From Health Law to Loyola to IP

My path to intellectual property began with an interest in healthcare law.

When applying for law schools I considered three things. I wanted to be in Chicago.  I wanted a supportive environment like my undergrad experience.  Lastly, I wanted a logical place to pursue my healthcare interest.

I started at Loyola with the hopes of exclusively pursuing healthcare law, but after a year in the program, my interest has grown to include intellectual property law (“IP”).

From IP in Civil Procedure to Global Access

My interest in IP began with Civil Procedure.  During my first semester, I was lucky enough to take Civil Procedure with Professor Ho.  She is an expert in IP law and the Director of Loyola’s IP program. She would briefly provide IP examples in class to explain certain civil procedure concepts.  I was fascinated by the subject matter.  At the time, however, I did not know I would become interested in IP law.

As the end of the first semester was approaching, students had to start registering for spring semester classes. We were able to choose our first elective. I was excited, but also overwhelmed.  There were so many options, but I could only choose one! After reading through the list, I noticed Professor Ho’s elective. It automatically drew my attention. It was titled Global Access to Medicine: A Patent Perspective.

I have had an interest in access to medicine and healthcare for a long time. When I was in college, I was on the pre-medicine track. I wrote an honors thesis regarding accessibility to health services by patients who did not speak Portuguese as a first language in Brazil.

The class meshed with my initial goal of pursing healthcare law. I also loved the idea of taking another class with Professor Ho, because I really enjoyed her teaching style. The only doubt that I had was whether I could take a class focused on patents without an official degree in science.

From my limited knowledge about patents, most attorneys that go into patent law have a science background. I reached out to Professor Ho.  She assured me that no science background was needed for the class. I also spoke to several students who had taken that class in the past and loved it. Therefore, I enrolled in the class.

From a Class to a New Career Path Option

As the second semester progressed, I grew more and more interested in patents and IP. During Professor Ho’s class we talked about patents and how they affected drug prices.  This obviously impacts access to medicine. I started to see an intersection between healthcare and IP. I realized that I was interested in pursuing a legal career that combined both of those areas.

During the semester, I began going to IP events at Loyola.  I attended a speed mentoring event.  The event enabled me to connect with twelve attorneys who practiced in that area in short sessions. My interest in IP grew with every event that I attended. I met many patent and IP attorneys, who focused on patent prosecution and patent and trademark litigation. Hearing them talk with so much passion about their jobs made me want to learn more about IP.

For example, I met an attorney who worked for Uber, and it was so interesting to hear about how his job was always dynamic. There was always something that he had to work on, and it was different every day. The attorneys encouraged me to pursue IP.

By the end of the semester, I was so proud to see how much I had learned about patents, but also very sad that the class was over. However, there were other classes I could take. The curriculum planning provided insight into what IP classes I could take for someone interested in pursuing a career in IP.

I decided to participate in Loyola’s Patent Interview Program. The Patent Interview Program provides students with the opportunity to apply and interview with firms and companies that focus on patent issues. I obtained several interviews through the program, and I really enjoyed meeting the IP attorneys who interviewed me.

Currently, I am enrolled in the IP survey course, and I am impressed by everything I am learning about trade secrets, trademarks, copyrights, and patents. My favorite part of the class is being able to apply concepts that we learn. Applying the concepts helps me see what a real job in IP would look like.

My new home at the IP-health law intersection

At Loyola, I have found a home.  I knew initially from talking to current students and alums that it would be the supportive environment I was looking for. And, although I initially was worried about the way that I would fit in, my worries were unfounded.  Loyola has been everything that I wanted in a law school and more!

I had the opportunity to explore areas of law and topics that I did not even know I was interested in. Loyola introduced me to IP.  And it gave me the opportunity to explore the intersection between IP law and healthcare.

Since starting at Loyola, I have had the opportunity to connect with my classmates and my professors, despite the challenges of being completely remote. So many of my professors, as well as my tutors, went out of their way to foster a friendly environment for us to get to know each other, even if it virtual.

One of my professors ensured that we always were in breakout rooms during our ten-minute break to be able to get to know each other. Some of my tutors opened their Zoom rooms on certain days just to give us an opportunity to ask any questions that we had about law school generally, beyond just the class materials.

As you can probably already tell, I have loved my time here at Loyola.  And, I can’t wait to see what else Loyola has in store for me!

Doris Cikopana – Associate Blogger

Loyola University Chicago School of Law, JD 2023