Law School

Summer Series: Breaking the Glass Ceiling in IP Law

It’s another Summer Series post! The series where law students, law grads, and pre-laws share what they’re doing for the summer. Today we hear from Cassidy, a rising 2L who will share about her experience in intellectual property—one of the more difficult areas of law to break into because it’s one of the few that does require a specific background, but Cassidy is doing it! Let’s hear more from her!

Hello everyone! My name is Cassidy Aranda, and I am a rising 2L at Chicago-Kent Law School. I am currently working as an Intellectual Property Summer Associate at Ice Miller in Chicago. Intellectual Property focuses on protecting people’s innovations. Intellectual Property (IP) Law deals with patents, trademarks, trade secrets and copyrights. IP can protect innovations varying from an artist’s new song to a quantum computing chip! My journey to IP Law started back in high school. As a member of the Science Olympiad and Mock Trial teams, I could not decide between my love for building science projects and my passion for presenting a case in front of an audience. After researching career paths for my Senior Exit Interview, I found IP law to be the perfect combination of my two interests. 

As the first woman in my family to pursue an engineering degree, the first two years of undergrad were intimidating, but I took every opportunity to increase my technical skills. As president of the Society of Women Engineers, I developed and presented a renewable energy project at the world’s largest conference for women in engineering and technology. As the electrical lead for my senior project, I created a solar-powered drone that delivers payloads of medicine to those living in hard-to-reach places. These experiences and others allowed me to rise against my initial self-doubts because I proved to myself that I could be an engineering leader. I learned the value of troubleshooting and relentlessly pursuing a viable solution even when it seems all hope is lost. In 2020, I was the sole Latina to graduate from California Baptist University’s Electrical and Computer Engineering Class. Working for this degree was one of the most challenging yet empowering achievements of my life. 

After undergrad, I gained work experience as an Integration Test Engineer for the E/A-18 Growler Fighter Jet at The Boeing Company. In between lab testing sessions, I networked with in-house Boeing lawyers who worked on intellectual property matters. These conversations helped me shape my pathway in law. Boeing’s lawyers suggested I spend time in a big law firm after law school to gain the skills and training necessary to succeed as an in-house attorney. I studied for the LSAT, applied for law school, and selected Chicago-Kent because of its technical law class offerings. At Kent, I am on the Journal of Intellectual Property and a board member of the Hispanic/Latinx Law Student Association, the Lambdas, and the Art and Cultural Property Law Society. During 1L, I was a member of the Diversity Attorney Pipeline Program. This program aims to increase the number of women of color entering the legal profession. Scholars undergo professional development and academic coaching in preparation for a summer position at a law firm after their first year of law school. After going through the DAPP interview process, I landed a job as an IP summer associate at Ice Miller. 

As a summer associate, I wrote my first Office Action to the United States Patent and Trademark Office. An Office Action communicates the changes patent examiners and lawyers want to make to a patent application so the inventor can successfully obtain a patent. I wrote a blog for Ice Miller’s website titled “Hermès Case Could Determine How Courts Assess Trademark Rights in Connection with NFTs.” This article gained so much traction that Lexology reposted it on their website. Travel-wise, a client of Ice Miller sponsored my trip to the Association of Corporate Patent Counsel’s Summer Meeting in the Chesapeake Bay. While here, I networked with IP lawyers from Google, Caterpillar, Procter and Gamble, and Raytheon. We discussed ways to increase inventor diversity and heard from USPTO Director Kathi Vidal. Vidal received an electrical engineering degree, worked as an engineer for Lockheed Martin, and became a Silicon Valley managing partner and patent litigator before becoming the USPTO Director. It was inspiring to see another woman with a similar background to mine be successful in IP law! 

Another highlight of my summer was going to Washington D.C. to attend the Hispanic National Bar Association’s Intellectual Property Law Institute. Every year, the HNBA selects thirty Hispanic scholars to attend this conference. At IPLI, scholars receive the tools and connections needed to succeed in IP law. The main goal of this conference is to increase the number of Hispanic lawyers practicing IP law which is less than two percent. We heard from Honorary Judge Jimmie V. Reyna and Honorary Judge Kara Stoll of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. This Court has exclusive appellate jurisdiction over all U.S. federal cases involving patents, trademarks, and other various categories. The scholars and I visited the U.S. Copyright Office, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, multiple law firms, and tech companies. While there, top intellectual property attorneys informed us about design patents, trademark prosecution, and how the Executive Branch deals with IP. I highly recommend this experience to any Latinx interested in pursuing a career in intellectual property law! Even if you do not have a STEM background, you can still pursue a career in IP law.

I am currently studying to take the Patent Bar exam. This license allows an attorney or agent to practice before the USPTO in trademark or patent matters. I plan to work on patent litigation and prosecution matters across electrical engineering and tech industries. As an art lover, I plan to use my IP skills to legally protect BIPOC and queer artists’ creative expressions of art. I strive to share my life experience with other Latinas looking to pursue careers in engineering and law. Connect with me on LinkedIn and follow me @TheEngineeringBaddie on TikTok for more law school and tech content. Feel free to reach out if you have any questions