Pathways to the Profession: Grace Greene L’ 20
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 post from Grace Greene L’ 20 is one in a series of firsthand accounts detailing how students’ summer employment opportunities are preparing them for their legal careers.
Greene completed her undergraduate education at Clemson University and hopes to work as an intellectual property litigator.
This summer, I am working for Desmarais LLP, an intellectual property litigation boutique in New York City. With an undergraduate degree in microbiology and prior experience working with patents, I came to Penn interested in intellectual property, but I was determined to explore other areas of law. Although I thoroughly enjoyed administrative and constitutional law, I decided to stay true to my roots and take a position working in patent litigation.
I chose Desmarais because of their focus on trial work and their many training opportunities. The case on which I am currently staffed is set to go to trial in August, and so far, I have spent my days combing through depositions, reading expert reports, working on jury instructions, attending client meetings, drafting questions for cross-examination of witnesses, and brainstorming portions of an opening statement for an upcoming mock trial. While I have used the research and writing skills I learned in Legal Practice Skills on a daily basis, the critical thinking skills I gained from all of my law school classes have been the most helpful, as many of the tasks I am assigned go well beyond what is taught in the first year of law school.
So far, my favorite part of the summer was a recent trip to California, where I traveled with several other summers, associates, and partners to attend a pre-trial conference. The briefs, orders, and motions I had been reading for weeks came to life, as I got to see the attorneys in action before the judge. Several times during the conference, the judge issued orders from the bench, which provided insight into how the attorneys’ arguments influenced her opinion.
Throughout the summer, Desmarais has provided great mentorship opportunities. Desmarais does not utilize the billable hour system, which results in a highly collaborative atmosphere where associates focus not on meeting hourly requirements but on efficiently producing high-quality work. Every attorney I have talked to has been willing to answer my questions, no matter how trivial, or to grab lunch to talk about current projects or life at the firm.
Desmarais has also provided intensive trial practice skills training, which has been one of the most formative aspects of my summer experience. Each week, the firm provides a brief training in different areas of patent litigation, ranging from the basics of claim construction to an overview on local patent rules and counsel. In July, I will participate, along with all of the other summer and junior associates at Desmarais, in a three-day mock trial training. Working in groups of two or three, we will conduct a mock medical malpractice trial, starting with voir dire and finishing with the jury verdict. Leading up to the trial, the partners lead numerous lunch-time classes teaching us how to address a judge and how to utilize the rules of evidence. So far, this training has allowed me to bolster the substantive knowledge I gained in Civil Procedure and Intro to IP with real world trial practice skills.
This summer has confirmed my interest in litigation and intellectual property, and I plan to bring my newfound trial practice skills to Penn in the fall. I am grateful for the substantive legal opportunities and mentorship that Desmarais has provided, and I hope to continue to learn from the talented and hard-working litigators at the firm.