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Pathways to the Profession: Rui Li L’17

August 03, 2015

Editor’s Note: Each summer Penn Law students hone their skills through a wide array of private and public sector internships across the country and around the world. Generous financial support and fellowships for international and public interest work enable students to pursue diverse assignments in the United States and abroad. This dispatch from Rui Li L’17 is one in a series of firsthand accounts by Law School students about how their summer employment opportunities are preparing them for their legal careers. Li is from China and is interested in patent law.

This summer I am working in the intellectual property (IP) department at Baker Botts LLP Palo Alto Office. As a physics and mechanical engineering major before law school, I have always been interested in IP. The internship at Baker Botts provides me with a wonderful opportunity to explore the IP practice at the hub of technology and innovation.

As an intern, I draft legal documents for IP litigation, file Responses to Office Actions for patent prosecution, and help prepare for client pitching. I also conduct legal research for software licensing, inter partes review, and client counseling. Outside of the IP department, I participate in the pro bono program at the law firm and reach out to the local community. The learning curve has been tremendously steep, but thanks to my wonderful colleagues at the law firm, the experience has been both challenging and rewarding.

My favorite part of this summer is the cross-disciplinary nature of the IP work. Both patent prosecution and patent litigation involve distinguishing current inventions from prior ones, which requires constant learning of new technology. Having not studied science since law school, I was thrilled to return to my geeky science world again and indulge myself in innovative ideas. Meanwhile, the classes I took at law school, particularly Legal Practice Skills and Intro to IP, prepared me for legal writing and provided me with a basic understanding of IP law. I was therefore better able to interpret legal documents and elaborate on inventions in my own writings.

Another aspect of the internship that I deeply appreciate is the opportunity to discover role models. In one virtual pro bono project, I accompanied an experienced attorney who was consulting with seven clients on a one-on-one basis within two hours. Despite the limited time, the attorney answered all the clients’ questions and provided legal advice on issues ranging from divorce to disability benefit. All the clients left with the information they needed, and the attorney’s efficiency, sympathy, and dedication to public interest also left me with a deep impression. Besides the pro bono project, I also found role models through other occasions such as attorney meetings and phone conferences. These role models helped me reflect on what it means to be a good lawyer and inspired me to perform better.

As the summer approaches the end, I look forward to bringing the insights I gained through the internship back to law school. In addition to taking more IP courses, I will continue to hone my basic legal skills in researching and writing. Furthermore, I would also love to follow the example of my role model this summer and dedicate more time in pro bono services, applying my legal knowledge for the greater benefit of local community.

- Rui Li


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