Rick is the litigation half of Aaron & Sanders, PLLC; and, from 2012 to 2014, an adjunct professor at Vanderbilt University Law School, where he was teaching Copyright Law. Vandy also happens to be where he got his law degree in 2000. After graduation, he practiced at a major intellectual-property law firm in Silicon Valley for a few years. He returned to Nashville in 2004, where he worked for a large Nashville firm, practicing as much intellectual-property law as he could, but also a lot of commercial law. He left that firm in 2011 to start Aaron & Sanders with Tara Aaron, so he could practice intellectual-property law full time and work with start-ups and other non-institutional clients.
The “Tell Me More!” Biography
Rick has been hooked on intellectual property, and especially the Internet, for as long as he’s been a lawyer. He graduated from Vanderbilt University Law School in 2000 into the midst of the “dot-com” boom—and bust. His practice started with a well-known Silicon Valley law firm in 2000, and his first two cases involved downloading music over the Internet. Since then, he has handled matters involving VOIP telephony, encryption software, online bidding systems and a certain hit song. Of course, he’s also handled just-as-important but less sexy matters involving corporate divorces, breached sales contracts, backbiting among VAR salespeople, poorly drafted software licenses, a wayward yellow-pages advertisement and building materials (twice). These matters covered copyright, trademark, patent, trade secrets, the Stored Communications Act, state privacy laws and internet privacy issues, among others.
Rick is a litigator, which means he handles lawsuits (and arbitrations and whatnot)—not necessarily just for intellectual property. He’ll advise you when you feel that your rights have been violated and when you’re being threatened with a lawsuit. More important, he’ll help you before a legal dispute is on the horizon, because the best lawsuit is the one that never happens. Rick will help you steer clear of unprofitable legal disputes while shoring up your rights to discourage lawsuits.
When a legal dispute is on the horizon, you’ll need frank advice about how and when to cut a deal, fold or go all in. And when a lawsuit is necessary or unavoidable, Rick is there to build your case, navigate the intricacies of the rules of procedure and the rules of evidence and just plain fight hard—all with one eye on the “meter.” Although Aaron | Sanders is a small firm, our cases don’t have to be small, thanks to the magic of technology and outsourcing.
As you might expect, Rick writes and speaks frequently about intellectual-property, internet and free-expression issues. A list of his more significant articles and speaking engagements may be found in his curriculum vitae. Rick has been teaching copyright law at Vanderbilt University Law School (you can read one of his exams, annotated, starting here. He regularly judges moot court for both the local Vanderbilt competition and for the national First Amendment moot court competition; for the Davidson County mock trial competition.
Tell Me Even More!
Rick was born and raised in Silicon Valley (Mountain View, to be precise), and while he doesn’t understand why anyone would voluntarily move there (given the cost of living), he loves his hometown. He recommends Red Rock for coffee and Amber for Indian food.
Still, Rick can’t believe his good fortune that he lives in Nashville now (since 2004—over 10 years!), and his even better fortunte that he and his family live in the Belmont-Hillsboro neighborhood near Sevier Park, 12South commercial district, and Belmont University. You can also find him once or twice a week at West End United Methodist Church.
Before becoming a lawyer, Rick was a collegiate instructor (a “lecturer,” which is a full rung below “assistant professor”) in English composition, literature and western civilization, mostly at Lawrence Technological University. Ironically, in composition, he used to teach his students “not to write like a lawyer.” He taught a lot of Shakespeare, but his favorite class to teach was “Literature and Science,”, which posited that science (together with its ally, technology) and literature (together with its ally, religion) had a lot to teach each other if they’d only listen.
If you’ve read this far, you’ll be completely unsurprised to learn that Rick’s tastes run toward the geeky: science fiction (The Left Hand of Darkness is the best ever), fantasy (thought Lord of the Rings was cool before Peter Jackson did), satire (the market on which is currently cornered by Sir Terry Pratchett), Studio Ghibli movies (top three, in order: My Neighbor Totoro, Princess Mononoke, Sprited Away), Pixar movies (top three, in order: The Incredibles, Toy Story 3, Up), graphic novels you have to keep away from your kids (e.g., Sandman), graphic novels you let your kids read (e.g., Bone), lots and lots of webcomics (e.g., Girl Genius, Gunnerkrigg Court, The Order of the Stick) and computer games (to be honest, the only one he’s finished since becoming a lawyer is Portal because it’s so short). He also can quote almost the entirety of Montey Python, Star Wars, Star Trek (original and Next Generation), The Princess Bride and Indiana Jones (well, the two that didn’t suck).
Rick also enjoys listening to Lightning 100; reading whatever YA fiction his elder daughter makes him read (which aren’t all about young heroines in dystopic futures, just most of them). Rick listens to most of his music via a purple click-wheel iPod nano, which he regards as the height of modern product design.
Where’s Rick’s CV?
You can read Rick’s full curriculum vitae here.