In June 2015, rising 3L Justin Bossard participated in the HNBA/Microsoft Intellectual Property Law Institute in DC, a week-long intensive IP event for 25 Hispanic law students from across the country. Jorge Contreras, an Associate Professor at the University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law, also teaches each year at the event.
In the interview below, Bossard discusses the process through which he became involved in the institute, describes the opportunities for learning and career development that he gained through his involvement, and encourages fellow students to pursue similar opportunities to build a professional network.
Congratulations on being selected to participate in the HNBA/Microsoft Intellectual Property Law Institute. Can we start by detailing how you learned about this event and the criteria involved in selecting participants?
I became aware of the program through our very own Professor Jorge Contreras. Professor Contreras — who is very involved with the Hispanic National Bar Association at a national level — sent the members of the Minority Law Caucus an invitation to all students with a connection to the Hispanic community to apply to this year’s program. This message was facilitated by Professor Robert Flores, our faculty advisor. At that point in time, I already knew about the existence of the Hispanic National Bar Association, yet I was unaware of the program they were hosting in conjunction with Microsoft Corporation.
Concerning the application criteria, applicants had to be a rising 2L or 3L in good standing, demonstrate an interest in the field of intellectual property law as a potential practice area, submit a résumé, transcript, references, and most importantly, a personal statement explaining your interest and objectives concerning the study of intellectual property law.
Describe the event. For example, who were your fellow attendees and what were your major takeaways?
The event took place during the first week of June of this year at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. The format included lectures from distinguished professors and practitioners in the field of intellectual property law, as well as visits to regulatory institutions, such as the United States Patent and Trademark Office and the United States International Trade Commission. One of our visits included the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, where we listened to oral arguments in front of Chief Judge Sharon Prost, and later were treated to a visit to Judge Jimmie Reyna’s chambers where he shared with us his experiences and advice drawn from his career as a practicing attorney and judge.
The students that attended this event were drawn from multiple law schools around the country, a fact that helps to emphasize the rich diversity that exists within the Hispanic community. Additionally, such an event presented the ideal setting to practice our networking skills, since the interests involving intellectual property that converge upon Washington, D.C. had representatives from the financial, marketing, entertainment, lobby, plus many other industries. In other words, the people and setting in a place such as that lends itself to anyone willing make the right type of connections for the future.
On a similar note, how did your classes and other experiences at the College of Law help to prepare you for the experience?
Although I had dabbled in the idea of learning more about intellectual property law during my first year, I really began to take the area more seriously when Professor Amelia Rinehart (who was my Contracts professor as a 1L), mentioned at some point that she was teaching an Intellectual Property Survey course in conjunction with Professor Terry Kogan during the following year. Originally, my intentions where to take the class to satisfy my intellectual curiosity on copyrights and trademarks (probably stemming from too many hours spent playing video games in the past), yet I ended up learning so much more, that the following semester I immediately signed up for Professor Rinehart’s Intellectual Property Seminar class. Under her guidance, the seminar class became another opportunity to refine my writing skills in the area, thereby helping me to become better prepared to understand the intellectual property legal issues discussed by my instructors and peers when I arrived in Washington, D.C.
Would you encourage your fellow students to participate in institutes and events of this type outside of class? If so, why?
Absolutely. The first reason is that it is very common for students in our discipline to be bombarded with several academic opportunities that most of the time we dismiss either because of a lack of time, or simply because we possess an: “Why should I bother if I am not going to even be selected” attitude. Applying to all the opportunities presented to us is the key to get our names out in order to network and participate in the activities that hold special interest to us.
For example, participating in this year’s HNBA/Microsoft Intellectual Property Law Institute has afforded me the opportunity to publish next year an upcoming piece on trade secret law in the realm of video games and the startup industry. If I had decided not to apply thinking that I was not going to be selected, the opportunity to create a meaningful academic work would never have become a reality.
The second reason I think students should apply to these types of events involves the opportunity to build relationships with individuals who eventually will become mentors throughout your career. From my own experience, I believe that if one is able to build a lasting relationship with an individual willing to provide you with feedback on your writing, help focus your research, counsel you in the practical aspects of being a lawyer, introduce you to new contacts, etc., such a relationship can help make the journey to become a lawyer a far richer experience, and perhaps even an easier one.
Any final thoughts you would like to share about the experience and how it is applicable to your studies or future career plans?
Nothing else but to thank the good people at the Hispanic National Bar Association and Microsoft Corporation for granting me and my fellow peers with such an amazing opportunity. I fully intend to use what I learned to further my academic and professional goals in the field of intellectual property and beyond.