to tailor his advice and supervise other attorneys, while keeping up with his other clients, including Corning and Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing North America. He also takes care of occasional trademark issues for the Cincinnati Reds.
His mentors sometimes have to help him put on the brakes when he tries to take on too much. “I like to do a lot of different stuff,” Lorentz says. “So there’ll be times when I’ll be like, ‘Hey! Let me do this, let me do recruiting, let me help with mentoring, let me help with evaluations, let me help with management.’”
“A lot of my mentors tell me to be patient,” Lorentz says, but taking action is his nature. “But it’s great advice and I try to heed it.”
Lorentz has pushed his firm’s intellectual property group from 15 to more than 50 attorneys. “If we wanted to continue to attract high technology-type of work and sophisticated IP work,” Lorentz says, “I knew that we had to grow.”
Many of his clients provide services and products that are used around the world every day. “So ramifications run very deep,” Lorentz says. “And it’s great to be trusted by any number of clients. When you’re talking about international affairs, the fact that Dinsmore can be trusted counsel is a real honor.”
Lorentz grew up in Arizona until his family moved to Centerville in 1988. He majored in science and political science at Ohio University. The summer before his last year of college, he worked in Washington, D.C., as a political analyst, and law school seemed like the natural next step. He found his niche at the University of Dayton School of Law.
“My eyes were opened to intellectual property and patent law,” Lorentz says. “It was something where I could use what I already had—the science background—with something I was interested in—law and politics—and they just stick right together.”
Outside of work, he runs half-marathons and unconventional races like dirt trail dashes in the woods. He’s a big fan of the Cincinnati Bengals (he has season tickets) and the Cincinnati Reds. He travels regionally with his wife, Bryn, and their 4-year-old daughter, Cameron, with whom he spends much of his free time. He and Bryn, an intellectual property attorney for The Kroger Co., met in law school, where they were both studying for the same practice area.
“We have a lot of interesting, slash, boring-to-most-people dinner conversations,” he says.
Lorentz’s work keeps him on his toes, which is the way he likes it.
“Whether it’s case law from the federal circuit … or whether it’s Congress implementing the America Invents Act,” Lorentz says, “there’s always something going on in IP. … The last ten years really have been an exciting time to be an IP attorney.”