This limited podcast series hosted by Kilpatrick Townsend Partners Kimberlynn Davis and April Abele Isaacson features today's leading women and men in the patent bar. Each of the episodes is a candid conversation between groundbreaking legal practitioners about their career paths, the obstacles they overcame in reaching success, and the steps we as a profession must still take to close the gender and diversity gap in intellectual property law and the patent bar.
Anthony Jones: Limitless
Anthony Jones is an enrolled member of the Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe of Washington and an intellectual property attorney. An associate at Perkins Coie, his practice focuses on patent matters, including prosecution & portfolio counseling, involving complex technologies such as telecommunications, artificial intelligence, machine learning, cryptocurrency & blockchain, and software-based technologies.
Anthony’s journey to the practice of IP law includes a variety of legal experiences. He served as an in-house attorney for the Tulalip Tribes, focusing on tribal governance, economic development, and Tribal court litigation. He was also an appellate and pro tem judge for the Northwest Intertribal Court System and a hearing examiner pro tem (trainee) for the City of Seattle Office of Hearing Examiner. In 2021, he was named one of the 20 under 40 honorees by Kitsap Leadership. He is currently the president of the Northwest Indian Bar Association.
An avid tinkerer from childhood, Anthony first set his sights on an engineering career and therefore applied and was accepted to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, from which he graduated with a B.S., Engineering. But when he realized that a career in engineering would not provide an outlet for his people skills, he changed tacks and embarked on a career in the law. Then, Anthony made another small course correction to fully embrace both his engineering background and his legal training by passing the patent bar exam after studying for it on his own.
Anthony grew up steeped in the traditions, culture, art, and living history of his Tribe. From a young age, he participated in Tribal journeys with his grandfather, building his capacity for perseverance, determination, and success. In this episode, Anthony shares how growing up on the reservation instilled in him a strong sense of self and allowed him to pursue his dreams - without limits.
From growing up on a reservation to culture shock at MIT (3:24) Being in a place where you’re one of just a handful of people like yourself (5:31) Coping with implicit bias from a young age (6:53)A precursor experience to becoming a lawyer (7:55) Stretching one’s wings and finding new challenges (10:51) Handling imposter syndrome and gaining a feeling of belonging (12:45) Living history (14:16)Finding the perfect way combine one’s soft skills with one’s engineering expertise (17:20)Finding a community in law school (19:37)The value of a solid grounding in tribal culture (22:53)Tribal journeys that build a strong sense of self and the ability to persevere (24:38)Art as a means of keeping Native American traditions alive and passing them down to future generations (30:28)Walking in two worlds: Native American cultural traditions vs. BigLaw (34:45)The shocking rarity of attorneys in general – and IP attorneys in particular - from Native American backgrounds (37:05)Using your status as the first or only person in a situation to set an example for others (39:49)Learn More:
Anthony's artwork on MV Chimacum, "Thunderbird Moon" - via West Sound MagazineAnthony's artwork in Burke Museum - "Coast Salish art piece will welcome visitors to the New Burke"**The opinions expressed are those of the attorneys and do not necessarily reflect the views of the firm or its clients. This podcast is for general information purposes and is not intended to be and should not be taken as legal advice.**
Bree Black Horse: I Am Here
Bree Black Horse (Indian name: Prized Woman) is an enrolled member of the Seminole Nation of Oklahoma. A self-described “legal warrior,” she focuses her practice on Native American affairs & litigation, and is admitted to numerous tribal courts.
Bree’s legal career spans a variety of roles and experiences, including working on a wide range of cases, both criminal and civil. In addition, she worked as a youth advocate and case manager for United Indians of All Tribes Foundation, where she worked with formerly homeless young adults in transitional housing. She also served as a judicial extern to Chief Judge Theresa M. Pouley in the Tulalip Tribal Court, a legal clerk in the Office of Tribal Justice at the U.S. Department of Justice, and a law clerk to the Hon. Brian M. Morris in the U.S. District Court for the District of Montana.
Bree’s work has garnered many recognitions and awards. In 2021 and the three years immediately preceding, she was recognized as a Washington “Rising Star” for Native American Law by Super Lawyers magazine. Bree was also recognized in 2022 as one of the "Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch" for Native American Law by The Best Lawyers in America®. In addition, Bree received the Public Service & Leadership Award from the Washington Young Lawyers Committee of the Washington State Bar Association in 2019 & the “40 Under 40” Award from the National Center for American Indian Economic Development.
Bree grew up steeped in Tribal traditions, culture, and art. Regularly attending powwows – and performing in them – she listened to tribal elders as they discussed the issues and concerns facing Native American communities. Realizing that many of these matters have legal aspects, she decided that she could best serve her community by becoming a lawyer. In this episode, Bree tells us how her career journey is inextricably linked to the unimaginable suffering that Native Americans have endured since the United States was formed and how her people’s history forged her determination to conquer adversity, stand tall, and be counted.
From Powwow to law school (3:15)A mother’s wish comes true (04:25)Power Royalty and public speaking (05:43)The Nordstrom gig that helped support a family, build leadership skills, and pave the way to law school (08:44)Stepping into a brand-new world (12:20)A bracing dose of straight talk (14:14)The gift of adversity (17:53)Serving the law-school community and leaving a mark (21:00)Being the only Native American person in the room; representing a people who experienced government-led ethnocide and genocide (22:21)The forced assimilation campaign against Native Americans and the Trail of Tears (24:40)Becoming a legal warrior for Native American rights (31:02)The power that comes from knowing who you are (32:45)Finding multiple opportunities to serve the community as a lawyer (35:08)Impact litigation through the ACLU (38:47)The epidemic of missing and murdered indigenous women (40:37)The disproportionate service of Indian veterans (49:28)The opportunity inherent in being the first or the only (53:10)**The opinions expressed are those of the attorneys and do not necessarily reflect the views of the firm or its clients. This podcast is for general information purposes and is not intended to be and should not be taken as legal advice.**
Conversation on Mental Health
In this special episode, hosts April Abele Isaacson and Kimberlynn Davis are joined by Kilpatrick Townsend Communications Manager (and co-producer of the Sidebars by Kilpatrick Townsend podcast) Kristina Travaillot to discuss the topic of mental health in the workplace. This is an especially important topic these days, when the whole world is still reeling from the collective trauma of the COVID-19 pandemic that has taken over our lives for the last 18 months.
With three very different backgrounds and life journeys, April, Kim, and Kristina share their mental health experiences and their hard-won wisdom about building resilient, thriving lives despite tragedies, obstacles, and just plain old garden-variety stressors. This is an important conversation, filled with compassion, humor and grace, even as it touches on deep and existential questions that we all face by virtue of being human.
Why this year’s Mental Health Day is particularly important (01:32)Kim’s “mental health day” that wasn’t (02:52)Growing up at a time when mental illness was stigmatized and how times have changed (04:56)Getting to the point where we treat mental health like we do physical health (5:47)Learning to feel like we do not owe the world an explanation about mental health concerns (06:49)Admitting your limits when you’re an overachiever (9:20)Learning to hear the stories we tell ourselves and probe whether they are true (11:01)The subtle and insidious ways that COVID-19 is amplifying our insecurities (12:36)The importance of creativity and beauty for self-care (15:12)Developing a lifelong exercise habit as an antidote to stress and trauma (17:10)Rediscovering childhood hobbies as adult stress-relief activities (19:18)The invaluable comfort of being in a family or community that has your back – and the importance of letting go of relationships that have run their course (20:33)The many impacts of growing up in a family that didn’t talk about “those things” (25:53)The difference between getting over something and getting through it (33:21)The magical power of quiet alone time (36:58)How to loosen your death-grip on control (40:10)The power of a simple breath (43:06)Meet the Hosts:
Kimberlynn B. Davis, Ph.D.April Abele Isaacson, M.S.Learn More:
Visit the Kilpatrick Townsend MEMO BlogCheck out other insights from Kilpatrick TownsendWorld Health Organization's World Mental Health Day 2021World Health Organization's Mental Well-Being Resources**The opinions expressed are those of the attorneys and do not necessarily reflect the views of the firm or its clients. This podcast is for general information purposes and is not intended to be and should not be taken as legal advice.**
Stephanie Sanders: Mastering Authenticity Without a Plan
Stephanie Sanders is currently the global patent operations chief at Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton. In this role, Stephanie is responsible for ensuring that the firm’s IP teams continually improve their patent prosecution practice and enhance their efficiency. Stephanie’s career journey includes the roles of patent examiner, patent attorney, law school career counselor, and IP training manager at a boutique law firm.
Originally from Long Island, NY, Stephanie earned a BS from Binghamton University, the top-ranked public university in New York, where she majored in computer engineering. She then attended law school at George Washington.
Although Stephanie claims to not have had a career plan, she was always attuned to her natural strengths, her interests, and her principles. Thus, even without a plan, she was able to blaze a trail that led her to a string of great jobs – each a better fit than the previous one.
In this episode, Stephanie shares her nontraditional journey in the legal profession, the opportunities that can be found if you keep your eyes open, and the strategies that have allowed her to home in on authentic, perfect-for-her positions in patent law.
No career plan? No problem! (02:59)The blinking cursor leads to a college major (04:19)How to randomly fall into engineering, and love it (05:21)Capitalizing on natural strengths (08:13)Feeling like an ugly duckling and floundering (11:19)A fed-up mother and a new career in patent law (13:24)Landing in the Patent Office and receiving great patent training (18:02)Pivoting again to law school and battling imposter syndrome (20:55)Finding out that practicing law in BigLaw isn’t a good fit (30:36)Being good at your job but feeling like a failure (39:50)The drawbacks for women attorneys in firms without strong female leadership (43:34)Judging a job by the fit, not by the prestige (48:30)Finding an even more perfect job in the classifieds (52:37)An ugly duckling turns into a swan (53:33)Being authentic and genuine as a young attorney (55:52When doors open and great offers start coming your way (59:17)Meet the Hosts:
Kimberlynn B. Davis, Ph.D.April Abele Isaacson, M.S.Learn More:
Visit the Kilpatrick Townsend MEMO BlogCheck out other insights from Kilpatrick TownsendListen to Stephanie's personal podcast, "Are You New Here?"**The opinions expressed are those of the attorneys and do not necessarily reflect the views of the firm or its clients. This podcast is for general information purposes and is not intended to be and should not be taken as legal advice.**
Danielle Abramson: Driven by Passion
Danielle Abramson is currently SVP, Global Head of IP at RedHill Biopharma. She is a registered patent agent with an almost 20-year career in the legal field, which includes stints at several law firms where she created her own career path.
Danielle has a BS in mechanical engineering from Binghamton University, the top-ranked public university in New York. She also has a PhD in medical sciences from Brown University where her research centered on biomaterials and tissue engineering.
A diagnosis of scoliosis in eighth grade introduced Danielle to a life-long passion for science and engineering. A willingness to take risks, speak up, and consistently create new opportunities out of thin air have translated this passion into a trail-blazing career in patent law that has translated into better career paths for her fellow patent agents as well.
In this episode, Danielle generously shares her actionable and practical blueprint for building a charmed, passion-filled career.
The curve that started it all (02:14)The dogs that shifted a career path (5:27)The switch to biomaterials and tissue engineering (07:50)Getting things done, with a light touch (10:04)The dining-room-table patent law firm (11:06)Dipping a toe into patent law as a tech specialist in Boston (13:34)Finding a law-firm position that fits (15:40)A mentor’s positioning advice to a young patent agent (17:03)The value of strong relationships in building career flexibility (18:21)Who says a patent agent can’t develop business? (20:42)Speaking up – for the good of your client work (23:08) Setting boundaries and keeping toxic colleagues at bay (24:34)Building the first-ever patent agent career track in a law firm (29:02)Creating one’s own in-house position (34:30)Busting myths about the life of an in-house counsel (40:10)The blueprint for a dream career (45:38)The value of admitting you don’t know what you’re doing and asking for help (52:03)Meet the Hosts:
Kimberlynn B. Davis, Ph.D.April Abele Isaacson, M.S.Learn More:
Visit the Kilpatrick Townsend MEMO BlogCheck out other insights from Kilpatrick Townsend**The opinions expressed are those of the attorneys and do not necessarily reflect the views of the firm or its clients. This podcast is for general information purposes and is not intended to be and should not be taken as legal advice.**
Jamie Graham: Charting Her Own Course
Jamie Graham is currently Associate Director and Senior Patent Counsel at Boehringer Ingelheim USA. Prior to joining Boehringer, Jamie practiced patent law for 30 years at Kilpatrick Townsend, many of them as a partner. At the firm, she focused on IP issues relating to biological and chemical technologies, particularly in the areas of biotechnology, diagnostics, immunology, and pharmaceuticals. A registered U.S. Patent Attorney since 1986, Jamie claims title to being the first female patent attorney in Atlanta, back when there were fewer than 25 registered patent attorneys in the entire city.
In her science work, Jamie conducted enzyme isolation and characterization research at Sloan-Kettering, and cardiac and allergy drug disposition/metabolism research at Boehringer Ingelheim Ltd. She also performed graduate research in neuroimmunology and virology, including HIV research conducted at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Jamie co-founded Women in Bio (WIB) Atlanta, was active in Women In Technology (WIT) to help build women’s careers, and promoted STEM initiatives through a variety of organizations. As an American Cancer Society (ACS)-GA Board member, Jamie successfully led the regional ResearcHERS Initiative – an inaugural nationwide program with a goal of $3,000,000 to fund women-led cancer research – working with 12 high profile female community leaders and ACS executives.
Jamie charted a unique course in her career, scrambling the traditional steps of a patent practitioner to create her own path to success as a lawyer, a scientist, an engaged community member, and most importantly to her – as a mother. For example, she was already a member of the patent bar and a licensed, practicing attorney when she went to graduate school for a degree in molecular biology. She was five years out of law school when she asked to be a summer associate at Kilpatrick Townsend, intending to stay a summer, then staying 30 years.
A refreshingly honest reason for ending up in patent law (3:05)Experiencing formative female leadership in college (5:42)The strength of the Wellesley network (6:48) Being the only woman in a meeting and learning to not make copies – or coffee (8:43)Making career decisions based on childcare considerations (9:12)A trick for making women be heard in meetings (13:09)Juggling the demands of a high-powered career and caring for aging parents (14:33)Learning from Madeleine Albright (19:40)Building a nationally recognized patent practice by hiring women (21:30)Voting for diversity with your time and attention (24:41)Discovering patent talent on an Uber ride (25:44)Building Career blocks “out of sequence” (27:01)Supporting female cancer researcHERS (31:12)Launching a new career chapter after a storied 30-year stint at one law firm (32:59)Early-morning partner meetings and small children (41:44)The value of making decisions and sticking with them (44:55)Meet the Hosts:
Kimberlynn B. Davis, Ph.D.April Abele Isaacson, M.S.**The opinions expressed are those of the attorneys and do not necessarily reflect the views of the firm or its clients. This podcast is for general information purposes and is not intended to be and should not be taken as legal advice.**
Setting the Bar
I am obviously biased, but until a parent, no on can truly get the sense of pride and success we feel from our daughter, Mary Hannon. Yay! We did it! All of our girls are successful and we are proud of them all. As a side note, yes mom was concerned when she made Mary cry over the MCAT books, but it was short-lived, and you are correct in that it was an epiphany and served a purpose in directing her journey. Also yes, we still have the tapes the girls made in dad’s law office on his dictaphone. Proud mama here! This is amazing!
Beyond Promoting Women in STEM
This is a great conversation between two fabulous women talking about their experience being patent attorneys. We hear a lot about women in the sciences and engineering, but not much about how women fare in other careers that require a technical background, particularly those that require an advanced degree. I’m excited to hear what Kim and April discuss in this series and maybe it will inspire some women to join the patent bar!