Meet Brett Trout, ’92

Brett Trout is talking to a client in Manhattan about an Internet-related innovation. Earlier, he discussed a patent for a new area in large manufacturing with a London-based client. This afternoon he’ll be on the phone to Melbourne with an independent inventor. But this evening he’s looking forward to racing his motorcycle through fields outside Des Moines.

“The beauty of my job is that thanks to the Internet I have clients all over the world, who I can serve just as well as an attorney whose office is down the block from the client. At the same time, I get to enjoy the quality of life here in Iowa,” says Trout, who grew up in Des Moines and still has a large family there, including his two kids.

When Trout started at the University of Iowa College of Law in 1989, the Internet was not a household word. Trout, who’d graduated from Grinnell with a degree in chemistry and had spent a year working in a factory, knew that he wanted to become a patent attorney. What he couldn’t know then was how enormously the field of intellectual property would change as a result of the Internet and the expansion of technology. He couldn’t foresee that it would be possible for him to build a law firm with international clients, or that he’d eventually write three books and a treatise on Internet law.

Today, Trout works with manufacturers and inventors from all over the world. He believes the scope of his work is possible not only due to the Internet, but also because of his training at the Iowa Law School.

“The great thing about Iowa Law is that it teaches you to think,” he says. “It gave me a good feeling for the fundamentals of the law and provided the basic tools that I’ve been able to adapt.”

As an example, he says that one of the best classes he took during his three years of law school was Criminal Law. “I don’t do anything related to criminal law in my present work,” he says, “but I use the underlying ideas and tools of that course regularly. Iowa grads don’t perform template, cookie-cutter law; they learn to think and become creative lawyers.”

Brett Trout is one of many Iowa Law School graduates who are making a difference globally, while still calling Iowa home.