Seeing his uncles, Brian Edwards, a Kentucky Circuit Court judge, and Andrew Vazquez, a California immigration attorney, work with the law inspired Willamette Law student William Grasty JD'21 to pursue his own legal education. For Grasty, his uncles embody the values of integrity, perseverance and compassion. He witnessed the impact their work had on others' lives, which impacted Grasty greatly and influenced his own career path.
After graduating from the University of Tennessee, Grasty became a research assistant at Stanford Law School and later worked as a legal clerk at Electronic Arts, a video game company. Both experiences solidified his desire to pursue a career in business law at Willamette Law.
"What brought me to Willamette was the strong sense of community and the beautiful campus," Grasty says.
In the spring of 2020, Grasty participated in the College’s Business Law Clinic.
"What drew my interest was the opportunity to build relationships and work with passionate entrepreneurs who were just starting out," Grasty explains.
He wanted to help enhance a client’s vision by providing a service and creating value. Through a referral from the Chemeketa Small Business Development Center to the law clinic, Grasty met Sam Parra, who was looking for assistance in trademarking his logo, a stylized “P” made from vines.
"Mr. Parra was my first client,” Grasty says. “He was born and raised in the Napa Valley area, and I'm from Sunnyvale, so I felt there was an immediate connection between two people from Northern California now pursuing their passion in the Willamette Valley."
Parra struck him as a passionate, driven individual. His desire to help other under-represented groups get into the wine industry had a galvanizing effect on Grasty.
Parra started his business, Parra Wine Company, in 2019, to pursue his passion for winemaking and support under-represented groups in the business. Parra is a co-chair of AHIVOY, a nonprofit organization that empowers and creates opportunities for Latinx and Hispanic vineyard workers in the Willamette Valley to overcome socio-economic challenges.
Reflecting on his experience with the law clinic, Parra says it was the resource he needed while starting his company with a small budget.
"William Grasty was a true professional from the start to the end of my trademark process, always following up and explaining what was taking place with my trademark," Parra says. "I feel honored and lucky to have received trademark assistance from Willamette Law. As a minority owner, starting out on a shoestring budget, this is the assistance my company needed from the beginning to protect my branding."
Grasty says the Parra logo trademark's most significant challenge came from researching whether it was likely to be federally registerable. It was the perfect practical opportunity for Grasty to work with trademark law.
"Most emerging businesses start out with limited funds, so our research and ability to analyze and convey information in layman's terms was crucial," Grasty says.
The information Grasty provided allowed Parra to decide which of his marks were likely to be approved and registered and determine whether to apply with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) or the Oregon Secretary of State.
"In the Business Law Clinic, you learn the value and benefit of teamwork,” Grasty says, “and I had the support of two amazing partners, Dylan Knapp [3L] and Julie Preciado [JD’20]."
After nearly a year of work navigating the USPTO, the Parra Wine Company's logo has been approved for publication and was recently published in the Trademark Official Gazette. The logo now has nationwide protection, which is essential if the company becomes a national brand.
Grasty describes his time in the law clinic, directed by Professor Warren Binford, as being similar to a law firm atmosphere that challenges students and instills the value of completing high-quality work."Working at the Willamette Business Law Clinic provided me with an extraordinary opportunity to build conceptual and organizational skills, work with start-ups at a very early stage of their existence, and shape my future by carrying these tangible, invaluable skills into my planned area of practice," Grasty says.
Binford observed that from the beginning, Grasty recognized the potential of the law to empower members of historically marginalized groups by supporting them in creating successful business ventures and nonprofit organizations. It was inspiring, she commented, to “sit behind the glass” and watch his client interviews with Parra as they discussed his life managing other people’s vineyards and his dream to one day manage his own, she says.
"William believed in his client's dream and worked around-the-clock learning everything he could about Mr. Parra's intellectual property and how to protect it to ensure that his client's dream will continue to come true, one legal protection at a time," Binford says. "William's work with Parra Wine represents the very best that Willamette's Business Law Clinic has to offer clients and students who recognize the power of transformational lawyering."
In the future, Grasty will continue to help emerging businesses and nonprofits like Parra Wine. He expects to graduate with his JD in 2021.
About Willamette University College of Law
Willamette University College of Law became the first law school in the Pacific Northwest when we opened our doors in 1883. Our location in Salem, Oregon, directly across the street from the state capitol and Supreme Court, is an advantage that cannot be matched anywhere else in the region. Our thought-leading scholars advance and promote the shared responsibility we have to make a difference in society, which is why justice, fairness, and equality lie at the heart of everything we do.
We produce the best problem solvers, community leaders, legal dealmakers and change-makers in the most innovative and exciting region of the country. We have had three straight years of remarkable growth in academic achievement as measured by bar passage rates and consistently have the highest graduate employment rates among all Oregon law schools—including among the best on the West coast.
We are a dynamic force within our university’s vision of an “Only at Willamette” education and have worked to develop one of the most forward-thinking, creative programs in the country. Our student-centric approach manifests in the robust experiential learning opportunities we provide alongside curricular strengths in public service, business law, advocacy, international law, and health law.