The Unspoken Strength of Loyola’s Intellectual Property Program

The first thing my law school classmates asked when I shared that I had a science undergraduate degree was – “Oh, so are you thinking of IP law?”

Surprisingly, I did not even know much about Intellectual Property (IP) law until I came to Loyola. When applying to law school, I heard about Loyola’s prestigious health law program and decided, prematurely, that that’s what I would do. It seemed like the best of both worlds with my background – healthcare in a legal setting. However, it was not until I started 1L that I realized (1) how my true interest is in IP (and specifically patent law!) and (2) how great the IP program is at Loyola.

My journey to Loyola

Why was I interested in health law in the first place? Like many others pursuing a science degree, I was on a pre-medicine (pre-med) track during undergrad. I loved science and I thought that was enough to become a doctor.

After graduation, I started a pre-med post-baccalaureate program. In the program, I quickly realized that I did not have the passion to become a doctor like my peers did. After much deliberation, my career path was clear to me. I withdrew from the pre-med program to enter law school, but I made sure not to stray away from my science roots. After all, I loved the research work and the experience I gained during my undergraduate program. As I transitioned to law school applications, Loyola stood out to me because of its top-ranking health law program and location in downtown Chicago. At the time, not being familiar with IP or patent law, I applied to the health law legal writing section to learn more about the field early in my law school career.

The beginning of IP

After settling into law school and my health law legal writing class, I felt like exploring other avenues. While I enjoyed the content of health law, I wanted to get as much exposure as possible to different fields of law! I was comforted by the fact that Loyola had a variety of different organizations that students could join to learn what they were interested in. I first encountered IP law when I was walking through the student organization fair and stumbled upon the table for the IP Law Society (IPLS). I met Professor Ho, and she told me about her spring elective involving patents in global medicine. The phrase “Global Medicine” stood out to me – I didn’t realize that there was another area of law that was related to medicine and healthcare. I was immediately intrigued and signed up for the first IPLS meeting. After reading more about the elective course description, I realized the difference between health law and patent law. Patent law highlights the innovation within science, while health law supports the practice of science itself in the field of healthcare. A career towards supporting innovation brought me more enthusiasm and curiosity. How cool would it be to work with cutting-edge technology that could change people’s lives?!

My interest in IP at Loyola

Early in the fall of 2022, I attended the first IPLS event of the semester. As a 1L with absolutely no clue about the field, the organization and Professor Ho did an amazing job teaching us about the different career paths in IP. I learned about “soft” and “hard” IP, where “soft” IP included areas of practice regarding trademarks and copyrights while “hard” IP regarded patent law. IPLS sparked my interest in IP and kept it going. One of the most useful resources given by the organization was the option for 1Ls to have a mentor for the year. These were 2L or 3L students who would help 1Ls learn more about how to enter IP law and give them networking and academic resources. My mentor alone gave me a vast number of tips for someone interested in IP law like myself. Throughout my journey into the world of IP, I found some really helpful students who were willing to share their knowledge and love for the field!

I met a 2L at a diversity panel who worked at a patent prosecution firm and offered to share his experience with me. We met at a coffee shop a week later, and he talked to me about the recent patent related classes he had taken. He pulled out his notes and showed me detailed descriptions of the projects he worked on. He described the process of writing a patent application and the amount of detail required to work in this area. He was able to give me a small glimpse into the work that helps bring an innovation to life; I remember thinking how amazing it would be to assist in matters concerning innovation and the satisfaction it would bring to see something on paper one day become a real product –a real product that could potentially improve people’s lives.

Other explorations in IP

After becoming more familiar with IP law, I attended an IP panel hosted by IPLS. This was by far one of the most interesting and useful events to gauge my interest in the field. IPLS had attorneys from varying backgrounds come to Loyola and speak about their careers. I learned about patent law and how it differs from other IP fields. Patent law is more science-based and technical than other IP fields such as trademarks and copyright law. This is what drew me in and cemented my interest since I realized I could use my science background in this field. Additionally, I had the opportunity to network with the attorneys. Many of them had a background in hard sciences or engineering and used their technical knowledge in patent law. I learned about the difference between patent litigation and prosecution and how a litigator’s day is more unpredictable and varied than a patent prosecutor’s. They are constantly working with different technologies, and as I talked with them, I became excited at the thought of doing work like that.

Another event that solidified my interest in IP was the networking event held by IPLAC. This was a speed mentoring event that invited law students from Chicago to network with attorneys working in the IP field. There were 10 tables (each with 2 attorneys) and 10 rounds – each group of students had 6 minutes to talk to the table of attorneys and learn as much as they could from them as possible. Each table had at least one attorney who was practicing in the “soft IP” field and one practicing “hard” IP. Before the event (and right as it started), I was so nervous and overwhelmed by the number of attorneys I saw at the event. Ultimately the number of attorneys wasn’t overwhelming because of the genuine kindness and welcoming spirit each shared. The organization and the attorneys truly cared about the students and their future success. In just six minutes per table, I not only learnt about the variety of opportunities available in IP, but also about general professional skills and felt more confident with my decision to go into this field. I remember walking out and feeling elated that I knew the direction I wanted to go in law.

So, why IP at Loyola?

In addition to the above reasons, Loyola’s staff and students truly care about encouraging 1Ls to explore and find their interests. Upperclassmen are eager to share their resources and knowledge. Student organizations, outside of IPLS, such as Women’s Law Society and Student Bar Association purposefully matched 1Ls with 2L mentors interested in IP law, which gave me varying perspectives from different 2Ls. While Loyola’s health law program is spoken about, the IP program is not spoken about enough. Loyola does a phenomenal job of putting in the effort to not only host events where students can learn about the IP field but encourages them to participate in events held by organizations outside of Loyola. I’m excited to see how the program grows and how I (and other students) grow with it!

Siya Mahesh
Assistant Blogger
Loyola University Chicago School of Law, JD 2025