There is a change in the works for Iowa’s Intellectual Property Law Society. At their first meeting of the 2017-18 academic year, the student-run interest group announced they would be restructuring their mentorship program to improve outreach.
“In the past, we matched up each interested first-year student with a second- or third-year mentor, but we found the mentees felt less inclined to reach out to their mentors in such formal setting,” said IP Society co-president Lauren Taylor (3L).
“So now we’re opening it up to more informal get-togethers where groups of first years and upperclassmen can meet up to talk about intellectual property topics for a coffee hour,” she explained. “The goal is to create an environment where students are seen as peers as well as mentors. We want people to be comfortable asking questions, even discussing difficulties with law school, all while having a supportive group behind them.”
Taylor noted, though, that this is an expansion rather than sea change, as the IP Society is still happy to set up one-on-one mentorships for those who request them.
For returning members of the interest group, like vice president Sam Crocker (2L), the new policy offers the best of both worlds.
“When you start off in law school, it seems like you’re playing a game and don’t know the rules,” he said. “Being able to talk with a mentor really helps with everything, from finding out what interests you to making it all work with your schedule. [The IP Society] helped me get my feet under me when it came to figuring out my career path.”
Crocker, who is organizing an IP alumni panel for October, hopes to foster that sense of self belief for everyone at Iowa who is interested in pursuing a career in intellectual property.
“I want everyone to see that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel—that they can be intellectual property lawyers at the end of the day,” he said.
Last year’s alumni panel featured Charles Verhoeven, an IP litigation partner at Quinn Emanuel in San Francisco, Allison Kerndt, an IP litigation and prosecution partner at Nyemaster Goode in Des Moines, Alex Olson, an IP litigation partner at Carlson Caspers in Minneapolis, Scott Claire, a business development manager at John Deere in Moline, and Stephen Baird, an IP litigation and prosecution shareholder at Winthrop & Weinstine in Minneapolis.
In addition to hosting alumni and student panels, the IP Society also helps Iowa Law students network with professionals, navigate the curriculum, and engage with prominent guest speakers working with patents, trademarks, copyright, and other areas of IP law.
This year’s first IP Society-sponsored speaker will be Stephen Baird, who will be giving his talk, “Trademark Registration & Free Speech: An Insider’s View on Challenging Disparaging Trademarks,” on September 15 at 12:40 PM in BLB room 235.
The IP Society will then welcome Electronic Frontier Foundation legal director Corynne McSherry on September 28. She will speak about copyright laws and freedom of expression, with a focus on the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, at 12:40 PM in BLB room 235.
“I like the fact that we’re creating opportunities for students to hear from real practitioners about their research and personal experiences,” said treasurer Emily Sample (2L). “Overall, I’d like people to feel like we’ve expanded our reach, that we’ve been a helpful resource for all branches of IP.”
Sample echoed the sentiments of her fellow board members when she said she hoped students would look up the IP Society “just so they know us and know they can get hands-on experience as they figure out where they want to go with their careers. We’re here to help students get in touch with real people.”
The Iowa IP Society Board
Co-Presidents: Lauren Taylor & Megan Hingtgen
Vice President: Sam Crocker
Events Coordinator: Libby Martzahn
Treasurer: Emily Sample
Public Relations Coordinator: Arianna Chronis
Professor Jason Rantanen