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SULC students spend summer working on high profile intellectual property projects

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Second-year students Jordan Lewis and Lea D. Hemphill learned a great deal about intellectual property (IP) in paid internships this summer at major corporations. The experiences impressed them and changed their career goals.

Lea Hemphill had a 9-week assignment at Deere & Company in Moline, Illinois; and Lewis was part of the IP Enforcement Team at Apple, Inc., in Cupertino, California.

IP is a legal term for creations by individuals, such as inventions; literary and artistic works; designs; and symbols, names and images used in commerce. These creations are legally protected by patents, copyrights, and trademarks, which enable the creators to earn recognition or financial benefit from what they create.

Throughout the summer, Hemphill worked on two assignments in patent law and two assignments in trademark law.  “I have learned a vast amount about IP by working on patent and trademark assignments; attending seminars, meetings, and conferences; and asking attorneys questions that relate to their IP area of expertise,” she said.  Her end-of-summer presentation to the company focused on the enforceability and registrability of hashtags as trademarks in the various regions and countries where Deere has legal counsel.

“It has been rewarding to intern for John Deere, a company that is global, inclusive, and promotes personal and professional growth,” Hemphill said about her memorable summer experiences.

“I have developed a greater appreciation for teamwork and organization,” she said.

Hemphill was featured in two departmental newsletters for the company during her internship. In the Employment Spotlight in the Global Intellectual Property Services newsletter, she described her most memorable experience as a summer intern as “the welcoming nature of the attorneys and other employees at Deere.”

“Starting with the first day of my internship, I was invited to dinners, lunches, and coffee meetings,” she said.  “It has been so refreshing to be at a company where the people around you are genuine and want you to feel part of the team.”

Hemphill felt that the attorneys went above and beyond the call of duty to ensure that she understood a concept or the answer to a legal question. “Being a legal intern at a place that embraces all its employees and encourages friendly, supportive interaction was an amazing opportunity,” she said.

The Chicago native was among the more than 400 John Deere interns who participated in the 2016 Intern Conference and attended the Professional Organizations and Employee Resource Group Networking Event held on the last day of the conference. At five locations in downtown Moline, Illinois, the interns were able to network with John Deere leaders, learn about Employee Resource Groups, connect with John Deere diverse professional members, and network with their fellow interns.

Jordan Lewis also was provided substantive assignments in an exceptional teamwork environment at Apple. “The work was extremely substantive and the team focuses on brand protection and counterfeit enforcement,” he said. His assignments dealt with patents, competitor product analysis, and negations. “I was able to meet and listen to Apple executives discuss the why of everyday operations.”

He was asked to sit in on meetings, research cases, and perform other tasks in order to better the Apple’s products. “Most of what I did I can’t talked about simply because of the confidentiality that Apple needs to protect its products,” he said. “I compiled a compendium of Apple’s protected rights and other important things that I am not at the liberty to disclose.”

The New Orleans native and Prairieville, Louisiana, resident admits that he did not expect such as “laid back” culture. “Lawyers wearing t-shirts and shorts on an everyday basis was very humbling.”  The group members were fairly young and included him in after-work activities including watching sporting events and participating in Game of Thrones nights. “They made me feel like I had been a part of the team for years when I first arrived.”

Lewis worked side by side with practicing attorneys in the IP enforcement team and with the vice president of the patent group and IP enforcement. “They were great mentors in different ways, requiring me to do various tasks to receive diverse learning experiences,” he said.

Appreciation to SULC and the companies for the internship experience

Hemphill thanks SULC for helping her obtain this opportunity. She added, “I made sure I gave 100 percent throughout the entire internship.”

“My education at the Law Center has been extraordinarily valuable and helpful with my success in my legal internship this summer,” she acknowledged.  “The courses that were the most helpful were Legal Writing and Legal Research,” she said.

“Each assignment or project I worked on this summer required concise, quality writing.  Additionally, research was the starting point for every assignment, project, and presentation.”

Lewis said he hoped to gain as much knowledge of the IP legal world as possible to better understand his career path. He says he found just that at Apple. “I feel that I impressed Apple’s lawyers by giving exceptional effort and completing difficult tasks,” he said.

“I knew I liked IP and now I know I love IP,” the future SULC lawyer-leader acknowledged.  “However, prior to the internship, I thought I wanted to be on the prosecution side of patent work, and now seeing how sharp the litigators have to be on their toes, I know I want to litigate.”

Included with the internship was a place to stay. For Lewis that was an apartment in walking distance from the train station, a 30-minute ride away from San Francisco. “It was the best summer of my life,” Lewis said.

Hemphill advises fellow students that when selecting an internship, evaluate your strengths, weaknesses, and career goals.  “If no internship opportunity is available, do not be afraid to think outside of the box and create one,” she said.  “SULC has an incredible Career Services Office. Be sure to use these resources.”

“Each day when I walked into John Deere World headquarters, I noticed a sign that hung near the entrance that quoted John Deere,” Hemphill noted.  “It said, ‘I will never put my name on a product that doesn’t have in it the best that is in me.’”

“As a result of being an IP legal intern for Deere & Company, I will strive to put my name only on work that represents my very best,” she said.