From Construction to IP Law

How it Started

If you asked me five years ago whether I could picture myself in law school, I probably would have said no. Back then, I was working towards my Bachelor of Science in Environmental Engineering at University of Notre Dame. I thought I would later pursue a professional engineering license as that is common for civil/environmental design engineers. After graduating from Notre Dame, I worked as an engineer and project manager for a general contractor in Chicago. As a project manager, I would oversee all aspects of a construction project. After two years there, I started to think that maybe I didn’t want to be a professional engineer. I wasn’t enjoying the work a professional engineer does. The only thing was, I didn’t know what other path to take.

While I was still working, I decided to spend some time talking with prior professors and Notre Dame alumni. I asked about the kind of work they did and what they liked about it. One of my former professors encouraged me to reflect on what I liked about my job. I told him I liked being able to problem-solve every day. I also liked that there was no day quite the same as the next.

Photo by Doug Beilke

That’s when he introduced me to one of his colleagues at Notre Dame’s law school. For whatever reason, after speaking to this professor it clicked for me. We talked about his studies in environmental law, and I loved hearing about his experiences. Law school seemed like it could be the next best step. I was drawn to the idea of advocating for others. I liked my time working as an engineer, but I didn’t want to move further into project management or work towards a professional engineering license. I am interested in the problem-solving and analytical work integral to the practice of law, which is similar to engineering. So, after deciding on a career switch, I picked up the dreaded LSAT practice book and started researching law schools.

Getting to Loyola

When looking into law schools, I looked first at the ones located in Chicago. I loved the city and wanted to remain in Chicago if I found a school that was a good fit. When I visited Loyola University Chicago School of Law, I was immediately struck by the sense of community. I was fortunate that a handful of Loyola alumni were nice enough to speak to me about their experiences. It seemed like every alumnus I spoke with talked about how many resources were available at Loyola. They also spoke about how connected they felt with the professors and administration who really care about them.

When I was applying to law schools, I was interested in a few areas of law. Intellectual property (IP) law was definitely one of them. I wasn’t quite sure what studying IP would be like or what it really was. Before accepting my admissions offer at Loyola, I participated in an admitted students’ session that Professor Cynthia Ho, the Director of Loyola’s Intellectual Property Program, spoke at. She talked about IP law and the classes she taught. I was immediately intrigued and wanted to know more. I was lucky enough during my first semester of law school to have Professor Ho as my Civil Procedure professor. When I interacted with Professor Ho through class, she mentioned the IP Law Society, the IP classes she taught, as well as the Patent Job Fair that Loyola hosts. All of these definitely caught my attention.

Enrolling in Loyola was one of the best decisions I have made! The professors, staff, and administrators made me feel welcome right from the start — even over Zoom calls during a global pandemic.

Why You Should Do it, Too!

I’ll keep it short and simple. If you want to study IP law, you should highly consider Loyola.  With only one semester of law school under my belt, I already feel like I have gotten the chance to network with many alumni who do IP work. For example, I participated in an IP speed networking event in early spring, which was great timing as I searched for summer jobs. I met with 20+ attorneys who work in IP and learned about their day-to-day jobs. I’ve also been able to talk with 2L and 3L’s who are focusing on IP law and have gotten jobs in IP. I took the specialized IP Legal Writing class during 1L Fall and Spring, where I was introduced to more in-depth discussions on patent law and copyright law. I am taking Professor Ho’s “Global Access to Medicine: A Patent Perspective” class this semester, which has been great so far. We are currently learning about how different countries formulate their patent requirements to provide broader access to drugs.

Basically, if you have any interest at all in IP, you should talk to Professor Ho. From my short time at Loyola, I know that she is always willing, ready, and excited to introduce students to any IP opportunity and will always point you in the right direction to learn more.

There is so much to study in IP law and that prospect excites me. Loyola has such a strong IP program, and great extracurricular IP groups, like IP Bytes and the IP Law Society. All of this makes Loyola an excellent choice for any and all interested in IP law.

Madeline Thompson
Assistant Blogger
Loyola University Chicago School of Law, JD 2023