An Interview With A Biglaw Partner Who Happens To Be A Transgender, Chambers Ranked, Hollywood Movie Producer

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Ed. note: This is the latest installment in a series of posts from Lateral Link’s team of expert contributors. Wendy Boone Jaikaran is a Director based in the Houston office where she focuses on associate, counsel, and partner placements in the Texas market with leading AmLaw firms and high-end boutiques. Prior to joining the company, Wendy was a Senior Partner with a national recruiting firm. Wendy started her career as an IP litigation associate at a well-respected IP boutique in Houston. She received her J.D. from Thurgood Marshall School of Law and her B.S. in advertising from The University of Texas at Austin.

I had a chance to sit down with one of the most interesting lawyers in Texas, my aunt, Ms. Danielle Joy “DJ” Healey.  DJ, formerly known as David Healey, is a well-known and respected intellectual property litigation attorney in Houston, where she is a Senior Principal at Fish & Richardson.

DJ was recently in the headlines when she announced she was transgender and made the decision to live as a woman.  With the help of her firm, DJ announced her transition to her firm and clients in July 2017.

“They ultimately worked with me and put together a plan on how to do this and how to notify people,” she said.  “They put an enormous amount of effort and time and energy into it.  It shows that the Fish family is really a family.”

While her transition has recently been big news in the legal community, there is much more to DJ.  DJ is one of the top-rated intellectual property attorneys in the U.S.  Some of her recognitions include being recognized as an “IP Star” by Managing Intellectual Property (2013-2017); listed in “The World’s Leading Patent Litigators” since 2011 by Intellectual Asset Management; ranked for Intellectual Property by Chambers Global since 2008; and listed in Best Lawyers in America, to name a few.

Did you know that DJ was the Executive Producer of a major motion picture?   A few years ago, DJ wrote a book called Kindness for the Damned, which she later made into a movie called Leaves of the Tree.  The movie starred Eric Roberts and was a huge success.  It has been recognized at numerous film festivals across the world.

Lucky for us, DJ agreed to let me interview her regarding her past achievements and recent announcement.

DJ Healey

How did you get into patent law?

I was a trial lawyer at a national law firm. In the early 1990s, patent litigation exploded and I was recruited by Arnold, White and Durkee, which was then a patent powerhouse, to boost their trial capacity.

Why did you ultimately make the transition to be transgender?

Being transgender is a physical condition that I fought for many years. As I got older, I realized this is who I am, I learned to accept myself, and eventually I had to live my truth without shame or secrecy to survive. I am the same person I have always been, and I hope other people will see me as the same person and same lawyer they have known for decades.

How did Fish & Richardson handle the transition?

Fish is a family. And like my own family, Fish embraced me and supported me throughout my transition. They worked with me to make a plan that provided for coordination of my announcement, outreach to clients and colleagues, and meetings for co-workers to field questions. With Fish’s support, my colleagues and clients were able to see I am the same person and the same lawyer I have always been, and I have had tremendous support from everyone. Fish continues to support me in my efforts to show people I am still a go-to lawyer. Fish’s handling of my transition shows how by embracing inclusion and diversity you build the best team: that by doing right, you also do well.

How has the transition positively or negatively affected your legal career?

It has been a huge positive for my life, which makes it positive for my career. I have been released from the background noise of suppressed feelings, and now am focused on patent litigation full force. I have also developed a renewed commitment to pro bono civil rights work. I firmly believe we are a stronger, better, and more prosperous society when we embrace each other and refuse to allow hate to divide us.

What made you decide to make a movie?

I am not and never have been in the movie business. My family and I made our movie out of passion for our specific project: a story of family and healing I had written during a serious illness several years ago. This was a one-time labor of love that I will always be proud of, but I am a patent litigator, not a movie producer.

What has been the biggest triumph in your legal career?

Recently, in WesternGeco v. ION, I was able to come in for ION after it lost a verdict for patent infringement and damages to eliminate hundreds of millions of dollars of exposure to supplemental and enhanced damages. We also eliminated nearly $100 million in lost profits damages on appeal, which is now the subject of a pending petition for certiorari at the Supreme Court. I have had other big wins in the past, including In re Alcatel, the seminal Texas Supreme Court case on Apex depositions (the deposition of high-ranking corporate officers); a confidential arbitration award over telecom patent royalties where my client prevailed against a claim for over $400 million; and a confidential settlement in a medical device case that I believe remains one of the largest patent infringement settlements in Texas.

DJ, thank you for your time.  We are very proud of you!

Just like Wendy is proud of DJ, Lateral Link is very proud of Wendy Boone Jaikaran, one of our award-winning recruiters.  If your firm has lateral needs or you are an attorney interested in discussing the Texas market, Wendy can be contacted at WendyBoone@laterallink.com or 713-535-9085.


Lateral Link is one of the top-rated international legal recruiting firms. With over 14 offices world-wide, Lateral Link specializes in placing attorneys at the most prestigious law firms and companies in the world. Managed by former practicing attorneys from top law schools, Lateral Link has a tradition of hiring lawyers to execute the lateral leaps of practicing attorneys. Click ::here:: to find out more about us.

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An Interview With A Biglaw Partner Who Happens To Be A Transgender, Chambers-Ranked, Hollywood Movie Producer
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