SOL Lawyer Magazine_Fall 2021




The School of Law building at dusk in

Minneapolis, October 2021.

Photo by Mark Brown

ST.THOMAS Lawyer Fall 2021 – Volume 15, Issue 1

Published by the University of St. Thomas School of Law 1000 LaSalle Ave. Minneapolis, MN 55403 (651) 962-4892 Senior Marketing Program Manager and Editor Carrie Hilger Assistant Editor Amy Carlson Gustafson Designer Carol Garner Photographers Mark Brown Liam James Doyle Contributors Lisa Montpetit Brabbit Sheree R. Curry Gloria Sonnen Myre Robert Vischer Front cover Hiep Pham ’12 J.D. Senior Intellectual Property Counsel at Cargill (Page 24). Photo by Mark Brown Back cover University of St. Thomas. Photo by Mark Brown



A Message From the Dean






Long-Distance Mentorship


Q & A with Thomas Berg

21-25, 30

Alumni Profiles

Winning with IP Moot Court Coaches



Class Notes


Facebook @ustlawmn Twitter @ustlawmn Instagram @ustlawmn

The University of St. Thomas is an equal opportunity educator and employer. St. Thomas does not unlawfully discriminate, in any of its programs or activities, on the basis of race, color, creed, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, family status, disability, age, marital status, status with regard to public assistance, membership or activity in a local commission, genetic information or any other characteristic protected by applicable law.

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Given that our law school is named after a 13th-century philosopher (Thomas Aquinas), one might forgive the casual observer for assuming that the Catholic Church’s primary contributions to law are shrouded in the mists of medieval times. On the contrary, our law school’s commitment to the integration of faith and reason positions us to shed light on some of the thorniest debates regarding cutting-edge technology. As Professor Tom Berg explained in a St. Thomas Law Journal symposium dedicated to the topic, religious traditions can “deepen our appreciation of shared concepts that are central to [intellectual property]: ownership, creativity, justice and fairness.” This issue of St. Thomas Lawyer explores the law school’s expanding presence in the world of intellectual property. How do we equip our students with the technical skills to excel and the moral sensitivity to flourish in a field that is so central to human progress? How do we contribute to the law’s incentivization of knowledge creation without exacerbating global inequities? Can the law support broad participation in the economy while recognizing a robust system of property rights? These are questions that are at the heart of our law school’s mission. Few could have predicted that a global pandemic would lead Pope Francis to weigh in on the morality of patent rights for COVID-19 vaccines, or that knowledge of the human genome would drive a whole new set of arguments about the nature of property. We cannot predict what technologies will drive policy debates 10 years from now. But we do know that our faculty, students and alumni will be active participants as advocates, counselors, experts and leaders. Whatever perspective they bring, they will act from a shared premise: we are obliged to bring timeless truths to bear on a rapidly changing world of innovation.

Robert K. Vischer Dean and Mengler Chair in Law University of St. Thomas School of Law

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ICON OF ST. JOSEPHINE BAKHITA ADDED TO THE LAW SCHOOL An icon of St. Josephine Bakhita by artist Nicholas Markell ‘84 B.A. has been hung outside the Chapel of St. Thomas More. The piece was commissioned by the Murphy Institute for Catholic Thought, Law and Public Policy as a gift to the law school. Bakhita, who was born in Sudan around 1869, was kidnapped and sold into slavery as a young girl. Throughout her life in captivity, she was treated cruelly, enduring abuse and torture. Bakhita was brought to Italy in the late 1800s and eventually placed with the Canossian Sisters in Venice. While there she gained her legal freedom, chose to become a Christian and, soon after, a nun. When asked about her captors and former owners, Bakhita spoke about forgiveness. “If I was to meet those slave traders that abducted me and those who tortured me, I’d kneel down to them to kiss their hands,” she said. “Because, if it had not have been for them, I would not have become a Christian and religious woman.” St. Josephine Bakhita died in 1947 and was canonized in 2000. She is the patron saint of human trafficking victims and Sudan. Artist credit: Nicholas Markell,


At this year’s virtual Mission Awards ceremony in April, Kristin Giant ‘14 J.D. received a Living the Mission award for her work as the founder of Hyper Local Impact, a legal and consulting firm dedicated to helping the people of Fort Wayne, Indiana. Together with community partners last year, Giant set a goal of raising $1 million in grassroots funding for businesses and nonprofits in southeast Fort Wayne owned by people of color. By March, the fund had already raised more than half a million dollars and allocated 15 grants. “Kristin works creatively and tirelessly to lift up her community,” Director of Alumni Engagement and Student Life GloriaMyre ‘07 J.D. said. “She’s an inspiring advocate for positive change who has always tried to better herself, and those around her.”

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The law school’s Alumni Advisory Board has established a new Outreach and Connections Committee. The committee will support School of Law Admissions with recruitment activities aimed at diversifying the law school’s student body by nurturing the pipeline of prospective students. It will also work with high schools and colleges to raise awareness about legal careers, and engage with current students to enrich the law school experience and help build community. Alumni board members Beth Forsythe ‘06 J.D., Elizabeth Drotning Hartwell ‘06 J.D., Chris Vatsaas ‘11 J.D., Caitlin Hull ‘16 J.D., Jules Porter ‘17 J.D./MBA, Jessica Drewiske ‘15 J.D./MBA and Ronnie Santana ‘18 J.D. were instrumental in spearheading the new committee.

Left to right: Chris Vatsaas, Caitlin Hull, Beth Forsythe and Ronnie Santana

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Law professor Teresa Collett filed three amicus curiae briefs with the U.S. Supreme Court in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization this summer. The case involves the authority of states to prohibit elective pre-viability abortions and asks the court to rule on the constitutionality of a Mississippi law that prohibits abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. Pro-life advocates hope that the Court will uphold the law and, in so doing, overrule Roe v. Wade (1973) and Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992). One brief was co-authored by Collett with alumna Renee Carlson ‘08 J.D. , general counsel for True North Legal, an initiative of the Minnesota Family Council. Oral argument for Dobbs v. Jackson was held on December 1.

Teresa Collett

#23 FOR SCHOLARLY IMPACT In August, St. Thomas Law was once again ranked among

Renee Carlson

the top 25 law schools in the nation for scholarly impact.

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Lawyers have the potential to facilitate healing, build bridges and bring about a more just and inclusive society when they utilize restorative justice practices within our courts and communities. This is the driving idea behind the new Initiative on Restorative Justice and Healing (IRJH) at the University of St. Thomas School of Law, that officially launched on Sept. 8. Restorative justice is a worldwide movement that began in the 1970s. Its concepts have been successfully used in a variety of settings and professions, including education and law. It seeks to respond to harm, and in some cases a crime, in ways that lead to healing and reconciliation. The approach creates outlets for victims to share the impact of a perpetrator’s actions and for those who have caused harm to understand and accept responsibility for their behavior. These opportunities do not always exist within the criminal justice system, which focuses primarily on

punishment for offenders, without addressing the emotional repair that is needed by all parties. The IRJH will focus on educating law students and the legal community about restorative justice to provide them with tools they can use as an alternative or complement to traditional punitive systems. It will also foster dialogue and promote healing in the community, specifically around racial injustice, clergy sexual abuse and societal polarization. Law professor Father Daniel Griffith (pictured) will serve as the director of the IRJH. Julie Craven is the initiative’s associate director. Law Professor Hank Shea and Associate Professor of Theology Amy Levad will serve as fellows. “I am excited about the nexus between the focus of the Initiative on Restorative Justice, the mission of St. Thomas Law and the formation of lawyers who can serve and accompany their clients with compassion and empathy,” Griffith said.

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JonathanWolf ‘11 J.D. is the recipient of the American Inns of Court 2021 Sandra Day O’Connor Award for Professional Service. This national award is given each year to an Inns of Court member who has been in practice for less than 10 years to recognize excellence in public interest or pro bono activities. “I have consistently seen Mr. Wolf throw himself into his many pro bono cases as a definitive exemplar of the term ‘zealous advocate,’” attorney Nicholas R. Delaney, Wolf’s mentor, said in his nomination letter. “Time and again, Mr. Wolf has vigorously and effectively represented vulnerable, local people facing a crisis, with no expectation of payment in return.” Wolf will be honored in April by the American Inns of Court at a ceremony in Washington, D.C. He is a member of the John E. Simonett Inn of Court based in St. Cloud, Minn. ALUMNUS RECEIVES AWARD FOR PROFESSIONAL SERVICE


Minneapolis law firm Bassford Remele made a $60,000 gift to St. Thomas Law to create a new scholarship aimed at promoting diversity in the legal profession. The scholarship will provide financial assistance to St. Thomas law students who are interested in civil litigation, have a strong academic record and are part of a diverse or underrepresented group within the legal field. As part of establishing the scholarship, Bassford Remele has chosen to honor one of its attorneys, Rebecca EggeMoos , on the law school’s newWomen’s Wall of Leadership. The display, located on the third floor of the building, showcases outstanding female lawyers. The Women’s Wall of Leadership was developed through a gift from law school Board of Governors member Thomas Dolphin, Sr., who wanted to honor female innovators, including his mother, entrepreneur and philanthropist Dorothy Pohlad Dolphin. The first recipient of a Bassford Remele scholarship is 1L Marina Cruz .

Rebecca Egge Moos

Marina Cruz

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admissible hearsay Overheard in and around the University of St. Thomas School of Law

“Inclusive leaders recognize that diversity, equity and inclusion are the foundation of business success. They embark on a lifelong learning journey to challenge their own biases, stereotypes and prejudices in the furtherance of our shared humanity and common destiny.” DR. ARTIKA TYNER ‘06 J.D., ‘10 MA, ‘12 EDD IN AN OP-ED FOR BLOOMBERG LAW

“... this project is a great example of our mission in action, demonstrating the importance of integrating legal acumen with empathy, concern for the whole person and the transformative power of human connection.” DEAN ROBERT VISCHER IN A POST FOR THE BLOG MIRROR OF JUSTICE ABOUT THE LAUNCH OF THE LAW SCHOOL’S NEW INITIATIVE ON RESTORATIVE JUSTICE AND HEALING “This is a signal moment in America’s constitutional history. One of the most notorious decisions in the Court’s history is likely either to be repudiated and overruled — discarded, finally and definitively — or else reaffirmed and entrenched, perhaps permanently.” PROFESSOR MICHAEL STOKES PAULSEN IN A TWO-PART ESSAY FOR PUBLIC DISCOURSE ABOUT DOBBS V. JACKSON WOMEN’S HEALTH ORGANIZATION “To really make change, many fixes must be pursued at once, through a variety of methods. Just as it took many converging issues to create deep injustice in the Burrell case, there must be many converging paths to reform.” LESLIE REDMOND ‘19 JD/MBA AND PROFESSOR MARK OSLER IN A JOURNAL ARTICLE FOR THE MINNESOTA LAW REVIEW ABOUT THE CASE OF MYON BURRELL, WHO WAS GRANTED A COMMUTATION OF SENTENCE FROM THE MINNESOTA BOARD OF PARDONS IN DEC. 2020

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S N A P S H O T S Snapsh

John Sandy ‘07 B.A.,’10 J.D. (right) was sworn in as an Iowa district court judge in June. Fellow Iowa judge and St. Thomas Law alumnus Al Heavens ‘07 B.A.,’10 J.D. (left) was present at the ceremony. Sandy serves District 3A, which covers northwest Iowa.

In September, law alumni gathered for happy hour at Bauhaus Brew Labs in northeast Minneapolis. The brewery is owned by law alumnus Matt Schwandt ‘09 J.D. Thank you to Heimerl & Lammers, LLC for sponsoring the event.

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Rasheen Tillman ‘09 J.D. posted on Instagram : “It’s good to be back! Totally different perspective being on the other side of things! First class as an Adjunct Professor went GREAT!”

Dr. Artika Tyner ‘06 J.D., ‘10 MA, ‘12 EdD posted on Facebook and Instagram : “I am feeling blessed to teach another AMAZING group of students – 15 years and counting.”

Pauly, DeVries Smith & Deffner, LLC shared on LinkedIn : “ Dan Pauly begins his 16th year teaching patent law at the University of St. Thomas School of Law. Thanks for sharing your knowledge with the next generation of patent practitioners!”


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Long-Distance Mentorship Offers a Global Experience By AMY CARLSON GUSTAFSON

When 3L Erin Herdeman was contemplating asking Laura Gisler ‘14 J.D. to be her mentor last year, she knew it would be a unique pairing considering the more than 4,000 miles separating them. But with a global pandemic forcing more people online to connect, distance became less of an issue than it might have been pre-COVID-19. Herdeman, who is based in the Twin Cities, and Gisler, who lives in Gothenburg, Sweden, made such a strong connection they’ll continue meeting through Herdeman’s final year of law school.

Third-year law student Erin Herdeman (left) and Laura Gisler ‘14 J.D. (right) pose in front of the Polestar headquarters in Gothenburg, Sweden.

“COVID-19 tested the boundaries of how easily we could make relationships and networking happen,” Herdeman said. “It taught us that many connections could happen virtually and still produce meaningful and valuable relationships. I really wanted to have this opportunity with Laura – she’s someone I thought would be a good mentor fit for me. It was also an opportunity to work with someone who could open up my network to people around the world.” Since her 1L year, Herdeman has clerked for Patterson Thuente IP, a full-service, intellectual

property boutique firm based in Minneapolis. Tom Dickson, the firm’s managing partner, was her 1L mentor. While Herdeman is pulled into a variety of projects at Patterson Thuente, she mostly focuses on patent prosecution work. Amy Salmela, a shareholder with the firm, helped connect Herdeman last summer with Gisler, who is the global head of intellectual property at Polestar, a premium electric car maker headquartered in Sweden, and a Patterson Thuente client. Earlier this summer, a group from Patterson Thuente traveled to Sweden to collaborate on a

project with Polestar. Herdeman, who has become a valued member of the firm, was asked to join a small group of attorneys and support staff on the business trip. It was an incredible opportunity for Herdeman, who was able to work side-by-side with Gisler for two weeks. “Just seeing how large the scale of Laura’s job is and how many responsibilities fall under her umbrella was so interesting,” Herdeman said. “She’s someone who is unapologetically herself, which I admire. She’s always extremely professional but is always herself and leading with

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that first. I think we lose sight of that in the professional world.” Forging connections Herdeman and Gisler are part of the law school’s award-winning Mentor Externship Program. A hallmark of the law school’s education, the program is part of the reason St. Thomas consistently ranks as one of the top three law schools in the nation for practical training. More than 1,700 lawyers and judges have served as mentors in the program that connects each law student, each year of law school, with a legal professional working in their area of interest.

The program strives to fulfill the law school’s vision of providing excellence in professional preparation. It offers every student a unique opportunity to build powerful relationships with legal professionals and helps students develop the interpersonal and professional skills necessary for a successful legal career, said Uyen Campbell, Mentor Externship Program co- director. Campbell said Gisler and Herdeman illustrate the power of the mentor/mentee relationship. “Instead of seeing the Mentor Externship Program as a

requirement, Erin treated the program as an opportunity, recruiting Laura to be her mentor and then seeking out career advice, asking questions and learning from her mentor,” Campbell said. “Erin was committed and excited to learn all she could from her mentor. Laura mirrored Erin’s enthusiasm by taking the time to structure experiences that would advance Erin’s skills in intellectual property law and being available to answer questions and provide candid advice. Laura, like Erin, saw their mentor-mentee relationship as an opportunity. As a mentor, she felt

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it was important to learn and share experiences with and from her mentee.” Herdeman said she never imagined how many doors her time at the law school – including in the Mentor Externship Program – would open for her. “St. Thomas does an incredible job of pulling in leaders from the law community to help foster growth in students,” she said. “There’s a lot of accommodating the needs of students and creating opportunities and experiences for them to learn new things. Sometimes it even works out that they’ll find a firm that will take them on an international business trip.” Bonding over intellectual property Both Gisler and Herdeman aspired to have careers in the medical field while earning their undergraduate degrees. While neither ended up in health care, they both have degrees in biology-related fields,

which make for a solid foundation when pursuing IP law. To legally practice before the United States Patent and Trademark Office, a bachelor’s degree in one of the specified fields of science or engineering is required. “When I came to law school with my science background, I was thinking I would head in a health law direction,” Herdeman said. “I was still really interested in medicine and hospital systems, but what I’ve really loved about intellectual property, and specifically the patent work I do, is that I’m still around a lot of healthcare professionals. I wanted to have a career where I was constantly learning new things and around smart people who challenged me. I definitely feel that way about this profession.” Gisler said her career has been about trusting her instincts and working on projects that she truly connects with. She is drawn to opportunities to help

businesses engaging in innovative technologies to solve problems. “I consistently listen to my heart and follow my own curiosity,” Gisler said. “And that’s been exciting.” During her time at the law school, Gisler felt like a part of the community. The relationships she had with both her fellow classmates and the staff and faculty helped her establish a strong network before she even graduated with her law degree. “I loved the access to these world- class minds,” Gisler said about the school’s faculty and staff. “The people are so brilliant in what they do, and they’ll open up their doors or sit down and have coffee with you. Those relationships empowered me. I was encouraged to follow my own path even if it was a nontraditional one.” Learning from each other Herdeman had briefly met Gisler in person last fall, but in Sweden

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Herdeman is a clerk for Patterson Thuente IP. She joined her co-workers at the firm on a business trip to Sweden in summer 2021 to collaborate on a project with Polestar, where her mentor Gisler is the company’s global head of IP.

the two were able to connect on another level. “Laura was with us nearly every day – there was a lot of collaboration with her,” Herdeman said. “I was excited to have the opportunity to see where she lives and works and what her day-to-day life was like. I was able to put a lot of things together that I have learned virtually over the year and throughout our relationship. It was so much fun. Not only was I able to work in- person with Laura, but I also saw all the preparation that goes into a business trip of this scale.” Gisler said the opportunity for Herdeman to make the trip to Sweden was a big step for the relationship. “It was such a great experience – she was amazingly helpful,” Gisler said. “She was able to observe me working and to see all these issues I’m dealing with. It was a realistic look at what I do. Then we were able to set aside some time

to connect outside of work – we did yoga and had dinner. That felt powerful for me because I’m still newish to being a mentor and I really wanted to support Erin. I hope going forward, we can dive into some of the issues that are more meaningful or more interesting to her.” Trusting her skills and knowledge is something Herdeman will take away from her time with Gisler. It’s affirming and refreshing, Herdeman said, to watch Gisler be her authentic self. “There’s a lot of self-doubt and questioning whether you’re the right person in the room to answer a question or whether you’re qualified,” Herdeman said about being a law student in high performance situations. “Laura is great at emphasizing that you should always believe in yourself.” Herdeman needed that confidence when she was asked to plan a team social outing for the group that

traveled to Sweden. Trying to find the perfect activity, she decided to organize a relaxing boat cruise. Once they arrived at the marina, however, it became clear that was not going to be the kind of experience they would be getting, taking everyone by surprise. “We all showed up ready to relax,” she smiled as she recalled the experience. “But it ended up being a speedboat. We all had to wear life jackets and we went 40- 50 miles per hour out in the open sea. Like everyone else, Laura showed up expecting a relaxing evening and we were in a boat doing donuts. “People were definitely skeptical at first,” Herdeman added. “But it ended up being a great memory from the trip. Although I don’t think I’ll ever be able to live that one down.”

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A thought leader in the relationship between intellectual property rights, social justice and human development, Thomas Berg, James L. Oberstar Professor of Law and Public Policy, is the co-author of Patents on Life: Religious, Moral, and Social Justice Aspects of Biotechnology and Intellectual Property (Cambridge University Press, 2019). He is also an accomplished scholar in the area of religious liberty and the supervising attorney of the Interprofessional Center’s Religious Liberty Appellate Clinic. We asked Berg to share his thoughts on the roles morality, ethics and religion play within IP law. Here’s what he had to say:


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& Q WHY ARE YOU DRAWN TO INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY (IP) LAW? Intellectual property is endlessly fascinating, first because it covers the most interesting and important technologies and creative forms of our day: genetic engineering, software and artificial intelligence, creative content in all forms. As Mark Getty, the head of the stock- photo company Getty Images, said: “Intellectual property is the oil the dynamic economic force of the 21st century.” Any lawyer advising businesses today needs to know a little about IP – about trademarks at the very least. The subject is also intellectually engaging and challenging because you can’t just see naturally the boundaries of a


explicitly appear in the global claims for preserving access to affordable medicines (most recently, COVID vaccines) in the face of IP rights that can drive up the cost of those medicines. Social justice claims also explicitly arise when corporations use the traditional knowledge of Indigenous peoples, or the

Institute at St. Edmund’s College, Cambridge University, another institute interested in the societal implications of Catholic thought. The book came out of that conference. WHY WAS IT IMPORTANT TO PUBLISH THE BOOK? We think the book is a unique resource for legal, policy and religious actors, in several ways. First, it touches on a range of moral-social issues about gene patents: At what point are you patenting naturally occurring things? What about patenting morally troublesome manipulations of genes? At what point (if any) do exclusive IP rights harm access to medicines, like COVID-19 vaccines, in developing nations—or at what point do patents on seeds or crops wrongly achieve too much control over farmers’ practices? How exactly should we provide Indigenous communities fair returns on use of their traditional knowledge? Second, the book brings close, nuanced discussion of both legal and religious concepts to this subject. Finally, the book’s contributors come from both the U.S. and Europe; and Europe has some different rules about morality in patent law that are quite interesting. IN THE BOOK, YOU SAY, “FOR RELIGIOUS THOUGHT TO CONTRIBUTE EFFECTIVELY, IT MUST BE MORE INFORMED AND SOPHISTICATED THAN IT HAS BEEN... .” HOW SO? Back in 1995, a group of almost 200 religious leaders launched a campaign against any kind of gene patents on the ground

A genetic materials from plants in their locations, to help develop patentable medicines, agricultural products, and so forth. The claim there is that corporations should disclose such uses and provide fair compensation to such groups, who have often been exploited by developed nations in the past. HOW DID YOU COME TO BE INVOLVED IN EDITING THE BOOK “PATENTS ON LIFE: RELIGIOUS, MORAL, AND SOCIAL JUSTICE ASPECTS OF BIOTECHNOLOGY AND INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY” (2020)? I’ve been interested in the overlap of ethical concepts and IP for a while. If morality and social justice matter to IP, then so does religion, because in much of the world religion shapes society’s conception of justice. For example, in Muslim nations, patent law could help advance innovation, but it likely won’t take deep root unless it’s apparent how it’s consistent with justice as Islamic thought understands it. We’ve had roundtables and symposia at St. Thomas on these issues since 2009; we’ve helped lead exploration of the field. Then came the chance to do a trans-Atlantic conference co-

piece of intellectual property (an invention, a creative expression) the way you can see the shape of a bicycle (personal property) or the fence around land (real property). Because IP’s boundaries are less obvious, they’re constantly affected by considerations like how to ensure IP advances knowledge and respects human dignity. Those issues are inherent in the field, even if we often think of it as technical. WHAT ROLE DO MORALITY, ETHICS AND RELIGION PLAY WITHIN IP LAW? We tend to deny that morality plays a role in what’s protected by patents or other IP. But morality is right below the surface. When there’s a generic version of a drug under patent, or file-sharing of copyrighted music, the IP holders say “Theft!” They invoke morality. And morality and social justice

sponsored by the Murphy Institute at St. Thomas and the Von Hugel

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& Q HOW SHOULD THE U.S. PATENT-GRANTING PROCESS BE CHANGED TO INCLUDE MORAL AND SOCIAL JUSTICE CONSIDERATIONS? IS CHANGE HAPPENING? In the U.S. process currently, it’s more a matter of resisting efforts to eliminate some of the existing, proper limits on gene patents. The courts have long ruled, and the Supreme Court recently reaffirmed, that you can’t patent a naturally occurring thing; even if you discovered a basic sequence of genes, you didn’t invent it and


that they involved “owning life” and “playing God.” But by 2013, when the Supreme Court decided in the Myriad case that some forms of genetic material could be patented – but not others – only one amicus brief in the case was from a religious group. The religious input fizzled because it completely lacked nuance. Patents, when properly defined, work to encourage the invention and commercialization of new things. They don’t give total ownership rights, and gene patents in particular only apply to artificially created material that’s not in the form found in the human body. Gene patents do raise important

A adding such a requirement are moving forward in international forums after many delays. DO YOU HAVE ANY FOLLOW- UP PROJECTS OR ACTIVITIES PLANNED IN THIS AREA OF STUDY? Trademark law also raises issues of morality and justice including for vulnerable groups; I’m interested in exploring those. I’d also like, long-term, to articulate an overall, big-picture Christian theological approach to issues about intellectual property and the ownership of creativity and innovation. For now, I want to help continue to grow IP programs at St. Thomas. In recent years we’ve added courses on patent prosecution and on international IP, a Trademark Clinic and student teams in two national advocacy competitions, where we’ve had great success. We aim to build on those advances by integrating the help of our accomplished and enthusiastic alums who practice IP law, and by strengthening our connections with the practicing IP bar in the Twin Cities and elsewhere. I believe IP law has a bright future at St. Thomas.

shouldn’t have control over it. But there’s a bill in Congress — supported by both Democrats and Republicans — to eliminate that particular limit, which would be a bad idea. On the global stage, the main issue is how to ensure that when companies use an Indigenous community’s traditional knowledge or biological resources to obtain a patent, they disclose that use and provide fair compensation. That requirement would be strengthened if it were integrated into the international patent system—so that you had to make such disclosures in order to get a patent—and negotiations on

moral questions like: Are there certain technological

manipulations we shouldn’t be encouraging through patents? Patents generally encourage innovation by allowing companies to recoup their R&D costs, but if they give exclusivity that’s too broad, will they end up making biotech advances available only to those able to pay? But those questions require nuanced analysis that chapters in our book aim to provide.

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NATHAN KUMAGAI ’00 B.A., ’08 J.D. Qualcomm, Legal Counsel

Why IP law? Out of college, I was a software

developer. An opportunity opened to build on that background: when I started practicing law, a partner was buried in interesting technology work and needed an associate. I was lucky to get a great start, which led to my current job in a big tech company.


What’s the best part of your practice?

I help software teams create and use open source software, make good licensing decisions and protect IP rights. In-house legal work is just a part of the job though – I get to be a “diplomat,” build consensus, be creative and come up with win-win ideas. What’s a challenging part of your practice? Being effective in a big organization. The best approach is to stay curious and understand the interests of partners and clients, not just those of my job. What is a misconception about IP law and your response to it? In a company, people may see lawyers as obstacles to getting things done. We protect company IP assets and sometimes need to pump the brakes. At our best, we use our knowledge and experience to help solve problems or suggest other ways to create progress.

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JASON LORFING ’06 J.D. | Partner KORY KOTRBA ’09 J.D. | Partner SCOTT PEDERSON ‘11 J.D. | Partner NATHAN GALLUS ’12 J.D. | Patent Attorney BROOKS, CAMERON & HUEBSCH, PLLC

From left to right: Nathan Gallus ’12, Jason Lorfing ’06, Scott Pederson ’11, Kory Kotrba ‘09

Why did you go to law school? KOTRBA: Out of college I was offered a position to work as a chemical engineer for an international oil company and nearly accepted. However, my interest in law and innovation steered me toward law school and ultimately IP law. Why IP law? GALLUS: I took an IP survey course at St. Thomas and realized I could integrate my science background with my interest in the law. Then I took a patent survey course, a patent drafting course, and a trademarks course and landed an internship in Medtronic’s Corporate Patents Division. After interning, I loved the field and knew I wanted to pursue patent law. What’s the best part of your practice? LORFING: The subject matter is not repetitive or routine. While the mechanics of the work may repeat, the subject matter is new and interesting. It’s like being paid to be a student in many respects. What’s a challenging part of your practice? PEDERSON: Working with individuals who do not share the same passion or excitement of the practice. This area of law is not right for everyone and it can be very draining if it is not something you are passionate about doing.

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Who is your professional hero? GALLUS: My childhood hero was Neil Armstrong as my biggest aspiration was going to the moon. That still rings true in that he was a symbol of the greatness that innovation and vision can achieve, something I take pride in helping others do in protecting their own ideas each day. LORFING: I don’t have an individual hero, but I really look up to people who are diligent, meticulous and precise in their writing, despite the economic pressure to be satisfied with “good enough.” What is a misconception about IP law and your response to it? KOTRBA: That the patent bar is a “science” exam. It is not. The patent bar focuses on the technical qualifications to be a patent attorney/agent. There is zero actual science on the patent bar. LORFING: Some people think that patent applications are geared towards “Eureka!” ideas or entirely new technology. While those exist, most of the work is directed toward improvements to existing technology. What do you wish for your practice? PEDERSON: I wish there were more hours in the day. More time for debating with colleagues, discussing with inventors and making sure everything is perfect is a wish for almost every application. GALLUS: One, to draft my own patent that is exclusively my own invention. And two, as every Minnesota patent attorney strives for, to draft the most interesting fishing or hunting gear patent to brag about to all my friends.

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HIEP PHAM ’12 J.D. Cargill, Senior Intellectual Property Counsel

Why did you go to law school? I was a software engineer open to a career pivot. A friend (now my wife) was in law school and suggested I might enjoy it. She was right! Why IP law? I didn’t want my engineering background to pigeon-hole me into IP, but in hindsight it was inevitable. It’s a great area of law for those who enjoy science and technology. What’s the best part of your practice? I get to advise and help people be successful! Who is your professional hero? My dad. He came to America as a refugee at 20 years old not knowing English and owning literally the clothes on his back. He worked his way up in the engineering world and to date is the inventor on over 100 patents. He was the first person to help me understand the value of intellectual property. What is a misconception about IP law and your response to it? That it’s one-dimensional, transactional work. I really enjoy opportunities to negotiate, advocate and be business minded. What do you wish for your practice? Never stop learning, building trust and investing in relationships. Those are the cornerstones of a successful and enjoyable practice.

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RENEE KRAFT ’01 B.A., ‘05 J.D. Target Corporation, Director Counsel, Trademark & Copyright Why IP law? High school debate got me interested in the U.S. response to IP theft by Chinese companies, particularly trade secrets and patents. As an associate at Fredrikson & Byron, I was lucky to be placed on the trademark team. I have worked with trademarks ever since. What’s the best part of your practice? I love the creative side. Target has talented product design, brand development and marketing teams. In-house counsel is privileged to see the full lifecycle of a brand. It is great to walk into a Target store and see it filled with so many of the brands I’ve worked on. I also like the international aspect of my practice. On any given day, I may work on matters in a dozen or more countries. I enjoy keeping on top of trademark nuances of each country. It’s interesting to see how the same brands are perceived differently across the world. What is a misconception about IP law and your response to it? People are inundated with trademarks every day through advertisements. Still, most people think of patents when they think of IP. They often conflate patents with copyrights and trademarks. A quick explanation typically clears it up.

Kevin Green

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Left to right: Luke Toft ’13, Lea Westman ‘15, Lee Bennin ‘19, Anne Rondoni Tavernier ’16



Moot court competitions are propelling St. Thomas Law toward a legacy of excellence in intellectual property. In 2020, St. Thomas Law took first place at the USPTO National Patent Application Drafting Competition in its debut appearance at the event. The law school’s IP Moot Court teams have advanced to the American Intellectual Property Law Association (AIPLA) national Giles Sutherland Rich Memorial Moot Court competition each year since 2018.

St. Thomas’ winning record is due, in part, to the alumni who have engaged with the teams to offer support, and in the case of the IP Moot Court team, serve as coaches. Alumna Lea Westman ‘15 J.D. came onboard as a coach in 2017. It had only been three years prior when she was sitting in the student seat for a different moot court competition. However, “in it to win it” was not the mantra top of mind for Westman when she agreed to coach the fledgling St. Thomas team. She simply wanted to give back to St. Thomas by helping law students gain practical experience that would help shape their careers.

Ever since the team first qualified four years ago for the national AIPLA competition in Washington, D.C., some people see St. Thomas Law in a new light. “Respect for St. Thomas has grown,” said Westman, who is an associate at the law firm Schwegman, Lundberg & Woessner P.A. in Minneapolis. “The first year I was coaching it was like pulling teeth to try to get people to show up and guest judge. Now, in September and October, I get calls and emails from people at a large number of IP firms in the Cities who ask ‘when is moot court starting, I’d love to come back and see your students.’ “Within the Twin Cities community there’s an understanding that there’s an excellent caliber of

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students at St. Thomas,” Westman added. “Definitely within the intellectual property community, they are recognized here in the Cities. It will be a matter of time before we can build that relationship more broadly.” Luke Toft ‘13 J.D. , who practices intellectual property law and was a coach for two seasons starting in fall 2017, said when St. Thomas went to nationals again the second year, it made an impact at some firms, as they are taking a closer look at St. Thomas. “I was the only St. Thomas alum at Fox Rothschild in the Minneapolis office when I started. And today there are five or six of us. It has grown quite a bit. Two of our summer interns last year were St. Thomas students.” A WAY TO GIVE BACK TO ST. THOMAS Having alumni involved in moot court as coaches and guest judges helps to raise awareness of St. Thomas with the partners at their firms. It’s a benefit, but not the reason Lee Bennin ‘19 J.D. signed on to be a coach. Bennin was a 2L when he and his 3L teammate Jay Singh ‘18 J.D. achieved first place, were awarded the “Best Brief” award in the Midwest Regional Competition, and were quarter- finalists at the AIPLA national competition. Bennin returned to the competition the following year, where he and Kiersten Idzorek ’20 J.D. again reached the national quarterfinals. “My experience on the IP Moot Court team helped me earn a clerkship at the Minnesota Court of Appeals,” said Bennin, who is now an associate at Lathrop

Luke Toft ‘13 J.D., left, with then law students and 2018 Minnesota Intellectual Property Law Association (MIPLA) Moot Court competition champions Jay Singh ‘18 J.D., center, and Lee Bennin ‘19 J.D., right. Singh and Bennin made it to the quarterfinals in the American Intellectual Property Law Association’s (AIPLA) national competition that same year.

GPM. Bennin rejoined the team as a coach in 2019, where he contributes his firsthand understanding of the appellate process and guides students through the unique aspects of writing at the appeals-court level. “I decided to become a coach because I was active in the IP Moot Court program during law school and I wanted to give back to the team that helped me develop my lawyering skills.” Regardless of specialty, there are plenty of opportunities for alumni to get involved, grow their own

careers and shine a light on St. Thomas, all while mentoring the next generation. “I think especially for the first several years out of law school when you are cutting your teeth on new experiences, the opportunity to turn around and teach helps to crystallize a lot of the skills and tips you are working on and it becomes a lesson for you at the same time,” said Anne Rondoni Tavernier ‘16 J.D. , a coach Westman recruited for the 2017-18 academic year. Lessons that Tavernier practiced in her trial advocacy competition

Fall 2021 Page 27


In April 2020, St. Thomas Law took first place in the National Patent Application Drafting Competition, the very first year the school had a team compete in the event. When then law students Kiersten Idzorek ‘20 J.D. and Mark Landauer ‘20 J.D. had the idea to start a team at St. Thomas in 2019, alumna Lea Westman ’15 J.D. connected them with coaches Darnell Cage, an associate at Faegre Drinker and Jessica Gutierrez Alm, an associate at Robins Kaplan LLP. Both still coach the team today. Pictured (L to R) in 2020: Coach Darnell Cage, Kiersten Idzorek ‘20 J.D., Mark Landauer ‘20 J.D., Mary Susan Gerber ‘21 J.D. and Jessica Gutierrez Alm.

course when she was a St. Thomas Law student are ones she relayed to her mentees, but at the same time, she was driving home the point for herself, she said. An example, she mentioned, is “when a judge asks you a question and you don’t know how to respond, you pause, and take time to think and go back to your notes.

“My law firm was thrilled when they learned [I was coaching]. They all wanted to be guest judges,” she said. “Coaching is really a great opportunity for the students, and it is a fun bonding opportunity to get to know some of your own colleagues outside of the office. Toft, who became a guest coach in subsequent years, agrees. “Getting involved like this is an easy way to force yourself into networking. If that’s not something that you’re good at, this is a great opportunity for you because not only do you make a connection

with your students, not only will you make a connection with the other coaches, but you also work on getting people from your own firms involved. Ask them, ‘Hey, will you come guest coach this thing for me?’ People are willing to do it. Plus, it’s an excuse to reach out and then maybe grab a happy hour or lunch afterwards.” BOOST TO YOUR CAREER Toft was a mid-level associate when he started coaching. Being a coach, “probably did help my elevation to partnership this last spring,” he said. “Firms, especially

It is helpful from a practical development standpoint.”

Coaching also helped Tavernier, a senior associate, grow closer with her colleagues at Fredrikson & Byron, P.A.

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large firms, do care what you do outside of the billable, and for Fox Rothschild, it is no exception. There are different categories or buckets that are important to them when going up for partnership and one of them is involvement as a citizen of the community. It’s probably not a deciding factor, but it definitely helps being able to say ‘these are things that I do in the community to give back.’” Learning to edit and give feedback on the writing of others is a good skill set to learn, Toft said. Coaching helped him transition into a place where he would assign work to younger associates at his firm. It also helped in other ways. “It is surprising how often a question [that arises for moot court projects] relates to a practice that I had in a case,” he said. “One year when I was guest coaching, I took the brief with me and used some of the case law that they had already done as a jumping off point for my associates to start looking into for a very similar issue. So, [coaching] can be helpful in staying up to date on the issues that are being addressed in the legal community in that moment.” Toft encourages others to consider coaching IP Moot Court. “IP doesn’t have to be the area of your specialization. We are all smart individuals, and we see how to best approach the issues. How you lay out a brief is going to be the same, how you attack oral arguments is going to be the same. Anyone can do it and bring a perspective that will be helpful to the competition.” “At the end of the day, my attitude has always been to give my

Adam Szymanski, left, a current coach of the IP Moot Court team and an associate attorney at Patterson Thuente IP, and coach Lea Westman ’15 J.D., right, congratulate then students Kiersten Idzorek ‘20 J.D. and Lee Bennin ‘19 J.D., center, on making it to the quarterfinals at the AIPLA Giles Rich Moot Court Competition in 2019.

and the coaches, but it is about giving the students the tools to succeed in their careers and to build relationships. My ultimate goal is to see them succeed long term, both in their careers and just in general as people.”

students the tools to succeed,” said Westman, who has started her fifth year of coaching the IP Moot Court team and is not making predictions about advancing to nationals. “Don’t get me wrong, winning is great. The prestige is great for St. Thomas, the students, the firms

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ELIZABETH BRENCKMAN ’08 J.D. Splunk Inc., Legal Counsel, Litigation and Investigations Why did you go to law school? I took a business law course in college and really enjoyed the legal writing component. Why IP law? I fell into it naturally! When I was a corporate associate in Minneapolis, I started taking on trademark and copyright projects. I really enjoyed the work and the people I was working with, so before I knew it, IP constituted most of my practice. I ended up transitioning to an IP boutique in New York City. What’s the best part of your practice? There is always something interesting happening. There is never a sense of boredom or routine. Who is your professional hero? Barb Grahn at Fox Rothschild. She gave me my first IP-related projects, and we have stayed close. What is a misconception about IP law and your response to it? That you need a technical degree to practice in the IP space. That may be required for certain IP practices (e.g., patent prosecution), but not for IP litigation (trademark, copyright, patent or otherwise). What do you wish for your practice? I wish there were more hours in the day so that I could dive even further into my projects and cases.

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Notes from Our Alumni CLASS ACTION

Class of 2004 Send your 2004 class notes and photos to Liz Odette (tinlizzieo@ or Susan Beltz ( Keshini Ratnayake (pictured below) is now anAssistant County Attorney with theWashington County (MN) Attorney’s Office.

Class of 2006 Send your 2006 class notes and photos to Ian Dobson ( Greetings class of 2006! I hope all is well with each of you. For this issue, we have two updates: Pattie Garger joined the Hellmuth & Johnson litigation teamafter briefly operating her own firm. Pattie did not initially practice law after graduation. She passed the bar in 2019 and then joined the profession. In other news, Pattie got a newpuppy namedMiss Kitty. Briana Gornick (pictured below) joined HKMLaw Firm (Minneapolis). Briana is a litigator. She previously served as staff counsel at amajor insurance company handling insurance defense claims from inception

Class of 2007 Send your 2007 class notes and photos to Chuck Berendes ( Christine Callahan now lives at 9,000 feet in Summit County, Colorado. Shemaintains her family law/estate planning/mediation business in Chanhassen but is now also licensed in Colorado and opened an office near Lake Dillon. Practice at high altitudemakes her super effective when back in Minnesota. Erin Colgan, OSB is still at Sacred Heart Monastery inYankton, SD. She is the Director of the Gift Shop and continues to work with monastery finances and assists her community in working through “Transformative Visioning” for their future. I’d love to see that job description! Congratulations to Jason Emery (pictured below) on launchingMLG Disability, PLLC (Edina,MN). Jason practices exclusively in the area of Social Security disability. www.

to a state championship – an exclamation point on an undefeated season. Gerry’s

daughter Ella scored the game- tying goal to send thematch to a shoot-out. Gerry will gladly reenact game highlights. Congratulations to Emily Peterson (pictured below) on launching Schneider Peterson Johnson, LLC (Minneapolis, MN). Emily’s practice focuses on family law.

Congratulations to Sherry Roberg- Perez on being named to the 2021WomenWorthWatching in Leadership list published by Profiles in Diversity Journal, which recognizes women across the globe who aremaking a difference in their workplaces and communities. Matt Schultz is now the Chief Legal and Civil Rights Officer at theOffice of Superintendent of Public Instruction inOlympia, Washington.Matt counsels the Superintendent and supervises 20 people, who coordinate legal services, civil rights, professional practice investigations, public records management and risk management.

Class of 2005 Send your 2005 class notes and photos to Kerry McAndrew ( After 10 years in Chicago, Charlie Beck has returned toMinneapolis. He is a Product Consultant for Elevate Services creating software for law firms and lawdepartments. He is currently integrating machine learning and automation into Elevate’s contract lifecycle management application. In July, Gerry Fornwald co-coached the powerhouse U-14 girls Southeast Soccer Roadrunners

to trial, including personal injury, wrongful death, commercial/ premises liability, homeowner liability and automobile accidents. Thanks to Pattie and Brianna for providing those updates, and to those of you who have provided them in the past. I’mhopeful that we’ll have somemore updates for the next issue.

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