Tales From The Edge
Nancy Attalla J.D. ’21 gets an early start in tech law at Samsung Research America.
Nancy Attalla, J.D. ’21 still remembers a lawyer friend of hers comparing the pace of law school to “four years of college squished into three.”
Yet Attalla finds she’s on an even faster track to get to the finish line as part of Santa Clara University Law School’s inaugural Tech Edge J.D. certificate program.
“There is such a focus on forward-thinking, not just in the new year, or the next term,” she says, “but on what will you do when you graduate?”
One of 12 members of the innovative program’s first cohort that launched a year ago, Attalla got some answers during her first tech law internship at Samsung Research America this summer.
“I thought being an intern there would give me a really good understanding about patent law and how the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office works,” says the 26-year-old. “And it did.”
Now Attalla, who hopes to become an Intellectual Property litigator, understands why SCU Law School’s popular new Tech Edge J.D. program–its Class of 2022 cohort is three times as large as Attalla's–pushes real-life work experience from Day 1.
By the time her first group graduates in two years, the students should have a leg up on other job-hunting tech law grads, filling the needs of employers who have been clamoring for better-trained tech law hires.
“It’s exciting because I’m learning the real day-to-day work of an actual tech company in terms of their patent portfolio,” she says.
For her patent law internship at Samsung Research, Attalla joined a four-member IP law team–including one SCU Law School alum–that drafts patent applications for a range of Samsung inventions. She can't discuss the specific products she worked on except to say they're “cool things that look to the future of technology.”
Tech Edge J.D. students can go one of two ways for internships related to their tech law interest. Some opt for law firms with tech practices, others for in-house legal departments of tech companies, landing at places like Twitter, DropBox and Shutterfly, among others.
Samsung Research’s office in Mountain View was a top choice for Attalla, who wanted to try in-house experience. Plus, she “really clicked” with the people and environment there.
“They are very relaxed, and nobody is high strung, even though they have extreme deadlines and high pressure,” says Attalla. “People seem happy…. It reinforced for me how important the people are that you work with.”
And as busy as her Samsung colleagues are, she says it was clear that they wanted to help her learn.
“Developing the skills and having the ability to be able to write a provisional patent application that is understandable to the USPTO–it has its own lingo–has given me a really good foundation to understand how we get to litigation,” Attalla says.
The experience gave her confidence a boost, too: The Samsung team was so impressed with Attalla that they invited her to stay on part-time this year.
Sep 13, 2019
SCU Tech Edge J.D. student Nancy Attalla at Samsung Research America. Photo courtesy Jim Gensheimer.