Dance and Louboutin Red Soles: The Doors That IP Opens and How Loyola Walks You Through Them

I took a few years off after college to figure out exactly what I wanted to do. I majored in neuroscience but wasn’t interested in pursuing a career in research or medicine. In the meantime, I was a professional dancer for a NHL team, but knew my time as a dancer was limited. Through lucky breaks and following the signs in front of me, I stumbled upon intellectual property (“IP”) law at Loyola.


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My IP journey started with an internship that initially had nothing to do with IP. I had just graduated from college with my neuroscience degree and was trying to figure out my next move. A friend remembered that I loved my civil liberties class in college and recommended I ask a judge if I could intern for them. It was a hard sell to get a judge to allow a non-law school student to work for them. I was persistent and landed a job. I quickly began to understand why judges preferred law students: it was like listening to a different language. As trials were happening, I would write down words I did not understand and then ask the judge about them at the end of the day. I really can’t believe how little I knew then compared to now after almost a year of law school!

The lunch that sparked a career

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I spent months listening to inspirational women advocate fiercely for their clients and watching wide-eyed as they creatively captivated their juries. I couldn’t think of a more rewarding job than being a lawyer. I spoke to the judge about not feeling like the typical law student since I didn’t think my background would offer me any help in law school. I wondered how a degree in neuroscience was going to help me answer cold calls in constitutional law or how I would transition from writing hard science research papers to trial briefs. He suggested I look into IP law.

To help me understand what that was, he set up a lunch for me to speak with an attorney that had worked on a Louboutin trademark case related to the red sole of their shoes. We talked for what felt like hours as she guided me through all the facets of IP law. You mean I could work on patenting a life-saving neurological device while advocating for another client’s dance choreography and another’s fashion design as an IP attorney? I was immediately sold!

Putting it all together

I have been a dancer my entire life. I cherish dance as a way to creatively express emotions and connect with others. To be able to combine my life-long fascination of expression and innovation with my new-found passion of advocating for protection of creative works feels well worth the hard work I soon found out that law school requires. I am a culmination of all my experiences and interests, so to find IP law applicable to so many of them makes me wonder why I would do anything else. IP law opens doors for me to do work that is powerful and meaningful.

IP at Loyola

To be close to important family connections, I decided Chicago was the city I wanted to start on this new path in. I set out to find the right fit for an IP law education. I was lucky enough to take a tour of Loyola before the pandemic hit and was able to talk to students about the breadth of the IP program. I spoke with Professor Cynthia Ho, the director of the program, who walked me through all of the opportunities that Loyola could provide. Loyola assists its students entering the IP world with events such as the patent law interview program, a specialized IP legal writing course, and the ability to take an elective that relates to IP law in your first year. Learning about these programs showed me how much the school actually cares about the professional development of its students. I immediately felt a sense of belonging at Loyola.

Loyola so far

So far, every expectation I had of Loyola has been surpassed. Even through a pandemic! The professors are truly the most helpful people I have ever met. They possess the patience and knowledge to teach daunting topics to law students despite the challenges of a virtual medium. These professors are complemented by tutors for every single 1L (i.e., first year) course, unlike many other schools. The tutors are 2Ls or 3Ls that received excellent grades in the course and host weekly tutor sessions.

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My property law tutor happened to have majored in engineering and was able to help me in my transition from thinking in absolutes as a science major to the subjective, grey line thinking that the law requires. She gave me a piece of advice that changed the trajectory of my entire law school career. She told me to stop trying to fit myself into someone else’s idea of what a law student should be and focus on the way my own brain learns (lots of flashcards). I ended up with an excellent grade in property because of her and a spot on the Dean’s List.

Another rarity that Loyola provides is the ability to take an elective course in the Spring of your first year. I chose Genetics Law. I get to spend a few hours every week talking through genetic innovation and limitations through bioethics and regulatory scrutiny while making my own connections to IP such as gene patenting.

There’s no denying that I am at home at Loyola and in IP law.

Mackenzie Pike
Assistant Blogger
Loyola University Chicago School of Law, JD 2023