Intellectual property (IP) law offers unique challenges, often demanding that attorneys obtain highly specialized training in diverse fields.
For Kirsten Thomson, a partner with McDonnell Boehnen Hulbert & Berghoff, an IP boutique firm in Chicago, MSU College of Law gave her just the training she needed.
In fact, Thomson, who holds a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering, chose MSU Law because of its strong IP program, she says. “One of the things that was appealing to me was the research, writing, and advocacy course geared toward IP,” she says. “It was great that I was going to have exposure in the first year to something I knew I was going to do. Everyone in my class loved it because it was relevant—it felt like you were diving in right out of the gate.”
Her IP training at MSU Law continued after that first class, she says, with every semester offering new opportunities to learn the field.
“I feel very fortunate that I made the right decision in choosing MSU Law,” Thomson says. “Other attorneys I’ve come across don’t have the same exposure. IP is very unique unto itself. The Law College’s broad course offerings were just so beneficial. I felt like I came out of there prepared.”
Thomson completed her summer internship with McDonnell in 2006 and joined the firm shortly after graduation in 2007. Today she works on patent prosecution, which can mean pursuing applications one day and litigation the next. Her education at MSU Law allowed her to immediately contribute during meetings with clients and understand complex technical terms batted around by her colleagues, she says.
Thomson’s job as an IP attorney allows her to utilize her undergrad degree, as well. “I put so much of my heart and soul into engineering,” she says. “I didn’t want to throw that out the door. I love that I get to think like an engineer, but in a legal context.”
Thomson says she initially felt “a little trepidation” arriving at MSU Law. But those concerns quickly faded, especially once she met her professors.
“I didn’t know what to expect, but I couldn’t have been more pleasantly surprised by the professors at MSU Law,” she says. “They rivaled anyone at any law college. I got the best education anyone could ask for.”