Wabash Blogs Immersion 2009: D.C. Externships

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Government and the Legal Business

Alex Ingram ‘10

Through the generosity of the Graham family I have been able to take part in the Washington D.C. externship program.  My alumnus and mentor is Joe Hynds, a partner at Rothwell, Figg, Ernst, and Manbeck. The law firm is an intellectual property firm, and Joe himself specializes in litigation.

This opportunity has been eye opening and rewarding.  I feel that Joe, and the other partners and associates I have been working with, were initially unsure of how much work an undergraduate could handle. However, as I kept pressing each of the members to throw me in the lion’s den, they granted my request. My Tuesday was spent digging through the library here at the office doing legal research on Fed. R. Civ. P. Rule 11 procedural requirements in conjunction with patent misuse counterclaims. Tuesday morning I was lost, but I feel as if I could recite from Moore’s and explain the base elements of misuse counterclaims at this point.

I’ve had opportunities other than legal research as well.  I sat in on a Senate Judiciary hearing over patent reform, in which Herbert Wamsley spoke, as well as the CEO’s of Johnson & Johnson, Micron, and other industry giants with much at stake in the current legislation. Just this morning I rushed to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals to listen to oral arguments over a jurisdictional misstep in the assassination of a U.S. citizen’s alien father on French soil. Although this is wholly unrelated to patent litigation and prosecution, it was a great experience to be able to sit in regardless.

Life in D.C. is more exciting than I could have imagined. I’ve taken it upon myself to see as much of the city as possible, and the proximity of my office to the heart of the political happenings in D.C. has certainly helped. I’ve also been able to travel to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in Virginia, which provides a great advantage to those intellectual property lawyers living nearby.  As a math student, I can certainly appreciate the unbelievable sophisticated database that is exclusive to the patent office.

The networking events have provided more opportunities as well. Sunday evening we were taken to retired Admiral, and now current L-3 Communications exec., Alex Miller’s house for a barbecue.  All in all it has been a great experience and I am very thankful for the opportunity.