Student Spotlight: Collin Kurtenbach

In the spring of 2012 I graduated from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign with a degree in Bioengineering. Following graduation I began working at Cardinal Health, which is a medical manufacturing and distribution company. From July of 2012 to June of 2013 I worked as an engineer in R&D designing various medical products such as suction canisters, durable medical equipment, and monitoring devices. In June of 2013 I moved over to Cardinal Health’s Intellectual Property department and focused primarily in patent law. The majority of my work involved working with the marketing, R&D, and the legal teams to ensure products we were planning to launch were clear of competitor patents. However, I was also tasked to build patent portfolios of competitor products, meet with the R&D team to create product design arounds, and assist the IP team in prosecuting patent applications. Prior to my work at Cardinal I hadn’t the faintest idea of patents and their importance in developing technology. But by August of 2013, I was completely hooked. Thus, I decided to begin the process of applying to law school.

From the moment I decided to go back to school, I knew I wanted it to be in Chicago. Therefore, I spoke with various attorneys and asked their opinion on law schools in the area. All of them informed me of the benefits of attending law school in the city so I was confident in the schools I had chosen. The hard part, however, came in making the actual decision of where to attend. What I was unaware of at the time was the strength of each respective school’s Intellectual Property program and the impact that would have on my decision of where to study. Having just finished my first semester a few weeks ago, I can confidently say the decision to attend Loyola was the right one for me.

After my acceptance into Loyola, the first question I asked myself was, would I fit in? Prior to making my decision of where to attend, I was invited to an IP reception at Loyola with IP students, alumni, and professors. There, the director of the IP program, Professor Cynthia Ho, personally introduced me to several students studying IP and others that were nearing graduation. The first thing I noticed about them was the confidence and ease with which they spoke about their time at Loyola. I asked each one of them why they chose Loyola and although each answer differed slightly, all their responses contained a common thread. Loyola was the school they felt the most comfortable at; the school they believed could point them to the career they had envisioned for themselves. What I gathered from my visit was that the IP program at Loyola was a close-knit community where students worked hand in hand with professors and alumni to excel in school and find full time positions. This was exactly what I was looking for in a law school. People who shared the same aspirations as myself, and access to professors who were willing to help me reach them.

Another reason I chose to attend Loyola was because of the specialized legal writing course and “lunch and learns” with the director of the IP program. The IP legal writing is just like the other necessary legal writing courses, but instead of writing memos about property law disputes, I was writing about copyright and patent issues. This gave me the opportunity to expand my knowledge on IP and develop writing samples, which I can confidently submit to IP firms in hopes of finding a clerkship for the summer. Similarly, as a participant in this specialized legal writing section I was allowed to attend professor led discussions on current IP topics. These discussions were facilitated by Professor Ho and have included overviews of patents and copyrights thus far. I had already decided that I wanted to focus in patent law, but these sessions provided me with information on IP topics I was unfamiliar with. Moreover, I know for a fact some students in these sessions with me have come away with a greater appreciation for an area of IP and a desire to study it more in depth. Similarly, I have been invited to various events both inside and outside of school where I can learn about IP law and meet current practitioners. The opportunities that Loyola has provided me in just this first semester have been amazing and have instilled even more confidence in my choice

When it finally came time to make the decision, I felt Loyola was the best fit for me. As I mentioned, I spoke with several attorneys in the Chicago area and all were confident that studying IP law in the city would provide me with various opportunities post graduation. However, when I asked them where they would go given the choice today, they said Loyola. Their recommendation was based not only on the strong IP curriculum that Loyola embodies, but also the strong fundamental legal education that all law students receive there. This combined with the above elements, led me to choose Loyola. I felt that Loyola and specifically those within the IP program made a conscious effort to reach out to me and make me feel welcome. Whether it was current students, professors, or alumni, I sensed that everyone I met wanted the best for me and would do all they could to make sure I was successful. The program here may not be as well known for IP as some other schools in Chicago, but I believe that is part of what makes it unique. With smaller class sizes and one on one interaction with professors, I know I have the opportunities and access to resources here that will enable me to be a successful patent attorney.

Originally posted on 1/14/15 on the Law School Admissions blog.