When in San Fran

The MSPL shading the San Francisco sun in their new sunglasses after visiting law firms during the day

The MSPL shading the San Francisco sun in their new sunglasses after visiting law firms during the day

A post from our student blogger Catie

The MSPL’s week in San Francisco has come and gone, and it was quite an experience! I’m still trying to comprehend all of the adventures, stress, and valuable lessons that we took in during the week. By the end, we were all exhausted and ready to get home, especially because winter weather kept us in Chicago for an extra night. Nonetheless, it was a week for which I am incredibly grateful. I could write a blog post about each day of the trip, but I’ll just provide an overview for the sake of brevity.

We arrived in beautiful San Francisco with a turbulent plane landing on a rainy Sunday. We visited the scenic Half Moon Bay and walked around the adjacent town. This would actually turn out to be the only day that we would do any site-seeing, as we were constantly on the go for the rest of the daytime hours of the week. Monday through Friday, we conjoined bright and early looking professional in our business clothes, and the program directors drove us “ducklings” all around San Francisco and San Jose to visit various law firms and companies to learn what kind of different paths can be taken in the career of patent law. This was beneficial in two ways: the MSPL’ers could interview these patent law professionals to gain an honest view into what patent law careers are like, and Notre Dame could begin forming connections out in California to facilitate the hopeful beginning of a Notre Dame satellite MSPL program out west.

This trip was inspired by the Notre Dame initiative to begin a satellite campus in California. As we learned during the trip, California is bursting with innovation, start-up companies, and venture capitalists. The Silicon Valley is soon to house the newest satellite USPTO office, which will inevitably make it an epicenter for patent law and intellectual property. Therefore, the MSPL presence and networking in California will likely (and hopefully) be a fruitful interaction in the future!

Over the week, we visited with many IP professionals, probably about half of which were Notre Dame alumni. We listened intently as they described their own paths that brought them into field. They told us about the ups and downs that they experienced in their careers thus far, and we asked them as many questions as possible to gain all the knowledge that we could from them.

Numerous speakers left us with the two same sentiments: 1) it is incredibly important to make sure that we are doing what we love while surrounded by people with which we feel accepted, and 2) in our careers, we should continuously ask ourselves “What are the bigger problems that need to be resolved?” instead of “What endeavors will earn the most money?”. In short: it is of highest importance to enjoy what you do while also working hard and striving to make a difference. I found this advice very fitting, as I believe it flawlessly matches the vision and mission of Notre Dame.

There are high expectations for Notre Dame students, and as much as that fact may be intimidating, it is always so comforting to firsthand see how the notorious Notre Dame Family not only supports you, but genuinely believes in you. Although working in San Francisco is not necessarily in my master plan, visiting the area was an amazingly eye-opening and welcoming experience, and I strongly believe that some members of my “patent family” will excel there in the upcoming years.

Speaking of the “patent family” that the bloggers like to speak of, I’m sure you’re wondering how we survived a solid week of “family togetherness”. We definitely became a little sick of being around each other around midweek, and we were definitely ready to go home to our own rooms and sleep in our own beds by the end. That being said, I think we learned a lot together as well as learned a lot about each other, and I think it ultimately made us better friends. We spent every evening going out to dinner as a group, and a few of us took every opportunity that we could to explore San Francisco together in the evening. Overall, the trip was incredibly exhausting, but I don’t think that any of us are ever going to forget this incredible experience or the people that we spent it with. If anyone is considering the MSPL or any other Notre Dame program, I think you will find that it will be the best decision of your life!

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