The Magic of the Unknown: Discovering IP at Loyola

Young Iris with snow white
Photo taken by Nora Gomez and permission granted by Nora Gomez

For as long as I can remember, creative storytelling, imagination, and magic, have always captivated me. From, fascination with Disney at an early-age to getting a degree in theatre design in undergrad, I remain engaged with my creative side as much as I could.

However, it was not until my first semester at Loyola University Chicago School of Law that I learned that the magic I loved, like my favorite movies and Broadway shows, was actually intellectual property (IP) protected by law. IP refers to the rights given to individual’s or company’s creations such as inventions, brand names, artistic work and more.

Loyola worked its magic and introduced me to new career paths in the legal world just a few weeks into my first semester of law school. If not for my professors and student mentors, my law school journey might have looked very different. In such a short time, I learned so many new things that made me feel right at home. Here are the top five magical things Loyola taught me about IP and the legal field:

 

1. I Don’t Know What I Don’t Know.

My life journey can be characterized by a commitment to embrace the unknown. Over a decade ago, I immigrated to the United States from Mexico. This pushed me to transform my inquisitive side into one of my most significant assets. As a first-generation student, law school was a challenge that I needed to de-mystify. The only thing I was sure of was that I was committed to learning as much as possible.

I first discovered IP at Loyola when I heard the words trademark infringement (unauthorized use of a trademark) in Professor Ho’s civil procedure class. Since the class did not revolve around IP, hearing the word trademark quickly caught my attention. In another class, she mentioned the importance of attending events to learn what the school had to offer. Shortly after that, I attended an Intellectual Property Law Society (IPLS) meeting. That meeting enabled me to learned more about IP and its intersection with food, artificial intelligence, entertainment, justice, and more.

My curiosity quickly took over. I started googling more about IP. I asked questions to IPLS members like Maddie Domenichella, my IPLS mentor. Learning about IP was a great reminder that there are so many things I don’t know and that my exciting curiosity can be a great tool to help me discover them.

 

2. IP Is NOT Just About Patents. 

Following an IP career panel, I learned about patent law (law that protects new inventions) and was disappointed to hear that it often requires a STEM degree which I do not have. The disappointment quickly disappeared when I met more people involved in IPLS that did not have a STEM background. I continued conversations with Professor Ho about what careers in IP areas such as trademarks, copyrights, and trade secrets might look like for me.

I know that this is just the beginning, and I am so excited to continue learning through the IP coursework Loyola offers.

 

3. IP is everywhere. 

Iris with Sponge Bob
Photo taken by Connor Johnson and permission granted by Connor Johnson

I realized all my creative endeavors, from my themed birthday parties and high school plays to my favorite Broadway shows, were surrounded by intellectual property. Little did I know, I was gossiping about IP to my friends and family on social media about topics such as Pitbull’s Grito trademark, the infamous Taylor’s Version drama (read Ashton Duke’s IP Bytes post about it), or even how the SpongeBob SquarePants cartoon became a musical. (I love musicals, but this was just strange to see on the stage).

Without question, the most remarkable find was seeing IP in theatre. From the script to the stage, nearly every step in the process, like playwriting, set design, music composition, and even merchandise, was IP that could be protected by law. Seeing my theatre passion and background collide with the legal world I recently entered was one of the highlights of my first semester of law school.

 

4. Not All Jobs Look The Same. 

After attending IPLS events and talking to different people in the legal field, like my Intellectual Property Law Association of Chicago (IPLAC) mentor, Gary Friedlander, and fellow Loyola law student, Alex Angyalosy, I learned that careers in IP can be found in litigation (the process of contesting and resolving disputes in the legal system) transactional law (the process of helping clients with their business transactions or deals), and beyond. Many of these opportunities exist outside the courtroom setting. Some lawyers work for law firms, schools, the NBA, and of course, even at Disney and Broadway!

The more I learned, the more it became clear to me that there are many sides to IP. More specifically, there is room for people without a STEM background (like me!).

 

5. You Can Never Ask Enough Questions!

As an inspired extrovert, I was so eager to ask questions about IP. Luckily, Loyola offered a space where many people were more than willing to answer my many questions! From professors and students to alumni, people in the Loyola bubble were enthusiastic to  share their experiences.

At the beginning of the spring semester, Loyola partnered with IPLAC to host a speed-networking event at the law school. During the event, I met many attorneys who shared their journeys in intellectual property law at firms, in-house, and non-profit work. At the event, I asked  many attorneys questions like “what keeps you engaged with your job?”, “what were some pivotal steps in your journey that got you here?” or even “what advice would you give your law student self?” Hearing the answers to these questions only made me even more excited about what future career has to offer.

Even though I love networking, there was ‘something special’ about the Loyola spirit that excited people to connect with students. The ‘something special’ created a magical community fostering support and mentorship, which were pivotal to my transition to law school.

I came to law school ready to learn with an open mind regarding my future legal career. However, finding parts of law that may also bring magic to life was truly unexpected.

In just a few months, law school changed my way of thinking. It expanded my perspective on many things, including IP law. I look forward to expanding this experience throughout the rest of my time at Loyola and continuing the tradition of magical support!

 

Iris Gomez

Assistant Blogger

Loyola University Chicago School of Law, JD 2025