During his first five weeks as a summer associate in the Austin office of Fish & Richardson, University of Texas School of Law student Lealon Martin says he has come to see a whole new world known as intellectual property law.
Martin (pictured left) has a Ph.D. in chemical engineering from the University of California, Los Angeles, and is one of four recipients of a Fish & Richardson 2012 1L Diversity Fellowship, which includes a $5,000 academic scholarship and a paid position as a summer associate.
The firm started the program in 2005 to get the attention of quality minority candidates early in the recruiting process, says Ahmed Davis, a principal in Fish's Washington, D.C., office and national chairman of the firm's diversity initiative.
When it comes to selecting fellows, Davis says, it is not "just the people with the best grades at the best schools." In addition to transcripts and letters of recommendation, each candidate writes an essay describing how diversity has impacted their life, why they think diversity is valuable and how receiving the scholarship will help further diversity at the firm and within the profession, he says.
Davis estimates the firm has awarded 38 fellowships since 2005. Fish has offered permanent full-time jobs to 34 of the students and more than 25 accepted full-time jobs with the firm.
Martin says, "I just finished a first year of law school and IP was not part of the curriculum; it was not like contracts or property, where you actually take classes in the first year." He adds, "Coming here to Fish has opened my eyes to what IP law is in practice and also exactly how exciting it is to combine a technical expertise with a legal process."
-- Jeanne Graham