A cold war has raged in the brain of James Valencia since high school.
The left side, entrenched in math and science, marches steadfastly toward a career in medicine. The right side stayed busy teaching rhetoric and argument and reasoning, under the auspices of SAT prep, and leading workshops in diversity, tolerance, and community service. Valencia's undergraduate degree from New York University is in neural science, with minors in chemistry and creative writing.
Intellectual Property Study in Washington, D.C.
The peace treaty will likely give both sides their due. The 3L is researching a position where law and science meet. But in the meantime, Valencia has recently returned from an all-expenses paid week in Washington, D.C. at the Microsoft/Hispanic National Bar Association Intellectual Property Law Institute.
The IPLI is the brainchild of Horacio Gutierrez, J.D. `98, the then general counsel at Microsoft, who was concerned that so few Hispanic law students were pursuing careers in IP law. (Gutierrez has since departed for Spotify and been named by Billboard as one of the top music lawyers in the industry two years running.)
Miami Law Well Represented at Prestigious Institute
Now in its fifth year, Valencia is its seventh Miami Law attendee, with Hispanic law students from around the country competing for the highly selective 25 slots. Luiz Miranda, Trish Ojea, Lauren Gonzalez, Dalisi Otero, Jose Vasquez, and Antonio Hernandez spent past summers getting up close to the D.C. IP institutions, courts, and law firms that are the spine of the practice. Many have gone on to careers in IP.
Valencia, whose parents are of Colombian heritage, grew up in South Florida, the youngest of three brothers. The 25-year-old spent a gap year at the University of Miami Department of Neurosurgery Miller School of Medicine.
"It was still the same line between medical and legal," says the 25-year-old. "You are dealing a lot with insurance agencies and policies as it pertains to someone's health conditions. I thought, if I do go to law school, I would be doing health law."
Interest in Health Law, IP, Science
And therein lies Valencia's Bretton Woods.
"First and foremost, IP is the most fun. You are advocating for inventors," he says, "and you are exposed to the frontiers of technology and innovation. And I'll still get to see words like DNA and scientific procedures in front of my face. I find comfort and familiarity in that world."
He may have found his sweet spot in the Patent and Trademark Office during his stay at the IPLI. "They were pretty aggressive at selling the idea of being a patent examiner as a viable option," he said, "and honestly it affected me. Now I am seriously considering it as a job.
Possible Patent Law Future
"After the IPLI program, I am much more equipped to more selectively target where I apply, whereas before I was more likely to apply for any open IP position," he says. "Now I know to look for representation, to see whether their emphasis is on litigation or prosecution -- if they even have prosecution opportunities. Shook, Hardy & Bacon has some need for people with neuroscience backgrounds, something I could not have imagined there were such specializations. I feel much more prepared and know better what to expect now," he says.