Student Spotlight: Kara Smith

Next fall I start my final year at Loyola and can sincerely say that attending Loyola has been the best decision I’ve ever made. For one, the student body here is incredible and caring – not cut-throat or insanely competitive. On top of that, the professors, deans and career services staff go above and beyond to help students make the most of their time here and work towards securing their dream job.

Before Loyola
I graduated from Purdue University in May 2013 with a BA in Law & Society, a BS in Psychology, and minors in Forensics, Communications and Classics. After graduating, I took a year off and worked in corporate immigration law here in Chicago. When I chose Loyola, I was undecided on what type of law I wanted to study, but I knew I wanted to practice in Chicago. I ultimately chose Loyola because of its tight-knit community, vast network and for its outgoing students and staff. I’ve since found my niche in Intellectual Property (IP) and Tax law, and I cannot imagine a better school to study at, nor better professors to study under. My objective with this blog is to show prospective and current law students what Loyola’s Intellectual Property law department has to offer.

1L Year
As a 1L at Loyola, there are dozens of opportunities if you’re interested in IP. For one, Loyola has a specialized intellectual property legal writing course where you’ll write a legal memo focused on a copyright issue or a trademark issue instead of a general legal issue. You can also take an IP elective during your second semester called Global Access to Medicine: Patent Perspectives. The course is taught by the Director of the IP program, Professor Cynthia Ho, and it discusses countries’ differing IP systems and how the varying IP laws each country adopts can affect global access to medicine. I learned a lot about the world in this course and it touched on extremely interesting topics – topics I would later find myself discussing for fun while interviewing for my 1L summer job. As a 1L, Professor Ho also provides you with an IP course plan, which lists all the classes Loyola provides that prepare students to practice IP law.

Outside of coursework, the IP department continues to go above and beyond. It frequently hosts IP career panels, IP speed mentoring and other networking events. At IP career panels and speed mentoring events, Chicago IP attorneys come to talk about their careers – how they got where they are, what they love about their job, what’s up and coming in the field – and they’re always open to questions and willing to provide advice. More than a few times I’ve gotten coffee or lunch with an attorney afterward to talk IP law and get tips.

On top of the coursework and networking events, the IP department keeps you informed when volunteering opportunities arise. Professor Cynthia Ho is like your own personal advisor because she is always on the look out for opportunities she knows YOU will like. She will even email you telling you how to sign up, where the event is, and why she thinks you’ll enjoy it. For example, when I was a 1L, Professor Ho emailed me regarding a volunteering opportunity with Loyola’s Street Law Program, which teamed up with Jenner & Block and General Electric attorneys to teach IP law to Chicago high school students. Not only did I have a ball talking IP law with some of the most brilliant high school students I’d ever met, but I also got to meet attorneys dedicated to giving back to our Chicago community. This opportunity also opened my eyes to the possibility of working in-house, which I ended up doing my 1L summer at GE Global Research in New York. Of course, Professor Ho met one-on-one with me before I started my summer job and walked me through all the IP resources I might find helpful while working that summer. She has truly been the best mentor and professor!

2L Year
During 2L at Loyola, the IP courses are top notch and I found them especially helpful when I started working at an IP firm my 2L year. For those of you who plan to work in IP as a 2L, (remember you don’t need a science background to do so!) I highly recommend taking the IP Survey your first semester 2L year. The course covers Trademark, Patent, Copyright, Trade Secret and Right of Publicity Law, and it lays a solid foundation for working in IP. To me, it was immensely satisfying and exciting to see topics we discussed in class applied in the real world.  Also during 2L year there are several networking events hosted by Chicago firms that Professor Ho notifies you about, and she keeps IP students in the loop whenever IP firms are looking to hire a law clerk or a summer associate!

As for the other half of 2L year, I of course took a lot of the courses listed on Professor Ho’s IP course list. One was Advanced IP Legal Research, which teaches you how to best utilize IP resources when researching IP litigation issues, transactional matters or making an application to the USPTO. Again, if you plan to work in IP during your 2L year, this class is essential and the professor, Nan Norton, is always there to help you find what you’re looking for. Additionally, Copyright with Professor Matthew Sag, who used to practice copyright law in Silicon Valley is another class I took this past semester and found challenging, practical and rewarding. In Professor Sag’s class, he treats you like first year associate at a law firm and asks you to write memos and counsel clients with current copyright issues. I lastly participated in the Chicago IP Colloquium, which is an opportunity for Loyola students to read and respond to newly written IP articles and discuss the issues in-person with the scholars from around the country. The topics were always thought-provoking, and some of them were really quite genius.

I already have to thank Loyola’s IP program and professors for reaching out, providing constant guidance and mentorship, and for providing practical, yet enjoyable (and challenging!) coursework. The IP department here is truly unique and bordering on the magnificent. And although I still have another year to go, I am confident that Loyola has prepared me to be a successful, happy, practicing IP attorney.

If you have any questions about Loyola, please feel free to email me at

Originally posted on 6/16/16 on the Law School Admissions blog.