From a Life Science Degree, into IP

Photo by Louis Reed, licensed under Unsplash

My path to an interest in intellectual property (IP) started with earning a bachelor’s degree in Genetics. I spent four years learning how complex our genetic code is. Classes in genetics, biology, and chemistry were enough to make my head spin. While I enjoyed learning science, I  was always more interested in the real-life applications of the science I was learning. I was most interested in learning about how scientific developments could be used to help people. To explore this interest, I began to learn more about what happens with genetic research outside of a lab. I began to read more about how advancements in genetic are used in day-to-day life.

What I learned was that there are many legal implications to genetic research, especially with biotechnology. This research was my first introduction to the world of patent law.

My Road to Loyola

Photo by Inaki Del Olmo, licensed under Unsplash

As it turned out, I wasn’t the only one of my undergraduate classmates interested in patent law. Some of them went down the path of becoming patent agents. A patent agent is a non-lawyer qualified to correspond with the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to obtain patents. I wasn’t certain this was what I wanted to do because I wanted to keep my options open to learn about a broader range of legal issues related to genetics and biotechnology, like ethical issues and regulations. So, I decided to look to law school.

I was initially drawn to Loyola because I noticed some of their faculty members had life science backgrounds and I’d heard about their Health Law program from my pre-law advisor. When I visited campus and toured the law school, I immediately felt that this was a school that truly cared about their students. For example, I was impressed to learn that first-year students at Loyola can take electives focused on life sciences and patents. Among these elective courses are Genetics Law and Policy and Global Access to Medicine: A Patent Perspective. At the time, I didn’t know how interesting I would find the intersection between health law and patent law. The point where health law and patent law meet is exactly where I want to be. On my tour I also learned that Loyola’s Health Law program is nationally ranked. This, combined with their strong IP program, solidified Loyola as my top choice.

Great Expectations, Met.

Once I got to Loyola, all of the opportunities I’d heard about came to life. For example, Loyola offers several options for students to have a more specialized first year legal writing experience. In these writing sections, all assignments are focus on one area of law, such as health, public interest, and IP. I was accepted into Loyola’s health law writing section. In our class, we researched and wrote about legislation related to healthcare and how it can apply to a medical malpractice claim. These specialized writing sections are great opportunities to learn more about your potential legal interests!

Additionally, because your writing assignments become the writing sample you submit to potential summer employers, having a focused assignment shows employers you have dipped your toes into a specific area of law and are interested in learning more. Participating in a specialized writing section can also make your writing sample stand out since not all Chicago law schools offer this opportunity.

Opportunity Knocked, I Answered

Photo by Muzammil Soorma, licensed under Unsplash

I came to Loyola with the intention of specializing in life science law. But even in my first couple semesters I have learned about and gained experience with IP law. This is in part because I decided to join Loyola’s IP Law Society and the Health Law Society. Through these student organizations, I have attended exciting events such as panel discussions and speed networking. I have also learned a lot about different opportunities within IP by reading my classmates’ posts on this blog!

On top of offering great programs in IP and Health Law, Loyola is in a world class city! There are so many opportunities in Chicago. I’ve had great opportunities to network, find jobs, and eat great food. I moved to Chicago even though classes haven’t been in person this year. Living here has been a blast despite the COVID-19 restrictions. Running and rollerblading on the Lakefront trail have been awesome ways to see the city. I’ve also explored the different neighborhoods in Chicago by grabbing a coffee from a new place or finding restaurants that offer outdoor seating.

Overall, Loyola offers a great environment to learn and grow in. If you are still navigating your interests, there are a multitude of opportunities to explore at Loyola. In addition to so many opportunities, there is always a friendly face to talk through them with you (even over Zoom)!

Madison Causey
Assistant Blogger
Loyola University Chicago School of Law, JD 2023